The conjectures/concerns voiced in a note I received last week may be common among teachers who have not yet tried Things 4 Strings® accessories with their beginning students.
So here I share both the letter and my response to it:
My colleague wrote:
I know you mean well with your " bow hold buddy "products, but attachments like this to the bow and violin are not substitutes for diligent instruction and practice over a long period of time.
They may actually be damaging in the long term if the student never has to self monitor his bow hold. Eventually the buddy has to come off.
4 year olds are capable of holding the violin and bow correctly, if the teacher knows how to show them the way and encourages the parent and child to enjoy the journey.
Thank you for your thoughtful note.
This snowy evening of no students allows me to take a few minutes to respond in kind.
Teaching a full, primarily Suzuki, studio since 1981, with many students excelling and continuing on to careers in music, your note got me thinking how the introduction of these bow hold accessories into my studio seven years ago has changed both how I teach, and the progress of my students as a whole.
Really the only thing that has changed with my teaching is that the time spent with each student on bow hold instruction is delayed often until after Book 1 or 2 is well finished.
Of course I then monitor/pick at the bow hold until the kids go off to college, as I always did.
But, overall, the lesson time devoted to bow hold correction totalled over the years is minimal compared to that of my first 27 years of teaching.
In looking at my my studio as a whole, there is no question that the kids (and adults) are getting off to a quicker, more positive and more satisfying start.
Lesson time previously devoted to bow hold instruction/correction has been re-allocated to instruction in other skills and material.
And, with a relaxed and effective bow hold from Day One (which also translates into a relaxed and workable bow arm), the beginners are achieving a more rewarding sound from the start.
In fact, it occurred to me just today that I cannot think of a single beginner in the last five years who has discontinued lessons.
As to your conjecture that accessory use may damage students, parents of our initial "guinea pig" students would disagree:
- our cellist (my mother, cellist Martha Brons' student) enjoyed playing with the NAfME National Youth Orchestra in Nashville last summer,
- and our violinist (now switched to viola) shone on her solo as principal viola in the NJ Region I (New York area) orchestra last week
Sincerest Best Wishes,
American String Teachers Association Kudos Award Recipient
Center for the Preparatory Arts of the Cali School of Music, Montclair State University, Suzuki Program Coordinator
Ruth Brons Violin Studio, www.brons.us
Things 4 Strings LLC , President, www.Things4Strings.com