Cami Shaskin

Violin Blog


This blog is about all things violin. It is meant to educate, inspire, and provide resources for parents, teachers, and students. The author takes full responsibility for the viewpoints expressed here. In instances where she quotes ideas from others, she pledges to cite her sources as fully, responsibly, and accurately as possible. Topics will include book reviews, technique tips, entertaining anecdotes, quotes, jokes, educational findings, instrument care suggestions, violin in the news, repertoire lists, etc.

Cami J. Shaskin graduated with her master's degree in Music Education in 2008. Violin has always been her primary instrument, since beginning private lessons at age five. See for her music résumé, or click on Spotlights for historical recordings. Cami has enjoyed an array of experiences in writing, from penning award-winning articles as a journalism staff writer in high school, tutoring peers at BYU's Writing Center, earning a Writing Fellows scholarship and a minor in Language and Computers, and later becoming a published author. She recently picked up web programming as a hobby, earning a certificate in Web Programming and Development from the local community college. This blog has been a collaborative effort between her and her husband, who is a Web Developer by profession. Together, they designed and coded this blog and its original content "from scratch."


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        16 - Welcome to My Blog
        23 - Violin Teaching Kits
        30 - The Power of Inspiration
        06 - Valuable Techniques
        07 - From the Top
        13 - In Honor of Valentine's Day
        20 - Violin Jokes
        28 - Beginning Orchestra Teaching
        06 - Singing in Orchestra
        13 - Nurtured by Love
        21 - Helpful Websites
        27 - Unique Case Uses
        02 - Favorite Music Quotes
        10 - All About Tone
        17 - Unique Composer Stories
        24 - Teaching Values
        02 - Believing Teachers?
        15 - Violin in Art & Architecture
        23 - A Solo Repertoire List
        29 - Our Quartet
        20 - Theft and Other Lessons
        26 - Violin Bridge Tips
        07 - Clever Violin Memes
        20 - Horses and Lions
        04 - Music During Covid
        16 - Favorite Music
        12 - Being There
        16 - Sight Reading Tips
        05 - Why It's the Frog
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From the Top
07 Feb 2021
3 Things I have learned from the concertmaster of the Orchestra at Temple Square:

Odd-numbered runs should speed up towards the end of the run. For example, in a run of seven, divide it mentally into 3 + 4.

This was taught to me soon after I joined OTS at age 17. It was something I guess I never learned as a kid. Maybe it’s because most of the runs in the Suzuki literature (think La Folia in Book 6) are even-numbered runs.

“It doesn’t matter where you sit.”

This is a very different philosophy than most of the orchestras out there in the world. In many orchestras I’ve played in, seating is everything, in terms of your ability and reputation. But this orchestra is about service and missionary work, not ranking. I won’t pretend that there isn’t some carryover between the world and the church. It’s something I’ll admit I’ve struggled with, though I’m not proud of the fact. But I’ve definitely thought about this a lot over the years.

You don’t need to use whole bows all the time! [More bow is not always the answer.]

Granted, this is one I already knew. But having been in Music Education classes, where especially non-string players being trained to teach strings are told that if there’s a tone problem, “just tell them to use more bow,” I think this important concept bears repeating. I’ve also seen method books that train players to use an entire bow for a whole note, to use exactly half a bow for a half note, etc. It is a good method to learn. However, this is not the only type of bow distribution! Yes, using more bow is often a good thing to try—especially for hesitant beginners in a small ensemble. But when players think this technique is the one right way to do things for the rest of their life, they’re missing out on added nuance in a big way. There are notable exceptions to the “more bow” and the “whole bow for a whole note” approach. Just think about it. The main advantage to more bow is you can get more volume. But if you try to use lots of bow in a fiddle song, for instance, you’re going to get bogged down. (The secret to playing fast is to use tiny amounts of bow!) If you have a big crescendo on a note, you’re going to start using the bow conservatively, and then rapidly increase it’s speed. You don’t divide your bow equally according to the beats for that. If you have three whole notes in a row, tied together, marked at ppp, using three whole bows is not the answer. Try saving your bow instead!
The way you use your bow depends on dynamics, rhythm of the passage, desired speed, desired articulation, style of the composition (a Baroque minuet will be played differently than a military march, for instance), size of the ensemble, etc. I use the sul tasto approach (over the fingerboard) a LOT in the Orchestra at Temple Square, which is a large ensemble. After all, our primary role is to accompany the choir. It’s even written in our mission statement. We’re the “helpers,” not the main attraction.
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