British Journal of Music Education

Bridging the divide: embedding voice-leading analysis in string pedagogy and performance

Deborah Mawer 


Experience as a music lecturer in higher/further education and as an instrumental teacher suggests that instrumental pedagogy – focused on strings – and music analysis could usefully be brought closer together to enhance performance. The benefits of linkage include stimulating intellectual enquiry and creative interpretation, as well as honing improvisatory skills; voice-leading analysis, particularly, may even aid technical issues of pitching, fingering, shifting and bowing. This article details an experimental curriculum, entitled ‘Voice-leading for Strings’, which combines voice-leading principles with approaches to string teaching developed from Nelson, Rolland and Suzuki, supplemented by Kodály's hand-signs. Findings from informal trials at Lancaster University (1995–7), which also adapted material for other melody instruments and keyboard, strongly support this perceived symbiotic relationship.