The first violin I had when I started taking the Suzuki violin lessons at three was made of a tissue box with a ruler attached as the fingerboard. My first violin teacher was Agnes Kwasniewska from the Suzuki Music Program. I also took lessons with Alejandra Mahave from Suzuki On The Island for about two years. Dr. Dale Stuckenbruck has been my violin teacher since 2012 when I was in third grade. During fourth grade I began learning to play Bach Violin Concerto in A minor, 1st movement, tuning my 3/4 violin with synthetic strings to 415 Hz and by using a Baroque bow! In the beginning it was difficult and confusing to change tuning between 415 Hz and 440 Hz. Sometime I forgot what intonation I should be listening for!
By Summer of 2014 I was ready for a 4/4 violin. My father got a used modern violin and a local luthier changed the tailpiece, sound post, bridge, and put on a set of Gamut medium gut strings. Tuning the gut strings was very hard in the beginning. The E string popped many times. After a while tuning became easier and playing gut-string violin got more fun. One of my favorite moments was when the E string popped in the middle of practicing Gavotte movement from Bach Partita III! Tuning the Baroque violin helped me learn how to better tune with just pegs. Practicing with the violins with Baroque and modern setups helped me to become more aware of the differences like bow pressure, speed, and balance. I started using Gamut Tricolore strings with open-gut D, A, and steel-E in October, 2015. It took sometime to get used to the strings but I have grown to like the soft, warm, and dark sound from the strings. I like the Goldbrokat E because the sound is less bright than the steel-E. Sometime, when I did it just right my violin would sound like something from an old time radio, my father said. My parents bought a violin from luthier, Xiaohong Luo on January, 1st, 2016. The instrument has a really pleasant sound with Tricolores strings.
I like performing music with groups of people. Sometime my school music teacher let me played with high school orchestra but usually forgot there was a sixth grader hiding among the taller high school orchestra members during the concert introduction. I always got a kick out of it when that happened! This year I joined the New York Young Musician Ensemble from the Virtuoso Suzuki Academy in Mineola, NY. It was a lot of fun playing the nightingale part in Haydn’s Toy Symphony with an ACME Nightingale whistle behind other string players. I attended the Mark O’Connor NYC Music Camp in August, 2015. I learned many American folk tunes and met many kids and adults who enjoy making music together. During one of the daily afternoon recital when I was going to play the “Bunker Hill,” one of the teacher, Melissa Tong, offered to play the piano accompaniment but the piano was locked! Mr. O’Connor happened to be in the audience. He borrowed a guitar from another teacher, Joe Smart, and played the accompaniment with me on the stage. That was really an unexpected but exciting moment! I have also been a member of Dr. Stuckenbruck’s Kammermusik chamber music group for a few years where we learned to perform musics from different cultures.
This Summer I am planning to attend the Long Island University Chamber Music Festival, Stony Brook Summer Chamber Music, and Mark O’Connor Camp to continue learning different styles of musics. Hopefully, I will be able to meet other student musicians who are interested in exploring Baroque music with instruments using gut-strings.
Watch Joshua playing on Gamut strings in these Youtube videos!