Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Strings, Students, and D’Addario

Most of you know that I have a long standing relationship with the D’Addario Company.  I have played their Zyex and Helicore strings exclusively for the past 12 year or so and I really love them.   I think the strings sound great and last forever.   D’Addario puts a tremendous amount of research and development into their product, and their plant is one of the coolest, most impressive places I have ever been.   It is a great American company where the folks they employ all seem to love coming to work each day.  D’Addario sponsors so many events and clinics that are great for students and educators.  They believe in string education and in the importance of quality music educators.  D’Addario has generously supported much of my scholarship over the years, sponsoring many of my appearances around the United States and encouraging me in many ways.  For those that don’t know, Daddario’s brands include D’Addario Strings (guitar and bass strings), D’Addario Bowed, Evans (percussion), Rico (reeds), Promark (percussion), and Planet Waves (electronics).

Over the years, D’Addario has provided a variety of small gifts for me to use in my teaching and conducting appearances as motivational tools for students and teachers.  A student makes great eye contact: they get a cool sticker.  A student takes a chance by playing a passage alone for the group: they get a D’Addario lanyard.  A teacher gives a great answer at a seminar: they get a classroom poster.  You get the idea.  This type of extrinsic motivation works when used in the right way.  People love to get free stuff and will usually step out of their comfort zone to get it!

Lately, I have been keeping a couple extra sets of strings in my bag to give away for just that special situation.  Two such situations have occurred in the past few weeks and wanted to share them with you. 

At a rehearsal a few weeks ago, a cellist broke an A string on her cello.  She was shocked and upset.  She didn’t have another string in her bag and I don’t think this had ever happened to her before.  I asked if anyone in the section had an extra strong.  The young man that was sitting in the Associate Principal position of the section quickly volunteered one of his new spare A strings.  One of my assistants was putting the string on the cello and that new string broke!!  The assistant, a college student, felt horrible and volunteered to buy a replacement string.  I was able to quickly tell her that I would take care of it and the next day was able to give a brand new set of D’Addario Kaplan Cello Strings to the young man.  I explained that it was compliments of the D’Addario Company and that I knew they would want him to have the set.  I also was able to compliment him on his selflessness and willingness to provide a string for his colleague.   In the end, that sense of caring for others and helping out is really what I wanted to reinforce.  D’Addario helped me to do just that. 

I had another situation just a few days after that with a student that was seated at the back of my 2nd violin section.  She was playing on a standard student quality violin and had a set of very low grade strings on the instrument.  She came to me with concerns about the tone quality of her D string.  I played it and it was very false in tone.  I asked her how old the strings were and she replied that they were new within the past few days.  This was clearly a defective string and it really sounded bad.  I was able to offer her a new set of D’Addario Zyex strings for her instrument and put them on the violin during our next break.  They totally changed the sound of her instrument for the better and she was absolutely thrilled.  Again, this was a great kid, an interested aspiring musician the just got ahold of a subpar set of strings.  Having that great sound under her ear could completely change her musical experience in the future.  I am honored to have this opportunity to share quality strings with students as a result of my relationship with the D’Addario Company and the D’Addario Orchestral product line. 

Thanks to D’Addario for their unwavering support.  The opportunities that they have provided me and others have been huge. They are changing lives every day.




  1. This is a wonderful example of why students (and parents who are genuinely the most involved when it comes to instrument upkeep--at least as far as paying the bills), need to have a better education on the role the components of the instrument play in producing sound. For beginners (students and parents alike), we have no idea if the sour tone is the student, the strings, the instrument, the bow etc. Parents like me aren't trained in music. We rent (typically) a violin outfit and are at the mercy of whatever it comes equipped with. Need to replace a string? Which one? They are expensive, and without knowing the impact, we might choose the cheapest. In fact, I would *love* a real, unbiased education in which strings, which bows, which instruments as their children grow musically and eventually we want to "upgrade" their "stuff." I'm shopping this month for a violin for W and I can tell you, it is overwhelming.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts. I will put another post together with thoughts on this subject. I will touch on strings, bows, instruments, rosin, etc.

  3. http://ncssmstrings.blogspot.com/2014/07/thoughts-on-accessories-for-string.html