American String Teacher

Sample Issue - November 2021 - Volume 71, Issue 4



Angela Ammerman

By focusing on preventative and non-punitive approaches, directors can increase engagement, student motivation, and whole class success. I encourage all string teachers to continue to experiment with the classroom management strategies in this article, discuss successful moments with your colleagues, and persist with what it is you love most about this profession: making music.


Tomás Cotik

As a frequent coach for all-state and honors orchestra placement auditions, I find the most substantial audition excerpt issues concern rhythm, bow stroke, articulations, dynamics, intonation, vibrato, style, and phrasing. Here, I offer strategies and general advice for students to tackle the common problems that arise within each area. 


Hal Grossman 

As teachers and performers, it is helpful to have a grasp of the primary muscles used to play and to know how to keep those muscles long and fluid for optimum performance. I will share with you five of my favorite stretches for those areas prone to tightness after playing: the muscles of the shoulders, chest, back, neck, and waist.


Michael Keelan

The Romantic era boasts a profusion of violin concertos by composers familiar to any classical performer or teacher, each offering unique technical and interpretive possibilities. It is surprising that the 1882 concerto of Richard Strauss (1864–1949) has remained so obscure given the composer’s overall celebrity and the piece’s rewarding qualities.


Caitlyn Trevor and Aaron Yackley

For string players, the upper region of the fingerboard can inspire some level of fear, loathing, or dread. It is often associated with desperate note grabs, utter confusion, a strained sound, and thumb position pain for cellists and double bassists. In an effort to diminish fear of upper playing positions for cello and double bass, we explore several strategies inspired by aural skills methods.






David Holmes

The path to developing expressive and tension-free cello playing is going to have ups and downs, and occasional backtracks. I suppose persistence (or passion) is the best ally in this journey. My sincere hope is that the many details I endeavor to present in an organized fashion to my students will, through our combined effort, eventually make cello playing second nature to them.



Michael Alexander and Selim Giray

Envisioning the warm-up as “teaching time” uses a period of high mental engagement that can be used effectively to teach advanced concepts or passages in isolation from the literature. Unison study of technique prepares all students for advanced techniques, even if the technique may not be needed by all sections in the current piece being studied. Studying individual techniques in a sequential manner provides a step-by-step plan for ensemble success.