The Dounis School

February 5, 2004 at 06:17 AM · Any comments or criticisms on this technique of violin playing? This is the technique school in which I was educated and I find there to be many advantages to it. The Daily Dozen is invaluable too.

Replies (7)

February 6, 2004 at 01:51 AM · Greetings,

Austin, this is a really interesting question. What is the Doiunis school to you? What do you find fundamentally different? Do you feel there are any weak points,



February 6, 2004 at 04:04 PM · I love the school's stressing of the releases in the bow hand. It enables seamless bow changing in legato passsages and crispness for martele and staccato. And Dounis brilliantly explained more complicated bowing like sautille. He taught that one should have elasticity in the fingers of the left hand. How passages flow with an elastic left and and releases in the right! I think what I dislike is how tight the fingers are kept on the bow hand. If you spread your fingers, you get a bigger sound. I find that the key is not to spread them too much, so as to be pressed, but not too little, as to get a weak tone. Since Dounis was very much scientific, I think what he did was to empirically determine how to make the violin sound best, and that is why I think it is an altogether great technique.

February 8, 2004 at 04:02 PM · If you are talking about using the Dounis books, I would say be careful. You can kill the muscles in your hands with some of those streching exercises. I started them 3 years ago, and I seriously hated them because my hands just werent ready to do some othose things. So, I think they can be helpful, but who knows.,.


February 9, 2004 at 12:20 AM · Greetings,

I use the Artist Technique book all the time and find it more usful for me than regular scale books such as the Flesch. In particular the very systematic approach to double stops is extremely helpful in building up a clear mental image of the fingerboard. I find the bowing part of the book slightly less interesting because without knowing exactly what Dounis was teaching that is important in these exercises, they are not really any bette r or worse than a multitude of other bowing exericses by Sevcik, Casorti et al. And my personal preference is for an undending practice of the Kreutzer etudes in all manner of modes. Possibly until you die...

Dounis does not seem to be so well known in England which, frankly, was seriously lagging behing in standadizing violin pedagogy when I were a lad, even thouth there were /are some world clas s teahcers lurking in the strangest places.

The part of the book I never use is what Chloe is talking about. Actually, I think it is possible to practice these strecthing things without injury if your hand is utterly relaxed and I am sure that is what Dounis himself stressed all the time.

However, I am not personally convinced by these particular exercises and part of the reservation I have about them is tied in with the notion of describing such and such an approach to technique as `scientific.`

Science itself, in the abstract, is a way of cutting up the world in a dynamic and progressive manner. But scientists, as a breed, more often than not end up as rigid and dogmatic as everyone else, with the dubious bonus of being able to -prove- that what -they- are talking about is right.

In the case of Dounis and perhaps some other great thinkers of the violin I suspect they locked onto a concept that was theoretically interesting and certainly created many new avenues of development- the idea of equalizing all fingers in terms of power an dstretch.

When we compare the result of this kind of thinking with for example, the father of modern cello tehcnique, Pablo Casals, we find that he would be at odds with a lot of what is said about string instrument playing as rationalized by `scientific `teachers.

The essence of Casal`s playing was naturalness which included assigning roles to the fingers according to their strengths and weaknesses and relationships with each other, in everything from stretching to getting that last prune from the bottom of the can. Casal`s idea s on preparing for shifts, aligning the fingers and arm etc can seem very odd and would certainly be labelled unscientific by many. Except that I know some of his students who discussed these ideas and tecniques with physicians who had nothing invested in music in any sense whatsover and they have exlained why Casal`s instinctive , natural playing which he passe d on to his students was ergonomically far more sophisticated than the contortions modern players hammer into their bodies that function okay for a time but in the long ter are a disaster. In terms of the cello in particular, the idea that the left hand is perpendicular to the neck and the fingers go up and down like a piano player on a key board is stupid in terms of good body mechanics yet widely taught.

Sorry I digressed so far from the topic but I though this kind of shed some light on an unschooled impression I get about some aspects of Dounis`s stuff.

Having said that, most of it I think is fantastic. I hope you are going to jump in onother threads and explain how Dounis appraoched the specifc problems that keep cropping up,



June 10, 2004 at 04:26 PM · I' a Violin teacher from Germany.

Since months I'm seeking for "Dounis - Daily dozen".

Does anybody know who the publisher is? Or do I have a wrong title? If it is out of print, is it possible for somebody to copy it for me? (I think, we'll find a way for payment)

bye Felix

June 10, 2004 at 05:05 PM · i have used various aspect of the dounis books, in particular opus 12 in my studies. i have found his shifting stuff is quite useful, and i did use some of the stretching stuff which DID help me but you do have to be extremely careful. Also i feel he places a little too much emphesis on the left hand.

June 10, 2004 at 11:30 PM · I don't have criticism (at least not yet) but I do have a question about Dounis's Daily Dozen in the excercise for playing at the tip. He says "DO NOT BREAK THE WRIST," and I'm confused as to what this actually means. Is he saying don't let the wrist fall below the arm and the fingers?

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