Reviews

Titles available for purchase from the Twofold Sales page.

VLH v1 Cover_smallViolin Left Hand

“An important contribution to violin teaching and learning. This may well be your best yet. ” Goetz Richter Associate Professor of Music, Sydney Conservatorium of Music “An incredibly valuable resource.”
– Daniel Panner
Juilliard School & principal viola New York City Opera

VBT Cover 2ndEd 130807Violin Bow Technique

“In addition to being a highly useful tool for a student or teacher, this collection gives a rare and brilliant glimpse into the sequential thought process of a very good teacher. A student of pedagogy will have a field day here tracing the careful development of bowing technique from an obvious master teacher.” Laurie Scott, University of Texas the Journal of the American String Teacher Association (ASTA), vol 61 no 1, February 2011 “.. Murphy’s filmed demonstrations and explanations are incisive, clear, beautifully recorded and well focused. Murphy has a knack of pinpointing the exact train of thought or muscle instruction that will unlock the secret of a particular bow stroke. After five minutes with his section on sautille bowings I felt a dramatic improvement in my control. … Fintan Murphy’s approach can’t fail to work magic.” Catherine Nelson The Strad, Education Focus, p.120, September 2008 “I was so impressed by the clarity, thoroughness and quality of Violin Bow Technique. I think it is a fantastic teaching and learning tool and I will be sure to recommend it widely.” Daniel Panner Violinist & teacher at The Juilliard School, New York “Violin Bow Technique by master pedagogue Fintan Murphy is a wonderful resource for all violin teachers. The DVD-ROM is remarkable for its simplicity of use with clear, visually appropriate backgrounds and headings. An invaluable resource which can be used by both students and teachers.”
– Melissa Franks, violinist and teacher in Queensland
Stringendo, the Journal of the Australian String Teachers Association (AUSTA), vol 30 no 2, November 2008

VLH v2 Cover_smallViolin Alive

“The Violin Alive series is arguably the most comprehensive and useful teaching tool ever produced in Australia. Brilliantly simple and explicit, Fintan Murphy concisely breaks down every aspect of violin technique to allow students to gain the utmost benefit from their playing.” Stephen Chin, Principal String Teacher, Brisbane Grammar School Music in Action, Music News for Australian Educators, Spring 2006 “I would recommend the ‘Violin Alive’ series to all students who are serious about improving their technique and playing with great ease of movement. I have also benefited from the practice ideas in both my playing and my teaching and suggest that teachers (especially those just starting out) also invest in these wonderful resources..”
– Kirsty Humphrey, violinist and teacher in Toowoomba, Queensland
Stringendo, Journal of the Australian Strings Association (AUSTA), vol 27, no 2, October 2005

Reviews in full

Violin Left Hand

Volume 1
“Violin Left Hand, Volume 1 complements Fintan Murphy’s earlier ‘Violin Bow Technique’ DVD and focuses on improving the left hand through advice, exercises, instructions and video lessons. Fintan is able to offer his experience not only to ‘new’ students, but to students at all stages, as well as teachers.Throughout the DVD, all the elements of left hand playing are covered, such as left hand fundamentals, finger action, finger independence, facility and even the violin & your body. Of particular interest to me was topic 1 of chapter 3 (the introduction to ‘Finger Action’) which focused on solving problematic finger actions; as the title suggests. I sometimes find my fourth finger nail knuckle locking when I play double stops and I found this information very useful in solving the problem. Another area of interest for me was the reasoning for and against using a shoulder rest; my shoulder rest was stolen recently and I had to practice without one, which I believe turned out to be beneficial. Topic 2 of the Introduction, which explained ‘The lesson environment’ for teachers, was particularly interesting; it provided teaching strategies which in turn can be used during a student’s practice. The DVD also includes an enormous range of exercises, practice methods, hints and a relaxation routine which is very helpful while practising.Violin Left Hand, Volume 1 is an excellent resource which I cannot fault. It is uselul for violinists and violists of all levels and is easy to understand via the wonderful video lessons presented by Fintan Murphy. If students are experiencing any problems with left hand plaving I would strongly recommend using this DVD.”
– Andrew Lumsden
Stringendo, the Journal of the Australian String Association (AUSTA), 
vol 35 no 2, October 2013
Volume 2
“Violin Left Hand, Volume 2 is another excellent publication from Fintan Murphy, following volume 1, with applications to viola playing as well. Once again, Fintan is able to offer his experience to players of all skill levels and ages.This DVD focuses on shifting, scales, arpeggios, chords and double stops, all vital elemants required for violin exams at all levels and of course used frequently throughout all music. I found topics 9, 10 and 11 in chapter 6 which focused on high position shifting particularly interesting.As I progress towards a higher level of playing, I find myself moving more frequently into higher positions. These topics address the problems of a shrinking amount of finger space and how to use the thumb effectively as a pivot. I also found the deep analysis of double stop technique useful. The DVD, with its easy-to-follow videos, made even tenths seem easy to play through highlighting the key techniques in chapeter 8, topic 13. As always, the introductory section on teaching and learning provided very interesting material such as effective practicing techniques.Violin Left Hand, Volume 2 is an extremely useful and interesting learning source that I would recommend to players of all skill levels. Fintan Murphy successfully communicates his ideas to the viewers and his written text enhances his practical video lessons to provide a superb publication for all violinists.”
– Andrew Lumsden
Volume 3
“This ambitious DVD by Fintan Murphy is the third in his series devoted to the left-hand. The topics of violin and viola intonation, vibrato, coordination, and practice are featured in video lessons, texts, and scores. While the written materials are excellent, for repetitive exercises of this type I always prefer to take on the concept and then work away from the score. Murphy anticipates this potential problem with his many short video examples. The close-up filming is terrific with Murphy and the others clearly demonstrating fine details of how to improve intonation, develop and improve vibrato, and how to practice (always useful). Although I found some of the vibrato exercises a bit too jerky, others were quite organic. I highly recommend this DVD.”

Hollis Taylor 
Stringendo, the Journal of the Australian String Teachers Association (AUSTA), vol 35 no 1, April 2013
Editor’s note: ‘Jerky’ video is a function of the video ‘frame rate’, which depends on the capabilities of the computer and what other applications may be running at the time.

Violin Bow Technique

“In this efficiently-packaged DVD, Murphy, Head of Strings at Monash University School of Music, Australia, presents a vast amount of information about violin bow technique. The DVD contains 130 video clips with CD-quality audio of bowing techniques from the basic holding posture to advanced off the string strokes. A brief glance at the table of contents reveals twelve major sections, each with many sub-sections. The sections are Bowhold, Bowing Fundamentals, Detache, Slurred Bowings, Beginning Clicks, Bouncing Bowings, String Crossing, Chords, Tone Production, Planning and Practice, Integration, and Resources. The DVD ends with printable texts and scores. Many of the subsections feature standard etude and repertoire excerpts as material for the bow technique under discussion. The individual video clips are quick and to the point, each lasting usually under a minute. Murphy has isolated the details of each pedagogical segment and seems to have worked closely with the production of the video to ensure that the picture of the technique actually demonstrates the subject under consideration. The later video clips dissect famous moments in the repertoire of bowing. The clips of Murphy reducing the Prelude of Bach’s E Major Partita or the cadenza of Kreisler’s Praeludium and Allegro to basic open string crossings are interesting and useful to any teacher or performer. In addition to being a highly useful tool for a student or teacher, this collection gives a rare and brilliant glimpse into the sequential thought process of a very good teacher. A student of pedagogy will have a field day here tracing the careful development of bowing technique from an obvious master teacher.”
– Laurie Scott, University of Texas
the Journal of the American String Teacher Association (ASTA), vol 61 no 1, February 2011

“This DVD-ROM is devised and played by Fintan Murphy, head of strings at Monash University School of Music in Australia. Murphy states that it can be used by players and teachers of violin and viola at all levels from beginner to professional – a bold claim, but it seems he’s right. The disc offers a comprehensive survey of bow technique, all the way through from finding a good, flexible bow hold through perfecting sautille and spiccato to improving tone production with advanced bowing techniques. Though there’s a daunting amount of information here to be worked on and absorbed – 130 video clips in 11 chapters, plus excerpts from scores – it’s set out clearly, with chapters broken down into short exercises or teaching points, and it’s all very easy to navigate through. The chapter headings themselves give some idea of the scope of the project: Bowhold, String Crossing, Chords, Planning and Practice, Bouncing Bowings, to name just five. And within Bouncing Bowings, to take one example, there are 19 separate exercises, such as ‘Lifting the Bow at the Heel’; ‘Introduction to Reflex Bowings’; ‘Introduction to Sautille’ and so on. The whole thing covers a lot of ground, and Murphy acknowledges his debt to four other pedagogues – Simon Fischer, Sheila Nelson, Kurt Sassmannshaus and Mimi Zweig – in some of the teaching exercises he uses. It does take some browsing to get your bearings, and the presentation style is sometimes quirky. I found the introductory screens to the chapters disconcerting, with lots of dense type in an offputtingly small font size. The video clips of Murphy demonstrating his teaching points are much more effective, and have handy settings for ‘slow motion’; so that you can get to grips with exactly what he’s doing, or ‘repeat’ if you want to keep practising the same exercise. The format of the clips, too, took some getting used to: for some, the spoken text is shown word-for-word on the right of the screen; for others, it’s vital to read the explanatory text before you play the video, though there’s no indication that you should do this. Once you’ve got over these idiosyncrasies, however, it’s invaluable stuff: Murphy’s filmed demonstrations and explanations are incisive, clear, beautifully recorded and well focused. The first couple of chapters, Bowhold and Bowing Fundamentals, offer a really good grounding in the different aspects of what the bowing arm should be doing. The more advanced exercises are equally worthwhile. Murphy has a knack of pinpointing the exact train of thought or muscle instruction that will unlock the secret of a particular bow stroke. After five minutes with his section on sautille bowings I felt a dramatic improvement in my control. The sheer man-hours of learning potential on the disc might seem overwhelming, but taken in small chunks, Fintan Murphy’s approach can’t fail to work magic.”
– Catherine Nelson
The Strad, Education Focus, p.120, September 2008

“I was so impressed by the clarity, thoroughness and quality of Violin Bow Technique. I think it is a fantastic teaching and learning tool and I will be sure to recommend it widely.” – Daniel Panner, violinist & teacher at The Juilliard School, New York “Violin Bow Technique by master pedagogue Fintan Murphy is a wonderful resource for all violin teachers. From teaching the beginner to hold a bow, through to advanced articulations such as ricochet, Fintan Murphy clearly demonstrates all manner of bowings. Each succinct verbal explanation is reinforced with a demonstration, and a written description that goes into greater depth. The 130 video clips of selected excerpts are very well suited to each demonstrated technique and come primarily from examination requirements, making it even more useful, The DVD-ROM is remarkable for its simplicity of use with clear, visually appropriate backgrounds and headings. An invaluable resource which can be used by both students and teachers, I eagerly await Fintan Murphy’s next project of Violin Technique for the left hand.”
– Melissa Franks, violinist and teacher in Queensland
Stringendo, the Journal of the Australian String Teachers Association (AUSTA), vol 30 no 2, November 2008

Violin Alive

“The Violin Alive series is arguably the most comprehensive and useful teaching tool ever produced in Australia. Brilliantly simple and explicit, Fintan Murphy concisely breaks down every aspect of violin technique to allow students to gain the utmost benefit from their playing. In Volume 2, the AMEB violin Technical Syllabus (2001) grades 3-4 is presented along with key techniques crucial for the growth of aspiring musicians. These include tips and exercises on various bowings such as change of bow, hook stroke and spiccato, left hand techniques such as vibrato development and shifting, and a number of warm up and practice strategies. This latest edition has been remastered to a DVD-ROM, enabling even more techniques to be incorporated onto the single disk. Easy to use and sprinkled with fun and colourful navigation icons, students (and teachers) can delight in exploring all that Fintan has to offer. As a teacher, it gives me great confidence to know that a student will have Fintan with them at home to guide them in their practice during the week.”
“This is possibly the most comprehensive and useful multimedia teaching tool for the violin extant. Its strength lies in the brilliant yet seamless marriage between foundational violin technique and the technical requirements for Preliminary to Eighth Grades of the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB). Great care has obviously been taken in ensuring that the sound and video quality are both top quality. Indeed many of the shots have been varied to highlight different technical aspects. Menus can be brought up by a simple right-click on the mouse, each clip loading up quickly. The slow motion feature really helps students to compare their actions with what they can see. The CDROMs are laid out in the following way: . AMEB exercises, scales and arpeggios; . Practice points; . Key techniques-warm-ups, practice techniques, bowing and left hand; and . Resources. Fintan has adopted a most relaxed, easy-going and friendly approach. As he is well versed in Alexander technique, some exercises are performed away from the violin so that the body can be optimally prepared to practice and perform efficiently with ease. Alongside each video clip window is a concise written explanation of each technique. This may help the teacher to accurately verbalise a range of technical issues. Kodaly teaching principles, such as preparing a piece by clapping the beat and singing the melody, are also presented. Perhaps the most powerful characteristic of the volumes is that the sequence of each exercise has been carefully thought out so that even the slowest developing student can acquire a very sound general technique. For instance, the vibrato exercises from ‘banjo polishing’ to the more refined ‘vibrato impulses’ can be done and understood at any level. The cross-referencing of related techniques such as sautillé and collé is very clear and invaluable for the more advanced student. The video close-ups of the left-hand action in a variety of finger patterns and in the higher positions really gets into the nittygritty of what works best on the violin. Each volume is showered with a glossary of terms and a bibliography so that both teachers and students can be fully informed. There are also many useful links on the Twofold website: www.twofold.com.au/ I venture to say that Violin Alive is the most significant contribution to violin pedagogy in Australia to date.”
– Stephen Chin, Principal String Teacher, Brisbane Grammar School
Music in Action, Music News for Australian Educators, Spring 2006

Violin Alive AUSTA AMEB Workshop – Loreto Mandeville Hall
“The workshop held to highlight the long awaited release of volume 4 of Violin Alive was well attended with many familiar faces present. Fintan demonstrated and explained in detail some of the aspects of technique that were featured on the CD Rom at the same time as we were able to view them on screen. This enabled us to have a really good understanding of what is being shown on the CD Rom and a chance to raise any questions. There was a lot of interesting discussion around topics such as sautillé and spiccato and of course vibrato. Other topics were covered as well and of course the afternoon was not long enough to answer all of the queries. Fintan brought his usual expertise and relaxed manner of presentation to the afternoon and shared his immense knowledge and experience of violin pedagogy. We all have strengths and weaknesses in our teaching and these forums for discussion are immensely valuable. Frances, with a click of the mouse, navigated her way around the discussion with clips of all of the relevant material and added her own expert opinion when needed. I now own all four volumes of Violin Alive and find them to be very good tools for both the teacher and the student to use as a guideline for what is required at different levels of technical achievement. I am a “visual learner” as are many of my students, and we love to have the opportunity to follow up on something that is black and white on the paper, and both see it and hear it come alive. There is a reminder by Fintan in volume four of Violin Alive about balancing technique with being creative in our musical approach, and I feel that this CD Rom is about presenting a more creative and at the same time thorough approach to many of the difficulties experienced by violinists. There was a very useful handout given at the workshop which linked aspects of, say for example, the development of vibrato, to volume two, three and four of Violin Alive and provides a quick reference for the different topics covered, and where to find them. This series of Violin Alive is a particularly valuable tool for any student who is learning from the AMEB syllabus as the technical requirements are demonstrated very clearly. I am impressed with the detail and thought that has gone into this latest CD and I love the many practice points that are demonstrated, making it easier to troubleshoot and overcome some of the common difficulties we all face. There is a detailed section on string crossing in volume 4 which shows different ways of approaching the same problem. The technical work is such an important part of our practice and can be a chore for many students, so an imaginative approach can make it easier. I love all of the volumes so far and my students who use the CD come back with a much better understanding of how things should sound and it makes my job so much easier. The CD Rom also backs up what I say in the lesson and it is good to have them hear it from someone else. Some of my favorite teaching aids are the shifting exercise in volume 1, the harmonics exercise in volume 2, the sautillé and collé bowing plus the vibrato exercises in volume 3, and the demonstration of the scales and sequences in volume 4. Congratulations to the team and producers of Violin Alive. What I want to know is this..will there be more, or is this it??”
– Margaret Anderson, violinist and teacher in Victoria
AUSTAVIC News, Journal of the Australian Strings Association Vic, August 2005

“Fintan Murphy’s ‘Violin Alive’ series lives up to its name and brings the AMEB Technical Work to life. Described as a ‘masterclass in audio, video and text’, each Volume boasts CD quality sound and easy-to-use video controls (including slow-motion and repeat view). Of course, these excellent CDROMS do not need to be used exclusively for those preparing for exams – there is a wealth of information that can be applied to all students wishing to improve their violin playing. However, for those practicing towards exams, the author knows what he is talking about! Fintan is the Editor of the AMEB Series 7 Grade Books and a String Specialist Examiner for AMEB in Victoria. Each CD contains two grades (Volume 2 : 3rd & 4th, Volume 3 : 5th & 6th and Volume 4 : 7th & 8th) and covers a selection of scales and all of the exercises intended for those grades. There is also a variety of practice tips for both left and right hand technique including intonation, vibrato, shifting and all the bow strokes needed at each level. All exercises are beautifully demonstrated by Fintan, Andrea Keeble and Jennen Ngiau-Keng (as one of my students exclaimed – ‘they make it look so easy!’) Additional features include right-click at any time for menus, thorough cross-referencing of all material, a biography and web-links of useful supplementary material. I would recommend the ‘Violin Alive’ series to all students who are serious about improving their technique and playing with great ease of movement. I have also benefited from the practice ideas in both my playing and my teaching and suggest that teachers (especially those just starting out) also invest in these wonderful resources. As a comment on the back of the CD case sums up: ‘Violin Alive and regular practice will…improve your violin technique and enhance your music performance skills’.”
– Kirsty Humphrey, violinist and teacher in Toowoomba, Queensland
Stringendo, Journal of the Australian Strings Association (AUSTA), vol 27, no 2, October 2005

“Twofold Media has produced another engaging set of CDROMs, this time presenting the violin syllabus of the Australian Music Examinations Board. Volumes 1 and 2 of Violin Alive are now available, covering the technical requirements up to grade four. The remaining grades are to be released at a future date. These CDROMs are an invaluable reference for students, teachers and parents. Fintan Murphy is well qualified to present this material, as he is the String Specialist Examiner for the AMEB. His thorough understanding of violin technique ensures that each exercise is presented clearly and comprehensively. The Warm Up exercises, which include ideas for bowing and left hand set up, are clearly demonstrated and promote a relaxed and natural style of playing, emphasising flexibility and ease. Maybe these Warm Ups could have been placed at the start of the CD to make sure that they were not overlooked by students. Navigating the menus is extremely intuitive and straightforward and the demonstrations themselves are not overly wordy. Accompanying each exercise is some quite detailed text, which may be too technical for a young student, but is of definite benefit to parents and teachers looking for greater depth. The tempo chosen for the scales on the first CD is rather on the brisk side and may not encourage students to produce their optimal tonal quality. I would have liked a little more direction for students when they first play C and G major scales. How do you get those third fingers to be in tune? However these are small complaints given the benefits of having the often dreaded technical section of the exam made so engaging for young students via the means of a computer. Volume two, covering grades three and four, presents some helpful advice for the more demanding technical requirements of this level. There are many good ideas throughout, including hints for double stop preparation, bow strokes and vibrato. The attention to detail by the producers is quite amazing and makes both CDs excellent teaching aids. It would be very useful, for instance, for a teacher to be able to direct a student to explore, for example, the vibrato exercises in volume two, with a view to coming back and discussing them in the next lesson. With these CDROMs students can now view and listen to an expert demonstrating what is required, whenever they wish, rather than relying on their memory to retain visual and aural images presented to them at their weekly lesson. There are many possible applications for these CDs, and everyone involved in learning and teaching the violin would benefit from their careful and detailed approach to the demonstration of the AMEB technical requirements.”
– Julie Hewison, Head of Strings at Ivanhoe Girls Grammar.
AUSTAVIC News, Journal of the Australian Strings Association (AUSTA), September 2004

“Here are all the exercises required for the early AMEB Violin Grades on one handy CDROM. Fintan Murphy, Editor of the AMEB Series 7 Grade Books and Senior Lecturer in Strings at Monash University School of Music together with John Quaine, Editor of the new Violin Technical Syllabus (2001) have put together everything needed for an excellent start on the violin. Both Fintan and John bring their performing and teaching experience to this ingenious project. Violin Alive explores every facet of basic string-technique from literally every angle in colourful video presentations and attractive graphics that cannot fail to engage the young student. This CD is user-friendly and takes one through all the available options on a menu that includes a Glossary, useful websites, and a complete rundown of every facet of technique that will be needed to embark on these AMEB requirements. The young student can watch and listen in between lessons. Fintan or John very carefully plays each scale, arpeggio and exercise for these early grades, with close-ups and different angles to guide the student to the correct method. Additionally there is a suggested warm-up routine and many useful tips and explanations on how to practice each action such as chain bowing, string crossing and shifting. Due regard is given to ensuring a stable left hand frame as well as a flexible bow-hold. The excellent visuals will indeed make the violin come alive for youngsters who are feeling slightly jaded with their technical practice. From the point of view of educational resources for young string students, there has never been a better time to teach! Teachers will welcome this additional tool and students will enjoy exploring over 100 video clips and the CD quality sound to help them on their way.”
– Mary Nemet, violinist and teacher, Toowoomba, formerly Lecturer in Violin at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne.
Stringendo, Journal of the Australian Strings Association (AUSTA), vol 26 number 2, October 2003

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