By Kirk D. Moss, Ph.D., 
Sound Innovations Author

Remember the day when a student blurted out, “I wish this class would never end?” Students may forget the name of the piece they played, but they will remember the “in the zone” moments of music making for the rest of their lives.

Psychologists refer to “in the zone” experiences as “flow.” Achieving a flow state requires a balance between the challenge of the task and the skill of the performer. If the task is too difficult, flow cannot occur. A state of anxiety occurs when challenges exceed the skill level, adding stress and causing uneasiness. Both the skill and challenge levels must be matched at a high level to experience “flow,” and that’s why I’m so excited about Sound Innovations: Sound Development for Intermediate String Orchestra and Sound Innovations: Sound Development for Advanced String Orchestra. Both Sound Development books help ensure that students have the necessary skills to meet the challenges found within the intermediate and advanced level of repertoire that they perform.

Sound Innovations: Sound Development for Intermediate and Sound Development for Advanced
 String Orchestra emphasize playing with 
a characteristic beautiful sound. Intermediate or advanced technical skills are presented in four levels, consistent with the revolutionary Sound Innovations structure: (1) Sound Tone, (2) Sound Bowing, (3) Sound Shifting, and (4) Sound Scales and Arpeggios. The levels can be used in the order that is best for your students, as individual warm-ups, structured units, or as dictated by your repertoire.

Each level presents a unique set of skills. Level 1 offers a systematic approach to developing right-hand technique through teaching sequences that refine the most important variables of sound: bowing lanes, bow weight, and bow speed. Following in the Galamian tradition, Level 2 introduces the bow strokes, including collé. Using collé to develop your students’ right-hand finger flexibility can make a noticeable difference on every bow change and in every attack stroke. In Level 3, new positions and shifting are thoroughly presented using finger pattern logic and guide notes. I especially like the clear and uncluttered page layout of the scales and arpeggios in Level 4. The innovative format is flexible, allowing teachers to differentiate instruction among a wide range of student ability levels.

This year, use the Sound Innovations series to help your students acquire the skills they need to get so absorbed in performing music that they can hardly stop playing. In fact, all four volumes of the series are on SmartMusic allowing even more opportunities to play! Match your teaching to the level of repertoire with exercises and routines designed for intermediate and advanced string players. Prepare your students to produce a signature sound as they gain access to the entire fingerboard. Make “in the zone” experiences a way of life in your classroom.

Have a terrific year, and remember: kids can do anything; we just have to teach them how!