Category Archives: Music

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.

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.


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.


Joshua Bell performing with Huberman’s Stradivarius violin


The Return of Violin
The Return of the Violin chronicles the odyssey of a 301-year-old Stradivarius, now played by Joshua Bell.


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 ☺– 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

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

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!



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”

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 Gwiżdż‘s grandson Hubert Gwiżdż, a violinist, will debut this beautiful violin to the world.

“Despite its growing reputation, we must still do more to promote the 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.

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