Violin Secrets:

101 Strategies for the Advanced Violinist

  • Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners.CHOICE
  • The book is elegantly set out, packed with invaluable nuggets of knowledge and dotted with helpful instructions by double bassist T.M. Larsen.Strad

In Violin Secrets: 101 Performance Strategies for the Advanced Violinist, author and violinist Jo Nardolillo surveys the cutting edge of current violin technique, combining tradition and innovation in one volume. Blending traditional strategies that have produced generations of legendary performers with modern ideas, Nardolillo reveals the secrets of today’s most sought-after master teachers, garnered through her decade of study at top conservatories across the nation. With more than a quarter century of experience teaching at the advanced level, she has refined and distilled these essential concepts into clear, concise, step-by-step instructions, complete with original illustrations and helpful tips.

Violin Secrets is an indispensable resource for any and all serious violinists. The first chapter tackles the toughest challenge on the wish list of every established professional, dedicated student, and passionate amateur: understanding why immaculate intonation is so difficult (and exploring ways to achieve it). Further chapters address the advanced techniques of fingerboard mapping, mastering spiccato, controlling vibrato, playing into the curve, small-hand technique, and navigating comfortably in high positions. An extensive section on practice strategies blends concepts from learning theory, sports psychology, and Zen, and the chapter on artistry offers insight on creating expressive phrases, connecting with the audience, and developing a unique artistic voice. Violin Secrets examines overcoming performance anxiety, choosing the right music editions, being a strong section player in an orchestra, leading productive chamber music rehearsals, and winning auditions.

Violin Secrets is beautifully illustrated with original drawings by T. M. Larsen, musical examples from the standard literature, and a violinist’s family tree that traces these secrets back through to the founding fathers of violin technique.


  • Violin Secrets: 101 Strategies for the Advanced Violinist is the reference book for violin teachers who want a quick lookup or reminder while preparing for and working with their advanced students. Nardolillo takes 10 broad subjects and breaks them down into easy-to-read segments, many of which include excellent illustrations by T. M. Larsen, and she summarizes each with one quick tip or "secret". Tackled first are the technical aspects of playing, including chapters on intonation, left hand, shifting, vibrato and tone, each including eight or more secrets. If a teacher has a question about intonation, they can look at the various subtopics including the octave hand frame, fingerboard mapping and use of overtones. Or if they need guidance on vibrato, they can read about fourth-finger tricks, continuous vibrato, electroshock and shimmer vibrato, as well as vibrato for double stops. The middle section continues with practice strategies, where one may find answers to effective practice through journaling, slow practice and the use of etudes for repertoire preparation. The section on artistry reminds teachers how to address the many aspects of polyphonic Bach, finding the climax, performing the lyrical phrase and playing powerful chords, as well as finding one's own voice and the importance of using the right editions. The final three chapters explore the strategies and secrets to performance as a soloist and as a chamber or orchestral musician. One will find concise descriptions of the duties of the concertmaster, how to fake it, overcoming stage fright, mastering orchestra excerpts and even how to share with a stand partner. An exciting inclusion is a musical family tree that illustrates all the historical pedagogues of the violin and how they are linked back in time, where you can trace the line from teachers such as Galamian and Suzuki back to Vivaldi and Corelli.

    This is a clever and thorough collection of the aspects of teaching the advanced violin student, it is well written and illustrated, and is an easy-to-read reference for the teacher looking for that extra spark of knowledge or a simple reminder in a moment of uncertainty. Nardolillo models Violin Secrets after the successful Clarinet Secrets, also from Scarecrow Press, by Michele Gingras.Eve Warner, NCTM, Cincinnati, Ohio