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Why we're going back on tour to Chicago  

Last year's Indiegogo Project enabled my colleague and me to start what we hope will be a long-term endeavor; to create a chamber music series around the Chicago-land area that audiences can get excited about! 

Chamber music is what we love to do because it enables us (the musicians) to perform music that has stood the test of time. 

Furthermore, we believe that Chicago is a world-class city that is open to projects like this. Our group, the Chicago Chamber Music Project, aims to target audiences who enjoy classical music in various settings. Our vision includes commissioning works by living composers, performing different genres of classical music, and exploring various chamber music works. 

We hope to see you in the concert hall and experience Mozart, Piazzolla, Beethoven, and Fuchs with us!

Why I don't practice 7 hours a day 

Why I don't practice for 7 hours a day

Well, I used to practice 7 hours a day in my youth. Although back then I didn't really know how to practice efficiently. 

In high school, I was practicing hard and not getting the results I wanted. It was until I reached college where I realized that practicing smart and establishing a daily routine can be better for me in the long run than playing mindlessly for 7 hours. 

Here's why I don't practice 7 hours a day

It's physically exhausting

It's physically exhausting for me to practice 7 hours a day. Also, practicing that long might lead to injuries as a result of overusing your muscles and joints.

I lack focus after the 4th hour

Have you ever felt that you do something repetitive for many hours that your mind starts to wander? That happens to me ALL the time. You're not alone! I even tell my students that it's better to divide up your practice into sections if you have the time. My mind isn't focused if I've been at it for 4 hours straight (with breaks). For me, taking breaks and letting my mind rest from the daily exercise I do with my instrument helps me stay on track .

Staying in a practice room won't teach you about the secrets of music

Music helps us understand our humanity. Being a good player is not enough. Knowing the history behind the music, studying the score, and being curious about the composer's life are just a few things that practicing won't help. 

Now, there are people who are capable of practicing 7 hours a day. But I encourage anyone who wants to tackle a extensive practice regimen to draft a practice plan to prevent injuries and have smart, focused practice. 

I'm gonna go practice now :D 

3 Things you might not know about me  

Things you might not know about me:

1) I'm a HUGE Marvel Movie fan. 

2) When the world cup is around, I stop everything and watch the games (or practice while watching, although I don't recommend it)

lastly, 

3) Fried pork chop with co slaw and mashed potatoes on the side is my absolute favorite dish. Mom makes it best ;) 

Collaboration 

I'm just bouncing off a gig in Maine and I want to write this all down for you while it's still fresh in my mind. 

This weekend I traveled a thousand miles by car, performed in two states and played over 2 hours of music 4 times. 

However, this time around these performances was different than anything I expected. They were special because of the musicians in the group. It's what made it an incredible experience. 

Collaboration is what we do on a daily basis. But in order for collaborations to work, there needs to be mutual respect amongst your colleagues. When people are prepared to do the job right, it makes the process so much more enjoyable!

That's when you can truly make amazing music together. Today, I'm off to Europe to embark on another musical journey in Italy.  


Find Eric on iTunes by clicking here to hear the latest on the ETV Podcast and subscribe! 

Conceptualizing Sound 

Conceptualizing Sound

 

Sound. What do you think of when you think of sound when you play the violin?

We listen to music and sound differently then we used to 40 years ago. I bet you watched a bunch of different violinists on YouTube and thought,
"Wow, I want to sound like that."

Every musician on the planet has their opinion on sound. This leads me to a question on my mind, what determines a good sound from a bad sound? 

Is it their violin, bow, or strings? Perhaps it's a combination of everything? 

what would you say if I told you that achieving your next level sound is all in your head?

Every string player's instrument is going to sound different. And you know what? Thank GOODNESS for that! If we lived in a world where we all sound the same, it would be, simply put, boring. 

Listening to your sound in your head before you play helps you think critically about what you want to produce.

It's a state of mind

Conceptualizing your sound for the music that you're playing will make you sound the way you want to sound. 

Now, another question to ask is, "How do I do this as a violinist?" 

You can achieve this goal by simply going back to the basics and focusing on your violin technique. Another great and simple way to see how you're doing is by recording yourself. this will let you stay grounded and very much aware of the sound you want to get out of your instrument. 


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Finding The Special Sauce 

Finding The Special Sauce

(2 min. read)

The picture above is EXACTLY what I'm looking forward to eating when I step off the plane. Some fresh tomatoes, basil, and pasta from the town of Piobicco. Also on the to-do list, drink a quality cup of Italian espresso every morning no matter what! 

While all of this sounds amazing, my duo partner and I are working hard to make sure that we perform well at the festival in preparation for our tour to Italy,. We talk about making sure that we perform at a high level, but also making sure that our musicality isn't bland. 

I mean, how many different interpretations can you have for a Franck sonata? (I've heard hundreds) 

You play music that has traditions that go along with it and generations of violinists have said the same thing about how to make the sonata sound good, what kind of vibrato was appropriate at the time, interpretation, history, etc.

That is the case with most instrumental music out there. 

We talk about finding special qualities in a piece all the time during rehearsal, and I call this process, finding the special sauce. 

Is it vibrato? Is it your interpretation of the music? Is it your research that influence both? Communicating these to your audience verbally or through performance is important because many people in your audience are going to sit there and not know the music, the history, and the traditions that come along with it. 

Your audience will remember the special ingredients that you share with them and will want to be coming back for more for your artistry. This will take a little bit of thought as to how you're going to do it. But if you cook up an amazing dish, your voice will be heard. 

Practice Performing 

Practice Performing

Classical musicians that I've talked to recently say that the older they get, the more difficult it is to handle their nerves on stage. 

Why is that the case? Is it due to the lack of performance opportunities or the amount of pressure that we put on ourselves when we perform in front of an audience?

It may be a combination of both. 

That's why it's important to know your tendencies and learn how to control them. 

Each performer has their pre-concert rituals that help ease their sweaty palms and twitchy fingers. But there will be a performance where you won't have the luxury of your pre-concert ritual. 

What will you do then?

What it comes down to is the amount of time you practice and perform. We're so concerned as musicians to get everything perfect in the practice room that we forget that we actually need to get comfortable performing in front of people. 

If you're a conservatory student, then one of your options is to play in front of your colleagues in a studio class. Or, maybe you practice performing behind closed doors and you perform for your friends. You have the control of the venue. it doesn't have to be anything fancy! 

The only way you get better at it is by doing it more. It's also important to know that you shouldn't be thinking about perfection. You should focus on playing your absolute best in different settings. 

Performing doesn't need to be scary. Performing more gets you out of your shell and will help you improve on the bigger goal: sharing music with others. 

Top 10 things You Need If You're A Freelance Musician 

When you gig so frequently, you learn and make mistakes on the job. It's perfectly normal, but you want to avoid making mistakes as much as possible. Even if it's a simple wedding, or you're asked to fill in for someone the day before, you need to always be ready.

Here are the top 10 things every freelance musician needs to have a successful gig:

Your Equipment is Ready To Go

Going to a gig or a rehearsal with your instrument sounding bad will not give people the best impression of you. Make it a daily habit to check if your equipment is in good shape so that you continue sounding awesome. 

Have A Sturdy Music Stand

During wedding season, you're most likely going to be playing outside and possibly a windy area. Make sure to find yourself a sturdy stand for outdoor gigs and events so that you don't run the risk of having your music fall off while the bride is walking down the aisle. That's a no-no.

Keep an Extra Set of Strings Handy

This one's a given, but always worth mentioning nonetheless.

Sheet Music/Know the music

Again, really obvious, but make sure you or someone else at your gig has the music. 

Contractor/Coordinator

Knowing who the contractor and coordinators are for the event will help make your life easier. It's also not a bad idea to get their email or phone number just in case something happens. 

Address

Know where you're going? Good, double check to make sure you arrive in plenty of time. 

On-time arrival

Don't be the last one showing up for the gig. The rule of thumb is that if you're on time, you're late. Always arrive a little before the call time. It gives a bad impression if you're late. Always communicate with the coordinator your ETA. Oh, and make sure you have enough gas in the car. 

Business Cards

You never know who you're going to meet so it's always a good idea to have business cards, make the investment to get high-quality cards, that will leave an impression. 

Professionalism 

People never forget first impressions. Make sure people perceive you as a professional. In addition, It's also important to make friendly conversation so that people know you're human. 

Have a good time!

I can assure you that by achieving these 9 steps, then you'll have a smooth gig experience. 

 

Music Is Not JUST A Profession 

Music Is Not JUST A Profession

The life of a musician can be tricky.

Any job someone takes in the music industry can be exhausting and even frustrating. That's why music is more than just a profession, it's a lifestyle. Vienna is arguably the classical music capital of the world. To the Viennese, music is embedded in their culture. They can't live without and breath without it. The Viennese put a hierarchy on music over sports. Can you imagine?

Of course, it would be unfair to compare sports and music. They're entirely different things. If you're reading this, you're probably a teacher, orchestra performer, quartet member, or all three. My friends, you need to know how to do everything in this field. And isn't it amazing that we have the chance to do everything? 

I'm so grateful that I have variety in my career. Music to me is much more than a profession. Taking my life into various settings and playing music continues to be a joy to me and I never get tired of it. The countless hours of practice and dedication we put if you don't love what you're doing then why bother?

You go to the practice room and I get frustrated if I'm having a bad day. I get it, it stinks. I've been there and I know you've been there too. But the feeling when you go on stage and make music with the right people at the right time, it's priceless to me. And those are the moments I live for. 

How to learn repertoire quickly 

I'm heading into the summer with a lot of new repertoire to learn and trying to learn this violin rep as well as I can so that it's performance ready. 

There are many ways to learn rep but I hope that this post will help you get an idea of how to reach our violin goals faster. 

Click Here to check out my practice tips

Before we dive in, I want to address that not all of these things may work for you. But I hope some of them will and get to use these in your daily violin practice.

Stick to a system

Violinists want balanced and organized practice sessions but hardly ever achieve them. 

Why is that?

Systems work because they give us structure. However, you need to be diligent and motivated in order for a system to work. By establishing a system, you improve your playing and learn repertoire faster. 

You can't play well if you don't feel well

Let's face it, you can't play if you're sick. That's a given...

What I mean is that you should put yourself in a position where you can feel confident about your playing. Lack of confidence won't help you learn rep quickly, it will instead make you spiral down into a hole making it impossible to get out. Putting yourself in a position for success will help you get results. 

and finally...

Rest

I've talked about rest before. Not only do I love to sleep (haha) I think that sleep is probably the most important out of all three points here. WIthout rest, you can't do the other things on this list. Getting good quality rest will help you accomplish your goals because you won't run the risk of mindless practicing. 


So there you have it!

3 things I swear by to help me get better at the violin. 

Have any practice tips? Leave your comments below!

Gratitude in the Freelance Community 

An important thing I've noticed in music recently is that it's important to treat your colleagues the way you treat yourself. Gratitude in a competitive gig/freelance economy comes a long way if you're trying to make it. 

When you're performing in a violin section, your stand partner is going to forgive you if you miss a note in a performance. We're only humans and it happens. Yes, you and your violin playing make an impression. But gratitude will help you continue getting work as a violinist.

There will be a moment where you'll have too many gigs and don't want to run the risk of double booking yourself. All of a sudden you're in a position where you have the opportunity to help contract gigs!

I recently handed over a violin gig to a colleague recently and I'm glad this person was able to take it.  A few years ago when I was trying to get my name out in the Boston freelance scene, there were people who believed in me and believed in my potential even when I was starting out.

It's all about giving gratitude to the people around you and believing in them

It's a reminder that we're all in this together. If we help instead of compete then we create an awesome musical culture that will help violinists continue getting work in a communal effort. In the end, we'll continue doing what we love and make our audiences happy. 

The music world is small and people are watching whether you like it or not. Pay the gigs forward and good will come your way! 

What kind of musician are you? 


When you walk around each corner of Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, you can't help but run into people with guitars, violins, cellos, and keyboards on their backs and under their arms. This is the exact thought that comes to my head while sitting at the Starbucks sitting across the street from the Berklee College of Music tower moments ago.There's a bit of nostalgia just sitting here where I used to do my music theory, and study my orchestra music with my earbuds in. Life as a student was good. 

There are SO many of us in this town. A few of you are going to graduate in the next week from universities and conservatories, and you're going to have NO IDEA what to do. 

Believe me, I was there. 

I wasn't really sure what my direction was for a couple years after I graduated.  All I knew was that if I relied on my network and connections, I'll get by. I had a full time music job working 40 hours close to minimum wage in addition to gigs. I learned a lot from this job and made friends that I still talk to, but it got to a point where I wasn't happy. 

I wasn't happy because I wasn't performing as much. If I wanted to, but my superiors wouldn't let me take the opportunities to do so.

So, I left the job. 

As a recent grad who had bills to pay, I had a car, a violin, and no full-time job. Great, right?

Thankfully, leaving the job allowed me to take some more performing opportunities and ACTUALLY enjoy what I do. 

With all that's going on in the media these days about the lack of funding for the National Endowment of the Arts, not enough full time orchestra jobs,  you would think that my argument of becoming of a musician would be torn to shreds by now. 

What if I told you that's not the case?

Being a violinist in a vibrant musical city as a student is one thing. Being a violinist in that setting as a professional is another. The struggle was real. 

I had to narrow down what my priorities in music were, what my professional goals are as a violinist, and try to envision a life in music that will make happy, and importantly, stay happy. That's when I realized that the only way to take control of my life was to create opportunities for myself and for my friends was to go all-in as a heavy freelance entrepreneur violinist. 

Becoming a musical entrepreneur gives you the opportunity to choose. It gives you freedom. Most importantly, you find purpose. You get to choose what kind of musician you want to be once you made it clear for yourself that you're not willing to accept the status quo, and create a path for yourself. The moment you become transparent about the type of musician you are and what you want to be, then congratulations! You've answered a very difficult question that musicians have trouble with. 

The life of a musician is already difficult as it is. Knowing who you are takes you one step closer to finding what your strengths are, and finding your niche. 


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Curiosity Sparks Imagination 

Spark Of Imagination


It's fascinating to me as a violinist when I look at a piece of music for the first time and try to find something (or many things) interesting things about it. When I'm curious about something, I get inspired to grow this idea!

I try to get to know a piece of music not just by practicing my violin. Some of those things include basic things like learning the score to a piece or getting interested in the history of the music. That's the stuff that excites me! You can learn a lot about what the composer was thinking about during the time of when the composition was written by asking some of these questions:

Is the music trying to say something specific?

How does the composer want me to play their piece?

Once you've answered these questions, then it's time to expand your creativity and play the piece through your voice. That's how you stand out from everyone else.

Audiences come to listen to music, sure.

But they also come to a concert to see and hear you, the performer.   

People want to hear what you have to say and they'll be coming back for more. Give them the opportunity to transcend into a different world if they have never experienced your music before. Let your audience be curious. Show them that playing the violin, or any instrument for that matter, gives them the opportunity to dream with their eyes and ears. 

Audiences want to be inspired

Why not you be the first one to give them that gift?

Biggest lessons from our violin/piano tour 

 

 

 

 

We did it!

We crowdfunded our Indiegogo campaign, and we organized the performance in a city that we had to fly to. 

While we found a lot of success from the tour, there are a few bumps along the way. Many of the things that happened to us were unexpected, unpredictable, and out of our control. Here is a list of things that my colleague and I learned that we hope you can keep in mind when you set up your tour:

When you're flying for your tour, make sure you have a Plan A, B, and C. 

Even we planned our flight schedule 3 months before our tour. What we didn't plan for was a Nor'easter flying out of Boston a week and a half before the first day of Spring. Thankfully, we got the last flight out of Boston, but we were trying to come up with other solutions to get to Chicago. Whatever the situation is, expect the unexpected!

You don't always have the luxury of rehearsing.

We're grateful to have friends in Chicago helping us borrow and volunteer their space to rehearse. But, what if there was no space to rehearse? As a violinist, you have to always be ready. Which leads me to my next point...

You don't have the luxury of changing the conditions of the venue.

If it's too hot, too cold, too bad!

Not enough time to get used to the space? Sorry...

Each venue has their own rules about using their space for dress rehearsal. They didn't make an exception for us and treated the duo as if any other performer was about to give a recital days before. We had to be flexible and adjust our ears to the acoustics quickly. Some parts of the performance were successful, and some weren't. But you have to move forward and make the most of the situation. 

Lastly...

Trying to overcome travel fatigue. 

This was a big one for us. With traveling back and forth from space to space, we spent a lot of time in the car in Chicago traffic. (The kennedy-edens merger will always continue to be the worst merger I know of in highway architecture). More in the time + less time practice room = lots of stress. 

We'll learn from this experience to make it an even better tour later 2018! 


I hope our experience will help you avoid a lot of the trouble's we faced. Liked what you read? Get the conversation going! 

Brady vs. Beethoven 

Brady vs Beethoven, an overview of Tom Brady's Tom vs Time and a closer look at the relationship between sports and music. 


There's a certain truth when it comes to playing the violin. If you want to find success in music, there's a lot of work and sacrifice you need to make. People are going to start with you at the beginning of your journey, but there's no guarantee that everyone will make it to the end with success. 

In the spirit of this past Super Bowl, the release of Tom vs Time,  a documentary giving the world a closer look into the life of Tom Brady, a quarterback for the New England Patriots. Brady reveals to the world of his views on parenthood, a role model to the world, and the daily routines that help him become the greatest American football player of all time. 

With five NFL championships under his belt, he could've easily retired by now. Yet, he's playing well (if not better) than he did when he was in his twenties. Tom vs Time shows Brady's devotion to the sport. We learn through these episodes that he strives for greatness because of his work ethic, his mental toughness, and we learn most importantly, that he's never satisfied. He's always looking for ways to be better every day. 

Now, why on Earth would I bring a violinist's attention to Tom Brady?

Violinists and athletes share a lot of the same qualities in their careers. While violinists spend hours practicing, researching and score studying, athletes like Tom Brady are analyzing each play they made the week, and in years past. Athletes, study, practice, and need rest as violinists do. 

Would it be fair to compare Tom Brady to Beethoven?

Musicians can learn a lot from athletes because, in many ways, we are athletes.  The number of hours athletes and musicians spend training for their next event are countless. Malcolm Gladwell's theory that it takes ten thousand hours to perfect a skill is a good theory to compare to. But if you're able to watch the Facebook episodes, you see Brady spends a lot of time off the field studying defenses similarly to violinists and all classical musicians alike to prepare for an audition with an orchestra score in front of them. 

Brady, like Beethoven, is never satisfied. We know Beethoven was always trying to improve his music. He was constantly searching for the meaning of life through music.  Through five different Facebook episodes released earlier this year, while all of New England called him the Greatest of All Time, we see a man trying to find balance in his life between career and family. Something violinists can learn from this documentary is the work ethic

What can classical musicians (particularly violinists) learn from Tom Brady and his journey in Tom vs Time?

  1. Playing the violin is a physical and mental game
  2. To a part of the game, being social is
  3. Violinists work with their emotions
  4. Music, in many cases, helps us grow spiritually.  

Beethoven had many struggles along the way. That didn't stop him from composing.  Just like Tom Brady, he won't stop because of failure. It doesn't stop him from pursuing his passion. 


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