By Nancy Kredel
Paul Rolland (1911 – 1978), Professor of Violin at the University of Illinois and one of the founders of the American String Teachers Association, is internationally renowned for his approach to string teaching that emphasizes correct motion patterns and playing free from excessive tension. His book, co-authored by Marla Mutschler, “The Teaching of Action in String Playing”, and the DVD by the same name are the gold standard of Rolland pedagogy. The Actions have helped students of all ages as well as the teacher’s own comfort in playing.
Mr. Rolland did hundreds of workshops in the US and in Europe and his ideas have influenced literally every method book used in school string programs. His legacy is being carried on by former students and workshop participants, including Indiana University’s Mimi Zweig (see StringPedagogy.com), whose teaching is based very thoroughly on Rolland pedagogy. She has trained five others at her String Academy who have gone on to establish their own String Academies, each based on Rolland pedagogy.
In the last 10 years there has been a Renaissance of Paul Rolland Workshops, spearheaded by former students of Mr. Rolland. In 2009, Nancy Kredel and Lynne Denig founded the Paul Rolland Workshop at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, which ran for nine years. Currently for the summer of 2017, there are Paul Rolland Workshops at Arizona State University, directed by Gail Rolland and at the University of Illinois, directed by Gerald Fischbach and Lucy Manning. Gail’s husband is fiddle champion Peter Rolland, son of Paul Rolland, and they have an annual Fiddle Camp in Colorado.
Former Rolland students, Lucy Manning, Lynne Denig, Mary Alice Rich and Nancy Kredel collaborated for the Paul Rolland Legacy DVD (2012), which contains sessions from the GMU Paul Rolland Workshop. It features the 10 Action Tunes composer Mary Alice Rich wrote in honor of the 100th anniversary of Mr. Rolland’s birth. In 2015, Nancy Kredel produced the DVD, “Applying Paul Rolland Pedagogy in Public and Private Schools”, which shows students in the Kid’s Camp demonstrating five top Rolland Actions.
The Paul Rolland String Camp is a program of the Illinois String Academy of the School of Music of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.