New! Violin for Self-Enrichment Series

This summer I’ve been noticing how enjoyable it is learning about new things and that got me to thinking, “I bet people would enjoy trying something new and learning how to play the violin”. It has been a long time since I made my first violin tutorial videos and my technology is a lot better, so I decided to give it a go and start a new series.

I’m calling it “Violin for Self-Enrichment” because it’s a lesson series designed for people who just want to learn something new. They don’t necessarily need to be specialists in playing music, just people who have an interest in playing violin. This is such an enjoyable thing to do. Even though I’m a professional violinist, I’ve recently taken up playing the piano purely for fun, so I want to give others the chance to do something new as well.

I plan on making more videos down the road and even putting together a companion lesson book. For now, here’s Phase 1 of Violin for Self-Enrichment. 🙂


Sound Sculpture at the Pasadena Museum of California Art

Recently my family and I were exploring some of the museums in the LA area and we had the good fortune of visiting the Pasadena Museum of California Art. We happened to visit during the exhibit entitled “Time, Space & Matter: Five Installations Exploring Natural Phenomena”. Right away I noticed elements that are found in music and even before reading about what the artists had in mind, I was struck by the way they had put in front of me the things that composers use to make music, for example, time, sounds, nature, etc. I had never seen an exhibit like this before, even though it’s often easy to draw parallel between visual arts and music. This exhibit is unique because it brings to the viewers’ attention basic forces that are alive in the universe and which are so mysterious and powerful, yet are with us every day.

Several of the art pieces in the museum struck me with an intense energy, but the one by Mineko Grimmer had a different effect. Her work was beautifully meditative. Suspended from the ceiling hung a chunk of pebbles in ice. As the ice melted, the pebbles fell onto the bamboo and metal below to make different sounds. This sound sculpture creates an ongoing musical composition. There are certain elements that the artist has chosen to include, but you never know when and how they will be expressed. It is such a beautiful and immediate experience. On me it had a very calming effect.

Here is a video I found of a similar piece. The one in Pasadena was a single structure, but the sounds were very similar to the ones you will hear on the left. To truly be able to appreciate the beauty of this art, you would want to see it in person.

“The Dialogue” by Mineko Grimmer

Mineko Grimmer is an artist who was born in Japan and studied at the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, Los Angeles, CA. To find out more about her, you can visit

This exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art runs from May 4 to August 31, 2014, so you still have time to go check it out it you want to.


The Life of the Artist: Ralph Lauren

This is one of the best depictions of the life of the artist that I have ever witnessed. Ralph Lauren captures all the adventure, fears, and excitement one feels when he or she comes to create. He says something that has been communicated by Stravinsky, Michelangelo, Beethoven, all artists that have striven to work with integrity. If you seek to be creative yourself, in life as in art, I hope this video inspires you.

Ralph Lauren: In His Own Words

Natural Music

IMG_3079During these summer months, it’s a great time to go out and explore the world of nature, so full of mystery and inspiration. For eons humans have contemplated nature and their place in it and have communicated their findings through art. Think of the prehistoric paintings found in the Cave of Altamira in northern Spain. We are really part of nature ourselves, and our feelings and emotions come from this natural existence. No wonder then that so many of us take delight in witnessing the myriad of ways artists explore nature.

Franz Schubert’s Lied, “Auf dem Wasser zu Singen” is a beautiful celebration of the soul and uses imagery from nature to communicate things that would otherwise be hidden.

Barbara Bonney Geoffrey Parsons “Auf dem Wasser zu singen” Franz Schubert


Mitten im Schimmer der spiegelnden Wellen
Gleitet, wie Schwäne, der wankende Kahn :
Ach, auf der Freude sanftschimmernden Wellen
Gleitet die Seele dahin wie der Kahn;
Denn von dem Himmel herab auf die Wellen
Tanzet das Abendrot rund um den Kahn.

Ăśber den Wipfeln des westlichen Haines
Winket uns freundlich der rötliche Schein;
Unter den Zweigen des östlichen Haines
Säuselt der Kalmus im rötlichen Schein;
Freude des Himmels und Ruhe des Haines
Atmet die Seel im errötenden Schein.

Ach, es entschwindet mit tauigem FlĂĽgel
Mir auf den wiegenden Wellen die Zeit;
Morgen entschwinde mit schimmerndem FlĂĽgel
Wieder wie gestern und heute die Zeit,
Bis ich auf höherem strahlendem Flügel
Selber entschwinde der wechselnden Zeit.


In the midst of the shimmer of reflecting waves
Like swans, glides the bouncing rowboat
Ah, over the joyous, gently-shimmering waves
Glides the soul like the rowboat.
From the heaven on down the waves
Dances the evening glow around the boat.

Above the top of the western grove
Friendly greets us the red glow;
Below the branches of the eastern grove
The reeds rustle in the red glow.
Heavenly joy and the peace of the groves
The soul breathes in the evening glow.

Ah, disappears from me with the dewey wings
On rocking waves, flies the time
Disappears tomorrow on shimmering wings
Just like yesterday and today, flies the time.
Until I myself on more highly radiant wings
Flee from the changing time.,_D.774_%28Schubert,_Franz%29

Debussy’s “La Mer” (The Sea) is a beautiful example, a painting of movement and sound, the sea in all its colors and changes.

Gergiev cond. LSO

IMG_3071The visual arts and music often agree in their interpretations of nature. This painting was done by the British artist Joseph Turner in 1840, about twenty years before Debussy’s “La Mer” was composed. It is now housed in the Huntington Library in San Marina, CA. It is entitled “Neapolitan Fisher-Girls Surprised Bathing by Moonlight”. If you look at this painting and listen to “La Mer” it is easy to see that they are connected in a strange and mysterious way, dynamic, blurred, and engaging to the imagination, directly and actively involved in nature.

There are other ways to interact with nature, some much more literal. For example, some visual artists will paint something they see and it looks so real, as it it could almost get up and move.Or think of the still life paintings of the Dutch Golden Age with fruit that looks so juicy you want to pick it up and eat it! This literal imitation happens in music as well. Many animals welcome musical imitation because sound as communication happens in the animal world all the time. Among other uses, male birds use song to communicate to females. Here is a video discussing the sounds of birds of paradise.

The French composer Oliver Messiaen (1908 – 1992) specifically used motifs from nature to compose his music. Among many other sources of inspiration, he is well-known for incorporating bird calls into his music.

I personally love to create when I’m inspired by nature. We’re currently working on a new project entitled “Trees”. It’s originally a sonata for violin and piano, but we’re doing an orchestral version to go with animated sequences. That’s a summer project. Nature was also involved in the creation of “Crystal Cove” written for violin and piano, inspired by one of our state parks here in California. The possibilities are endless when we contemplate nature!


“Crystal Cove” premier, performed in Claremont, CA, November, 2013, Danielle Rosaria, violin, Nicodemus Marucut, piano