The Bornoff Summer Workshops provide the opportunity for teachers of all levels to explore the pedagogy and materials in a classroom setting similar to that of a typical school program. Participants play violin, viola, cello, and bass, and often choose to focus on a secondary instrument to improve their own performance skills. Through this hands-on experience, the theoretical becomes practical as directors gain the knowledge, confidence, and flexibility to utilize the materials to best suit the needs of their school or studio program.
The use of “cycle form” is fundamental to the success of the Bornoff approach. It is the understanding and application of this technique that allows the teacher to develop and adapt the pacing for each individual class, provides opportunity for creativity and differentiated learning, and through meaningful repetition affords students of all levels the time to develop skills within a group setting. Students gain stamina, learn to listen for fine details of performance, and gain confidence as they play skills (and sometimes passages from pieces) on all of their strings in cycle form. – Debbie Lyle, President of the Board, FASE
Extensive discussion with great artists and teachers of his time – Fritz Kreisler, Mischa Elman, Jascha Heifetz, Gary Karr, Marvin Rabin, to name a few – left George Bornoff “determined that it is absolutely essential to teach students artistry in playing as well as technique – and the sooner the better!” His approach skillfully sequences and integrates bowing technique, fingering, positions, shifting, double stops, harmonics, vibrato, and more, and through the use of meaningful repetition, nurtures emotional maturity, and creative and technical flexibility, firmly grounded with sonorous tone production and artistic phrasing. Though developed in the early days of the twentieth century, the Bornoff Approach is 21st Century Teaching at it’s finest.
During the 2015-2016 school year, I based my curriculum for String Class Techniques on Dr. Bornoff’s approach and I was really pleased with the results. My university students were able to apply their existing music knowledge to their instruments through the patterns. In the course evaluation, students indicated this was a very efficient use of time because we were able to cover more material with Bornoff’s Gestalt approach. – Heather Beers, Associate Instructor, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
Reflections from Rosamond Finley
Cello Harmonics: Playing harmonics is of great importance in the Bornoff System. Harmonics are used to develop a powerful and warm tone and to refine the bow stroke. (Student: Taryn Osborn)
Vibrato Manual Assistance: Manual Assistance, or helping a student find their technique on violin utilizing the sense of touch, has been a useful tool I received at Bornoff Workshops and was cornerstone of his teaching. Here, I help a student find a full vibrato oscillation that is both above and below pitch, as instructor Brenda Chambers recommended. (Student: Noah Huth)
Open String Cycle: Many of my students, myself included, find the Open String Cycle which is a hallmark of the Bornoff approach, to be centering, relaxing, and even fun! At the workshop with Debbie Lyle and eight students, she empowered us to energize our day-long sessions simply by playing vibrant tones using full bows on Bass, Cello, and Violin. Here two siblings enjoy their long, full bows, together. (Students: Linda Anderson and John Baade)
Bornoff + a Bike: We hope it makes the Memory of George Bornoff proud to know that just like he was well-rounded (hockey player, seminarian, etc…), this student bikes to her lessons to delve into Patterns in Position with a smile on her face every time. (Student: Katie Sharar)
As a first year teacher, the Bornoff finger patterns and sequencing of instruction have given me a springboard off of which to start my beginning 6th grade orchestra with proper set up, tone, and even creativity/improvisation. Unlike many other pedagogical methods, Bornoff works beautifully in a group orchestra class with mixed instrumentation and ability levels. I have a 6th grader in my beginning strings class who has been playing for 5 years already and I have been able to keep him occupied with the many different variations of Bornoff finger patterns and bowings. – Tresa Scrubbs