Singing For Seniors Lifting Hearts, Minds, and Spirits With Music For The Soul

I have been on the spiritual path for as long as I can remember. I began singing when I was about five, then progressed into the church and school choirs, trios and solos. Afterward, I pursued my professional life and returned to music in the early 1990s. I eventually began doing guest musical appearances at various churches around Western Oregon in 1999. And I have been singing off and on, mostly on, ever since. It is my joy, my calling, my best work.

Today, I delight in presenting inspirational and spiritual music to residents of retirement communities, senior centers, and senior community events, especially those on a budget who still would appreciate a good musical program for a fair cost. I create all the music in my own studio. I do the instruments, the back-up vocals, and production; then I burn it to CD and sing along with myself, including harmonies. (I often have spiritual epiphanies while creating new music. I’m pretty sure those experiences find their way into the words and lyrics.)

You, the audience, can expect an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes of music, banter, and lots of interaction, laughter and smiles. My music is a combination of original compositions and more familiar contemporary spiritual music. I bring all my own equipment — speakers, mics, mixer, CD player — so the only things I need are electrical outlets and good room acoustics… and an audience, of course.

Joy Jamboree: Heart, Soul, Sizzle

  • Heart: The organ we usually think of in terms of pump, blood, and beat has its own way of responding to music. Music stirs cells, nerves, and capillaries. Healing begins.
  • Soul: Whether you think of the soul as an entity separate from the physical body, or the essence of all you are that connects you to the earth, or any other view you may have of it, music makes the soul dance, refresh itself, laugh. And laughter, like music, is healing.
  • Sizzle: What’s life without a little pizzazz, eh? No matter the weather, no matter the mood, the right music, uplifting, move-y music can give you just the sizzle you need to make your day the best one yet.

Come visit me at ‘ Joy Jamboree: Heart, Soul, Sizzle!’

Richard Kent Matthews sings from his heart, soul, and spirit to audiences in retirement communities, senior centers, and other senior events all over the Portland, OR, metro area. (As an ordained minister, Richard is also a professional wedding officiant and creates original music for your ceremony if you want it!)

Care and Maintenance of Student Violins – Violin Parts

Part of the joy of teaching violin students to play is to teach them how to properly care for their instrument, whether leased or owned. Properly caring for an instrument is as important an exercise as learning to play. In fact, each task goes hand in hand.

Below is a summary of care and maintenance of specific parts of the violin:

The Violin Bridge

The bridge is a delicate but vital part of the violin and is, along with the sound post, the soul of the instrument and it’s sound. Because it is so delicate, it is more apt to become broken or warped in the hands of a student. Because the violin bridge is held in place by the tension of the strings, it is affected by tuning from both sides of the violin, the fine tuners and the peg tuners.

The thing to remember is that the bridge should always be straight and perpendicular to the surface of the instrument. Too much tension from the pegs and/or fine tuners will bend the bridge. When this happens, keeping the feet in place, a parent or teacher should carefully put pressure on the bridge with the fingers in order to straighten the bridge and to make it perpendicular again without moving the base of the bridge.

In the event that the bridge cannot move or breaks, it is necessary to take the violin to a violin shop where an experienced violinmaker can either fix or replace the bridge. While the bridge is small and light, the way it is set up makes all the difference in the world as far as how the violin will sound.

Violin Strings

Violin strings should be replaced at least two times per year if your student plays even a half an hour each day. The older the strings, the more tension is required to stay in tune and the more lifeless they sound. All four strings should be replaced together, even if a single string was to break and the strings are on the older side.

Parents can learn from violin shops or violin teachers how to replace the strings on a student violin. If you can purchase strings from a violin shop, it’s a good idea to have the shop replace the strings. But if there is no shop close by, it’s perfectly fine to order violin strings from an online violin shop and replace them yourself.

Since most student violins come with fine tuners on the tailpiece, you should attach the string in to the tuner first and then thread the other end of the string into the tuning peg hole clockwise and over, make sure to only insert about ΒΌ inch of the string into the peg.

Tuning Pegs

Anything having to do with pegs is best left to an experienced violin repair shop. The one thing that can be done, as a parent of a student player, is to make sure that you and/or your student do not push the pegs into the peg holes with excessive force otherwise the peg holes will get larger and will no longer hold the strings with the right pressure. Once this happens, an expensive repair called peg hole bushing is required.

Violin strings should be replaced at least two times per year if your student plays even a half an hour each day. But if there is no shop close by, it’s perfectly fine to order violin strings from an online violin shop and replace them yourself.

Intermediate and Student Violins From Snow

Over the years, many luthiers have traveled from China to Europe to learn the fine art of violinmaking from reputable schools in Germany, France and Italy. Some of the more highly trained and talented violinmakers set up workshops where they created quality instruments and trained new makers. One of these luthiers was Xueping Hu, founder of the Snow workshop in Beijing, China.

Though Snow is noted for its violins, the workshop also produces other handcrafted stringed instruments including violas, cellos and basses. As his six-worker shop grew into more than seventy craftsmen, Xueping Hu and his brother set up Snow Stringed Instruments, a wholesale company whose purpose was to distribute to retailers instruments hand-crafted solely in the Beijing workshop.

Snow’s produces a line of violins categorized into four types: basic, advanced, professional and performance. Most are based on Strad & Guarneri models. The basic models are high quality student violins to lower intermediate violins that retail from between $1,200 and $1,700 depending on whether a player orders a SV200, SV300 or SV400 model. Perfect for students, all SV models sound warm and resonant and are antiqued with hand-rubbed varnish and feature a top made of spruce and a back crafted from maple.

The PV models, or “advanced”, are crafted for higher intermediate and advanced violin players and range in price between $2,200 and $3,700 depending on whether one purchases the PV800, PV900 or the PV1000. These intermediate violins are made with higher-quality and longer-aged European tone woods. The varnish is higher-end, and offers the player more varied tones of color.

Snow violins are shipped from China to New York in ready-to-play condition. Once in New York, they undergo a battery of quality control tests by specialists to assure that the set up, tone and overall quality is up to standard. This is done before shipping the violins to retailers across the country.

Interestingly, even though these violins are set up and tested, most violin shops who stock snow violins will take the time to set up the violins yet again, according to the standards of the shop. This may include relocation of the sound post and new strings. By the time the violin reaches the hands of the player, it has received much attention from several craftsmen.

Many retail violin shops will pair Snow violin with different types of violin bows, cases and basic violin accessories in order to sell the Snow violin as an outfit. Prices will vary depending on the quality of the case and bow, but it is typically a good value to purchase an instrument as part of an outfit assembled by a knowledgeable maker.

The basic models are high quality student violins to lower intermediate violins, cases and basic violin accessories in order to sell the Snow violin as an outfit.