I’ve received countless questions about the tools I use everyday, from those I use to make music to those I use to organize my research. This page will document some of these tools and will be updated as my needs and preferences change.
Let’s get the big items out of the way first.
- Francois Louis Pique – It has a full and dark sound. And it’s loud.
- Carlo Bisiach – The clearest, fastest violin I have ever played. Unlike most modern Italians on which I’ve played, this Bisiach has the soul of an older instrument. The figure of the back and ribs is a beautiful quilted pattern. Over the past year this violin has become my primary instrument.
- A contemporary Italian violin by Maurizio Catellani – A full and weighty sound. It’s a reliable instrument with clear articulation and plenty of volume.
- English viola c. 1900, 16 inches – Yikes, a viola! Yes, I sometimes play viola. The first time I performed chamber music with viola in hand, critics from Strad Magazine and The New York Times were in attendance. Luckily, the concert went well.
Writing this, it just occurred to me that all three of my primary violins feature one-piece backs. While I have never consciously identified a preference for back construction when evaluating instruments (or using that as a point of rejecting an instrument), it seem that I do indeed gravitate towards a certain construction. Look at the bows below; you’ll see another gravitational pattern.
- James Tubbs – Gold mounted, whalebone winding. Amazingly dark sound and seamlessly moves through changes. If one could consider a bow to be “musical,” this would be it.
- Joseph Alfred Lamy – Whalebone winding. A harder sound than the Tubbs, and more articulate on some instruments.
- Joe DaCunha – Whalebone winding (noticing a theme yet?). This bow, using a Pecatte model, was made for me. Right now it’s my primary bow with the Bisiach.
- John Norwood Lee – This bow was made for me and is a copy of my high school violin teacher’s Tourte.
Now for some of the instrumental accoutrements…
- Chinrest – Alexander Accessories John Dunne High. Jeffrey Holmes, who was setting up one of my violins, suggested that I try a side-mounted chinrest to increase bass resonance. While it seems paradoxical, it really does work. The AA rests are works of art, handmade in England of legitimate boxwood, not the stuff labeled as such from the Far East.
- Cases – BAM Hightech Shaped, Gewa Air Oblong, Bein & Fushi Oblong. I love the BAM case and have my students get them. The lightness of the case has saved my shoulders as I lug my violin through NYC and various airports. I suppose my adoration is based primarily on their weight and if something came along that was lighter and similarly priced, I’d be sure to investigate. The B&F case was a gift from the shop when I was accepted to Juilliard. While decidedly old-school now, I still like its old-world elegance, if not its weight.
- Rosin – Andrea Violin Solo. I had been a user of the old Tartini rosin, which was a revelation. I dearly miss it. The Andrea is fine, but it’s NOT Tartini.
- Stand – Yamaha Folding Music Stand. This is the obscenely expensive one, not to be confused with the cheap wire stand. Another “revelation” product. The first time I encountered these, many years ago, I was skeptical that they’d last more than a week; I’m now a believer. I’ve had mine for nearly a decade and it’s still going strong.
- Metronome – The Original Dr. Beat. I’ve had this thing forever and it’s on its last leg. My fellow quartet members hate it. I don’t imagine myself upgrading to the newer version – it seems far to complicated. (Who needs some computerized voice counting 5 against 14?) For teaching, I almost always use a free metronome app now.