For our 50th post, we thought we’d do something fun – a joint post of 25 of our favorite things! Enjoy!
1. Favorite key signature
Cammi: Such a hard question – but I’d have to say it’s E minor (at least right now – and you’ll see why in a moment). My favorite single note is E-flat.
Maggie: Definitely D-flat. This could be because I love so many pieces in D-flat – Debussy’s Clair de Lune, Liszt’s Consolation No. 3, Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude, and many more. D-flat is my favorite key and favorite note because it’s more “flat” than any other key to me with an almost nostalgic feel.
2. Favorite time to practice
C: Around 10:00 pm – right when my siblings are going to bed, haha! Practically, the next-best time to practice is late afternoon.
M: Definitely toward the evening, when it’s quiet out. I also like to play when it’s drizzly outside because the atmosphere is totally different when it’s rainy compared to sunny.
3. Favorite color combination
C: Distressed white with teal – the shabby chic look.
M: Black and white, naturally!
4. Favorite season
C: Probably late summer/early fall – that time when you can smell the leaves turning colors and it’s just the right temperature for campfires in the evenings.
M: Definitely Vivaldi’s. 😉 The fast movement of Summer and best of all, the first movement of Winter. But seriously, now, fall is my favorite.
5. Favorite instrument other than violin and piano
C: I’ve always wanted to learn the guitar. It’s such a nice pairing with violin – the problem is, I can’t play violin and guitar at the same time so I haven’t really been dedicated to learning it.
M: I love the timbre of the cello. It may even rival the violin for me. There’s something very warm and genuine about the cello. Listen to this version of Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise to understand what I mean.
6. Favorite activity other than music
C: I have a couple, well, more than a couple. Reading. Cooking. Taking walks. Playing games. Watching movies. Browsing Pinterest. The list goes on and on…
M: I enjoy plenty of music-related activities, such as listening to music or arranging music or even composing sometimes. But some other things I love to do are reading and writing.
7. Favorite post to write
C: I have to say that my favorite post to work on was the interview post. Oh if you could have seen the laughs Maggie and I had!
M: is definitely up there. Also, perhaps just because of the subject matter, I really enjoyed writing What Makes Chopin Chopin.
8. Favorite post to read
C: I just crack up every time I read Problems of Being a Musician – every problem is so relatable!
M: I don’t know about you all, but my favorite has got to be Cammi’s recent post, An Intriguing Mozart. She managed to find so many interesting quotes by Mozart, not to mention some hilarious stories about him!
9. Favorite piece to play
C: Recently, I played a very fun piece in a string orchestra. It was Malats Serenata Espanola (arranged for string orchestra, of course).
M: You have no idea how difficult this is to choose! I really had a hard time with this question, trying to think of my favorite piece to play. Funnily enough, I did not decide on a piece by Chopin or a traditionally loved composer. I think I would have to choose Mendelssohn’s Rondo Capriccioso. It fits my hand extremely well and for some reason, it just flows from the fingertips. I don’t really have to think of the notes because the hand is already playing them.
10. Favorite piece you’re playing at the moment
C: Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor – or possible Mozart’s Sonata No. 4 in (yup, you guessed it) E minor.
M: At the moment, my favorite piece would have to be Liszt’s Un Sospiro, one of his most famous concert etudes. It just so happens to be in D-flat and it’s been a longtime favorite of mine.
11. Favorite piece in general
C: Right now, I’m into waltzes! Ah, Strauss!
M: My favorite piece must be Liszt again! I’m not a Liszt sort of person, but there’s a special place in my heart for his Benediction de Dieu dans la solitude, which is a cycle of pieces titled Harmonies poetiques et religeuses (Poetic and Religious Harmonies).
12. One particular recording that you never get tired of
C: Jascha Heifetz playing Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso by Saint-Seans.
M: Following the last question, I love Arrau’s interpretation of Benediction, which is much slower and more reflective than other versions. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to addend a few more pieces, because I can’t choose just one particular recording! Argerich’s version of Ravel’s Concerto in G is a classic recording. I happen to love her Raindrop Prelude (by Chopin), too, even more than Rubinstein’s interpretation. I also love Glenn Gould’s Brahms intermezzi… And finally, Cziffra’s Clair de Lune. I’ve searched long and hard for the perfect version of Clair de Lune, and his is the closest match. Slow and meaningful, with just the right amount of gentle nostalgia.
13. Favorite music artist in general
C: Right now, Hilary Hahn and Jascha Heifetz.
M: There are so, so many artists! I prefer different artists depending on the composer. I love Martha Argerich because she plays with such conviction. Daniel Barenboim is an outstanding artist as well. I find myself particularly drawn to Claudio Arrau, for he adds so much meaning to every piece he plays.
14. Favorite non-classical piece
C: I love folk/fiddle music, so maybe Ashokan Farewell by Jay Ungar?
M: Anything relaxing and soothing… Jack Johnson, anyone? I like his Better Together.
15. Favorite composer(s)
C: Right now I can get down to two – Bach and Mozart.
M: You already know the answer to this one, I’m sure! Frederic Chopin has always been my favorite composer for the piano. But—and this is a very big but—that being said, it’s almost not fair to choose a favorite composer. Most of my favorite pieces aren’t by Chopin at all – they’re by other composers I don’t even typically care for! It’s hard to confine one’s tastes to a person.
16. Favorite time signature
C: This is such a hard question because so many of my favorite pieces are in different time signatures. I can’t really say I have a favorite time signature to listen to – but playing in good ol’ 4/4 time is hard to beat!
M: Probably 3/4 time – I love waltzes! I preferred Chopin’s waltzes over his nocturnes until relatively recently, and I have always loved Johann Strauss II’s waltzes. At the same time, I have a strange love for 6/8 because it’s kind of a versatile time signature.
17. Favorite book
C: Do I have to pick one? Let’s see…Gone With the Wind, Pride and Prejudice, or maybe Jane Eyre? I’m pretty classic, as you can see. As far as a musical book – I’m reading Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching by Ivan Galamian right now, and it’s quite good.
M: I love all the classic novels by Austen and Bronte, Jerome and Wodehouse because of their British humor, and nonfiction such as Malcolm Gladwell’s books. If I had to choose one favorite, though, I would actually choose Lavender and Old Lace by Myrtle Reed.
18. Favorite subject
C: I would have to say History (or Reading, if that counts as a subject).
M: Definitely English. Reading, writing, grammar, all that good stuff.
19. (One) favorite thing about your teacher
C: There are so many special things about my teachers! One thing that comes to mind with my present teacher is this – that he doesn’t give me the “answer” too soon. If there’s a difficult rhythmical passage, for instance, he doesn’t play the passage for me after I play it wrong. Instead, he has me try to play it again, and again, and again – and eventually, I get it. I love this because it would be so easy him to play the passage for me and be done with it. But if he did that, would I really have learned the passage? Of course not, I would just be copying him!
M: It’s so hard to choose just one thing! I suppose I would have to go with her rigor and unfailing high standards. She never cuts corners.
20. Favorite Pandora station
21. Favorite instrument pairing
C: Other than piano and violin, my favorite pairing would have to be harp and flute.
M: I have to say that, stereotypical as it may seem, I love the flute with the harp or other stringed instrument. This may be, as Charles from Noble Viola termed it, “like putting hot fudge on top of dark chocolate ice cream on top of french buttercream on top of a super chocolate brownie”, but I like it.
22. Favorite musical word
C: Maybe espressivo or elaganza?
M: I love leggiero, actually, I think it’s a beautiful word. And ever since I learned how to pronounce acciaccatura, that’s been a favorite, too. The other day I learned a new one: martellato, literally meaning “hammered”.
23. Favorite tempo to play in
C: I always like movements marked presto!
M: Hmm. I like a good presto sometimes, but adagio is usually my favorite because it guarantees a beautiful melody. I also love andantes, for some reason.
24. Favorite dynamic
C: Fortissimo con Fuoco!
M: Mezzopiano is notoriously disliked in the musical world, so I can safely say it’s not mezzopiano. Maybe a good forte or fortissimo – Prokofiev style, with big, warm chords.
25. Favorite thing about working with each other
C: There are just so many great things about working with each other! I guess the first thing that comes to mind is that we’re always laughing. There’s absolutely no chance of us practicing without getting the giggles (as you can see in video). Another one would be that we’re both prone to wanting food at the same moment – I recall when we’ve looked at each other and said, “I’m hungry” at the same time!
M: Hm, where to start? To begin with, we’re so similar that there’s never a disagreement between us. I can’t think of even one. Somehow we always agree on things. And it’s just wonderful to have a fellow musician to have fun with! We’re always messaging back and forth, talking and laughing about what happened while we were practicing the other day, or crazy schemes for our concerts, our midnight practice cravings, or just random bits of life. Secondly, when it comes to the blog, Cammi never stops where we are. She’s always thinking about what else we can add or tweak, how we can make it better. Thirdly—oh dear, I’m getting offtrack—we have a lot in common besides music, we’re cousins. We’re very close. As little girls, we sent letters through snail mail, and then email, and through Skype these days. I think we share basic ideals and even our thoughts and ideas follow the same track – as Cammi’s example demonstrates!
Please feel free to share your own answers to our 25 questions! 🙂
~ Cammi and Maggie