"In this wonderful volume, Amy Barlowe creates a new genre: the style-study. For generations young violinists were subjected to the mind-numbing, repetitive drudgery of traditional etudes. Here, the focus is on creativity and imagination as the student is enticed with the idea that individual composers speak with distinctly different voices. Each style-study is accompanied with helpful prose delineating strategies for achieving the stated goal. With her experience as a concert performer, the creative skill of a composer and the abundantly evident care of a dedicated teacher, Ms. Barlowe has made an important contribution to string pedagogy."
- Paul Kantor, Violin Faculty, Cleveland Institute of Music Artist/Faculty Aspen Music Festival and School
"Amy, I enjoyed playing through the Mozart and Bartok examples, thoughtfully presented with practicing suggestions. More interesting than Kayser and Wohlfahrt, they provide an opportunity for young players to expand their technical and reading abilities. A worthy addition to the repertoire!"
- Stephen Clapp, D. Mus. Violin and Chamber Music Faculty, The Juilliard School Dean Emeritus, The Juilliard School
"Amy Barlowe has done it again.....creating something totally original. The etudes themselves are, for a change, musically pleasing when compared to many other technique builders. By providing her section on technical elements and musical features to be addressed, something only a trained and highly competent player/teacher might provide, she has added frosting to an already award-winning cake. I have seen too many more pedestrian efforts that I myself would never consider presenting to a student. Bravo Amy!"
- Charles AvSharian, Concert performer, Violin teacher, CEO Shar Products Company
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After many weeks on back order, I just received "12 Etude-Caprices in the Styles†of the Great Composers" written by Amy Barlowe, a Juilliard trained†violinist/composer.
First off, I think Ms. Barlowe should change her tag line from†violinist/composer, to: violinist/composer, researcher, historian, philosopher,†pedagogue, writer, and speed-skater (ok that last bit was just wishful thinking). I say this after reading the preface 4 times and knowing that I am going to read it again and again because it brings me great comfort to know that there is living/breathing composer and pedagogue out there championing a more holistic approach to learning an instrument. The Barlowe approach is one that develops technical skills in tandem with musical expression. It invites the imagination to be a full partner in the journey toward self-expression. In fact, the preface concludes by coaxing the curious player to learn more about the composer/period in order to transform one of her pieces from etude-standard to concert-standard. WOW! Not that I don't already take some liberties within my reach with pieces that I study, but here we have an author/composer who designed a set of studies with that as one of end goals in mind. So before I touch on the hard-core aspects of the book, I urge you to read the preface and tell me -- Should (or should not) Ms. Barlowe change her tag line ? ;-)
The "12 Etude-Caprices" is a progressive set of studies that address not only the technical but also the musical challenges of an intermediate player. There is no shortage of hints on how to overcome these challenges.
Even if one puts the amazing feat of composing a book of etudes in 12 different styles aside, this book is in a league of its own with respect to†how skill-building books should be designed, developed and delivered. For each piece, the technical and musical elements are stated upfront, and then followed through with an extraordinary practice guide that prescribes section by section, measure by measure a variety of ways to to approach the†piece structurally, technically and artistically. Add to this opus, 8 meritable appendices: general practice hints, tips on improving†intonation using the "stop-bow method", sounding point principles and application, rhythmic development, double stop strategies, advice on playing chords; AND A bibliography?.?.?..How wonderful is that? Ö I'm in an†altered state of scholarly bliss.
And did I mention the biographical details, relevant historical info, and the art du jour woven into each period/composer/piece?
Now, there is no CD with this package which may disappoint some. I am prone to thinking the absence of it is by clever design Ösomething the inner pedagogue nixed in favour of coaxing out genuine self-expression.
As an intermediate player without a personal teacher for most of the year, I am very thankful to have stumbled across this tome of delight.
Ms. Barlowe has made a free sample of the book available on her web site:
Öbe sure to linger on home page, and enjoy the virtuosic performance of Hebraique Elegie playing in the background before entering this Wonderland. Hebraique Elegie composed by Amy, and played by Amy and her husband, is a stunningly inspiring piece that goes right to the heart - filled with pain, strength, defiance and hope.
Ms. Barloweís 12 Etude Caprices is a marvelous collection. As a private violin instructor I found the caprices a welcome change from the normal tedious etudes. The beginning of the book is accessible for intermediate students and all etudes provide excellent technique practice for advanced students. The book is also a great tool for an adult student who is no longer working with a teacher. The included performance notes are clearly written and easy to follow. Each caprice is a complete solo piece and could be used in a performance, not just as a practice etude. I highly recommend this book.