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This series is an exciting new approach to music theory and technique that is systematic and specifically useful to string students. Learning and teaching are made fun and easy! Whether you are learning or teaching violin theory and technique, viola theory and technique, cello theory and technique or string bass theory and technique, and whether to children or adults, there is a book in this series specifically for every type of student and your situation! This series is also the most comprehensive and thorough music theory system available for teaching students at all levels: beginners, intermediate or advanced!
Old Methods: Existing methods are woefully deficient in theory instruction, and exsiting supplemental theory books are insufficient in their approach in several ways: 1) they are generalized for all instruments, 2) they do not include important instrument related theoretical skills (e.g. teaching the student that forte means playing loudly is not the same as teaching the student how to play forte on the vioin or flute or trumpet or piano), 3) they only cover the basics (limited to reading music, intervals, triads, scales and keys), 4) they lack adequate review and repitition to solidify the theoretical knowledge, and 5) they lack meaningful examples the student can play on the instrument in order to apply the theoretical knoweldge to a specific playing skill. The books in this series combine theory lessons with technique lessons, so that concepts taught are properly drilled for maximum retention and the student learns with each lesson how the theory applies to playing the instrument. These books can be coordinated with any standard string method series. A different series is published for each instrument: violin, viola, cello and bass.
Special Beginning Primer for All Ages: Mr. Kikuchi's Musicianship for Strings has a special pre-staff-reading Primer that teaches the student how to read music while at the same time developing important basic motor skills to play the instrument. Use this Primer prior to or concurrently with the standard method system (Suzuki, Stringbuilder, All For Strings, Essential Elements, etc.). The Primer covers staff reading in the last pages so once the student completes the Primer, graduate the student directly to Musicianship for Strings Level 1 to teach the theory and technique that completes the material of standard method. It will usually take 3 to 9 months to complete the Primer, depending on the student's age, prior musical knowledge and aptitude. The Primer and Level 1 together cover the material found in the first level books of most standard method systems.
Sequence, Review and Application: In these books, Mr. Kikuchi employees his very effective three-facet approach to teaching theory. Sequence: All theory concepts are introduced and explained carefully in a sequence that is meaningful to a string player, with written homework to help ensure the student fully understands the concept and its application. Specific concepts related to playing the instrument are introduced in conjunction with other theory (fingering, bowing, etc.). Review: Repetition and review are built into each book with numerous review exercises designed to ensure adequate retention. Beginning with Level 2, the first few pages are devoted to a comprehensive review of all material covered prior to that level. In addition, some topics are re-introduced almost as if they are new because of their complex nature and to provide more in-depth treatment at the current level (this allows for a less-than-thorough exposure of many ideas at earlier levels). Application: All concepts are reinforced with meaningful playing examples so that the string player fully understands their application to the instrument. The playing exercises after each theory page are sequenced: "easy", "medium", and "challenging" where the "easy" examples introduce the new concept(s) simply with no other technical challenges, the "medium" examples apply the new concept(s) to other technical skills which should be well-mastered, and the "challenging' examples apply the new concept(s) to a total accumulation of all other technical skills covered to-date. This way the student can proceed to new material, while still trying to master skills already learned. This approach is similar to math books that have [A] problems, [B] problems and [C] problems.
Breadth and Depth: Current theory systems at the pre-college level are designed to cover only the basics: reading music, intervals, triads, scales and keys. Mr. Kikuchi believes that string players need more continuous and in-depth theory instruction for every year of study, and is developing the series to the expanse of 11 sequenced levels to provide students a truly broad and deep treatment of music theory - always within the context of playing string solo and ensemble musical literature. In addition to a solid grounding in the basics listed above, this series will also provide string students: 1) harmonic analysis, 2) formal analysis, 3) harmony beyond triads, 4) tonality beyond major/minor keys, 5) vocabulary development, 6) ear training, 7) music history, 8) issues of ensemble playing and 9) technical material sufficient to take the student to the point of college entry. Original compositions as well as excerpts taken from the standard literature ensure that the string student is receiving the maximum exposure to the literature as well as in-depth mastery of the instrument's technique.
Clefs: Unlike the other "one size fits all" theory systems, the student is taught theory specifically in the clef she/he uses for the instrument (violists learn their theory in Alto Clef!), with some exposure to the other clefs so that the student is adequately educated. Beginning with Level 2, appropriate theory and reading examples in other clefs are provided (1-2 pages per level) so that string players learn to read and play each other's parts (with appropriate octave displacement if necessary), and lower clef instruments build a solid ability to read in the upper clefs (as is required for viola and cello). In addition to broadening the student's general musical knowledge, clef-reading helps to break the student from associating notes to fingers only, which is a crucial first step toward learning how to play in positions. These examples are written to be playable on the instrument and are sequenced in difficulty so that the student develops this reading ability systematically. As with ear training which must be developed systematically, this approach develops clef-reading ability slowly and systematically in a way that is meaningful and comfortable to the student.
Vocabulary: Every instrument has its own vocabulary, and it is important to ensure that the student is provided thorough exposure and drilling in order to acquire the vocabulary. Mr. Kikuchi's Musicianship for Strings is the only system available which adequately educates students in the specific vocabulary required by string players, as well as providing adequate explanation of how the standard musical definitions apply to the specific instrument: e.g. staccato means "short and detached" and on a string instrument there are several ways to play staccato - one of which is called martelé.
Ear Training: All string teachers realize that ear training is a crucial part of learning the instrument, yet current systems provide so little material to develop this important skill. Mr. Kikuchi's Musicianship for Strings develops ear training systematically and carefully, using a "time appropriate" philosophy. Students are taught specific theoretical/technical skills (such as major and minor pentascales) which they play regularly. The ear training exercises test the student specifically on the very skills being developed in the theory and technique - so that the student is best likely to answer correctly. As the student advances, the ear training exercises advance at the same pace - covering the same skills - so that the student's ear training develops solidly and accurately.
Cornstalk Tunes (by Stanley Fletcher): This wonderful collection (6) of simple violin melodies teaches the beginning string student important bowing and musicianship skills. All songs utilize only open string and first finger notes, and progress in order of difficulty. This publication has been out of print for years, but is now available through KMI. (Viola and cello versions to appear soon!) Violin and piano parts sold separately, so be sure to order the piano part as well because half the enjoyment (and learning experience) is playing with the accompaniment.
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