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An Adaptable Approach to Expertise: The Application of Ivan Galamian’s Violin Pedagogy to Trumpet Practice and Teaching

  • Author(s): Allen, Rachel E
  • Advisor(s): Richards, Stephanie
  • et al.

Ivan Galamian was a violin pedagogue whose methods were celebrated for their seemingly universal success. A key component of his pedagogy was a set of adaptable variations intended for the development of correlation, or the mind’s ability to control to movements of the body. These variations could be applied to scales, arpeggios and excerpts from music to provide a virtually endless collection of challenging material.

This dissertation first explores the efficacy of this component of Galamian’s pedagogical method through the lens of perceptual-motor skill acquisition and the study of expertise. By following the technical practice guidelines set forth in Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching by Galamian, a performer can develop a vast bank of implicit and explicit memories, or mental representations, that can be drawn on later. The continual progression of exercises also helps minimize or avoid the plateau in development associated with automaticity, and instead expands the physical and cognitive elements of playing which will eventually, through deliberate practice, lead to expert performance.

Second, I consult with former Galamian students and published interviews to find out how his technical ideas were implemented in lessons and how they fit into the context of the other material being taught such as sound development and musical interpretation. Galamian’s lessons were logical and methodical, and he communicated his ideas through a great deal of playing and very little talking.

Lastly, I explain several ways in which I have incorporated Galamian’s technical variation ideas into my own practicing and teaching. While certain aspects of trumpet pedagogy benefit from repetitive, habitual action, other areas like technical development can benefit from Galamian’s adaptable approach. By applying variability to create new challenges from existing trumpet methods, the usefulness and efficacy of these existing books can be expanded and extended indefinitely.

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