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Paul Rolland Methods

The inauguration of the first annual Rolland Fiddle Camp held in 2011 coincided with the centennial celebration of Professor Paul Rolland (Peter Rolland's father).  Many of his core teaching principles carry over effectively into the fiddling genre.  It is a little known fact that Paul Rolland was a firm believer in the pedagogical value of fiddling as a means of developing good motion patterns for young violinists.  Before his passing he undertook a collaboration with his son Peter and violinist/fiddler Norman Burgess to develop a pedagogical method using folk fiddle tunes to develop playing skills in a logical sequence.  But for his untimely death in 1978, the current "Alternative Strings" revolution in string teaching might have started twenty years sooner.

Paul Rolland remains, long after his passing, one of the iconic figures in string teaching.
There have been many scholarly articles and several Ph.D theses written about his work.  The spring 2011 issue of AMERICAN STRING TEACHER, the ASTA  journal for which he served as founding editor, contains a bibliographic summary of Paul Rolland by his biographer, Michael Fanelli, in honor of his 100th birthdayThe November 2011 issue of STRAD magazine also showcases Paul Rolland's life and work.  Yehudi Menuhin and others considered him the most influential string pedagogue of the 20th century.  Paul was a founder and president of the American String Teacher's Association, chairman of the string department at the University of Illinois, and he also founded International String Workshop.  A virtuoso violinist, during his lifetime, he did a great deal to revolutionize string teaching in the United States. His published articles and books, his profound success as a teacher, his organizational and motivational skills in conjunction with ASTA, the AST journal for which he was the founding editor, The International String Workshop that he founded, and his many seminars and clinics throughout the United States and abroad, all bear testimony to a man driven to improve the quality of string teaching everywhere. 

His crowning achievement in that quest, "The Teaching of Action in String Playing" film series and book, was the result of years of research and testing by the Illinois String Research Project which he designed and directed.
This film series and the book by the same title represent the pinnacle of his efforts to improve string teaching methods.  In the last six years of his life he gave over 200 workshops and clinics throughout the world on the method of string teaching represented by the films.   Many artists and teachers of note have endorsed Paul Rolland’s work, including Elude Menuhin, Max Rostal, Josef Gingold, Eduard Melkus, Victor Aitay, George Perlman, Paul Doktor, William Primrose, and Roman Totenberg.  It has been said that Paul Rolland, more than any other person, knew and understood the human body as a violin playing machine.  His approach was quite scientific and led to an effective sequencing of motion skills necessary for good playing. It also led to the development of teaching games and teaching techniques that he and his colleagues used to convey these skills to young players. Many of these are shown in the film series. It is no accident that the children of the Project classes shown in these films developed into such skilled players in “less than two and a half years of class instruction, demonstrating freedom and ease of playing through the use of good motion patterns, and freedom from excessive tension.”
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