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Jingle, Jingle...*SNAP*
By Joanie Mercy
12/3/2010 8:26:00 AM  


I should really know better after how many decades of violin playing – but I must admit… I forgot to use my Dampit – and paid the price.

My concert violin is an older instrument, so it has seen its share of repairs.  I normally look after it like an only child, but for the past four years, I haven’t been as diligent.  Because four years ago I actually brought my only child (a beautiful girl) into the world. 

As performers and teachers, we musicians stay pretty busy.  And our instruments are like our left arm, constantly attached.  But life brings us marriages, kids, commitments, and those things have a way of rearranging our priorities.

But I digress… back to the Dampit…

Here I was last week, putting up the Christmas Tree with my husband and daughter (well, my daughter was dis-assembling the tree and we were trying to stay one step ahead of her).   My daughter was in a musical mood, and so was I, so I took out my violin, singing to myself, “Jingle Bells, Jingle…” *SNAP!*

That didn’t sound good.  I winced and looked at the bottom edge of my violin.  The seam had come apart.  Bah, Humbug.

I hung my head.  I hadn’t filled my Dampit in weeks.  My busy life just carried me away with it.  I tilted the violin to get a better look at the gaping hole in the side and heard *PLINK* - Great.  The sound post inside fell over.  *THUNK* - down went my bridge.

This wasn’t the end of the world, it’s a simple repair for a luthier even to glue and clamp the open seam, but it was still embarrassing.  I should have known better.

The moral of my story is this:  In the Fall and Winter, as soon as it starts getting colder and drier outside:  Use – Your – Dampit – Every – Day.  Water it once a week, keep it in your case or in the f-hole of the violin/viola/cello/bass/guitar, and you’re good.  And don’t leave your instrument in hot or cold areas, or in the car in extremes of temperature – not ever

My daiughter will always be #1 with me.  But I truly need to find time for my poor neglected violin.  Otherwise, I’ll be singing Christmas carols for the family this year… and believe me, they don’t want that.

Tags: string instrument care, string instrument maintenance, Dampit
Categories: Band & Orchestra
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Keeping the Joy
By Joanie Mercy
10/27/2010 2:08:00 PM  

happy child with violinIt’s been three months since your child’s first day in band or orchestra.  At first, it was new and exciting, and music seemed to be ringing all through the house.  But now, the newness has worn off and the progress is starting to slow down. How can you help keep the joy in your child’s music experience like he/she had in the beginning?  Here’s how:

1. Be involved.  This can be difficult with work schedules and the busy lives of other siblings.  Listen to as many home practice sessions as you can, even if it has to be from the next room. Go to school concerts, take your kids to local symphony or high school concerts – especially those that feature the instrument your child is playing.

2. Remind him/her that like all things, progress requires work (home practice). Sometimes the work will be easier, sometimes it will be harder, but it will pay off!

3. Set practice times.  Practice doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Consistency is the key.  Start with 15 minutes, 5 days a week. As the pieces of music get harder, and more pieces are added, your child will need to add more practice time.

4. Set goals.  These will change as your child’s skill level changes. For instance, is the goal today to play the notes more in tune? Practice longer?  Your child’s band or orchestra teacher will give these goals to him.  Find out what they are, and write them down in a little notebook. Cross them off as they’re done.

5. Get some fun music to inspire your budding musician!  There are lots of books available for beginning players, and many of them come with play-along background CDs.  Choose from holiday music, movie music, Disney tunes and more!

Tags: Band, Orchestra, Child Education, Arts Education, Music Education, Music Tips, Practicing, Music, Goals, Musicianship, Musician, Better Musicianship
Categories: Band & Orchestra
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