Joanne May - ESTA Summer School

Joanne May
Upper Strings

Daily, Tuesday 9 August to Sunday 14 August

Joanne May


Joanne May, retired Assistant Professor of Music Education and Director of Orchestras at Elmhurst University, founded the annual Elmhurst World Music Festival, assisted in writing the course String Improvisation for Educators, sat on search committees for four new string faculty members to the department, and was string advisor to the Music Performance degree development committee. She conducted the Elmhurst University Philharmonic for 10 years, including performances at the Illinois Music Education Conference and in Chicago’s Millennium Park for the Chicago World Music Festival celebrating the 70th anniversary if India’s independence. She also led tours with the orchestra for annual performances throughout the U.S. Prior to teaching at Elmhurst University, May retired from public school teaching with 33 years as teacher of strings, orchestra, band, and general music, and as Music Department Chair at Glenbard East High School in Lombard, Illinois.

A student of Paul Rolland for three years at the University of Illinois, May has incorporated Rolland pedagogy into all areas of her teaching. She has presented on Rolland pedagogy at several national and international conferences and is currently a member of the Rolland Certification Committee and serves as Treasurer of the Paul Rolland Pedagogy Society Board of Directors. She has served as President of the Orchestra Division for ILMEA, Illinois ASTA President, National Chair of the ASTA Student Chapter Committee, and National Chair of the Orchestra Council for NAfME. Her awards include the Mary Hoffman Award for Teaching Excellence by Illinois Music Educators Association, Educator of the Year and Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois American String Teacher’s Association, and Teacher Recognition Award for the Presidential Scholar Program in Washington, D.C. by the U.S. Department of Education.


Paul Rolland String Pedagogy

Joanne will present Rolland’s pedagogical ideas from the basics of motion to specifics of left- and right-hand technique, from beginner pedagogy to advanced remedial strategies. Morning and afternoon sessions will each be unique topics, with the two clinicians collaborating together as well as doing individual sessions. There will be additional special sessions for those interested in attaining a Level 1 Endorsement in Paul Rolland Pedagogy.
The Paul Rolland String Pedagogy Society has developed a 4-Level Certification for teachers. The 2022 ESTA Summer School course, when completed in full (including special sessions that will take place over the lunchtime), will provide participants with a Level 1 Endorsement.


S1. Tuesday 9th August: 17:00 – 18:00 (Co-presentation with Ida Mercer) Principles of Movement in String Playing

• Understanding the physiology of movements that are free from excessive tension
• Balance, leverage, repetitious movements, beginnings and endings of bow strokes, ballistic movements, string crossings, comfort and ease of expressive sounds
• Bilateral and Unilateral bowing/body movements

S2. Wednesday 10th August: 09:30 – 11:00 (Co-presentation with Ida Mercer) Rhythm Training

• The importance of understanding the pulse
• Acting on rests
• Multi-tasking: pulse and rhythm together
• Rhythmic movements in string playing
• Bowing connection to rhythm

S3. Wednesday 10th August: 15:00 – 16:30 Co-presentation with Ida Mercer, then split into separate upper string/lower string presentations
Establishing the Instrument Hold

• Placing the instrument & shaping the left hand
• Securing the instrument without excessive tension
• Instrument position games
• Seated position

S4. Thursday 11th August: 09:30 – 11:00 (Co-presentation with Ida Mercer) Establishing the Bow Hold

• Silent preparation, early bow hold
• Regular bow hold – how and when
• Bow calisthenics and balance

S5. Friday 12th August: 09:30 – 11:00 (Co-presentation with Ida Mercer) Playing Short Strokes at the Middle

• First bow strokes
• Short détaché and slurred strokes
• Refining the tone

S6. Friday 12th August: 15:00 – 16:30 Co-presentation with Ida Mercer, then split into separate upper string/lower string presentations
Principles of Left Hand and Finger Action

• Silent preparation
• Placing fingers, octave game
• Balance, elevation of hand, thumb placement
• Percussion play, finger pops

S7. Saturday 13th August: 09:30 – 11:00 (Co-presentation with Ida Mercer) Shifting

• Short shifts & long shifts from the beginning stages
• Shuttle
• Harmonics
• Winding up
• Stepwise shifts in melody fragments

S8. Saturday 13th August: 15:00 – 16:30 Co-presentation with Ida Mercer, then split into separate upper string/lower string presentations
Extending the Bow Stroke & Bouncing the Bow

• Flying pizzicato, wandering
• Rebound, silent bow transfer
• Silent bounces, glancing the bow
• Ricochet

S9. Sunday 14th August: 09:30 – 11:00 (Co-presentation with Ida Mercer) Teaching Vibrato

• Waving & tapping
• Left arm balance
• Tap & hold
• Developing flexibility
• Speed and amplitude of vibrato

Additional topics during lunch sessions:
Bowings: Martelé, Staccato, Sustained and Détaché Bowings Wellness for String Players
Remedial Teaching
Rolland History
Upper and Lower Instrument Specific Sessions, Q&A

Instruction for these sessions is based on the following materials:

• Rolland, Paul. 1974. Teaching of Action in String Playing book and films. Urbana, IL. University of Illinois Research Associates (book updated 2007 by Peter Rolland)
• Fletcher, Stanley. 1971. New Tunes for Strings, Bk. 1 & 2. Boosey & Hawkes. NY
• May, Joanne. 2021. String Technique Development. Unpublished.
• May, Joanne. Joanne May Violin & Viola Videos on YouTube: