Author Archives: tracy

Why Airlines discriminate against Musicians?

Rachel Barton Pine Denied Boarding

Another incident that Airline refused instrument travel onboard and claim it’s not safe to store instrument in the overhead bin or underneath the seat. 🙁

I must agreed it’s not about the airline company policy nor the value of instrument because “unsafe” and “not well educated the rule of safety when it comes instrument” can result in damage a instrument regardless the value of instrument. As I’m mother of two grade schooler kids.. the “roller” luggage or backpack is extreme dangerous than a violin case store in overhead bin or underneath the seat. IT roll out and injure anyone badly when it is on slightly incline elevation and not to mention during emergency situation in the flight….

Across board on a well education on “safety” on how to store instrument and the “roller” luggage to captain and the flight attendants, and be sure everyone understands and abite on it are the key issue in the incident like this. Because of their lacking of understand can cause a musician to a job that which a committment to thousand of audience whose put a side of time to come and enjoy the performance

It’s always hurtful when I read incident on news every time and it’s become more problematic for the last 2-3 years, I don’t recall it was such hassles to travel with my violin during my college time.

Apple Watch II

Can you go back to wearing a “normal” watch?

After 4-5 months of owning an apple watch – what a splendid addiction, it has changed my lifestyle and how I use a “watch”, I’m not sure if I can ever go back to a “non-smart” watch.

In my usage, I found the Apple Watch allows me to catch and prioritize important/urgent emails or texts to those very last minute changes to my originally planned daily events especially things like kids doctor’s appointment or swim team practice changes, etc. Also, I can glance at my inbox or texts while I’m exercise or teaching in class Apple Watchwithout carrying a phone on me or having to dig through my phone from somewhere inside my purse or the back pocket of my pants or while driving. Now, I can “loudly and clearly” tell my students not to surf the web or post on Facebook or Twitter while I’m in class because I don’t have to stare at my phone for time or other things. LOL!!!

Another fantastic feature (to me) is taking phone calls when the phone is not on me particularly when my hands are busy with cooking. The other day, my dear 70+ year old mother called me while I’m busy prepping dinner for her precious grandchildren (LOL!!!). Before the Apple Watch, I often times either missed my parent’s calls (they like to travel), or I must stop what I am doing to answer the call which causes us to be late for kids swim practice or dinnertime. If you are a parent then you will understand the issues with hungry children.

Apple_Watch_review_19-420-100Of course, a wireless bluetooth headphone would be nicer so no one can over hear the conversation. ☺ Although switching between phone and watch is seamless and effortless, even just grabbing the phone will automatically transfer the call.

Another great bonus is the daily activities app. It gives me awareness of my daily activities and sort of forces me to pay attention my diet, exercise, heart rate, and calories. ☺ Of course Nike Fit can do that as well and cheaper but Apple Watch has a more robust selection of health apps to chose  from which allows the best fit for individual users and how to maximize the data to help users reach their health goals and leads to a better, healthier life.

I sincerely doubt any other fitness band can so easily, smoothly transfer data from the fitness device to a smart phone whether it be iOS or Android as the Apple Watch can to iOS.

If there is any issue that I have with the watch – BATTERY. I’m an active user so my batter dies sooner than I would like. ☹ The size of watch also is a factor in battery life as well. I have a 38mm with lots of wrist movements, playing with sketches, animated emoji and picking up phone calls. And, not to mention if my kids want to sketch with their uncle and daddy. So if you are having similar user behavior like myself; you will be better off with the bigger size of watch – battery lasts longer.

Applewatch 1My very first impression when I opened up the Apple watch package “ Wow!!!! So cute, What a fancy, fine jewel”. I’m like a 7 year old girl opening up a Christmas gift on Christmas day. This package sets Apple once again above and beyond not just the technology segment but also the retail/fashion industry. Apple Inc. continues to strive for what Steve Job believes that the “package” is like a storefront that attracts customers and helps retain them as return customers.

The second surprising impression is how seamlessly and silently my iPhone 5s syncs with the Apple Watch the moment the Apple Watch powers up; the Apple Watch app is ready on my iPhone for me to manage/set up the watch. It came as a surprise to me because the watch asked me to enter a passcode from watch app on iPhone, and I screamed at my poor husband – “ I don’t have watch app installed on my phone”. However, app is already installed and ready for me to use.Applewatch 4

Third – the charging station is so unique and cute. â˜ș It’s another watch face and serves as watch stand as well. Just put the watch on it in anyway and just like the magnetic connection, and it will connect and start charging. It doesn’t take a whole lot of space as well. I placed the charging station right on top of my Sonos speaker, and it fits right in. The color and style blend in perfect harmony becoming another great decoration on my nightstand.

Now, comes the fun part – user experience.

Incoming calls – I tested it out in two very different environments: inside of the house, and outside in the heavy traffic of a shopping mall. The watch has excellent voice reception – a great quality sound. I switched it back between phone and watch (while I was tested it in the mall), and it turns out watch sound quality just a tad better than my 5s. If you have a 6 or 6+, it might be a different story. The voice does fade in and out (tested at home) depending on the distance between watch and mouth. The sound quality is still clear when the watch is more than one arm distance away from the location of the sound. Switching between the iPhone and watch happens immediately, seamlessly. I picked up a call from the watch, and it automatically switches to the phone when I finally find my phone. No need to pause or hold the call before doing the switch.

iMessage – there is actually no keypad to reply to text messages on the watch. However, the watch does its best to interpret how to reply and provides several options for replying to the message. If a quick reply message isn’t what you want, then you can use Siri to send audio or text for a reply message. I was so surprised and shocked how much Siri has improved over the last few years since Siri was first released. I have a slight accent, so Siri could never 100% correctly translate my message or contents. So I haven’t used it since I first tried it the time Apple released it on the iPhone. This is the first time that I’ve been very pleased with Siri. The accuracy of dictation from speaking words has improved tremendously.

Applewatch 6iTunes – the watch will not play music through the speaker instead it’s featured as a “Remote” for your iPhone such as when your iPhone is not on you but nearby and your hands are tight up. I use my watch to select music to play or switch playlists etc. without actually having to look for my phone. This is one of the most important features for my lifestyle. â˜ș

Battery life – since I just received it, like a new toy that I’m constantly playing – frequently checking my heart rate, iMessage, taking calls and monitoring my daily activities. Therefore, I need to charge it every night so far. It all depends on your usage and your lifestyle that will determine battery life. Charging on a daily basis is not a surprise to me since I do charge my iPhone every day, sometimes even twice a day. I’m a power user, highly dependent on my iPhone.  Now, I’m hoping the watch serves as an extension of my phone, can balance out the battery life between my phone and the watch.  Let’s HOPE! LOL!!

By the way, if you are planning to use watch chatting like 10-15 mins per phone call, it will definitely drain down the battery fast.  The phone feature on the watch is for a quick call, not meant for long lovely phone conversations.   My battery was down to 5% after 8 hrs of usage with two 15 min phone conversations. 🙂

Download App – the watch taps into your phone’s Wi-Fi/Cellular depending on your physical location. You can manage what app(s) you would like to add onto the watch from your iPhone’s Apple Watch app; it will automatically show up on your watch and shows the download status dialog. I tested with the Shazam app; it works just like how it works on my phone instead it’s on my watch. This feature serves me so perfectly while I am in my Zumba class or walking in the mall when I hear some interesting music and want to know more about it, I don’t have to dig into my purse and possibly miss the song by the time I find my iphone.

Heart Rate/Daily Activities App – It’s what I use the most, and the health apps are the main reason I wanted the watch.  The Modern Buckle leather band has been giving me quite good measurements on heart rate and my daily activities. Then I switched to the sports band as reviews indicated that it gives the most accurate heart rate reading. However, I don’t see much difference in my daily activities.  Zumba is the only fitness that I do.  Plus, I have a very small wrist, the leather band actually fits my wrist much better than the sports band. The issue with leather is that it does not absorb sweat so during exercise it will wobble a bit, but the sports band less so. Because I can’t fit the sports band as tightly as the leather one, I find that the readings as far as heart rate and daily calories burn tends to be similar with both bands.Applewatch 7

That’s pretty much all that I have to say for now about my experience with the Apple Watch after one week of usage. I’m enjoying and loving every minute of it.   The watch meets my original expectations for getting it and exceeds my satisfaction on other features such as answering phone calls from the watch. My suggestion is to don’t just think of it as a “watch” and purchase it as a “watch”; think of it as a useful “extension” of your iPhone.

The Return of the Violin

Huberman_violin400x400A 300+ year old Stradivarius violin was deeply connected and a hero to a story was untold until today. The documentary film “The Return of the Violin” by Roy Mandal, brought tears to my eyes as I watched the film. Who knew a violin, music, and a musician, in particular, a Polish Jew, could save so many people’s lives and rescue so many families by forming the Palestine Orchestra in the horrible, scary, era of Hitler.

Huberman_Playing_violin

Bronislaw Huberman

When the news was revealed that Bronislaw Huberman’s lost violin was finally found, I didn’t think much about it other than another Stradivarius violin surfaced, and it’s going to be expensive. And, years later, Joshua Bell acquired his Stradivarius and paid a fortune for this red color violin. The Red Violin is what I connected to this violin until today. What’s ironic is that the lost and found violin also ended up in the hands of another virtuoso solo concert violist, and he is also of Jewish decent.

I was educated that being a musician would be “poor, can’t making a living unless you are genius like Beethoven, even so you won’t know it until after you’re dead”, but I was madly in loved with the piano. My first introduction to music was when I first heard my cousin perform on stage when I was only 5 years old.  Thereafter, I exchanged my piano lessons for straight A’s every term and earned my first piano with 2 straight years of being one of the top 3 students in my class and won 8th place in a youth piano competition in Kaosuhing, Taiwan. Later in my life, I used my scholarship money to purchase my dream piano, and I carried it wherever I moved through out my college life to now as a mother of two

Christmas Recital

Christmas Recital

beautiful children. I continue to care for the piano, and it is in a great shape, has beautiful sound, and is gorgeous looking. Because of the knowledge implanted in me by my parents and the people sourrounding me, and of course with so much news about starving musicians and artists, I never intended to go to music school and receive a music degree, but I also didn’t stop learning music, and continue to perform piano and solo lyric soprano pieces until my life entered a new chapter. 😉  Moreover, I’ve continued learning the violin. Because during my 2nd year of college, I decided to learned violin, and I was so obsessed with it that I vowed to myself that my violin will sound just like my singing.

As I watched and guided my two kids learn and practice music, I had a dream to share music along with my kids with autistic children. Once again, because my father told me once “you must able to take care of yourself before you can think to help others,” it is still a dream today.

Through the lens of the survivors of the Holocaust, the story not only talks about a horrible event but also how a great Jewish violinist used his violin and music to send a message to the world. By reaching out and seeking help, the orchestra that later became the Israeli Philharmonic helped save people’s lives and souls — as many as he could. In addition, it tells how other musicians sacrificed their opportunity just to save more lives. Along expanding my knowledge of being a “musician” with the power to save people’s life just like soldiers or politicians and make a name for the world to remember, for people to honor.

The film ended with few seconds clip of Joshua Bell performing Brahms Violin Concerto in D, Op 77 for the opening of the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews — the perfect music to recount their history.

joshuabell_huberman_violin

Joshua Bell performing with Huberman’s Stradivarius violin

Sources:

The Return of Violin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZRS3f4Ir8Q
The Return of the Violin chronicles the odyssey of a 301-year-old Stradivarius, now played by Joshua Bell.  http://www.92y.org/Event/The-Return-of-the-Violin
A STOLEN STRADIVARIUS, A 51-YEAR OLD SECRET http://www.nytimes.com/1987/05/14/nyregion/a-stolen-stradivarius-a-51-year-old-secret.html?smid=fb-share

 

An Amazing Journey – Re-living Bach’s Life

Connecting the past to present through Bach’s Cello Suite Solo

I want to thank Ester String for turning me on to “A Walk to Fisterra”- Dane Johansen, a cellist. What an amazing journey to walk almost 600 miles with a cello on his back, sharing music along the way, connecting with people along the Camino to the Atlantic coast in Spain regardless of the language barrier or cultural Walk to Fisterra 1differences. Bringing Bach’s life out by connecting Bach’s music with ancient historical churches and local culture to bring the local community together. Not only a great way to introduce and promote music to young children in the poor, under developed world but also creating awareness to the rest of the world about what this little unknown part of the world needs.

Looking at those people’s joyful expressions, kids smiling while sitting under the stars, enjoying the music harmony and resonating balance between each note, each phase, and each ancient, hand crafted column through the pictures.  I bet Bach probably did not anticipate to receive such a deep appreciation for his music.  Yes, the word “transcendental” is truly the only word to describe it.

sydney_opera_house_at_night It’s been a dream and a goal to sing with an orchestra at the Sydney Opera House or at Carnegie Hall, New York since my first piano solo recital when I was 9 yrs old and my first aria opera performance debut when I was 19 yrs old.  Then that dream has evolved and become

To share the joy of music with children, in particular autistic children, along with my kids the moment my son was born. I’m a strong believer that music is a great way to release tension and stress, and it can be a therapeutic tool for autistic children. Music is a language without words but the melody can touch your heart, the harmony can read and share the mind with each other. Therefore, I truly believe music can be a road to lead us into an autistic children’s world and understand their mind which will allow us to teach them how to communicate with the rest of the world.

Music has been incredibly important through out my life. I express my anger, happiness, sadness, and release my frustration or whatever with Beethoven, Mendelsohn, Mozart, Brahms, Bach and sometimes Chopin. The best part is that it can be solo music with a good cup of mocha coffee on the side or a few lit candles at night with the stars, or chamber music to share with friends on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, or better yet to share with just anyone, strangers outdoors surrounded by beautiful architectural or a botanical garden or a local park.

Walk to Fisterra 2Through Dane’s journey, he wakes up my dream once again.  On a personal note,  I learned a bit about sound recording â˜ș– a small, yet important role in composing and completing a project.  A 600 mile walk, each small step with a great impact.  Although like the nun said to Dane, the real journey has just begun…  Congratulations to Dane and the entire team.  5 yrs of planning, the dedication, hard work, sweat and pain to bring such a “transcendent” experience to the world.  A great encouragement for all musicians to continue to share music as a gift and as a universal communications tool.

I have included Dane’s blog and his journals asked by BBC Music Magazine which are published on classical-music.com

http://www.walktofisterra.com/blog/ http://www.classical-music.com/blog/dane-johansens-walk-fisterra-cellists-journey

http://www.classical-music.com/blog/dane-johansens-walk-fisterra-part-ii

http://www.classical-music.com/blog/dane-johansens-walk-fisterra-part-iii

Rosin and Sound!!!

Happy New Year to the gots2know blog readers.  Lets begin 2015 with rosin and how rosin contributes to the sound of string instruments.

“Choosing the right rosin for your instrument”

http://www.thestrad.com/cpt-latests/choosing-right-rosin-instrument/

December 30, 2014, The Strad

A great article on “How to choose rosin” for those of you interested in learning more about rosin in addition the September post “The Elements of Transformative Violin Sound”. This article talks about rosin’s role, and its responsibility when it comes to contributing to sound and how it is important to a player and how one would chose a particular type of rosin during season changes, concert hall changes, and performing menu etc. After 9 months of trying new rosin, through season changes from summer to winter, I’m going between Rosin_LizIILiehenzeller II and Pirastro Goldflex. For some reason, I don’t think my violin resonates with Liehenzeller well especially during cold weather. Also, I’m correcting my bow technique which could also very well change my preference of rosin. It reminds me of a chess game, each move can change the outcome of the game. 🙂 Similarly, every little change you make from rosin to bowing technique can have a big impact on the quality of the sound coming from the instrument.Rosin_GoldFlex

Great Article/Video to enjoy during the Holidays!

christmas-music

 

For those music lovers: Two great articles/video that I would highly recommend for you to enjoy

“Violin made from 16,000 matchsticks is performed in concert”
http://www.thestrad.com/cpt-latests/violin-made-16000-matchsticks-performed-concert/

Published on December 2014. The Strad

First of all, the matchstick violin looks so pretty, and it sounds so astonishing. This one and only one made by 16000 burnt matchsticks has traveled from its homeland Poland to Paris since it was made in 1937 and has never been played until it finally returned home. It has such historical and sentimental value that the maker Jan GwiĆŒdĆŒâ€˜s grandson Hubert GwiĆŒdĆŒ, a violinist, will debut this beautiful violin to the world.

“Despite its growing reputation, we must still do more to promote the viola”
http://www.thestrad.com/cpt-latests/despite-growing-reputation-must-still-promote-viola/

Published on November 2014. The Strad

I couldn’t agree more. The viola is often overlooked or treated as a “supporting” instrument and which often times discourages musicians from choosing to become a Violist. To my knowledge and experience as a violinist, I truly believe the difficulties of learning Viola would be the same as learning the violin so why does viola need to be treated as a second class citizen.   I must admit that the size of the viola makes it feel odd when placed under the chin but that should not be a reason to neglect this beautiful instrument. As everyone is saying with computers and the internet, mobile has changed our life, and we should also change our perspective view of the viola in the music world as well, promoting the viola and exposing this instrument and music to young children so that it is an equivalent choice to the violin and cello.

BMW 5-series Diesel 2

2 months of seat time in a 5-series diesel, the overall experience is pleasurable. There are a few minor differences in comparison to my previous 3-series with a twin turbo engine.

2014 - 535d  M-package Steering Wheel

2014 – 535d M-package Steering Wheel

Let’s begin with the most absolutely enjoyable element: Fuel efficiency – I normally go about 330 miles per week, and my 3-series would require pumping gas twice a week but with the diesel 
 it’s only about Âœ of a tank for my regular routine each week. I never enjoy making a trip to the gas station to pump gas because I would need to carefully calculate the distance with all the places that I could possibly go and squeeze time to stop by during my busy schedule; most of all, I hate the gasoline smell on my hands or the drops of gasoline running down my car eating away the paint. Thus, not having to run to the gas station as frequently is the No.1 best thing in my book.

No.2 in my book – the power of acceleration. I’m always worried about power especially when it comes the instant acceleration on occasions such as: Continue reading

The Elements of Transformative Violin Sound

Daddy's cello

Element & Weise, 2001

100+ yrs Old violin

Copy of Antonio Strad Handmade in German, 1890. Maker unknown.

Here, I’m sharing my experience on what I did with my violins as well my two cents on what to focus on when transforming a violin’s sound into either a rich deep like cello, a Phantom’s tenor voice or an angel’s voice like a soprano. The important elements for me are the bow and strings in the process of transforming both my old and young violin sound into a beautifully rich and deep yet bright sound just like a lyric soprano or tenor. Bows and strings are like a married couple that need to be able to accompany each other. And a bow will need to match the violin to obtain harmony; thus, compatibility is essential. However, what comes as the first step of sound change, bow or stings, is a personal preference. Most people will make sure the bow and violin harmonize with each other before changing anything else on the violin.  Also, I hunted for my bow before I began my string search journey. The matched bow with a violin gave me the potential sound that I set out looking for.

Sound – It’s subjective because everyone has different hearing and different expectations for sound quality: deep, rich, vibrant, bright, loud, soft, etc. In addition, there are environmental differences as well solo vs. orchestral, small concert hall vs. outdoor big concert hall such as Hollywood bowl. Thus, it’s important to decide what sound you are seeking and the planned use of the instrument. As a soloist myself (not performing regularly, and no orchestral), I tend to like a mellow, soft and more dark and rich sound for A, D, and G strings but seek a mellow, soft and clean sound, not bright or crispy, for the E string.

Bow – Different shapes project a different sound. In general an octagon shape is able to give a bold, assertive Ethan with violin 2sound as opposed to a round shape which gives a softer, mellower sound. I started on a student grade octagon bow and moved to a better quality handmade octagon bow. It took me a year to find my current bow which has a round shape and is old, handmade and has a well balanced weight from tip to frog. Continue reading

New vs. Old Instrument

Does a New or Old instrument sound better?

Boesendorfer Piano

Boesendorfer Piano

I believe it’s every musician’s dream to own an astonishingly great crafted instrument such as a Bösendorfer, Steinway, Stradivari, Bergonzi, or Gadliano. And as a violinist myself, I can only dream to be able to feel the body of an Italian handmade Stradivari violin and maybe, just maybe, to gently pluck one of its strings to enjoy the legendary father of perfection and that astounding sound.

Red "Mendelssohn" Violin by Antonio Stradivari  My favorite

Red “Mendelssohn” Violin by Antonio Stradivari
My favorite

 

I was educated that an older string instrument was much better than a new one because the wood needs the vibration coming from the string to break it in.  On the contrary, it’s brand new instruments when it comes piano, and it needs to be black, 6’ or 7’ foot grand piano.  Restored Steinway piano has never been on my purchase list. J

I was ecstatic when this research article was released. The researcher’s finding definitely gives younger generation players a hope and great encouragement to carry on with their passion about music knowing that they can make great sound whether they play on a $2M of Stradivari violin or a $1000 student violin.

 

The study was led by Dr. Fritz, a flautist and a musical acoustics researcher and his research team at Piere and Marie Curie University in Paris. The concept was not to deny the work and sound of the maestros Stradivari or Guarneri del Gesu, or many other great instruments makers nor to promo new modern instruments as better than the older ones. It just simply wanted to show all the soloists that everyone can generate an astounding sound regardless of the value or the age of the violin. The research procedures were to ask Continue reading