Jagged Rocks

Playing around the internets tonight, I stumbled across an old recording of a concert I played 10 years ago (2004). The quartet performed a piece called Jagged Rocks by Brisbane composer Rachel Merton, inspired by Peter Sculthorpe’s ‘Mangroves’.


If you like the piece, you can purchase it at a price you think is fair! All proceeds allow Rachel to keep creating

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Rarely too young and never too old

Indooroopilly Chamber Orchestra boasts 100 year old double bass player! After studying the bass for 35 years, starting at the tender age of 65, Richard still attends rehearsals and concerts regularly. Read on for details of his inspirational story:


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My Heart Breaks for Queensland Music …

Musicians privileged enough to grow up through the Queensland music education system, myself included, will most likely recall the determinations and delights of preparations for their Fanfare performances and MOST (Musically Outstanding STudents) training.

When prompted, I often get lost in the fond memories of my experiences and the pride of my achievements. I remember looking admirably at our school fanfare trophies and portraits hung in our school office, full of inspiration and school spirit. I remember the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment after hearing that I was selected to participate in the 2001 MOST program (I was 1 of only 5 cellos that got in!).

So, it was with a heavy heart that I learnt about cuts to both programs from the government budget. I will always have the memories of my experiences but my students and my children will not share that privilage. Undiscovered talents of truly exceptional minds may continue to lay dormant in our schools, deprived of the chance to flourish under such fertile circumstances.
Currently, our courses of action is limited but there are options available to those that have some fighting spirit:

1. Sign the e-petition: http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/petitions/e-petitions

2. Send an email to the Premier’s Office: thepremier@premiers.qld.gov.au

3. Follow up with a phone call saying – I just sent a letter – please put my phone call on record – 07 3224 4500

4. THEN – hard copy letters get more attention from Ministerial Staff: PO Box 15185, City East Q 4002

Give it a go. A couple of seconds spent signing the e-petition alone will be of great benefit.

Yours in fine music,


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Protect Your Rosin!

Hands up if you’ve ever dropped a brand new rosin only to see it smash before your very eyes. Keep them up if you’ve also taken out a dirty big chip with the frog of your bow. Yup, I thought so. I may not have any advice for the former (except obsessive diligence) but I have a sneaky little trick to avoid that heart-breaking collision between rosin and bow.

It’s as simple as … covering the silver edge of the frog with your thumb! Check out the pic below for a visual:

So easy and so effective!

Bonus tip: Use your rosin as a practice tool. As you run the bow hair over your rosin, practice your bow hold and bowing patterns. Just steer clear of that cheeky little frog!

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Cleaning and Maintenance of your Cello

One of the most talked about, yet neglected, topics discussed between teachers and students is the cleaning and maintenance of your cello. Taking good care of your cello is so easy, can prevent costly repairs and costs next to nothing to do.

The easiest way to take care of your cello is to give it a quick wipe over. After you finish playing for the day, gently wipe the fallen rosin off your strings and cello belly with a soft cloth. Tido Polishing Clothes ($6.90) are very popular (you can buy them online here) but any clean, soft cloth will do.

For a squeaky clean finish, try a little polish. Specifically designed to make the most of your instruments varnish, Viol Varnish Cleaner ($18.95) is effective and easy to use. Pop a small amount onto your cleaning cloth and lightly buff in little circles over the entire body of your cello. Any leftover rosin, dirt or grime will dissolve easily leaving a beautiful, clean finish.

For a more thorough check-up, take your cello to your local luthier. Here, they can check the position of your sound post and bridge and the functionality of your pegs and fine-tuners.  Over time, the sound post and bridge tend to move. Correcting these assures structural integrity and chances are, you’ll probably come out with a nicer sounding cello!


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Pesky Peg Problems Solved!

If you are a string player, teacher or student, you’ve probably encountered some pretty pesky pegs in your time. You know that frustration when a peg wont stay put and the string just wont stay in tune?! I see you all nodding your head knowingly. I’ve heard of remedies from graphite to rosin to chalk and believe you me, I’ve tried them all.

Well, after years of experimentation and advice sourced from the best, I can hereby proclaim solutions that work! 4 solutions to be correct, ranging from a free DIY trick to the new, revolutionary Planetary Peg:

1. Well-strung strings: Are you stringing your pegs to work for you? Try this nifty trick that pulls your pegs into the peg-box keeping them firmly in place.   

2. Peg paste: If your pegs are stubbornly set in place, resistant to your tuning efforts, try a little wood lubricant. Hill Peg Paste ($15.20) is specifically designed for this task.

3. Peg reshape: If your pegs just don’t seem to be working out, regardless of your stringing and pasting efforts, they may not be fitting into your peg-box appropriately. Your favourite luthier should be able to refit your pegs within an hour at a price point between $11-$55 a peg (prices vary between instruments). A well-fitted peg will feel effortless to tune, well worth the dosh!

4. Planetary Pegs: Have you ever dreamt of a peg that was as easy to tune as a fine tuner? Yup, so have I. So have thousands of stringies all over the world. Well, our day has come! The Planetary Peg glides inside the peg-box as you tune with absolutely no effort required to set in place. They are so easy to use that your youngest students would easily be able to tune without your assistance (perhaps you might still want to lend your ears, though). You can check them out on the Planetary Pegs website or pop into Animato Strings in Kelvin Grove to try them for yourselves.

Well stringies, let’s hear what you think:

Have you tried these solutions before?

What do you think of the amazing new Planetary Peg?

Do you have any other nifty solutions to zap those pesky peg problems?


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Strings Well Strung: A little trick to keep our strings happy

Here at my cello HQ, I have many little tricks-of-the-trade that make life as a string player much easier and enjoyable. A common problem I see plaguing stringies all over the world are, well, strings. They snap, slip, get rusty and go dull, sometimes for no conceivable reason at all! Luckily for you, I’m about to let you in on a little secret that will improve the life of your strings and prevent unnecessary slipping.

You see, it’s all in the peg box. Below, I’ve outlined a few simple steps to stringing your instrument that will have your pegs pulled into the box holding them tightly in place. Not only that, your strings will also steer clear of each other preventing excessive friction, the type that can cause your strings to snap!

  1. Pop the ball end into the string holder or tailpiece hole at the bottom of your instrument.
  2. Feed about 1cm of the string through the hole in the correlating peg at the top of your instrument.
  3. Wrap the string once towards the narrow end of the peg.
  4. Continue wrapping the string in the opposite direction, towards the larger end of the peg, pulling the string as far towards the peg box as possible. The closer you get the string to the edge of the peg box, the more it will pull the peg into place. Bonus tip: If you can wrap the excess string (remember that 1cm you pushed through the peg before winding?) down onto the peg as you wind away, you’ll create a stronger hold on the peg.
  5. Tune your string and you are ready to go!

And there you have it, 5 simple steps to happy strings!

Tell me stringies:

Do you know this little trick?

Do you have any other nifty string tricks?

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