Connecting positions – child-centered shifting


The Colourstrings method utilizes octave natural harmonics (the finger touching the exact halfway point along the vibrating string) to facilitate the movement of the pupil’s left hand from 1st position to middle and even high positions. The primary objective of these exercises with octave natural harmonics is to cultivate a relaxed left hand, including the thumb, through gentle early shifting movements. Initially, the 4th finger should be used for the octave natural harmonics, but gradually, the exercises can be played with all other fingers of the left hand. Following the octave natural harmonics, Colourstrings introduces the fifth (finger touches exactly one-third along the vibrating string), fourth (exactly one-quarter along the vibrating string), and third (exactly four-fifths along the vibrating string length) natural harmonics. Through these natural harmonics or flute-like notes, played with lightly touching fingers, young pupils can easily explore the entire fingerboard long before the conscious change of position is taught.

The workshop will guide participants through these carefully graded exercises and aims to share the joy of mastering the fingerboard.

This proposed 90-minute workshop may prove beneficial not only for violinists and viola players but also offers practical advice for all string players working with children and young students. Additionally, it provides insights for university lecturers responsible for teaching methodology.

Violinists and viola players are invited to attend the workshop with their instruments.

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About the speaker

Géza Szilvay, Violin

Professor Géza Szilvay, born in Budapest, Hungary in 1943, studied the violin at the Béla Bartók Conservatory and Pedagogics at the Budapest Music Academy, where he graduated in 1966. He also studied law and political science at the ELTE University in Budapest and earned his doctorate in 1970. In the 1960s, he played the violin in the Budapest Symphony Orchestra and was the first violin in the Szilvay family quartet, a well-known ensemble at the time in Hungary. He also taught and conducted the Children and Youth Orchestra of the Hungarian State Radio and Television. In 1971, Géza Szilvay started to teach the violin at the East Helsinki Music Institute, Finland, and he served as Principal of the institute from 1984 to 2010. He also taught at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki from 1978 to 2010. In 2012, he embarked on an ongoing project “International Minifiddlers” where his Colourstrings classes are broadcast in real-time through a video conferencing system across the world.

Géza Szilvay is the creator of the internationally renowned and successful Kodály concept-based Colourstrings teaching method documented in 42 publications. Over the years, he has developed the method step by step, constantly revising and adding new elements to the material. The Colourstrings method interlinks the development of musical hearing, musical intellect, instrumental technique, and the emotional world of a child, applying the principle of reinforcement of perception through joint functioning of the senses. Right from the start, he added group lessons and string orchestra training to individual tutoring.

In 1972, Géza Szilvay founded The Helsinki Junior Strings orchestra (now known as The Helsinki Strings). Together with his brother Csaba Szilvay, he trained and conducted this string ensemble until 2010 and recorded 28 albums under Fuga, Finlandia, Apex, and Warner labels. During these years, The Helsinki Strings have gained worldwide recognition through 38 international concert tours.

Szilvay’s method of teaching soon had a strong impact on musical education in Finland. A large portion of his students has become professional musicians. He has inspired young parents and little kids with his TV program “Mini Fiddlers in the Music Land” in 55 episodes broadcast in the 1970s and 1980s by the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE. Violin pedagogical elements were slipped into the screenplay through visits to various places in the Music Land.

Géza Szilvay gained international recognition not only as a violin pedagogue and creator of the Colourstrings method but also as an educator and conductor of children’s and youth orchestras. For 10 years, he headed the annual Prima Nota festival in Kuhmo, bringing together young string players from all over Finland and practicing and performing age-appropriate repertoire with them.

He has given more than 200 lectures and workshops on his teaching method and philosophy in Europe, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, USA, Canada, and Australia. In the ongoing International Mini Fiddlers project, he teaches pupils, violin pedagogues, and university students of many countries in weekly video conferences. In 2015, the participating countries include Australia, Denmark, England, Faroe Islands, Finland, Germany, Greenland, Israel, South Korea, and the United States.

Géza Szilvay has received many awards for his outstanding work:

Awards and Recognitions:

  • Knight Order of the Finnish Lion 1981
  • Culture Prize of Finland 1983
  • Hungarian State Award for Cultural Activity 1990
  • Fazer Music Prize 1993
  • Culture Prize of Helsinki 1995
  • “Pro Musica” Award 1999
  • “Accent” Prize of the Association of Finnish Music Institutes 2005
  • International Kodály Prize 2007
  • Title of Professor awarded by the President of Finland in 2009
  • Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic in 2013
  • Knight of the Order of the White Rose of Finland 2017

Honorary Memberships:

  • Danish Kodály Society 1988
  • Finnish Kodály Society 1990
  • British Kodály Society 1995
  • Finnish Kantele Society 1999
  • Finnish Society for Music Education 2003
  • International Kodály Society 2012
  • ESTA Finland 2013