The Score

Parts of a Viola with Worksheet

posted Apr 8, 2017, 9:26 AM by Jeane Goforth

Parts of a Viola

Parts of a Violin with Worksheet

posted Apr 8, 2017, 9:23 AM by Jeane Goforth

Parts of a Violin

The Why Factor - Sad Music

posted Apr 6, 2017, 9:29 AM by Jeane Goforth   [ updated Apr 6, 2017, 9:31 AM ]

Helena Merriman explores why sad music has become more popular and what sad music does to and for our brains in this episode of the BBC series The Why Factor.

Here is a playlist on YouTube of many of the sad songs featured on this episode including Billie Holiday's Gloomy Sunday--which was banned until just 10 years ago in the UK for being bad for morale--Joni Mitchell's River, Bach Prelude in B minor, the Beatles, Arvo Part, etc.

10 Tips To Help You Practice More Effectively

posted Apr 6, 2017, 9:20 AM by Jeane Goforth

Provided by Scrollworks teacher Dane Lawley

Incorporate these tips into your daily practice routine, and you'll soon see the benefits. 
1. Create atmosphere Get the right set-up for you. Whether you prefer to concentrate in a quiet practice room, or somewhere with more stimulation, try be consistent with your choice - this will help you enter the right mindset when you begin to practice. Also make sure you have everything you need close by: water, snacks, pencils, sharpeners, rubbers, highlighters, manuscript paper - it will save you a lot of time. Technology can also be an amazing aid - providing you don't spend too much time faffing with it: you can download free apps that act as a metronome, a tuner and a timer, all essential tools for practicing. 

2. Warm up Like a physical workout, a warm-up is essential But don't just plow through the same warm-up routine every-time and let your mind wander - a warm up is not simply to get your muscles moving. Take it as an opportunity to prepare your body and mind for work and take notice of how you're feeling, how you're breathing, the tension your body is holding and why you are doing that particular exercise. Your warm-up doesn't always have to be 15 minutes of scales - try different technical studies or sight reading. If you are going to do scales, considering the keys of the pieces you are rehearsing will help get you in the right mindset for when you start to stare at all those sharps and flats. And as a cool-down, revisit a piece of music you already know well and enjoy. 

3. Have a goal Just playing through your music isn't the same as practicing. Start with the end in mind - by having a goal for each practice session before you start playing, you will find you progress much more quickly and effectively. Then, break each goal down into smaller, focused objectives. You will also feel a sense of accomplishment as you complete each goal. 

4. Be realistic We all grow up with our teachers telling us, "don't leave it until the night before." We've all been guilty of it at some point, and if we have an intimidating part to practice, it is easy to push it to the back of your mind. However, it is much more effective to practice little and often, and slowly chip away at your nemesis day by day. It's about quality, not quantity - if you aim to practice smarter, not longer, you will find yourself with a lot more willpower to draw upon. By setting small and realistic goals, you will find you overcome tricky areas much easier, and you'll be less likely to beat yourself up for not completing absolutely everything you had planned. 

5. Identify and overcome the problems Don't just play a piece or passage over and over again, and definitely don't just power through a problem area and ignore it. Identify where you are stumbling out of time or continuously using the wrong fingering, work out why it's going wrong, then decide how you are going to fix it. Not every problem should be approached in the same way, too. If it is a rhythmic problem, try practicing the rhythm alone on a table or just using one note alongside a metronome so you don't have to think about the notes as well, starting slowly then gradually increasing the tempo - once you've mastered the rhythm, you will find reintroducing the notes much easier. Once you have overcome the problem, don't go straight back to the beginning of the piece or passage - practice working in and out of the phrase from a few measures before until a couple after to ensure continuity. 

6. Being a musician is so much more than just playing the notes It's also important to understand your instrument, its repertoire, the history of the period and why the music is written a certain way. For example, if you are singing in a foreign language, make sure you translate the libretto so you understand the true meaning behind the words. Spend some time listening to great artists and recordings of the music you are playing and try analyse what makes the artist or particular performance so great. 
Visualizing yourself playing the music can also be extremely helpful. Whether you visualize playing the part perfectly in the practice room or the concert hall is up to you, but spending some time away from your instrument, hearing the sound you're aiming for, seeing the music in front of you can make a huge difference to your mental and physical performance. If you're tight for time, or you're going to be stuck somewhere quiet like a train, take your music with you and read through it in your head. 

7. Write on your music Don't be afraid to scribble on your scores. Obviously some music does have to be treasured, but photocopy your score and do whatever it takes to make it easier to interpret the music. If you miss something once, make a mental note. But if it is a common occurrence then don't be afraid to write in the correct fingering, highlight dynamics or remind yourself of a key change. 

8. Record yourself By recording your practice sessions you can listen back and perhaps spot some things you may want to consider doing differently that you miss in the moment of practicing or performing. Even consider filming yourself as well as recording yourself, you may notice tension that you were unaware of. 

9. Be in the right frame of mind We're all human, and sometimes we're simply just not in the mood to practice, and there is certainly no point in practicing and creating new mistakes rather than overcoming them. Sometimes if it's got to be done, it's got to be done. But unless you're under a huge amount of time-pressure, it's OK to take a day off, or simply keep your fingers moving by spending 10-20 minutes playing something you know well and really enjoy. Ultimately, we all play because we enjoy the feeling and sound of our instrument and sometimes it can be easy to get frustrated with the pressure and forget to have fun. 

10. Reward yourself At the end of each practice session, remind yourself how amazing you are to be playing an instrument and treat yourself afterwards! 

Cadence Podcast

posted Apr 6, 2017, 9:00 AM by Jeane Goforth

Neuroscientist and opera singer Indre Viskontas explores all aspects of how music impacts our lives. 
First season has so far explored:
  • What is music?
  • Are there universals in music?
  • How we find meaning in music
  • What is music for?

Check it out at The Ensemble Project.

Does Playing a Musical Instrument Make A Child Smarter?

posted Mar 18, 2017, 8:09 AM by Jeane Goforth

By Wendell Harrison
Musical Instruments Make Children Smarter

How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain

posted Mar 18, 2017, 7:43 AM by Jeane Goforth   [ updated Mar 18, 2017, 7:44 AM ]

Basic Care of String Instruments by Russell Hopper - Violin Maker

posted Mar 9, 2017, 10:30 AM by Jeane Goforth   [ updated Mar 9, 2017, 10:33 AM ]

Russell Hopper Violin Maker

Hopper Violins
Basic Care of String Instruments

Keep the instrument in the case when not using it and latch it. One of the more horrifying events for a violinist is to pick up a case by the handle and see the violin fall to the floor when the lid flies open! If the case is not nearby, the instrument may be placed on a towel or case blanket on a flat surface for short durations. Never set the instrument on its side (except cellos and basses). It may easily fall over or damage the delicate edge.

Hold the instrument by the neck or if using two hands, horizontally by the neck heel and the bottom end by the end-button. Hold the instrument in front of your body, especially when passing through doorways.

The best way to keep the instrument clean is by wiping with a soft cloth after every use. Accumulated rosin dust will eventually eat away at the varnish, especially when combined with sweat and air-borne moisture. Sweat also eats at varnish and dislodges glue joints. Cleaning solutions and polishes are best avoided. Never use any commercial household cleaners on the instrument.

Clean the rosin off the strings with a separate soft cloth. Some people use alcohol to clean the strings, but it exposes the varnish to unnecessary risk from drops of alcohol. A cloth is good enough.

Never remove all the strings at once. The sound-post may fall. If it does fall, take the instrument to a violin shop for the violin maker to re-set. This is a very inexpensive procedure.

NEVER leave the instrument in a car or trunk of the car. Hide glue gels at 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the varnish will bubble at those temperatures within an hour.

Store the instrument in a controlled temperature area if possible, ideally between 60-75 degrees and 45-65% humidity. This will prevent the fragile top from cracking due to expansion and contraction of the wood. A good rule of thumb is if you are comfortable, so is your instrument. Do not store the instrument case near a AC vent or radiator. Most cracks occur due to sudden changes in humidity. A humidifier is especially important for musicians that travel. The average relative humidity in varies widely from city to city.

Do not attempt any repairs by yourself. Home repairs only make the problem more difficult and more expensive to repair by a professional.

If the instrument is damaged, don't fuss with it. Place it the case and take it to a reputable shop as soon as possible. A clean crack is easiest to repair.

For more information from Russell on caring for your violin, viola, cello, bass or bow, please check out his white paper below.
Also check out Russell's instrument care tips on our Youtube channel.

Ted Talk by Michael Merzenich on Brain Plasticity

posted Mar 7, 2017, 9:29 AM by Jeane Goforth   [ updated Mar 7, 2017, 9:29 AM ]

Six Reasons Not to Start a Non-Profit Organization

posted Mar 7, 2017, 8:32 AM by Jeane Goforth   [ updated Oct 18, 2019, 11:44 AM ]

This article was written by Kimberly Richardson, author of The Official Federal Grants Prep Guide and President of Kimberly Richardson Consulting, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama. KRC specializes in providing granting writing, grants management, training and technical assistance to non-profits, government agencies and other organizations eligible to receive grant funds. For more info go to:

As a grant writing consultant, I frequently receive calls from individuals who are interested in securing grants for various ideas and activities. As a way of securing support, they often want to start a non-profit organization. Sometimes there’s a legitimate need, but more often there is not. So just in case you’ve been pondering whether you should start one, here are my top six reasons why you should NOT start a non-profit organization.

1.      To Get Grant Funds

By now, everyone pretty much knows that grants are awarded to non-profit organizations for a variety of purposes. Some individuals see this and think it’s an opportunity to “score” cash from organizations that are just “giving it away.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Grant awards are made through a variety of processes, some simple and some extremely complicated.  Any experienced fundraising professional will tell you that grant seeking is a strategic and ongoing process. If soliciting grant funds is your primary motivation, then you’ve got it all wrong!

2.      Others are Already Doing It

Everyday people identify problems and issues in their community that need to be addressed, and this becomes their basis for wanting to start a non-profit. Although this is a legitimate reason, nine times out of ten there is an organization that already exists to address that very problem. Before you attempt to re-create the wheel, do a little research to see if there is an organization that’s already doing the thing you want to do. If so, lend your support (time and/or money) to their efforts.

3.      Organizational and Personality Conflicts

Sometimes people want to create a new organization because there’s been a rift within an existing organization or there’s dissatisfaction with the way that organization operates. Sometimes this can be a legitimate reason for starting a new organization, but most often it is not. It will probably take less work to attempt to resolve the differences and find ways to collaborate than to create an entirely new entity. Give peace a chance!

4.      Job Creation - For Yourself

The basis for the creation of a non-profit organization is that it serves a public or charitable purpose. However, some individuals are motivated by what’s in it for them. They feel that they can create an organization, appoint themselves Executive Director and collect a salary. This is probably the worst motivation of all. Every non-profit must have a mission and your mission cannot be YOU.


5.      Your Need Requires an Immediate Solution

Anyone who has gone through the process of establishing a non-profit can tell you that it’s not a quick process. If you have identified a need that requires an immediate response (e.g. disaster relief or a short term need) you’ll definitely be more effective working through the infrastructure of an existing organization which has a mission of meeting the identified need and already has boots on the ground.

6.      Your Planned Activities Aren’t Typically Grant-Funded

Some activities are routinely excluded from receiving grant support from foundations and other funding agencies. They include special events, support for athletic teams, banquets, scholarships, and many other endeavors. If these are the types of activities for which you’ll primarily be seeking support, you’ll be better off seeking out a sponsor to help offset expenses or raising funds through other activities like auctions, raffles, candy sales, or car washes. A non-profit is not the appropriate mechanism for funding certain types of activities.

If you’ve been seriously thinking about starting a non-profit, hopefully none of these reasons reflect your motivation for doing so. If by chance one does, you will definitely want to re-think your plan. On the other hand, if you’ve identified an ongoing need, done your research and found that there is a legitimate gap for addressing the issue, then you just may be on the right path. 

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