I had been intrigued about the Colourstrings Method for quite a while hearing small bits of information from people over the years. After seeing the books it was very clear that it was not the kind of method book where you can just buy it and start using it. I have been gradually working on my own teaching system incorporating Kodály musicianship with instrument lessons but it is continually changing for each student. I didn't go on the course thinking because I wanted to become a Colourstrings teacher but because I wanted to find out how the method works and whether there might be some ideas I could incorporate into my own teaching.
The course was run by Geza Szilvay, the author of the violin books. His energy and enthusiasm for only the best teaching was crystal clear as well as infectious. The week was extremely intensive. 10am – 6pm methodology for 5 days. It was a very fast pace as there was a huge body of work to get through to cover the entire system and all it's supplementary materials. There were people on the course from Turkey, Spain, Austria, Ireland as well as a number of Hungarians.
The week was full of lightbulb moments, particularly in relation to teaching violin technique. The guided bowing, position changing with left hand pizzicato and of course the magic notes! (harmonics). The Colourstrings Method really has thought of everything. In the way that the Kodaly approach leaves no chance for gaps in musical understanding, the Colourstrings Method leaves no chance for gaps in violin technique. Of course, as with any approach or method, it must be in the hands of a good teacher who has a good understanding of what they are doing. It was wonderful to hear all the thinking behind the different ideas. Geza also talked about the changes and amendments that have happened over the years based of their experience and feedback of the books. It is a living method in which the writers have been open to improving it and adding to it. It was also wonderful to see video clips of lessons in action as well as performances from children who have been through the approach in Finland, where Geza is based.
Towards the end of the week I was starting to think about how I will be able to use the new knowledge within my teaching at home. My first step is going to be to introduce a number of the supplementary materials to my students. There is a book of studies for reinforcing position changing and harmonics which will great for my more advanced students to help them to become more flexible in their technique and secure in their position changing. There are also some wonderful accompaniments of the simple folk songs which I can introduce to my younger students. I have also offered a trial period of two lessons a week to a couple of my youngest pupils in the hope that I can make a case for more people to see it as a possibility in the future.
It feels like the start of a new chapter for my teaching, where more and more of my teaching is in the way I want it to be!