Chamber musician
Teacher of viola and violin

Orchestral section leader


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Teaching: viola and violin

  • Head of Chamber Music and Senior Viola Tutor, Birmingham Conservatoire
  • Tutor on courses including Pro Corda, Cadenza and ESTA

Teaching approach

Robin Ireland has explored in depth the principles of good viola playing. He is an acute observer and is skilled at diagnosing what may stand in the way of students realising their potential. His approach is influenced by his interest in Alexander Technique and in Chi Kung, and it has been tried and tested both in his own playing and with countless students over the years. He helps students develop good self-observation, good listening, and skill in the interaction between mind and muscles.

This approach has proved helpful to players of all levels, and may especially help those who feel discomfort or a lack of natural ease when they play, and those who come up against limitations in their ability to improve. Robin enjoys working with students of any level who have an enthusiasm for developing themselves and their playing and musicianship. Ultimately his intention is to help students become their own best teacher, with the understanding and resources to enjoy their music making, solve technical problems, interpret music and continue to improve indefinitely.

The mechanics of good playing

Students are taught to develop flexibility, flow, muscular skill and good posture. The main elements of playing are:

Bow technique
  • Bow hold and the basic mechanics of the arm and shoulder
  • Smooth bow changes
  • Bow strokes, including playing off the string
  • String crossing
  • Sound production.
Left hand
  • How to hold the instrument and choose a suitable set up (chinrest and shoulder rest)
  • Principles of handshape
  • Developing finger strength and good articulation
  • Intonation
  • Principles of shifting
  • Vibrato
  • Principles of good fingering.

Robin uses imaginative ways to develop all these aspects of playing, as well as the concentration and focus needed to do so. His students learn highly effective methods of practising.

Musicianship, interpretation and performance skills

Robin works with students to develop:

  • Good confident rhythm
  • How to shape a melody and make it sing
  • An awareness of harmony and its role in shaping phrases
  • An understanding of the language of music
  • The ability to play with emotion and temperament
  • A sense of style for different periods and types of music
  • Strategies for lessening the impact of nerves
  • The ability to identify and release unhelpful habits, both physical and mental
  • The ability to discover and incorporate helpful new habits.

Chamber music coaching

Having literally thousands of chamber music concerts behind him, both with the Lindsays and with many other world-class musicians, Robin has great experience and understanding to bring to his chamber music coaching. He enjoys working with amateurs, students and professionals. 

For testimonials from pupils click here

© Robin Ireland 2009 all rights reserved