The Healing Power of Music

The title track from the new CD by the Troubadours of Divine Bliss “Awakening to Love” is featured in this very moving tribute to the students killed at Chardon High School in late February. The photos were taken by Chardon High School English teacher Lynn Monaco. They represent only a small sample of the total received.

Awakening to Love





Troubadours of Divine Bliss on iTunes

I’ve had the pleasure of playing with The Troubadours of Divine Bliss since 1999. And now I’m thrilled to report you can hear us on iTunes! The album Sacred Letters of Surrender is now available on iTunes for $9.99.

Now available on iTunes!

While I have a day job as an important business lady, the Troubadours earn 100% of their modest income from making gorgeous music. So please consider supporting these dear friends and amazing musical storytellers by buying a copy of the CD for yourself and/or sending it to a friend.

Gift this Album!

And if you’ve never seen the Troubadours of Divine Bliss live, you’re missing out on one of the happiest, most lovely experiences you could ever imagine. Take a look at their venue menu to see when the bliss is headed your way. Next stop…Cleveland, Ohio! Hooray for me!

Video Clip from Indianapolis Gig

Here’s a tiny clip of a very fun moment from a gig I played in Indianapolis with Jenrose Fitzgerald.

We opened for Martine Locke & Band at the Irving Theater. I heard them playing this song during the sound check and thought some of my fun fiddle tricks would fit in. So I was tacky and asked Martine if I could jump in and play it with them. She said yes, and was awesome and very welcoming, and I had a blast.

Thanks for watching and I hope you like it.

Video Tutorials

When you’re first getting started, pretty much everything about playing the violin feels weird. These videos will help make sure you maintain proper technique.

How to hold the violin:

How to hold the bow:

Correcting problems with your bow hand pinky and/or thumb:

Keeping the bow straight:

Common left hand issues:

Left hand pinky exercises:

Oh Canada!

It looks like I’ll get to play some gigs in Canada with The Troubadours of Divine Bliss next year. I’ve been wishing for this for awhile! Toronto is my favorite city to visit, and The Troubs have never been there. I can’t wait to explore that city and hopefully many others with them.

One place that’s been on my wish list for a bazillion years is Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. And the reason I’ve wanted to go there for so long is because of the Cape Breton fiddle style. There is a 78% chance I would explode into a cloud of glitter if I got to go there and hear their amazing music style, and join in a session or two.

Here’s a performance by one of the world’s most famous Cape Breton fiddlers, Natalie MacMaster.

3 Things I Try When I Haven’t Got a Clue

It’s kind of freakish how many times I’m asked to join in on songs I’ve never heard before. Some of my most rewarding musical experiences have happened that way, and so have some moments that could serve as the elevator music in hell. I’m always up for the challenge though. What’s the worst thing that could happen, a little public humiliation? BRING IT!!

Sadly I don’t have perfect pitch. So if the band I’m about to play with doesn’t know what key the song is in, things can get interesting. Here’s how I approach such situations.

1. I listen carefully to the chord progression.
Even if you don’t know anything about music theory, you can recognize when a song’s chords have a familiar flow to them and when cadences follow a logical pattern. In a way I work backwards. I try to figure out when a line or phrase is ending, listen to the way it ends, and then I map out a strategy that matches that pattern since in it’s bound to repeat in most songs.

2. I think of myself as frosting (warning: this paragraph includes many food analogies, go grab a snack).
My job is to serve the music, not my ego (though it gets in the way from time to time). So, I remind myself that even though the violin is clearly the greatest instrument in the world, my purpose is to add a flavor, not be the whole meal. The band is the cake. They are the layers and the substance. I am the frosting. And in some cases, I’m not even ALL of the frosting. I’m like one of those flowers or squiggles made out of frosting. By not overplaying, I keep things tasteful and manageable which is critical when playing on stuff I’ve never heard before.

3. I use my instrument to sing.
If all goes well and I find myself quickly understanding what’s going on musically, I like to try to come up with tasteful counter melodies. For example, I try to weave in and out of the vocal part (being careful not to trample it like a gangly filly who’s just learn to run). Here’s an example of a time when everything seemed to go just right.

Stuff I Dig

I plan on sharing a lot of music that has inspired or influenced me as a violinist. Here are three pieces from totally different genres that come to mind right off the bat. Feel free to comment with a link to something you love.

Bach is pretty much my god. I think this performance by Nathan Milstein is lovely. And there’s something classy and film noirish about it. I especially dig the way he just sort of looks away and sits down at the end. I would love to know what he was thinking right then.

And now for something completely different. I’ve been playing this tune for years, but never with the level of awesomeness found in this 1927 recording. Listen for the pizzicato part at the 44 second mark. That’s total hen clucking at its best.

Laurie Anderson is a brilliant artist who’s been one of my inspirations since the early ’80s. I love this simple little hypnotic tune and have spent many hours improvising along to it.