William Primrose: Technique Is Memory

March 20, 2008 at 04:36 AM · I'm starting to take lessons with the teacher I'll be with for college starting this fall, and among the the books I picked up is 'Technique Is Memory', written by William Primrose. It's out of print, so if folks are interested in seeing it, lemme know and I'll figure out a way to type it up with Finale or .pdf it or something. Anyway... has anyone else used this book before or even heard of it? I've never worked out of Gazda, Sevcik or Schradieck but I'd at least heard of them before I got my assignments, this guy is completely new to me.... The exercises look like another rehash of Sevcik, just slight differences in the pattern and with a very well thought-out introduction.

Replies (56)

March 20, 2008 at 04:49 AM · William Primrose is one of the "greats" for us violists :) He wrote a few other books that you can find on Amazon.com. BYU holds the Primrose Library (many many works of viola music).

March 21, 2008 at 04:03 AM · Jami,

Ooh yes, I'd like a copy please :)

March 21, 2008 at 08:25 PM · that sounds really interesting...is talking about muscle memory?

March 22, 2008 at 02:27 AM · Yeah, I 'd like a copy, too, please.

March 22, 2008 at 02:31 AM · Oh, I'd love a copy as well.

March 22, 2008 at 02:39 AM · Pretty please?

PS-If you can scan it into images, and email them to me-I can turn them into a nice pdf otherwise.

March 22, 2008 at 03:01 AM · It's probably going to take a little while to get copies; what I have is on oversized paper and won't fit on either of my scanners. I'll make up some .pdfs using Lilypad and start emailing them out. In the meantime, I'll be sure to take good notes from my prof and try to include those as a guide for using the book in case anyone wants to see what he's having me do with them (i'm doubtful it'll be anything hugely different, but you never know)

March 22, 2008 at 09:38 AM · Everyone can download Primrose's book "Technique is memory" here:


It requires a username (technique) and a password (ismemory) - all lower cases. The file is about 107MB.

Note: Technique & Memory is NOT a theoretical work, but an exercise book, conceived for viola training. All exercises are written in G-clef, because violinists can't read the C-clef !-)

Hope this helps. Good luck!


March 22, 2008 at 01:15 PM · Thanks for that Luc, although I do wish it was in C-clef. :)


March 22, 2008 at 01:52 PM · Thank you Luc!

///////Marc is a Happy Panda!

March 22, 2008 at 03:04 PM · Sorry, can't download, it requires a password.

March 22, 2008 at 03:19 PM · Do you mean you don't know the password, or do you mean you won't download anything that's passworded?

March 22, 2008 at 09:13 PM · The file is damaged cannot be repaired, according to Adobe.

March 22, 2008 at 09:41 PM · That's odd Jasmine.... my Preview on my mac can open it just fine.

March 23, 2008 at 12:44 AM · I mean I can't get into the site because it requires a password.

March 23, 2008 at 12:48 AM · Luc did give us the username and pass, check his post, probably you did not notice. I didn't either at first...

March 23, 2008 at 03:18 AM · Yeah, mine is not opening at all. Maybe I need to find a better computer. The one I was working on earlier was a thin-client at my school library.

March 23, 2008 at 03:26 AM · Jas, install the newest version of the reader onto whatever computer is handy. The Primrose file probably includes things the old version doesn't recognize, so it thinks it's corrupted. If that doesn't help, clear all your temp files and try the Primrose download again.

PS Primrose and Walter Trampler were the two viola biggies back in the day. I wish Trampler was better known now. He's a super player.

March 23, 2008 at 03:24 AM · Thanks, Jim.

March 23, 2008 at 04:54 PM · When I was running the Stamford Symphony Maestro

Trampler's friend who was a girl, not a girl friend, played with us frequently and he always

came along and watched. We found him to be as

nice as could be, generous with suggestions, and

simply fun to be around. At after concert gatherings he had many humerous stories to tell.

As you said, he should have been better known.

February 2, 2009 at 06:30 PM ·

If any of you happen to be in Rhode Island and are still searching for Technique is Memory, I can tell you that the public library system has a copy that I was able to borrow and photocopy on my last trip back home.  

February 3, 2009 at 04:51 AM ·

 If it'll work for pianist I want it. I'm going to college for piano soon and anything will help.

March 18, 2009 at 11:28 AM ·

Sorry, the password "ismemory" does not work... or is it already too late? 

April 16, 2009 at 10:27 PM ·

I've never heard of the book, but I've found the idea to be at least partially true in my own practicng and my students'.  When you practice something so that you know the technique of it inside and out--when you can anticipate your own motions and do them even off the instrument, in your sleep, in the car (summer before senior recital)--the piece has memorized itself.  you just have to watch that you don't learn anything wrong :)  It also works musically--when you thoroughly understand what a piece is doing, where it is going, you may have to remind your fingers how to produce that sound a little bit but mostly it will be there.  That's assuming that your motor coordination is connected to your audiation, not solely your visualization, but for most I've worked with it's a great way to go!

August 5, 2009 at 09:36 PM ·

Hello. I can`t download this book. The password is wrong. This book is very important for me,because I write a report about W.Primrose. But I didn`t find "Technique ia memory". Can anybody help me? I will thank you so much.

March 14, 2010 at 05:27 AM ·

This password won't work for me either. How do I get a copy of this?

June 3, 2012 at 04:12 AM · Hi, I know that the link has been removed, but is there anyone that can pm me the pdf file that has downloaded the file? Thank you so much.

June 3, 2012 at 05:47 AM · Hi, try here:


It took a few minutes but downloaded fine. Instructions are in English, French and German. No password or username seems necessary.

Brilliant stuff.

June 3, 2012 at 06:46 AM · Wow,great! I've got my coloured pens out already - what fun.

June 4, 2012 at 12:38 PM · Ha ha, Bud, you'll need em!

June 4, 2012 at 08:15 PM · Millie, many thanks for posting that pdf link. It downloaded easily enough (no passwords, etc), even though it's a 107MB file which seems rather a lot for 116 pages.

As an aside, this makes it the 6th largest pdf on my computer - the 5 above it are a 5-volume 4100 page reference work (not music) which occupies just over 1GB of disk space!

March 28, 2015 at 02:37 AM · Anybody have this available?

March 28, 2015 at 11:54 AM ·

March 29, 2015 at 06:53 AM · Me neither! ( for the fourth or so time on this thread) Does anybody have this available ?

March 29, 2015 at 01:39 PM · I can't download it either. I did download it successfully 3 years ago (see my previous post) but can no longer find it. I believe this is the result of a HDD crash I had the following year which necessitated getting a new PC. The greater part of my data had either been backed up or was retrieved from the damaged HDD by a technician, but not, unfortunately, the William Primrose file and a few others. Rats!

March 29, 2015 at 03:07 PM · A single used copy is available for purchase on Amazon, both .com and .co.uk. The asking price is extremely eye-watering in the case of Amazon.co.uk. {£200}, and merely just eye-watering in the case of Amazon.com {$54.98}.

April 12, 2015 at 09:06 AM · I can't find mine: it's too tall to go on the same shelf as my other music. But be careful about sharing scans: it's bound to be still copywrite.

It's really just a collection of finger-patterns in all keys and positions, especially the placing of the 3 whole tones which can cause mini shifts and intonation problems.

It's written for violin only, depite the title; Primrose reckons that we violists have sufficient Superior Musical Culture to transpose at sight!

April 13, 2015 at 10:38 AM · Found it! It would practically fill the glass on an A3 scanner. It cost me 30 shillings. Shillings!! It was copywrited in 1960 so I doubt if copying is allowed yet.

April 13, 2015 at 12:30 PM · It is allowed in Canada, where copyright is only 50 years. :)

Mind sending it to Canadian members (including me) please?

April 13, 2015 at 12:49 PM · And U.K.

I'll see what I can do. Shops here in France with big scanners are scared stiff of published stuff.

And it's 109 pages!

April 14, 2015 at 05:50 AM · Does anybody know if it is copyright in the United States?

Or how to find out? I have no idea what to look for in copyright law and stuff like that.


April 14, 2015 at 06:07 AM ·

Copyright ends 50 years after death: year 2032

China doesn't care about copyright issues on anything. Maybe they are selling it cheap.

April 14, 2015 at 06:17 AM · Darn it. I guess I will have to wait 17 years. :)

April 14, 2015 at 08:19 PM · I've been looking to buy it but it seems to be quite rare to find. At least whenever I have the money to buy it, it's never available :(

April 17, 2015 at 09:08 AM · Send me a message.

April 17, 2015 at 02:37 PM · Here in France it 75 years, so 2057. I shall be 108! Have to conact my heirs!

June 2, 2015 at 12:18 PM · Send me a private message if you're still interested in the book.

December 7, 2016 at 02:01 PM · Hi, Luc Dejans. I would like to send you a private message about this book, but I'm new here and I don't know how to do it. Could you help me, please? Thanks!

December 7, 2016 at 04:47 PM · I've had yet another go at downloading Millie Bartlett's link posted June 3, 2012, with this message appearing on my screen as a result:

"You don't have permission to access http://ariuscm.org/sheetmusic/Primrose/PrimroseTechniqueIsMemory.pdf on this server.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request."

I tried three different browsers, but none was successful.

The only other route I can suggest is to borrow it from a national library by an inter-library borrowing scheme. I've used this route in the past to borrow volumes from the British Library (previously British Museum Library) via my municipal library, of which I'm a member - such membership is necessary for this type of borrowing.

December 7, 2016 at 05:21 PM · The original post is from 8 years ago. It is natural that the link OP posted is dead.

Here's another link


Key: !e3V_Q6abo_tnaZcPQQ-76oZyo-h5mlBnGVhSDPmzjfQ

December 7, 2016 at 06:49 PM · Thanks for the download!

December 8, 2016 at 09:21 AM · thanks for that Demian! I just looked through it. it seems "just" a scale book, except that every scale can start on any note, not only on the tonic. I haven't seen that aspect emphasized in other scale books but it is true that playing, for example, orchestral music, a lot of runs are scales except they do NOT start on the tonic. so it can definitely be useful to emphasize and memorize such scales.

December 8, 2016 at 11:15 PM · Thanks Demian!

I have the book, but it needs an A3 scanner, quite apart from the legal issues discussed already.

December 9, 2016 at 05:24 AM · Wow, Demian - you have the same Key as the password to my computer! What are the chanses...

Even if Primrose criticized Sevcik at times, Sevcik did exactly the same thing, but only in C major, starting from every note from g to f, in three octaves.

December 9, 2016 at 08:49 AM · Good joke Mattias! I just looked it up, Mattias is probably referring to Sevcik Op.8, exercises 57 through 59. Extra in the Primrose is that he does it for all keys which makes it easier for beginners to immediately start working in different keys, it is really a quite exhaustive work, he emphasises finger patterns, using specific notation for it, he also emphasises when a finger has to move half a tone up or down from one string to the next, also introducing specific notation for it, and he also includes many Schradieck-type little finger exercises. I think it is quite a good manual for beginners to work on intonation (he writes himself that his book is "NOT for geniuses"). Anyway, there are of course many excellent technical manuals for violin, but I am still happy I learned about this one which I was not aware of.

December 9, 2016 at 11:56 AM · Thank you very much, Demian!

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