Musician. Pedagogue. Listener.
Musician. Pedagogue. Listener.
“If you can't teach yourself, no one can. ”
Violin Performer & Pedagogue
If you can't teach yourself, no one can.
Timna Mayer’s expertise in violin pedagogy stems from a lifetime of dedication to the instrument that began in her hometown of Salzburg, Austria. Beginning her undergraduate work at Mozarteum University, she finished her Bachelor’s degree at Ithaca College in 2015. For over three years, Mayer offered supplemental violin lessons there as a teaching assistant to professors Nicholas DiEugenio and Susan Waterbury while studying. During this appointment, she curated a highly individualized teaching approach intent upon helping the student practice and realize musical achievements autonomously. With the string department on her side, Mayer started her own group scale classes, bringing all string instruments together in a setting of peer-to-peer teaching centered on tone production. Many of her teaching methods from this period have been documented and subsequently accoladed for their effectiveness and originality, namely by the International Fund, which continues to support Mayer’s pedagogical research in the United States.
Mayer’s unique approach to problem solving in the practice room and rehearsal derives from her experience in numerous musical settings and teaching styles. As a young musician, she led orchestras as concertmaster through various tours throughout Europe, absorbing a tradition of playing from its original source. However, her most influential mentor, Jürgen Geise (former student of Max Rostal) allowed Mayer the space to develop her own voice, drawing from less conventional sources of inspiration.
In May 2017, Mayer completed her Master's degree in Violin Performance at Ithaca College, during which study she frequently performed chamber music with respected performers, including professors Sara Haefeli and David Quiggle. In addition to actively performing and teaching as a graduate student, Mayer also conducted research funded by Ithaca College. The subject of her research, in brief, was to generate practice techniques from the analysis of bilateral cognitive (hemispheric) processing.
Mayer’s unique perspective allows her to demonstrate the longevity of the violin as it extends to other art forms. In film, her references to jazz, folk styles, and frequent implementation of improvisation have been used by maker, Karen Rodriguez in her short film, Dance, and currently she is creating a soundtrack with maker, Bo Wang. Presently, she and Ishion Hutchison of Cornell University team together to program the violin with newly-composed poetry in n modern exploitation of music with literature.
Over the last years, Mayer has introduced several original projects of great success, both at Cornell University and Ithaca College, that teach students to learn from each other through leadership exercises and collaborative practice. She initiated a recurring “Violin Boot Camp” at both schools where professors from both institutions give leadership workshops in small groups, capitalizing on one technical challenge as the vehicle for group teaching. Her “Living Room” concert series brings musicians of all levels and instruments together on stage to make music and take initiative in the moment, much like they would if they played together at their homes. In a large group setting, Mayer invented the “Double Concertmaster Initiative”, which in its essence synchronizes the orchestra by appointing two concertmasters that are scattered through the section to encourage active communication between players from the first to last desk.
Besides teaching violin, Mayer has functioned as assistant to the orchestras at Cornell since 2017. Presently, she holds the position of Interim Director of the Cornell Chamber Orchestra and teaches her studio of collegiate violin and viola students at Cornell University.
YOU are your instrument.
YOU are your instrument.
Fostering Self-Education: Three Steps to Success
The Henley Method
The Art of Problem Solving
I. Training the Ear
The first step to becoming a sufficient self-educator lies in developing a sense for the overall goal, the basis of sound production: sound quality. The Henley Method, based on The Modern Violin School Op. 51 by WilliamHenley, has been developed by Timna Mayer in 2015. This practice method is specifically designed as a stepping stone toward self-driven practice and auditory development. This daily routine consists of assorted basic violin technique (such as double stops and scales) combined with a right hemispheric practice approach which is solely based on the development of high sound quality.
II. Strategic Practice
After cultivating a daily practice routine and mastering the basics of violin technique, a personalized practice routine is designed for the student. This practice routine is not only individually customized, but also includes thought provoking exercises, training the student analytical thinking and strategic questioning. More information on strategic practice can be found under The Method.
III. Mastering the Art of Problem Solving
The final step to becoming a successful self-educator and independent violinist is to master the Art of Problem Solving. The highly complex and ongoing process of playing not only requires musicians to be able to detect and solve technical/musical issues that may arise at any point of their careers, but also depends upon a highly flexible and analytical mind. In her workshops and private lessons, Timna Mayer emphasizes the key factors of problem solving: Observe-Detect-Assess-Cure, while training her students to become self reflective and observant violinists.