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.

Learn a Musical Instrument from Scratch, Part 3 (2018 edition)

Check out this Chinese proverb:

I really like it a lot.

But sometimes it's hard to figure out exactly how to act on a proverb, even if I think I agree with it.

In today's video I get very specific about what relaxation means to me and how it can help you a ton in your music life.

Here are your new homework items:

Homework Item #1: Watch the video you chose of your inspiration performer with the SOUNDS OFF.

Homework Item #2: Pay attention to yourself over the weekend and try to spot ONE THING you’re doing with extraneous tension aka a little too much effort.

Please share in the comments section below!

Learn a Musical Instrument from Scratch, Part 1 (2018 edition!)

I’m not here to say that everyone should learn to learn to play an instrument.

Some people just want to listen, so if playing isn’t your thing, more power to you.

As my pal Jay used to say about things like this, “That’s why they make more than one kind of breakfast cereal.”

I’m just sayin’ if you want to play… you’ve gotta try it!

2018 could be your year to learn the instrument you rock out on in your dreams, and I'm here to help you get some momentum started this week.

We did this exercise at the beginning of 2017 and it helped kick start some of you guys.

If you missed this last year, or did it but then got derailed by this thing called life, follow along with me this coming week.

Here's a quick story for you if you've ever thought these three terrible words, “It's too late.”

(You can also scroll straight to the bottom if you're ready to jump in to today's video.)

One of my students, Minni, never had the chance to learn music as a kid. She grew up in Northern Italy where classical music is the big thing.

At age 55 she decided to go for it.

She lives in Cremona, where the violin-as-we-know-it was literally invented a few hundred years ago by Mr. Stradivari and his pals.

Today there’s a skyscraper of a violin sculpture that welcomes you into the city, and you can find luthiers carrying on the tradition in just about every other store-front.

Pizza shop, violin shop, gelato shop, violin shop, farmacia, violin shop.

Children and teens with violin cases on their backs infest the piazza like cockroaches scurrying in every direction.

The heartland!

She bought a decent locally made violin, and called a few teachers.

They didn’t want to take her on.

My theory is that these teachers are more interested in a child who may make a name for them by becoming the next big thing. Or maybe they just don’t know how to teach adults- I admit it is way different.

When she finally found a teacher, he loaded her up with sheet music and etudes. Barely showed her how to hold the bow.

It was frustrating, of course. She easily could have concluded she has no musical talent and deemed the whole project a huge disappointing waste of money and time.

Thankfully she did a YouTube search and found me!


I’m not trying to brag.

I want to show you by Minni’s example that there's power in seeking and trying different things when one thing isn’t working. I'm also gonna tell you in a minute where she has ended up with violin.

But meanwhile I am pretty dang proud.

She searched a bunch of videos on how to hold the bow and found mine easier to understand than the others she had seen in her native language of Italian.

Anyway that’s how we found each other and the rest is history.

I’ll never forget when she started to make her first truly beautiful sounds on the violin with long steady full resonant bow strokes. I get goose bumps every time one of my students feels that for the first time.

We were smiling at each other, big toothy ones, and she said,

“People are depressed. Because they don’t play the violin.”

I jotted that down in my notebook right when she said it.

I thought it was true. And important. Even if it’s just a metaphor and violin isn’t necessarily your thing.

So I did what every socially responsible truth seeking person would do…

And posted it as a meme on my Instagram!

I believe the ability to play music is one of the basic human functions that we all share. And that our world will change for the better if everyone who wants to play gets to, regardless of age or social background.

In certain tribes in Africa there is not even a word for musician or dancer. It’s just understood that everyone is included.

“Only relatively recently, five hundred years or so ago, did a distinction arise that cut society in two, forming separate classes of music performers and music listeners.,”

writes Daniel Levitin,

“Throughout most of the world and for most of human history, music making was as natural an activity as breathing and walking, and everyone participated.”

That's from his book, This is Your Brain on Music.

Civilization has brought about some comfortable perks, like hobbit movies and turtleneck sweaters, but we also:

-Put our musicians up on stages at a distance above us.
-Put the ones still learning on reality TV to be made fun of by Howard Stern.

As a community we're breaking that pattern here at The Hot Violinist!

If you wanna start playing the instrument you’ve always dreamed of to enhance life for those around you, but have no idea where to start…

Check out this video!

Your assignment for today is…..

Create a comment below, and answer me these 3 questions from today’s class:

My top instrument I’d like to start (or explore more) in 2017 is _________.
The top three pieces or musical vibes I’d like to master are _____________.
I want to play _________________ because _________________________________.

There are a lot of things out of your control in life, but deciding to learn a musical instrument and get good at it, is in your control.

“There is only one reason that you ever fail at anything…and that is because you eventually change your mind. That's it!…anything and everything you have ever decided to do, you have succeeded, or will succeed, at doing.”

-Victor L. Wooten, The Music Lesson

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!