My good friend and Center Stage Strings cohort Bill Haxton is a talented writer and has graciously agreed to share this wonderful poem with us. .  We share a mutual admiration and wonderment at the masterwork that is Bach’s Chaconne.    Bill took an interesting approach and actually wrote this from the perspective of a skeptic.  Enjoy


Let me see if I understand you.

This moment began three centuries ago

when Johann Sebastian Bach poured his soul into a constellation

of pen strokes?  And you say those notes on paper are like

tiny stars bursting to radiate beyond their musical

fieldlines?  What?  Are we supposed to believe there’s something

more to this—what did you call it—a chaconne or something?  As if

this music had some special power to penetrate, like neutrinos

passing through Earth without touching a single atom of it?

I don’t think so.  There’s not enough space in us, not nearly enough

to enable these ephemerals to get past the hammering clamour

between the ears.  No.  And it doesn’t mean a thing, all us sitting here

transfixed—and I admit it—me too—because it’s not the music,

it’s just the collective consciousness working, our synchronous

background radiation, the human universe in D minor,

which Bach couldn’t have known a thing about.

Or could he?

Oh my god.

©William Haxton 2010

Thank you to Mariano Correa for this lovely article in Hoy, the Spanish newspaper division of the Los Angeles Times!!

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to do a Community Engagement type presentation at a couple of elementary schools up in Santa Barbara.  An organization called From the Top, well known for its radio and tv broadcasts of talented young musicians from across the country, also has a branch that sets up outreach type events.  My good friend, violist Lauren Chipman, is an alumnus of From the Top and asked me to join her.  

I have done this sort of thing many times at my alma maters, Travis Ranch Middle School and Esperanza  High School in Yorba Linda, California.  In addition, The Sphinx Organization engaged me in school events alongside my performance travels in Atlanta, San Francisco, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Boston.  Read More

Last weekend I had the pleasure of leading a master class at Tom Metzler’s violin shop in Glendale as part of a new series of workshops he has created.  The theme was “Preparing for the College StringAudition” and to my surprise, it even got reviewed!   Laurie Niles from Violinist.com was there as an audience member and she wrote a wonderful article you can find on her website.   She recaps the class more eloquently than I could try to do here, so I will just attach a link for your enjoyment!  http://www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/20101/10860/

Congratulations students
Mia Laity and Erin Dennis!

Mia recently auditioned for the prestigious New York String Orchestra Seminar and was invited to participate this coming December. The seminar introduces the most exceptional young musicians to new musical ideas at a formative point in their development, offering them chamber music coaching from members of the world’s top ensembles,and giving them the challenge of performing on the stage of Carnegie Hall on a high professional level.

More information can be found at http://www.newschool.edu/mannes/subpage.aspx?id=30433


Erin just won first prize in the South Coast Symphony Concerto Competition and will be featured as soloist next February with the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. The goal of the Young STARS of the Future Competition and Concert is to foster new, young talent residing or studying in Orange County, California. Winners of the Young STARS of the Future auditions are selected by a Jury of distinguished musicians.

Information on the South Coast Symphony can be found at http://www.southcoastsymphony.org/young_stars.php

Practice makes perfect -boy, is this the truth! The time you put in is important, but the quality of practicing is crucial. I love making lists (ask my students) so here are some of my favorite practicing tips. This is certainly a list that will be added to in blogs to come!



1) Sound is Everything – don’t bother practicing for technique if you are playing with a floaty sound that has no core or focus. Intonation practiced slowly is good, but without a disciplined sustained sound it will not work at 100% in performance.

2) Break it Up

Don’t always just play difficult passages from beginning to end and hope for the best. For example, a fast arpeggio or scale should be practiced starting from different anchor points within. Start in the middle, start on an offbeat, start in a seemingly strange position. The ability to nail a passage from all angles will solidify it that much more in your hands and in your memory as well.

3) Balanced Practicing

My teacher, Robert Lipsett, always told me that it was important to have balance in my practicing. There are two general types of practicing – Slow, methodical work: One is very organized and covers all the technical and musical aspects of a piece. Intonation, vibrato control, bow division, metronome work, etc. The other type of practicing is full fledged performance practice – that is, running through your piece in it’s entirety with all the passion and energy that you would have in a true live performance. It is so important to have a good amount of both types of practicing. Some people do all of one and nearly none of the other. A combination makes for the strongest players.