ABOUT OUR STUDIO
CREATIVE RESOURCES
NEWS AND UPDATES
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

Sign up for the latest string playing tips and resources.

© 2019 by NEIL FONG GILFILLAN and RACHEL SAMSON.

Special photo credit to Keli Cardoso de Melo who took so many of the photos we use on our website :)

Our Favorite Stuff!

Why keep it to ourselves? We'll share!

Twinkle Arcade

Our first album/practice tool is TWINKLE ARCADE! Repetition is key to success on any instrument, and Twinkle Arcade delivers backing tracks students can groove along to. All of the tracks were made by us, with the goal of helping our students practice at a smart speed while exposing them to different styles of music spanning from rock to reggaeton. 

Instruments used in the album include cello, viola, violin, Pocket Operators and OP-1 synthesizers, and turntables. 

The violin version in A is coming soon! (FYI, violinists can still play along with the version in D, they will just play everything down one string.)

Creative Strings Academy

Chris and Neil at Creative Strings Workshop - Dallas

When we started our journey of getting serious about improvisation, we wanted to learn from the best. We linked up with Christian Howes, one of the world's leading jazz violinists, to get lesson time and dive deep into his online resources.

 

Since then, we've hosted Chris here in Texas to work with our students and professionals in the area, and have both attended and worked as faculty at his Creative Strings Workshop in Ohio. We're huge fans of his work and think you should check out our last adventure there!

 

We don't recommend this online academy for young kids because of the self-learning style of the modules, but older learners can benefit hugely by learning from the same place we did. Click here to go directly to the Creative Strings Academy, and click here to hear our podcast interview where Chris explains his mission to use music to make the world a better place.

Note: As of September 2018, signing up for the free trial gets you a free online lesson with Chris. That's an AMAZING deal!!!

Beyond the Music Lesson

The smooth writing of this book pairs well with pistachio ice cream.

Christine Wilson Goodner is quickly becoming a leading figure in the Suzuki world for her ability to take decades of Suzuki knowledge and deliver it in the most effective, modern way. We love her books Beyond the Music Lesson: Habits of Successful Suzuki Families and her workbook Positive Practice: 5 Steps to Help Your Child Develop a Love of Music. If you help your student out with practice in any way (that's most of our studio parents right there) we highly recommend you read her stuff. It's available in print and Kindle, and you can learn more from our book review and Christine's episode on our podcast!

 

On top of her excellent books, the Facebook group Suzuki Triangle for Teachers is the coolest hangout for teachers and music parents. Check it out!

 

Pocket Operators

We have had fantastic experiences by exploring what we can do as musicians beyond our main instruments. Rachel gets gigs on violin all the time (in case you forgot her main is viola!) and Neil has had many performance and recording opportunities with his turntables. 

Our favorite instrument to jam with nowadays (besides strings) are the Pocket Operators. They look like toys, but really are fully functioning synthesizers. Here's a video of Neil jamming with them on their own, and also improvising a groove using them with his cello.

There are 9 different kids with specialized functions, but don't let it overwhelm you! Here's the rundown some some of our favorites.

The Rhythm is fantastic for a detailed drum machine. The Arcade creates fun chord progressions that work well for improvisation practice. The Robot is a fun lead synth to make melodies easily on the spot. 

If we were to get one more, it may be the Factory--another great all-rounder with a real industrial sound. And violinists may want to check out the Sub for bass accompaniment. There are more great ones out there, but we think that's enough for now ;)

Pro tip: A matching case for a Pocket Operator is a good investment!

This page is full of links, including affiliate links! That means that when you purchase these items, we get a cut. We only endorse products that we really believe in, and everything on this page has something that we really love. Proceeds from the favorite stuff page help us deliver the music, videos, and podcast conversations you love!