Cami Shaskin

Violin Blog


About


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 camishaskinviolin.com/info 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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2021
    Jan
        16 - Welcome to My Blog
        23 - Violin Teaching Kits
        30 - The Power of Inspiration
    Feb
        06 - Valuable Techniques
        07 - From the Top
        13 - In Honor of Valentine's Day
        20 - Violin Jokes
        28 - Beginning Orchestra Teaching
    Mar
        06 - Singing in Orchestra
        13 - Nurtured by Love
        21 - Helpful Websites
        27 - Unique Case Uses
    Apr
        02 - Favorite Music Quotes
        10 - All About Tone
        17 - Unique Composer Stories
        24 - Teaching Values
    May
        02 - Believing Teachers?
        15 - Violin in Art & Architecture
        23 - A Solo Repertoire List
        29 - Our Quartet
    Jun
        20 - Theft and Other Lessons
        26 - Violin Bridge Tips
    Jul
        07 - Clever Violin Memes
        20 - Horses and Lions
    Aug
        04 - Music During Covid
        16 - Favorite Music
    Sep
        12 - Being There
    Oct
        16 - Sight Reading Tips
    Nov
        05 - Why It's the Frog
    Dec
        20 - Bach on the Brain
        30 - Impact for Life
2022
    Jan
        23 - Tendonitis Helps
    Feb
        21 - An Old Performance
    Mar
        23 - Cars3 & Coaching
    Apr
        28 - Buying a Violin for Dummies
        29 - Preferred Brands
    May
        27 - Love: A Calling
    Jun
        20 - Gratitude for Idaho Shop
    Jul
        19 - Violinist Interviews Books
    Aug
        08 - Music Opens Doors
        23 - Top Classical Tunes for Violin
    Sep
    Oct
        11 - 100 Days of Listening
    Nov
        27 - Useful Analogies
    Dec
        28 - A Humorous Anecdote
2023
    Jan
        14 - Favorite Concertos & Sonatas
    Feb
        15 - Our Commonality
    Mar
        10 - Extras
        18 - Autopilot
    Apr
    May
    Jun
        06 - Motivation
        07 - Starting Lessons Again
    Jul
        08 - A Tale of Three Cloths
    Aug
        26 - The Ink
    Sep
        23 - Raw and Real Recital Reactions
    Oct
        18 - In Honor of Halloween
    Nov
        26 - Music Copyright
    Dec
        13 - Memes: Fun Facebook Finds
2024
    Jan
        15 - Fame and Fortune
    Feb
        05 - Details and the Big Picture
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Posts


The Ink
26 Aug 2023

"If I die tonight, remember I told you this . . . Don’t be a slave to the ink!" Even though he was smiling, my teacher was dead serious. He proceeded to tell the story of so-and-so famous soloist he listened to once who gave a performance of a work for its composer. The composer asked him afterwards, "Why did you play it that way?" Surprised, the soloist answered, "Because that’s the way you wrote it!" But, my teacher explained, the piece had been composed fifty years ago! In other words, even the composer can change his mind as to what he wants, particularly over time. Individual interpretation is in addition to, or sometimes can even be in place of, the dynamics, tempos, articulation, etc. on the page! It made me think of the Code in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, a collection of laws, which, according to the pirates themselves, was "more like guidelines than actual rules . . . ." I nodded in agreement, but I really had to ponder this advice for weeks afterward to figure out if I believed it.

Meanwhile, I tried it. I experimented with letting my own interpretation actually trump the instructions on the page when I practiced my violin. I just played what I felt! It did seem to make a difference, musically, even if it didn’t make complete sense. I did decide it was probably better advice for someone like me who has played for decades, who was working on polishing pieces she was already very familiar with, and who was overly conscious about doing it exactly "right." Not always following what’s printed isn’t something I’d tell a beginner. After all, you have to understand and follow the rules before you gain enough experience to know when you can break them! But in regards to my own playing, it was helpful.

Eventually, I realized there were other areas in my life where I had been a "slave to the ink." I had always considered this subconscious practice to be a form of trust. Take studying the scriptures, for example. I literally took every phrase as hard, fast doctrine. Even when I read an essay or blog or watched a video, I would take what was printed or said at face value. I was trusting that any given composer or author or journalist or script writer actually meant to say exactly what they said. I don’t know—maybe this is because I usually take a lot of time editing my own writing to make sure it's exactly how I want it put. Maybe I had the idealistic belief that everyone else took sufficient time to write and publish exactly what they intended. But I soon realized that such rigidity doesn’t take into account what we learn after we publish! In addition, even though I'm careful as a writer, I still want people to believe what I mean, giving me the benefit of the doubt, even if I don't word it well.

Don't get me wrong: being free from the ink doesn’t mean I think I should take scripture as being any less inspired! But there are instances when truths are found “between the lines,” if you know what I mean—where the implications are actually deeper than they appear in black and white. If you practice applying what the written word implies, you soon realize that one Bible verse may have different applications in different situations. Or a certain verse may rise in importance while another one diminishes in importance for a particular life situation. Also, there are almost certainly errors in Bible translation.

Similarly (bringing it back to music-making), adding in a crescendo where it isn’t printed, or even ignoring a diminuendo may be forgivable if you are making the composer's opus more meaningful and beautiful that way—truer to what the music needs to say to make the correct impact. And I'm still very grateful for the "guidelines" the composer includes!

One more thought: As the performer, I'm not the composer. I know. Sad. It would be great to listen to Mozart always perform his own work, but as a distinct separate individual, my interpretation will automatically vary from the way the composer would perform it (as nice as it would be to perfectly emulate a musical genius like Mozart). Perhaps this is a good thing. It makes my performance mine. Unique. Special. At any rate, I get my teacher’s point. I’m still working on being able to embrace this idea universally. But it’s given me a lot to chew on. And I like that.

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