My name is Jenny, and I'm glad you're here.

I'm guessing that you found me for one of two reasons:

  • 1 ~ You enjoy the music of my band, Circa Paleo and want to know more about it.
  • 2 ~ You have a Hot Violinist within and are seeking some tips on how to do all of this yourself.

I'm mostly focusing on the instructional stuff here, but this is also a great place to hang out if you want more behind the scenes info and unreleased previews of my music projects.

If you're just here to listen and watch, that's cool, but now a few words for you fiddlers and fiddlers to be:

I'm not claiming to be an expert of the violin, but I do know a LOT about starting violin "late" since I myself began my fiddle journey at age 18. I've also learned a lot about unique world music styles over the past several years of traveling all over the place.

Now I want to share all the quirky tips and music that I've learned. In other words…

I'm here to make YOU into a Hot Violinist.

Before we go further, lets define hot, shall we? Because the hot I’m talking about reaches far beyond smokin’ fiddle riffs and gym bodies. Check out my first blog post, "The Hot Violinist Manifesto," to read about what "hot" really means to me.

Hottest Gifts for Violinists and Fiddlers 2017!

I can't believe the Holidays are ON. Looking for gifts for violinists and fiddlers?

For this 2017 edition of my yearly list, I've looked to our community of Hot Violinists and asked the ViolinWOD group about some of their favorite things.

There are items in this year's list for every budget.

I'm including screen shots from the Group FB page to give credit to the idea person. 🙂


These are high quality cards based on original acrylic paintings by Becky Chaffee. They come with humorous and serious tips such as,

“After playing an erroneous note, do not make a face. It's best to make it obvious that it came from your neighbor.”



Rosin build up. The struggle is real!

I'm a wipe-it-off-with-my-T-shirt-girl myself, so I appreciated Jim suggesting this.


Good idea Steve! I'm always making these out of sponges and plastic bags when the humidity dips, but it would be better to have a nice one.

I might have to put one of these in my own stocking this year.

This one is cool because it's adjustable, a little higher volume (some are too small to make a difference), and comes with a built in hygrometer so you know when you're in the danger zone. Anything under 40% is not good.


This is for the violinist that has all the necessities but loves toys. I found it while searching for a metronome solution for a student named Derek who hates his electronic metronome and doesn't wanna mess with the ones on the phone.

I watched the video on Boss's website and this thing sounds really nice! I like how it has a big loud speaker so maybe there's a chance of actually hearing it over the violin blazing in your ear.

More like a jam buddy than a metronome….


It's so much easier to practice consistently when the violin is out and ready to go in plain view.

This came up in response to my Hot Tips Tuesday tip to practice 5 min a day. Then Garry aka “R2” showed me these violin shaped ones.

I have no idea how this rosin performs, but dang it's nifty and so giftable in that violin shaped box.

Maybe it's good stuff…. but either way it's the thought that counts right??


I just found these guys a couple months ago. Three of my students have these violins now and LOVE them.

This is for someone on your gift list who you REALLY like. (Self gifting definitely recommended here.)

I chose the Raining Up model for the violin give away for ViolinWOD performance challenge. I had a chance to play it and it is SO special for the price.

They are getting to know me over there and can help you customize your violin with things I recommend like geared tuning pegs and the bridge a shade lower to make for easier rolls.

Tell them Jenny sent you and they will give you a free E string upgrade to Eva Gold E.

Email Jeff and he'll help you customize the perfect thing in your price range: jsaltzman.imc@gmail.com. (I've been really impressed with his service for me and my students.)

(Jack has the Hibernia. Becky and Jim have Raining Up.)


Old school! 

Time your practice without getting interrupted or distracted by your stinkin' phone.

The black sand is 25 minutes and the white sand is 5 minutes. I recommend using the big 25 min one for working on learning tunes and small 5 minute one for focused bursts of technique practice, for example keeping bow straight in the mirror.

(These are also great for pacing your work day with a 5 minute break for every 25 minutes of work.)


Gabs pretty much summed it up:

I'll say no more. Except that heads up, these require installation which runs about $150-$200 in addition to the cost of the pegs. So worth it, if you can swing it.


Thanks for letting us know about this Mary!

I think any fiddler would love a gift subscription, plus their website offers a treasure trove of quirky fiddle gifts like these note cards featuring a vintage etching of fiddler dancing with dog.

How cool is that?


I'm repeating this from last year because I'm a fiddler, I got this as a gift two Christmases ago, and it is still practically an extension of my right arm. You can throw it in a bag with all your sheet music because it will never leak.

It helps me stay hyrdated which I think is super critical for practicing without getting hurt.

Or forget the hydration, they now have a 25 oz version that holds an entire bottle of wine.


Because we all know and accept that fiddle music sounds much better when the fiddler is wearing a hat.

This website has a ton of variety from silly to serious in different price ranges including this one that is literally called the Fiddler Cap.



So that's my list for 2017! Please let me know if you end up getting any of these for your friends and loved ones.

Still stumped?

Check out my lists from past years. There's lots of good stuff back there.

11 Hottest Gifts 2016
11 Hottest Gifts 2015
11 Hottest Gifts 2014 (This one set the tradition since you guys liked it and responded)

And do you have any ideas of gifts for violinists and fiddlers? Let me know in the comments below!

Zero to Vibrato, Case Study: Derek

Is it possible for a relatively new player to learn vibrato in a matter of weeks?

I wasn't totally sure two weeks ago, but now I know.

Say hi to Derek!

He's a of father of three (all boys, 5 years old and under!) and works as a Nuclear Equipment Operator at a plant in Illinois. The schedule is grueling. Nights one week. Days the next. Alternating.

Average overtime is 650 hours per year. When the plant goes on “outage” he works 12 hour shifts racking up 72 hour work weeks.

When not on outage schedule he's taking a licensing class to become a Nuclear Reactor Operator. (He told me same job as Homer Simpson!) That's 60 hours per week of on the job training and study time.

AND……. he's been cursed with a love of the sound of the violin.

“In my teens and while I was in the Navy I was into Final Fantasy. At its peak of popularity they would use a real orchestra to record the music.  I loved the music and especially the violin. I remember during this scene in Final Fantasy 8 where you play a violin, and I thought how cool would that be?!”

(By the way, Derek served in the US Navy 1999-2005. He spent 4.5 years on the USS Carl Vinson Aircraft Carrier and operated one of two nuclear power plants on the ship that supplied fuel to the jets. He served 3 tours including being part of the First Strike during Operation Enduring Freedom after 9/11. He later said he regrets watching so many movies instead of practicing an instrument on those ships!)

He always wished he had played an instrument he liked as a kid instead of trumpet or baritone. And wanted something more unusual than a guitar.

He shopped for an accordion in about 2010.

“I never made the jump. I thought I was too old.”

Derek always had a thing for holiday music. One day the YouTube rabbit hole brought him to Lindsay Sterling and Taylor Davis playing a bunch of holiday tunes.

“I became obsessed. I kept telling the wife I want to learn the violin.”

She said, with what time?? ​

“I already had too many hobbies and with two then three little kids I knew she was right. My obsession grew and grew.”

Then Derek's grandmother passed away and left him $600.

“It was so important to her to pass that money on to me. I wanted to do something with it that would be memorable. So it hit me, I could buy a violin with it. I told the wife I'd give up my bowling hobby for violin. Whether it's a success or I totally flop, I would remember that her money went on to teach me violin. Or at least attempt it.”

He happened upon my exploding kale video last Spring, but didn't sign up for ViolinWOD because he had just found a local teacher. Then shortly after enrollment closing, the teacher left town without much warning.

I squeezed him in at the last minute, and he began the 5 min a day program in March.

Three weeks ago, Derek and his classmates started on my new vibrato program.

I remember thinking that there are two possible outcomes:

1) These students apply the movement practices and break through on vibrato in unprecedented record time.


2) This totally frustrates them. I stand by my belief that it's good to know where you're headed… But they may not be actually doing vibrato any time super soon.

So…. what has happened??

I thought I'd show you instead of tell you. Here's a little video montage of his journey up to this point.

That sound at the end… that is a proper vibrato.

[WOOOOOHEEEEEEEEEEE! That's my inner teacher monologue here lately….]

Everyone who has tried this knows it's impossible to fake this skill and get away with it.

Sure, we will fine tune over the next month or two, but he's already doing it. And already enjoying it.

At the 2.5 week vibrato mark he said,

“This has been fun and I feel like my violin is alive now.”

Derek has been playing for a total of about 8 months. I asked him what his wife thinks of his playing now.

“When I brought her down to the basement to play Canon in D with my new vibrato abilities she was quite impressed.”

I'll keep you posted on his progress from here!

If you wanna join Derek on this vibrato adventure, click here to check out Vibrato in 3 Steps. Enrollment closes Wednesday Nov 22, at 11:59 pm. 

Rains of Castamere Cover from Game of Thrones

Spoiler alert! (Early Season 1 only…)

A giant White Walker popped up in my neighborhood about 3 weeks ago!

It was a billboard that pretty much just featured one ice-blue eye the size of a car along with the lettering:

7.16 at 9 HBO

A peace loving friend of mine was talking about the billboard with total disgust, “If you want people to be empowered, why show them scary stuff like that?”

I could see his point.

But I was also surprised to hear that, because when I saw the billboard, the empowerment of human kind was the last thing on my mind.

The first thing?


If that makes me a bad person, so be it. More on that later… 🙂

I was slow on the uptake getting into Game of Thrones.

I think I was bouncing around a lot on the road during the first few seasons, so I didn't really give it a look until about when Season 4 had finished.

I was still kind of on the fence through most of the first episode, but then during the final five minutes of Episode 1, little Bran got pushed out the window.

I was hooked.

(Because I needed to make sure he was ok!)

And with 4 Seasons worth of episodes stock piled…. those were the good ol' days!

Now I have to do stuff like this to make time pass in between seasons:

What about you? Are you looking forward to seeing how the GoT story continues?

What does the White Walker with his cold glowing eye balls really represent?

Winter has been coming for a while now… When it finally does, I imagine everyone will have to see the true adversary.

My fantasy is the characters are going to have to set aside the typical power struggles, wars, revenge and home dragon raising projects to actually work together for once.

Or am I just justifying a guilty pleasure???

Lemme know what you think!!!