How We Caught the Fever


How "we" caught "the Fever"

Over a number of years I had created MIDI (computer-generated) accompaniments for colleague and friend Rob Roy (no, not the movie guy),who has taught strings for years, with tremendous success, in the Vancouver school system. When performing in concert, his groups enjoyed having a fuller accompaniment than just piano, especially on rock tunes where it just didn't sound right without the drums etc. When he asked me for the third consecutive year, I told him that it was a too much work for just one school as we didn't own the songs and I didn't want to violate copyrite. I said that I would feel better if we did songs that were original or traditional. Noting that he needed Christmas tunes for newer players, we created the blue book with a balance of new songs and a variety of Christmas songs. Inspired somewhat by Stephan Grapelli, we included an original blues song so that we could establish that string players can do more than just play Classical and Baroque music.

We included the cd in every book so that students always had a "band" to practice with and that there was always a tuning and tempo reference. The results in the classroom were tremendous. When me made it available to other teachers in the area, the only complaint was that "the students love this so much that what are we going to do next year!"

With this in mind we created the Fever II book. More original songs and a variety of traditional songs including our own bed-time version of "the Dreidle Song.: Again,the response was wonderfull.

Rob then advised me that the process we were engaged in was so successful in teaching, that we really should create the foundation book. We then started the Method Book. When we had covered all the concepts normally covered and then some, we just kept going because my experience had been that once students finish the first level, the schools can't really afford another book for the number of concepts covered. Instead they move on to repertoire. As a result, the Method book even touches on advanced concepts such as improvising and degrees of the scale and how they impact chords.

The books made it so easy to teach and included such good technique developers (Rob's string teaching experience was so evident throughout the procedure. For example, the "Early Morning Soap Opera" is really an exercise framed within a song) that I started a string program at my school. Within 2 years we had an 80 piece orchestra. At my next school I also established a string program. I found that the books ensured proper technique even though my experience was more in band and choral. Please go to String for more information. That site is designed more for school teachers. For individual purchases, the Time Zone makes for easier purchasing.

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