In music, tone is distinct and identifiable, and when played correctly and in harmony within an ensemble, it sets the overall mood and quality of a performance. However, mastering tone does not come easily.
In the blog post, Christian Howes: Versatile Violin Virtuoso, renowned strings performer and educator Christian Howes explains why he started Creative Strings Academy. His pedagogy is comprised of what he calls "a trifecta of pillars" in order to expand students' understanding of music.
Many years ago I was presenting a workshop entitled "The Power of Strings: Plugging In!" at a statewide music educators conference. The participants were all music teachers who had never played electric string instruments but were either planning to purchase some for their schools, were simply curious … or, in one case, outright skeptical.
We orchestral string players are used to playing acoustically … until we're asked to play in a situation where the sound from our instrument isn't going to project enough or cut through a louder group of instrumentalists.
After years of teaching band, you've just been told that you must also teach beginning orchestra. Panic sets in as you realize you don't know how to position your fingers, and you fear making screeching sounds in front of your students.
It is inevitable in the life of every string player that they will encounter a sudden distracting buzzing sound coming from their instrument. Fixes can range from the simplest of tweaks to a major repair that requires a skilled luthier.
While in high school in the 1990s, Kevin Marcus Sylvester programmed his cell phone to play a Busta Rhymes rap song. The customized ringtone amazed his orchestra-mates, who eventually transcribed the whole piece and played it regularly together in class.
The halls of Robert McQueen High School in Reno, Nevada, are buzzing with excitement and anticipation for the summer. It's not the typical end-of-the-school-year eagerness that has these teenagers bouncing in their seats; it's a 16-day tour of Europe, featuring the McQueen High School Orchestra.