String Instruction Links

Bowed Strings (Links Below)

Below I'll be posting a variety of links to help you with your string instruction. The Youtube links will help you with such things as the bow grip, left hand technique and varying bow techniques. For Violin/Viola just scroll down and quickly find a subject matter that interests you in bold. The Cello links are (appropriately!) near the bottom of the page. 

Violin/Viola Links:

Bow Grip (Violin and Viola)
Most beginning violin and viola students have some challenges with the bow grip. I've searched around the web for the best Youtube video so that in addition to your weekly instruction with me you can check in on your grip  anytime from home. I like this one because it's simple, clear and easy to see. (No hidden tricks!) Like me, the teacher speaks of "balance" rather than the high tension word "grip" which is a word that I've hated ever since the day a figured out 'balance". Click here.

Shoulder Rests (Violin and Viola)

The "Kun" style works well for most players, and there are many good "knock-off" brands such as "Arturo" and "Everest" available at the store. I find that the "Bon Musica" works well for those with longer necks. (Usually tall/slim women who appear to have a few spare vertebrae!) They are a tad costly but can solve a variety of problems.
I'm now getting to the point where I can look at someone as they walk into their first lesson and tell them what will work best just by knowing their body type! This video is OK. I'm still looking for one which will explain the adjustment features and fitting the shoulder rest for YOUR body type. (Might have to actually make one!)
Unfortunately this great video on the matter was discontinued  on Youtube. All the other videos thus far fall well short of my standards so we'll have to work on this issue in my studio until I either find a worthy substitute or create a video on the matter myself!

Holding the violin or viola

'A bit long winded, but I agree with the jist of this video on holding the violin. Click here. (Dang! Discontinued. 'Looking for another one that meets my standards.)

Tuning your violin (or viola)

I suggest you leave this task to either me or the most mechanically inclined member of your household for a while. Broken strings or even a damaged instrument can result from a failed attempt at this so please use the following video as a support mechanism and work with me at this at our lessons before making a solo attempt. Click HERE

Top 10 common errors/5 bad habits

I like this woman's videos a lot! Her name is Allison M Sparrow and here she is with a top-ten hit-list from which any beginner could benefit.Click here

I wish everyone I linked up with would be as succinct and "to the point" as this guy. In just a few minutes he gets straight to the point on 5 bad habits. Here's to brevity! Click HERE

Top 10 Bowing Mistakes

Here's Pre-Twoset Eddie giving a very thorough checklist for your left hand. This is well worth the time for any aspiring violinist! Click HERE

Straight Bowing

This guy is a bit long winded, but there are many good points here that will help straighten out your bow. As you have probably learned from me already, I highly encourage you to use a mirror to check in on yourself often. Click here

Smooth Bowing 

This is another one from Allison M Sparrow. It took a very long time for me to learn the bowing described in the following video. It's for the advanced player and requires a great deal of practice and patience to learn, but the payoff is ENORMOUS! This video comes the closest to my own teaching on the matter and is here to support your efforts. Click here

Advanced "Figure 8" Bowing

One of my students found this one on line and it is a very interesting way to pull just a tad more sound out of your violin. The overall jist is that a steady "focal point" is more important for bowing than is perfect parallelism of bow to bridge. More friction can be created by a bow that is chafing toward the bridge as long as the bow doesn't wander one ioda towards or away from the bridge. Cool stuff; Not for the squeamish! (Thanks Deb!)
Click Here

Left Hand Position

I have at least one problem with every video I've come across on this subject. This one is closest to my thoughts on the matter, but I would add some things that we can talk about at our lessons. (There used to be  better video on the matter but I now have to settle for this one.) My issues with this video are that it's too long-winded and more importantly she mentions the thumb as the only 'contact point'. The bass of this index finger is usually a contact point as well, not to be squeezed but as an additional reference for stable playing. Anyway, Click HERE


This is tricky territory and you NEED to be both persistent and patient with it. With consistent practice you might develop a nice vibrato in 6 months time and hopefully your vibrato will continue to improve for the rest of your life! There are no short-cuts so take your time, do it right, and the dividends will be enormous! CAUTION!!! I've viewed some very bad vibrato videos on line which could be detrimental to your development. The following video is the best one I've seen on-line thus far as it stresses the importance of movement in the top joint of each finger. Click Here!

More Vibrato

This video is interesting in that it shows 'slow-mo' footage of each finger doing a vibrato. It also comes with a thorough explanation of vibrato from the wrist up to the finger-tips. (If this video included info on 'elbow' vs. 'wrist' vibrato it would have been more complete; Perhaps she expains this in other links) Check this one out as well! Click Here!


The link below deals with the issue of "bow speed" in better articulating staccato notes. Hopefully you already know that a staccato note begins and ends by placing added pressure on the index finger. (you can practice this by placing the bow on one string and simply add pressure on your index without moving the bow across the string at all. You should be able to observe the bow hair moving closer to the stick as you add pressure and then away from the stick as you release pressure,) It's as though you said the word "tut". The "t"s are the bow starting and stopping abrubtly under the added or released pressure on both ends of the note.

Beyond that, I like this particular video because it adds the element of bow speed to the picture, making your staccato even more accurate and powerful. It's #2 in a staccato series. (I find #1 a bit long winded but it has good basic info) Click here for this video and  #s 1 and 3 can be found easily if you poke around.


'A few shades of grey here, but we can talk about these more advanced things at our lessons. Spiccato implies a bouncing of the bow while it is moving across the string. The bow is in constant motion, not stopping on the string as in staccato notes. This video is a good explanation of the difference. Click here.

Sautillé Bowing Stroke
Here is the best explanation I've found to date on the Sautill√© stroke, which is a more subtle from of 'Spiccato' or 'Detache' performed using mostly wrist but with the added and important movement of supple fingers. Click here.

Technique Notation
Every now and again you're bound to run into an odd icon or marking on your music, or a funny Italian word that could be very important info pertaining to how you articulate a given phrase of music. While many are very common others appear more infrequently, and still others may only appear in a few pieces of music...ever! We can't keep every last one one of these in our heads so here is a handy reference chart to keep most things strait. Click Here

Celtic Fiddle Ornamentation
Celtic fiddling was my first exposure to the violin and is still my primary area of expertise. Many of my students are learning Celtic fiddle styles and here is an informative video from fiddle great Natalie MacMaster, who plays mostly Cape Breton style fiddling (a mostly Scottish, part Irish offshoot from the east coast of Canada). It begins with a very clear explanation of fiddle ornamentation that would apply to all Celtic styles. It continues with a few tunes, but the immediate value here is the quick and effective explanation of ornamentation with helpful graphics. Click HERE
(This one is often removed from Youtube, perhaps at the behest of Natalie who deserves proper compensation for this fabulous video lesson.)

A Little Fun!!!

If you haven't yet binge watched the videos of 'Twosetviolin' allow me to get you started with this great set of challenges for virtuoso Hilary Hahn. These guys are mostly fun and a bit educational as well; Click HERE and enjoy!

More 'Twoset': Here is the decisive (comedic) history of popular violin techniques. Click HERE

Cello Links:

Cello: Bow Grip

I find that Cello bow grips vary somewhat around the world, but I think the following video quickly gets you to a good spot. Click here for a quick review.

Straight Bowing

Here are some good tips and excersises that will help you master a straight and strong bow. I particularly like the 'line of vision' approach and have used it successfully with many budding cellists. Click Here

Cello: Left hand

For beginner through intermediate I will teach either slay or box position, depending on the natural proclivities of the students hands. This video with briefly show you both of them before moving on to a more advanced " Fluid Technique" which employs a little of both. Click Here

4th Position excersise:
This instructor does a good job if demonstrating all of the factors invoved in obtaining a smooth transition tnto/out of 4th position. (4th position is most important as it will signifigantly increase your range in a way that is very stable and easy to learn.) With the thumb position at the heal of the neck in combination with the side of the hand making contact with the upper bout of the cello, you can obtain great confidence by using this excersise: Click Here

A Little James Bond Fun!

Click here to see one of the many advantages of a hard-shell cello case

A New String Curriculum?
I have used the "Suzuki" method materials since 2002, combining them with Stewart Duncan's Deluxe Fiddle Method. By pure instinct I have combined fiddling and classical instruction through the years to make things more fun, interesting and creative for the average student. American fiddle tunes are very instructive and stick with the child for life. So do many Classical tunes and I believe it is important to use both to maximize development of both mechanical skills and creative genius.

Mark O'Conmor's  teaching materials have finally vindicated my long held beliefs regarding string pedagogy.  Mark's materials make great use of both Euro-centric and American music. When learning a fiddle tune, the student can learn many variations and is then encouraged to come up with his/her own variations. This encourages composition skills, something violinists have been lacking since the Suzuki era took hold. Popular vilin methods like Suzuki have placed heavy emphasis on mechanical mastery, repetition and sight reading to the exclusion of creativity.

Think about this: We give a kid crayons, paper and a little encouragement and many of them take off and create amazing artwork. We give a kid a set of Legos and it's not long before some amazing, unforeseen work of architecture dominates the living room. Yet we give a kid a violin, help him/her develop a tolerable sound and then say to them "Play this piece exactly this way. There is no other way to play this piece, so keep working at it until you sound just like me." This kind of instruction produces machines. Many of them can sight-read circles around me, but they can't improvise their way out of a paper bag. Music, for them, only exists on the written page and they wouldn't dare perform without it.

That said, I will continue with my current pedegogy while reviewing/considering O'Connor's systerm, which requires my own completion of his teacher workshops.



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