Technique Tips Video Series

Tanya and I have been teaching viola lessons online via Skype since 2011. At this point, the vast majority of our studio is entirely online, and we've gotten to meet viola players (and even a few violin players) on five…

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In Memoriam: Barbara Barstow

Over forty years ago, Barbara Barstow started me on violin (and later converted me to viola!) in her home teaching studio in Belle Mead, New Jersey. Barbara was also the conductor of many of the orchestras at the New Jersey…

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Greatest Hits from the Twenties


1520's and 1620's: Doubling Choirs

During the first 200 years of the viola's existence, it was doing mostly what it was invented to do: doubling vocal parts. Now, more than 500 years later, many believe the viola is still the…

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Celebrating 300 Years of Bach

Originally posted on 1/3/20 as 'Artist-in-Residence' for the American Viola Society:

Happy New Year! I'm looking forward to being the American Viola Society's artist in residence for the next couple of months. I'm supposed to write a new blog post…

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New Orleans, Louisiana

from an earlier post:

Tanya and I used to live in New Orleans. A week after our duo CD Sketches from the New World was released-- and before we could have the CD release party-- Hurricane Katrina hit, and the…

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Our Adventure in the Orchestra World

from an earlier post:

As a young teenager, I wrote orchestral music that was performed in my home state of New Jersey by the Philharmonic of New Jersey, the Hunterdon Symphony, the New Jersey Youth Symphony, and the Brunswick Symphony…

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The Popularity of the Viola

Originally posted on 2/28/20 as 'Artist-in-Residence' for the American Viola Society:

Classical musicians and audiences often see things differently. In my experience, audiences love the viola. These are people who (probably in most cases) didn't attend conservatory to study an…

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Viola Lessons....Online?

Originally posted on 2/21/20 as 'Artist-in-Residence' for the American Viola Society:

It was around a decade ago that I first heard about the possibility of taking viola lessons via Skype. Once I thought about it a bit and saw the…

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Parochialism in Music

Originally posted on 2/14/20 as 'Artist-in-Residence' for the American Viola Society:

I have spent a bit of time in different musical worlds, and I've noticed that those who primarily spend time in only one or two of them tend to…

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Violacentrism > Viola Separatism

Originally posted on 2/7/20 as 'Artist-in-Residence' for the American Viola Society:

Although the viola is the greatest instrument of all time (it says so in the Book of Cremonus), I'm actually not a Viola Separatist. (Sorry.) That is to say…

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The Composer's (Holy?) Intentions

Originally posted on 1/31/20 as 'Artist-in-Residence' for the American Viola Society:

People seem to like an agreed-upon authority to magnify their already pre-existing opinions. 

Whether cherry-picking from the Constitution or the bible, it's not merely their own little opinion now---…

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Ditching the Shoulder Rest

Originally posted on 1/24/20 as 'Artist-in-Residence' for the American Viola Society:

According to polls I've seen over at, approximately 80 percent of people use shoulder rests, and based on my own observations, I'd say of the 20 percent who…

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