The Official Blog of

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Too Good to Be True? Rockville Restaurant Week: October 4th - 10th!

During the National Philharmonic Orchestra’s busy winter season starting in early October at Strathmore Hall, 100 or so musicians begin foraging for fine grub in the brief couple of hours between the end of early evening rehearsals and that night’s performances (you know who we, er, you are). 
And the logics of geography bring us to one of Maryland’s finest culinary centers -- Rockville! We have enjoyed many a meal at exciting restaurants like Amina Thai and Pho, and now it seems like the Chamber of Commerce gods are smiling on we humble classical musicians in the coming weeks.
From October 4 through October 10, the Rockville Chamber of Commerce is presenting Rockville Restaurant Week with “special prix-fixe menus, priced at either $8 lunch/$15 for dinner or $10 lunch/$25 dinner, and 31 restaurants to choose from.” Yum. 
Their special Restaurant Week website is at
See you there! 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Always Room 4 Cello

At we search the internet for the best in classical music video, so you won't have to!  Our goal is to create a safe haven where students, parents, teachers, classical music fans can wander and discover fun, as well as, useful video of classical music performances, masterclasses, lessons and even comedy.  The video "Always Room 4 Cello" is an excellent example of what we want visitors to experience in The City.  This highly creative and entertaining video contains all the things that cello teachers constantly tell students to remember, but in a rap style.  As  parent (and teacher) this one made me laugh out loud.  Very motivating for cellists of all ages and the messages might even stick with young students who give it a listen.

To see the latest video that has been added to the site just go to , and scroll down the page.  Or click on the "Movie Theater" icon in the colorful city map and then choose from dozens of "Theaters."  Only the best, highest quality video is allowed to take up residence in the city. Any concert footage you see, represents the best of the genre.  No sloppy camera work or poor sound quality.  We also offer lots of exclusive video that can only be found in   For a taste of some of this exclusive footage visit the page for the National Philharmonic and watch masterclass footage and interviews of great artists like Soovin Kim and Nic Kendall.

If you have a video that you think meets our standards and should be showing in the theaters, let us know by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

To our visitors

I wanted to take a moment to say how much we here at appreciate the interest and loyalty you have demonstrated with respect to our project. 

When we started this 3 years ago, we had no idea what to expect and what sort of impact we might make within the classical music community. What was then the basis for our "master plan," has since evolved in ways no one could have anticipated. We knew we wanted to be a resource of valuable information, but we also wanted to try to bring musicians together and connect with each other to keep abreast of personal and professional developments, needs and activities. Your emails, calls and even stopping me after a performance or on the street to mention CMC has been very gratifying. 

I also wanted to let the music-related businesses know that we have just successfully developed and uploaded the information many of you have requested regarding sponsorship opportunities on the website. We gave this issue a great deal of thought, and as with any online publication or community, such sponsorships are the most viable way to keep operating. Please know, however -- to you potential business and organization sponsors and musician and music fan readers -- that we intend to keep a pretty tight reign on what is allowed on the site. If it does not directly impact or provide goods and services of interest to the classical music community, we will likely recommend other websites for you to consider. CMC is run by classical musicians for classical musicians and those interested in classical music, and blinking sponsorship spots for the Ronco Pocket Fisherman, as fine a product as I'm sure it is, will not be seen here. (Although we have done a great deal of research, and through my own industry knowledge, decided we would be remiss if we did not permit the inclusion of the cars we drive, the OTC pain relievers we take for our tortured fingers and joints and the CPA, travel, insurance and other services we need. So, businesses and organizations, I encourage you to contact us if you would like to reach this highly specialized and important group. And musicians and other readers, I encourage you to consider working with and patronizing our sponsors. This is your community.)

And finally, I just wanted to add that one of the accomplishments of which we are the most proud is our commitment to and zero tolerance policy of anything that is not children and family friendly. Please know that we are vigilant about protecting the integrity and content of If you see something that may be inappropriate, contact me immediately at It will be removed and permanently resolved immediately. 

Thank you again, everyone. Please look for continued growth, greater ease of use and increased interesting and relevant content and resource information. 

"To talk well and eloquently is a very great art, but that an equally great one is to know the right moment to stop."
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Phyllis Freeman, Publisher

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Types of Strings

Here is a very useful explanation of the different types of strings courtesy of

Most strings are offered in thin, medium, and thick gauges.  A player may choose various gauges to enhance different types of playing, to create a certain instrument sound, or other possible reasons.  Most players use medium gauge strings. Pirastro Eudoxa and Olive strings are available in very specific gauges that are measured in “Pirastro Measure” numbers.  The gauge numbers indicate the thickness of the strings in millimeters multiplied by 20.  The bigger the number, the thicker the string.

Thin: Dolce, Weich, Soft or Light
Thin-gauged strings are generally used by players who are more concerned with a clear beautiful sound when the instrument is played softly. Thin strings are not necessarily softer in volume, they just facilitate soft playing.  Adversely, they generally do not respond well when played very loudly.

Medium:  Mittle
Most players use a medium gauge string.  Medium-gauge strings are generally sufficient on most instruments for any kind of playing style.

Thick: Forte, Stark, Orchestra, or Strong
Thick gauged strings are preferred by players who use more weight in their bow strokes and who do a lot of playing where increased volume is needed.  Thick strings are not necessarily louder in volume, but they do facilitate loud playing.  They generally do not respond well when played softly.

Suggestion for Parents of Cellists

Besides my life as a teacher, performer, arts administrator and CEO of, I also am a parent to three children.  My youngest one is a cellist who started middle school this year.  My older two children played viola and violin and I used to just rent a second instrument for them to use at school, in order to avoid A) having to remember to take an instrument every other day and B) avoid taking a string instrument on the bus.   Renting a cello, however, is about twice as expensive as renting a violin or viola and it turns out that the middle school has a fleet of 3/4 size cellos.  I decided to take the chance and let my 11 year old spend  1 1/2 hours every other day playing what might be an instrument of questionable quality.  I was worried about what it might do to her technical skills (which we are always working on) to play an instrument that might have too much string tension, poor strings, etc.  I spoke to the orchestra teacher about my concerns and he assured me that even though the instruments were not great, they were okay.   He did say that the cello bows were pretty bad, which gave me an idea.  I decided to go ahead and purchase a 3/4 size carbon fiber Cadenza 301 cello bow for her to use at school.  The bows are very even and stable and she will just keep it at school, so the durability of a carbon bow is a big plus for anything that is used in a middle school classroom.

For anyone out there who is interested in doing the same, I recommend this 20% off sale from Prodigy Instruments.  Shipping is free, so even with tax, I was able to purchase a 3/4 size Cadenza bow for at total of $122.96.  I also figure that when she outgrows the 3/4 size bow, I can just donate it to the school and get a tax deduction, which further lowers the actual "cost" of the bow.  Even better, the school now has a great cello bow for student to use for years to come.