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StringPedagogy VOLUME TWO






Physical freedom is the road to musical freedom.

How do string students move smoothly through the stages from the elementary to the artist levels of playing? Teachers need a clear vision of the beginning, the middle, and the end of the process and the journey. The immense span between the beginning and the end goal of artistry is difficult to chart. The sequence of knowledge, skill, and musical growth is mind-boggling. However, we can understand and start with the essentials of a healthy foundation. Then we can work on how to nurture, build, and establish that foundation. This is the subject of Volume Two.

A systematic but flexible approach was developed over many years of teaching. This approach to the fundamentals of violin playing can be applied to students of all ages and levels. While the basics of this system have been in place at the Indiana University String Academy since the 1970’s, the flexibility of the approach incorporates the refreshing and rejuvenating art of teaching every student in their unique situation. I do this through a systematic study of scales and etudes coupled with appropriate repertoire. This kind of efficient and organized approach is often useful when students change teachers and are moving to the next level of playing.

It has been my continuing vision to share this information with my fellow teachers. Teachers’ workshops began in 1978, evolving into the two week Retreat for the Professional Violinist and Violist. The power and resources of technology have created a wonderful new way to make this information easily accessible worldwide.

Why call this approach “Finding the Flow” rather than the traditional terms such as “building a solid foundation”? First, finding implies that we are releasing what is inside the student already, finding the student’s natural movement. Second, flow incorporates not only natural balance and a dynamic, flexible posture, but it also captures the wonderful flow of performance where mind, body and artistic spirit must be fully integrated and free to be in the moment. Physical freedom leads to mental freedom, which allows the player to engage in the flow of performance.

I hope that this Volume will become a valuable asset for teachers, students, and parents during the journey towards healthy string playing. It will also give performers an opportunity to assess their playing and to continue to nurture their flow.

What do we need to find the flow?

Topic I:  Getting Ready to Move


Topic II: Moving Right Along

If we can understand and apply these principles, our ability to express ourselves musically is greatly enhanced by improved beauty of tone, secure intonation and ease of playing.

It is clear that the principles of balance, posture, and movement in Topic I are essential to playing; they are life long principles and must become part of our daily awareness. It also supplements the information on set-up found in Volume One. Topic II deals with the bowing, finger dexterity, knowledge of the fingerboard, in other words, virtually all aspects of the technique of violin playing. The principles and knowledge contained in Topic II are also part of our daily awareness and central to our playing. Technical facility allows us to release our expressiveness.

Topic II, Moving Right Along, is organized into five STAGES. These stages represent steps in assessing and establishing a healthy foundation of violin playing, not a technical level per se. Thus, these stages are applicable to all technical levels of violin playing. So, while the current presentation concentrates on the Kreutzer etude level, the underlying principles can be taught or reviewed at every phase of playing by using etude, scale, and repertoire materials suitable to the technical level of the student. For example, Wolfhart etudes could be used instead of Kreutzer, one octave scales or open string work could be used instead of three octave scales. Use music that works for your student.

Each stage is a coordinated set of tasks that have been divided into the following CATEGORIES:

There is no specific time table for each stage, but sufficient attention should be given to each stage in order to absorb the material. Students may progress more rapidly through some of the categories in each stage. They are free to continue to the next stage in that category. For example, a student may be ready to start scales in Stage Two while still mastering the bowing variations in Kreutzer #2 in Stage One.

The way the information is presented here is typical of the systematic review taken with an incoming Collége performance major.  In this version, because it is a review, repertoire is not introduced until Stage Three.

Hidden in Topic II are some of the most important teaching tasks, such as intonation and interpretation. These tasks receive constant attention during lessons; attention to such fundamentals is assumed in this website.

Growing a healthy foundation is like the growth of a strong tree. Without a secure root system, the tree will be blown away in the first storm. In the storms of performance pressures and stresses, a healthy foundation will give performers the ability to overcome all obstacles. The teacher’s job is to guide the student in the building of a solid technical and musical foundation; it is the student’s responsibility to keep the foundation intact. Musicians can easily lose sight of the basic principles of playing as repertoire becomes more complex and life as an adult becomes more involved. But we must always remember the basic principles of violin playing, remaining aware and finding the flow. Even when faced with the most complicated problems, these principles allow us to find simple solutions.

Good luck and enjoy your journey through this website!


Best wishes,

Mimi Zweig

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