This post originally appeared on the ‘fiddlefish.com’ blog. It’s here for archival purposes only.
The Gregg Alf violin is a winner. I tried to find some pictures of the model he sent me on his website, but I didn’t find any. So I will snap some pictures of it when I find some time and share them here. It has a big and even sound, and the tone is direct like a brass instrument. He said the Ole Bull Del Gesu violin that he was building was still white as the varnishing fell behind schedule. But I could not be happier with this one which was made in the 1990s.
The Tibor Varga competition is in just 3 days. I have been warned to take it easy with new violins — to not over-practice on them — as the subtle changes in muscle movements can lead to tendonitis. It’s not something that I can worry about right now. In fact, it’s near impossible to not over-practice when a competition is coming up.
After years of playing, I strongly feel that a great instrument is the most important factor in developing. I haven’t had many teachers that have had this view — maybe Robert Lipsett being the most memorable exception — but this is something I will advocate strongly for all players. It’s not just the thrill to play on something great, but so many bad habits develop when practicing hours and hours on fiddles that don’t respond. Being now out of school and in the real world, I have prioritized this as my most important todo.