Students and NS Design at Interlochen


“Mr Laird!! It arrived! It arrived today!”

These are the words I was greeted with on a Tuesday morning during my last week of the summer at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp.  Cello student, Luis Enriquez, from Belgium, has been a student at Interlochen for the past 3 summers and has been part of numerous performances where I would solo on my CR4 or 5 violin with my Intermediate Concert Orchestra on the famous Kresge Hall stage.  I must admit, when he told me he was getting a new NXT 5 string cello, it didn’t come as a big surprise.   It was, however a great thrill.  Luis brought the instrument to the next rehearsal and showed it to me and the rest of the orchestra with great enthusiasm.


Earlier in the summer, we had spoken about the possibility of him getting the NS Design instrument.  We had discussed amps, effect processing, and possible choices of  retailers as well.  In the end, I know the NXT 5 cello will be a great choice for Luis as he begins his electric journey on the cello.  He also picked up a small effects processor which led to  a great discussion about reverb, delay, and “mix.”


This is how NS Design and music education fit together so neatly.  Kids want to be creative.   Kids get inspired.    Kids spend more time with their instrument and build their skill set as musicians.    Everybody wins!!


Congrats, Luis.  I can’t wait to hear what you come up with as you begin to develop your technique on your new instrument,  new ideas as a result of the technology, and your new style of playing with your 5 string electric cello!




10 Practical Strategies at ASTA

Back in the middle of March, I had the opportunity to present an educational session to attendees of the American String Teachers Association National Conference in Louisville.  The session, entitled, “10 Practical Strategies for Incorporation Electric Bowed Strings into the Music Classroom,” is designed to give teachers some simple ideas for getting your string players’ hands onto these great musical instruments.  Ultimately, I believe that  young musicians’ creativity will be jump-started with electric strings and, in the end, the will be better musicians for the experience.  Teachers can tend to be cautious with technology, so I wanted to give them some super-practical ideas for putting this technology to good use.

There were about 50 folks in attendance and the energy in the room was great.  There were lots of questions and ideas throughout the session.  I had a ton of video to show and every suggestion that I made, was something that I have done in the past.  We had vibrant conversations about harmonics and overtones,  performance ideas, the exceptional tone quality of NS Instruments and their blend with acoustic instruments, practical assessment, and a variety of other topics.  In all, the day was a great success and NS Design continued to shine as the worlds leader when it comes to education and electric bowed strings!

Here is the outline from the session: 

10 Practical Strategies for Incorporating Electric Strings intoYour Classroom 

Scott D. Laird

North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

ASTA Conference

March 2013 

  1. New twist on traditional repertoire
    1. Try playing Bach Partitas on your CR 5 String!
  2. Enhance other ensembles
    1. Double Bass with band or jazz band
    2. Cello as bassoon
    3. Pit Orchestra – amplify your string section
  1. With rock bands
    1. talent shows, extra-curricular, FUN!
  1. Violin quartet  – (2 violins w/ traditional strings and tuning, one violin with viola strings, on violin with viola strings and a dropped octave pitch shift to cover cello parts)
  1. Direct recording (assessment and creativity)
    1. Audacity
    2. Other Wave Editors
    3. Step Sequencers – I love FLStudio as a sequencer and then add electric violin
  1. Technology education  (National Standard)
    1.  frequency, equalization, amplification, efx processing
  1. Composition (National Standard)
    1. Writing with  5 string
    2. Triads
    3. Melody and pedal tone
  1. Rockestra
    1. ASTA Curriculum Scope and Sequence 2A and @B: Tonal and rhythmic Aural skills and Ear Training
    2. Students listen to pop and rock music and create arrangements exclusively by ear
  1. Simple amplification (Use them for National Anthem at sporting events and other school-wide functions)
  1. Improv education   (National Standard)
    1. With jazz orchestra
    2. Looping or delay
    3. Band in a box
  2. Silent practice (with CR Instruments)
  3. Transposed for covering wind parts


Thom Sharp’s Nanigo with Solo Electric Violin











Hey all –

For you string teachers out there:  How about trying the tune based on West African rhythms called Nanigo, by Thom Sharp (Latham Music)  with percussion section and electric violin?  I did this piece at Interlochen last week and it was a huge success!  This week, I will be doing his “Samba Me This” along with an improvised solo on soprano sax by my friend, David Kaye.  Thom’s charts are really well done and can be performed with or without improvised solos.  They almost all can can effectively incorporate electric violin.  I encourage you all to take a minute and check out Thom’s stuff!

All the best.


Concert Day!

It is Wednesday, July 27, 2011 and I have my first concert performance today at Interlochen Summer Music Camp with the Intermediate Concert Orchestra.  It has been a great 9 days of teaching and rehearsing and I can truly say that my ensemble is ready for their performance.  We finally had a rehearsal in the hall yesterday and it really changed the way that the musicians and I heard the ensemble.


If I am honest, the rehearsal in the hall didn’t start out the way I had hoped.  I thought that we would run the program, hit some spots, and run the program again.  As it turned out, I think the ensemble was a bit overwhelmed by the room, the anxiety of the first performance, and 5 or 6 of their instructors out in the hall, watching the rehearsal, taking notes for me.  All of those factors, put together with the general fatigue that they are starting to feel led to a sup-par start.  The kids were missing entrances, phasing tempo, missing bowings, and generally freaking out.  I have to admit, I was surprised and a bit upset.  As a result, I scrapped the “run-through” and just rehearsed.  This proved to be much more productive and we were able to “right the ship” and salvage the rehearsal.


For my string educator friends that read this, I want you to know what we are playing and the things that we are focusing on.   This is a middle-school group with musicians whose experience and ability ranges from quite high (my concertmaster is working on the Lalo Concerto and many of the students are quite accomplished soloists) to students with very little experience in a serious ensemble with attention to watching, tempo changes, uniform bowing style, etc.   I tried to program varied repertoire with lots of opportunities for expression and musicianship.  We will start with the Latham Suite for String Orchestra, by Theron Kirk.  In the March movement, we focus on “breathing” into beginning of phrases, short sixteenth notes on the hooked bowing, dynamic sustained notes, and energy in general.  The Elegy 2nd movement is an opportunity to really emphasize the importance of watching the conductor and huge changes in style within a movement (ranging from very sustained and sad to “incalzando” or “with fire.”) I really stretch and tug the tempo in this one.  It takes a huge amount of maturity and patience from each player.  The final movement, Finale, is a syncopated dance that requires attention to rhythm and articulation from start to finish.  Our second piece is Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Major, arranged by my friend, Tom LaJoie.  The kids will perform this work without a conductor and the focus has been on terraced dynamics, intonation, and moving with the music, leading from any and every chair.  Next, we will do Percy Fletcher’s Folk Tune and Fiddle Dance.  This old string orchestra standard is one of my favorites.  The Folk Tune is an opportunity to teach tempo, key, and meter changes within a movement.  We have worked on phrasing, dynamics, watching, and many other ensemble techniques in this one.  The Fiddle Dance is reminiscent of Copland’s Hoe Down and is simply a blast to perform.  Dynamics and drive are paramount in this movement.  We will finish with Nanigo, by my friend Tom Sharp.  It is cool tune based on West African rhythms.  We will be adding a 7-piece authentic African drum section for this one.  I will also be joining the group on my 5-string NS Design CR violin, soloing over the last section of the piece.  This work starts out “piano” and builds throughout, ending with a huge fortissimo.  This is great for teaching a tricky 2 against 3 rhythmic pattern in the context of a really fun work.


We have a short rehearsal this afternoon and a warm-up on stage right before the performance.  I am rally psyched for the entire day.  I know that it will be great fun.  I am so proud of this ensemble.  I often say that an ensemble has to do the rigor first.  But, when that is accomplished, they then can release any stress and simply play from the heart.  This group has done the rigor.  I hope that they can play today with joy and expression without losing their attention to detail.  I believe that is the key for this group of young musicians today.  I know that I will enjoy the ride today, with the knowledge that we have prepared well.


I’ll let you know tomorrow how it went!




CR Violin in hotel room

Hey all –

Just  a quick note to remind everyone how handy it is to travel with a CR Violin for practice in hotel spaces.  I am on the road with my family – heading up to Interlochen, MI to conduct for a few weeks and my 14 year old son will be attending the camp.  We spent a night in a hotel in Ann Arbor last night and he wanted to take a few minutes to run over his audition piece for orchestra and seating placement at the camp.  We didn’t want to disturb the other guests with his acoustic instrument, so I told him to plug his Ipod headphones into my CR violin. He practiced for about 45 minutes without bothering a soul and felt really good about his preparation.

It is easy to overlook this important feature of the CR series instruments.  They sound fantastic in headphones and don’t require any other hardware.  All you need is a set of earbuds or headphones with a mini-plug and you are good to go!

I will be posted updates periodically from Interlochen over the next few weeks.  So, look for more posts in the near future!



Strings Without Boundaries

Hi All.

On Tuesday, June 28, I was in Pittsburgh, PA, at Duquesne University, representing NS Design at the Strings Without Boundaries Workshop. This is a great workshop each summer and I was really pleased to be there.  As part of the day, I gave 3 presentations.

First, I had the opportunity to speak with the teacher-track students at the conference.  This was essentially a Q and A session and we touched on the topics of recruitment for school programs using bowed electrics, the importance of good monitoring for dynamic performances, setting up electric ensembles, and the differences between active and passive instruments.  Next, I gave an elective session for students on the nuts and bolts of amplification.  Here, we covered some of the same topics for a totally different set of students.  These included monitoring, speaker size, speaker placement, use of DI boxes and preamps and other amplification-related topics.  Finally, I finished the day with an elective session of effects-processing.  In this session, we really got into the nitty-gritty of reverbs, time-based effects (delays, chorus, and flangers), filter effects (phasers and wah-wahs), harmonizers and pitch shifters, looping, and distortion.  We covered a bunch of vocabulary and parameters of all of these great effects as well as practical uses of all of them.  If you would like to see some of my sessions on effects, check out and search “electric violins”.

All in all, Strings Without Boundaries is a great event and if you are interested in expanding your improvising and alt styles skills, I highly recommend this event.  Special thanks to Julie Lyon Lieberman and Stephen Benham for inviting me to be part of the faculty this year!



Lamar Stringfield String Camp 2011

Lamar Stringfield Haydn Orchestra with Scott Laird on CR Violin

Hi all –

For the past two weeks, I have been teaching at the Lamar Stringfield String Camp at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC.  It was another great year at Lamar Stringfield with many fantastic moments.

I am frequently asked how I incorporate electric strings into my teaching.  This week, at the camp, I programmed a little blues piece as part of the repertoire for the “Haydn” Orchestra which consists of students from 4th grade through 8th grade.  As part of the performance, I brought in professionals to play guitar and drums and I played my CR violin.  I had the kids play through the piece 2 times and on the second pass, the guitarist (my friend and colleague, Todd Miller from Apex, NC High School) and I took turns improvising over the chart.  As part of the rehearsals, I also took the opportunity to have a 20 minute Q and A session with the kids on electric violins, how they work, and how to play them. I was thrilled to tell them all about the WAV Violin and the NXT Instruments as well.   It was a wonderful learning opportunity for everyone.  The students really took to the style, especially when we added the drums and the performance was really successful.  The linked video will give you a good idea of how things went.

I encourage string educators to give something like this a try.  Regardless of whether you do classical, jazz, bluegrass, or some other style of music with your orchestra, the NS Family of Instruments are perfect for this type of performance.  And, I guarantee, your students want to not only see you  perform, but perform with you as well.

Best wishes!




Great week at ASTA in Kansas City

This week, I have been at the American String Teacher’s National Conference in Kansas City.  It has been a fabulous week of instructional seminars, exhibits, and networking for string educators and students around the from around the United States and even some from around the world.  Electric bowed strings are always a big part of this conference and this year was no different.  The conference included a huge “Eclectic Strings Festival” that focused on jazz, rock, and other “Alt” Styles.  Several NS Design dealers were featured in the exhibit hall with booths.  It was a great week and NS Design was certainly a big part of it!  There was certainly a fantastic “buzz” around the NS Design products and educational possibilities.

Scott with the guys from Electric Violin Shop at the ASTA Exhibits


Scott and Dalton Potter from Potter's Violins

A student tries out the new NXT Cello


Southeastern Strings Conference

String teachers in the NC area:
January 21 is a state-wide in-service day for teachers. Please consider attending the Southeastern Strings Conference at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I will be giving a session on electric bowed strings and there will be many fine sessions throughout the day.  During my session, we will have an ensemble of NS Design instruments set up for attendees to try.  We will provide charts for the ensemble and we will simply all experience playing in an electric string ensemble.  I will explain panning and the use of a PA system, monitors, and basic EFX processing.  We will have an NXT Bass and Cello, a CR violin and viola, the new 5 string Wav, and many other NS Instruments for you to try out as an ensemble.  It will be a blast!

It is not too late to register.

Pre-Register by phone: call 1-800-999-2869 and have your Visa or MasterCard ready.
Conference Fee & NC Renewal Credit Verification of Attendance

There is a $40.00 fee for all instructors attending the String Teachers Conference. This fee will cover all instruction, handouts, clinician expenses, and refreshments. You may be able to obtain one unit of North Carolina Certificate Renewal Credit by attending this event. Please Pre-Register by mail or by telephone. To Pre-Register by phone, simply call us toll-free at 1-800-999-2869 and have your Visa or MasterCard ready. (Please Pre-Register!!) The on-site registration fee on Thursday evening, January 20, will be $50.00.

Here is a list of events.
Southeast String Festival Teachers Conference

Master Class, Dimitry Sitkovetski
New Music Reading Session, Lynne Latham, Latham Music, a Lorenz Company
Electric Strings, Scott Laird
Jazz Clinic for String Educators, Steve Haines
Upper String Pedagogy, Marjorie Bagley, Fabian Lopez, Scott Rawls
Old Time Ensemble Music, Revell Carr and Gavin Douglas
Lower String Pedagogy, Craig Brown and Alex Ezerman
Achieving an Artistic Vibrato in the String Class, Rebecca B. MacLeod
Incorporating Students With Disabilities In Your Orchestra Classroom, Jennifer Stewart Walter
String Instrument Repair, Melody Choplin

Time Session Location
7:45 Introductions School of Music Recital Hall
8:15-9:30 Reading Session sponsored by School of Music Recital Hall
Latham Music, a Lorenz Company
9:30 Refreshments, student rehearsal ends Recital Hall Atrium

9:00-9:50 Electric Strings, Scott Laird EUC Auditorium
10:00-10:50 Jazz Strings, Steve Haines EUC Auditorium
11:10-12:10 Violin Pedagogy EUC Auditorium
Marjory Bagley and Fabian Lopez
12:10-1:15 Lunch
1:15-2:15 Viola and Cello Pedagogy EUC Auditorium
Scott Rawls and Alex Ezerman
2:15 Walk to Aycock Auditorium
2:30-3:20 Old Time Music Aycock Auditorium
Gavin Douglas and Revell Carr
3:30-4:20 Artistic Vibrato, Rebecca MacLeod Aycock Lower Level
4:30-5:00 McIver Quartet Performance Aycock Auditorium
5:00-6:00 Dinner
6:00-7:00 Observe Rehearsal Aycock Auditorium
7:30 GSO Chamber Concert School of Music Recital Hall

9:00-9:50 Students with Disabilities, Jennifer Walter Aycock Lower Level
10:00-10:50 String Repair Lab, Melody Choplin Aycock Lower Level
11:00-12:00 Dimitry Sitkovetski Aycock Auditorium
12:00 Lunch
1:30 Dress Rehearsal Aycock Auditorium
2:30 Concert Aycock Auditorium

Underground Caverns

Hi all! the following is a video that was created by the NCSSM Distance Education Department. It centers around a performance of the NCSSM Orchestra and Ligon Middle School Orchestra in Wake County, NC. This was a really cool performance and a marvelous technological and artistic experience for the students of both schools. I think that my music technology friends around the country will be pleased with this one. I hope that you enjoy the video!

NCSSM Music Instructor Scott Laird explains a collaboration with Ligon Middle School Music Instructor Ruth Johnsen. Interactive Videoconferencing was used to conduct ‘Underground Caverns for Double String Orchestra’ by composer Martha Bishop, a piece specifically written with the built-in latency of videoconferencing in mind. Student musicians from both schools got to experience a unique musical collaboration using IVC technology.

If you are interested in more information on this performance, the following is a link to an interview with Ruth Johnsen from Ligon Middle School that is posted on the WakeCounty Schools website.

Take care.