Fiddling Neccessories

We felt the need to share some of the fiddling’s “necessary” “accessories”. We all started as beginners and when teachers/seniors recommend us to get some fiddling aids, we would be having such thoughts -
“Huh, must I buy that?”
“Will I even be using it?”
“OOooh man, that’s expensive!”
“sigh, another spending?”
“Should i not?”
This might be a “list for dummies” to some fiddlers out there, but if you are a newbie or a parent pondering over these questions. We’d like to help!

100% Required
Rosin - There are different types out there. As newbies, we use simple $5-20 rosin which works just right and you can use it for a few months to a year! Professional grade rosin is made from a purer resin as compared to student grade, and produces a more controlled tone. Rosin comes in different colours too, the dark ones are usually more sticky and the light ones are less sticky, thus more suited to higher strings. For us, we commonly use Pirastro - Olive. For my own Erhu, I am using “Andrea”. This is usually used for viola but it suits my instrument well and the lazy me, loves rosin that creates minimal powder, so I do not have to clean my instrument that often.

Tuner / Metronome / Metrotuner

If you are dedicated to your instrument (Any instrument). This is a must-get. Tuners are used to get your instrument in tune (duh). Even if you can’t tune your instrument, you will eventually, so this is necessary! If you have perfect pitch, you might prefer to trust your ears. A metronome trains your speed and tempo, they help you internalize the tempo and works your rhythmic abilities. There are spin-offs these days called metro tuner - its a device that can function as tuner or metronome. We are using these - They cost from $50 -100. Also trustworthy are mobile tuner or metronome apps. Do explore!

Instrument Cloth
It may seem like a useless item, but no. This is very useful. Of course after you use your instrument, you use it to clean it, but before you start playing you will realize the strings are a little nasty, so the cloth is used to clean the strings too before we start playing. Get a nice instrument cloth and not table cloths!!

I label this section as the others as they are not frequently used and we can definitely go without. Your teacher usually adjusts the instrument for you, so they will make changes to the dampening cloth, bridge, qianjin, strings, bow etc. As a newbie, you don’t really have to look at those. As for fine tuners, I try not to use it as I am the kind where I advocate for (do-not-add-too-much-stuff) to your erhu…nevertheless, fine tuners can be handy when you need to adjust your tuning just a tiny bit - like during a performance - as the erhu tuning pegs will usually result in a pretty drastic change in pitch.

Think Twice!

Grpahic by Cagel cartoons

The Orchestra musicians take their seats on stage.

Confidently, the concertmaster walks out, acknowledging the audience by giving a slight bow. He cues the orchestra and leads them to tune. He sits down. The conductor walks out, offering a prestigious handshake to the concertmaster.

You can be on that concertmaster seatContinue reading…

Give me a Signal!

Non-verbal communication is an important part of performance, especially when it comes to chamber performance where no conductor is involved. Musicians depend on each other for gestures and signals for collective and non-collective phrases. I am sharing some of the commonly used gestures.

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Fiddling Zhonghu

The viola equivalent of the huqin family is known as the zhonghu. An instrument with a unique character, the zhonghu is outshone by the more popular instrument in the huqin family, the erhu. The open strings of the zhonghu are G and D, which correspond to the middle strings of the viola. The zhonghu has absolutely stunning sonorities . It has a wider soundbox than the erhu, giving the instrument more resonance and more room for dynamic range. Although it is performed in exactly the same way as the erhu, someone who can play the erhu might require more practice, endurance and grace to sound as good on the zhonghu.
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