So you know I have never given away sheet music of my music or any of the covers I’ve performed on occasion. I changed my mind, since many of my students want to play my music and I have often ended up writing it by hand for them, depending on their level (music tech isn’t my forte lol!) and because of the number of requests online. So I have decided that I will start making it available for you all on my site. The first one, the title track for the album The Journey is available now! Check it out- Click here. If you guys need different levels, or have any feedback, let me know! Piano & Violin or Piano & Guitar available now. Hugs to you all!
From the moment I had my first child, I felt the instinct, to sing to him. The same with my daughter as well. I have always sung songs to them almost every night. I think it’s very natural, and I’m certainly not alone! No matter how you sing, your baby will know your voice. It’s so natural! I also play violin for my little ones, and we sing songs, take music classes together and play with different instruments that we have at home. Our house is rarely without music.
This post is for any new student of mine, and for anyone else looking to start studying the violin. Firstly, congrats on choosing an AMAZING instrument! Learning to play the violin is a long rewarding journey, and mine, has been full of joy, creativity, tears, hard work, and the thrill of performing on stage. Everyone’s journey is different, and I wish you luck on yours!
To be clear, I don’t teach beginners online, I believe that many beginners require lessons face to face for physical adjustments as they start violin lessons. I do offer lessons online, but that is usually for more advanced students. I’m happy to help out and give advice where I can, but if you’re just starting out, you need to find a good teacher that can see you in person. I get asked all the time about violin lessons and what is needed when starting out. So for my beginner students that are studying with me and for anyone else interested in violin that wants to get an idea of that might entail, I hope this post helps! So, let’s started with what you need to get started:
Violin- you don’t need something super expensive to start with. Start by checking out a local music store with a good reputation. You should be able to buy or possibly rent a reasonable violin you can start out with. Don’t buy a super cheap violin online, it could end up costing you more and making your experience less positive than you would hope. Here’s a great blog about issues with buying super cheap violins- click here. It covers a lot of what I would tell you.
If you’re based in Calgary Alberta and are going to take lessons with me, chances are, I’ve recommended you to check out VA Hill Violins. I like VA Hill because I know they take the time to properly size you up, and choose a good chin rest, and they do it well. Bow- when you’re a beginner, chances are that your violin came with a bow whether rented or bought. Make sure if you buy one that the hair isn’t yellow and that there aren’t already hairs missing. Rosin- you need a good rosin preferably in a hard little case. I find students easily drop and shatter their rosin. There are great rosins that come in hard cases, I like these: D’Addario Kaplan Premium Rosin with Case. If you take good care of your rosin you’ll have it for a long time. Shoulder rest- this needs to be a personal choice and fit. I believe it’s important to play with a shoulder rest, unless you’re a professional baroque player. For those with anything other than a short neck, you will have better control over a modern violin when you use a shoulder rest. Get fitted by a professional who can show you all the options and discuss it with your teacher. Case- make sure it’s substantial enough to protect your violin and has enough space for all your gear. You can find cases that have pouches for your music too. That’s a personal choice.
2. Extra items:
Mute/practice mute- a mute will change the tone and volume of your instrument, often use in orchestral playing to achieve a certain quality of sound. A practice mute will allow you to play quietly so that you can practice at night when others are sleeping or so that you don’t bother the neighbours! They’re not super expensive at all. Metronome- this is a great tool for practice. Not for constant use as you need to be able to learn to have your own rhythm, but it does help you to learn how to play in time with a beat which will help when you begin playing with other instruments, and it does help you realize whether you’re playing in time or now. Electric Violin- You want to learn electric violin right off the bat? I get it! Who wouldn’t want to play amplified with some amazing music you’ve been inspired by. That’s great! It’s going to be a bit of work before you get there- you can get there! However, to start with, In my opinion, you will be a better player, whether electric or acoustic, if you start on. Acoustic violin so you can learn full control over your tone quality and all the subtleties of sound you can create with an acoustic. Electric violin really smooths over a lot of that and is a different technique. You will do it so much better with a full range technique. Talk to your teacher about when you can start incorporating electric violin into your practice.
Also, you need a notebook with lined pages and page with staff. From there we can move onto other books and repertoire depending on your learning style and preferences. These ones listed above are a great start. Your teacher will have their own preferences, so make sure you ask them!
4. Setting goals
What made you choose violin? Dreaming of gracing concert stages around the globe? Playing with a metal band? Playing with a DJ? Whatever your goals are, make sure you chat with your teacher about how you’re going to get there, and how much practice and work is required. Don’t forget your goals, as when you’re practicing daily and you meet some struggles, you can forget. So keep your eye on why you started in the first place! Don’t expect to sound amazing at first! The violin takes longer to sound great than some instruments as we don’t have frets and our tone takes skill with a bow to achieve.
One other thing- talk to others also learning the violin! Try joining a violin community! It’s really helpful to chat with other students and violinists, to find inspirational and educational videos about learning violin, and great performances you can watch, and ideas in general, and share your experiences.
I hope this helps! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me and ask!
Imagine you’re about to do your first large performance. You’re practiced and ready to play. You feel confident on stage! What are you going to wear? Women ask themselves this question every day, let alone where it impacts your musical brand and your business.
So many questions to ask…Is this a recital situation where you’re going to wear all black? Or are you going to choose to show your personality and style? Sometimes as musicians, many of us will have an inbuilt sense of style that guides us. Some of us just need a stylist to interpret our personality and music into a style that we recognize as our own. Everyone has their path!
When I was studying for my degree, I heard all the time that it doesn’t matter what you wear, and despite the fact that I’m known for wearing flamboyant outfits and gowns, during my degree, it was nice not to wear heels, and to just focus on my playing. Even that can be taken too far though! I once wore flip flops and jeans and T shirt to an exam, and lost points for that. I guess I took the instructions that what you wear is not important, a little too far.
I have had situations where a I have been loaned beautiful items to wear, which is amazing, and I’m so grateful for those opportunities! Sometimes however, they just don’t work, for example, very long earrings that will hit the body of my violin… heels that are difficult to walk in let alone dance in… dresses that don’t suit my very curvy figure, or dresses that have such a long train in a material that doesn’t slide along the floor easily, so I know I’m going to get stuck somewhere if I move around the room.
So, when I am choosing wardrobe for my performances, I consider these important factors as a violinist:
First of all, I need to LOVE IT! It has to reflect my style.
I need freedom of movement of my arms and shoulders. If I really love it… can I get it altered to work for me?
If I plan to interact with the audience and move during the show, I consider how I will deal with a long flowing dress or train, and try it on during a rehearsal to make sure it will work.
If I’m traveling, how will the outfit fair with a long plane ride, and will I need dry cleaning/steaming on the other end? Will it be easily available in a timely fashion before the show etc…
Is it suitable for the event/concert I will be playing?
Does it work for my figure?
Will it easily host my mobile sound equipment? i.e. my wireless transmitter and my in-ear monitors?
Personally I LOVE the colour red! I also love statement pieces, and just being who I am. I love wearing dresses that accentuate my movements on stage and add to the drama! I love pieces that become a part of my show and my trade mark, and it’s just so FUN! My years in theater and dance have definitely taught me that costuming is a large part of the show, and it really is. The way you interact with the audience, the way you tell your story with your instrument and the way that you dress all adds to the experience.
I have definitely had my style crisis moments, but in the end, it wasn’t really a style crisis! They were identity crisis moments after years of being told how I really should sound and what I really should look like. Years after being told I need to be more blonde, thinner/curvier, whatever it was….. I have learnt that how we present ourselves to the world as a huge impact on our careers, and in music, it is even more amplified in my opinion, and when we are sure of who we are as people, as musicians, that the choices become easier. For me, aside from the practical choices that need to be made when choosing a wardrobe that works for stage, discovering and knowing who I am, is the most important thing!
Some of you guys have been requesting that Sophie perform your favorite covers…. and so we decided to create a new YouTube Series for just that! Here are a couple of Sophie’s favorite songs, on electric violin with guitarist/producer Mike Sands, plus one that you guys voted for, on Sophie’s YouTube Channel Now! Click here to check out the series!