Paul Rolland, my teacher

Presenter: Joanne May


“Paul Rolland was the first to use science-based research to consider the role of movement in the acquisition of stringed-instrument performance technique. His movement-centered approach has had world-wide influence in the teaching of children to play stringed instruments.” This quote is written on a plaque placed prominently at the entrance to the Music Building at the University of Illinois. As a student of Paul Rolland, I would add that his influence also impacts the promotion of good health practices in string performers to prevent pain, and to play with a beauty of tone that can only be achieved, as Professor Rolland often said, “by playing free from excessive tension.”

I have three main goals:

1. To bring an understanding of Rolland’s “Principles of Movement” through whole-body actions

2. To bring an understanding of the process through which he created success for every learner by imagery, games, and actions that are fun for beginners and advancing players

3. To tell personal stories of my experiences as a student of Paul Rolland, how his inspiration created a desire in me to care for my students, and how teachers everywhere can change the world, one child at a time.


Joanne May, retired Professor of Music Education, has distinguished herself as a Paul Rolland expert . A student of Paul Rolland for 3 years at the University of Illinois, May has incorporated Rolland pedagogy into all areas of her 43-year teaching career.

She has presented on Rolland pedagogy at national and international conferences and is currently a member of the Rolland Society Board of Directors. May has held positions as President of Orchestras for Illinois, President of Illinois ASTA, National Chair of ASTA Student Committee, and National Chair of Orchestra Council for NAfME.

She received the Teacher Recognition Award for the Presidential Scholar Program by the U.S. Department of Education in 2002, and is author of Music for Homeschoolers, editor of String Teacher’s Cookbook, Creative Recipes for a Successful Program, and is soon to release Skills, Scales and Tunes, Developing String Technique with Paul Rolland String Pedagogy.

Principal Sponsor