My name is Wendy Shih. I am a third year Biology student studying at the University of British Columbia. I was born and raised in a very musical family and have been studying music since I was four, starting with piano. I began my violin studies in grade 2 and my flute studies in grade 7. I currently hold ARCT Diploma in Piano Performance, ARCT Diploma in Violin Performance, and Grade 10 Certificate in Flute from The Royal Conservatory of Music. I auditioned piano and violin for the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria and was accepted by both with scholarships offered by the University of Victoria. However, due to parental influences, I am studying biology and hopefully pursuing medicine.
As I advance through my violin playing, I find my violin (at the time it was a Chinese hand-made violin) frustrated to play with. The pieces were becoming much more demanding and it was getting harder, or sometimes impossible, to get the desired sound effect out with that violin. Ever since then I have been looking for a violin. Through my violin teacher- Lin-Hui Chuang, I was introduced Mr. Tseng, a violin maker. After attending his violin workshop, and several discussions with my violin teacher and my parents, I decided to order a custom made violin from Mr. Tseng.
During the waiting period, Mr. Tseng measured my neck length, general neck and shoulder shape to make sure that the neck piece will fit properly so that the player will be more comfortable when playing. He also measured the length of my fingers, and took a look at my previous violin to help shape the thickness of the neck of the violin for better hand fitting. Throughout the whole making process, Mr. Tseng was very enthusiastic in explaining to me the criteria that makes a good violin, the dispersion and the general wave length of the sound wave (i.e. the sin sound wave) a violin maker would aim for in making a violin, and etc.
After I received the violin, I observed major differences in between Mr. Tseng’s violin and my seven-year-old Chinese hand made violin. Mr. Tseng’s violin has a rather passionately big and thick but not heavy sound. The violin itself is very easy to play and to express with. It has very nice, strong low notes for G string, and when it gets to the high position (ex. the fifth position or above), the notes do not crack easily when played normally. The gap in between each string is nicely spaced out and harmonic tones can be produced easily through good intonation and proper pressure applied onto the bow and the violin. The wave vibration can be easily produced when chords are being played, making it easier for the performer to tune and to check the intonation. The high notes on the E string are pretty, bright, and are rough when a player is playing forte. The violin can be easily manipulated to play sweeter style music.
In comparison to the Chinese hand made violin I have purchased in grade eight, the violin Mr. Tseng custom made for me has a much thicker and more ‘penetrating’ sound. It is much easier to control the sound for articulation or expressing purposes. For example, when I was playing the dolce melody part of the first movement- Allegro non troppo from Symphonie Espagnole by Lalo, I often get frustrated playing when I use my older violin since I was unsatisfied with the sound produced and was hoping for a much sweeter and a more ‘transparent’ sound. However, with the violin custom made by Mr. Tseng, I was able to get the sweet, clear sound without a sweat; especially on the E string, it is much easier for me to make a ‘transparent’ sound effect to properly express the piece itself.
The violin Mr. Tseng custom made for me has a nice big sound but the sound is not noisy, which was a major problem I had with my previous violin. When I was playing with my older violin, it seems like every time when a fast part comes up I have to have the caution sign pops up all over my head because my previous violin can get rather loud or noisy if I do not spend much more effort trying to control it. Such problem is not observed in Mr. Tseng’s violin at all and it is much easier for me to play the presto parts openly without much constriction. Another major problem with my previous violin was it has a rather short sound dispersion rate; in another word, audiences sitting at the back of the concert hall would always have problems in being able to distinguish the different color or style of the violin sound made by the performer. In another word, the sound effect received by the audiences sitting at the back of the concert hall is greatly reduced in comparison to the sound effect received by the audiences sitting near the stage. Such problem is significantly reduced with the violin custom built by Mr. Tseng.
Generally, in comparison to my seven year old violin, the violin custom built by Mr. Tseng shows significant differences in quality of the notes, and the capability of the violin itself in showing different tone colors and emotional expressions. It is also much easier to control and play with. With the violin custom made by Mr. Tseng, I feel much more comfortable performing and much more at will while playing.
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