St. Anne’s-Belfield School’s Debbie Lyle publishes The Bornoff Approach: A Primer

st. anne's-belfield schoolSt. Anne’s-Belfield Upper School Orchestra Director Debbie Lyle has published The Bornoff Approach: A Primer.

The Primer has already been embraced by educators across the country, with several public and private school programs designating it the foundational text, and is used by Grades 5 & 6 students at St. Anne’s-Belfield School.

“This Primer is based on my application of Bornoff’s work; how I have refined my practices and actually used it in the classroom for more than thirty years,” noted Lyle, who is also Executive Director of the Foundation for the Advancement of String Education (FASE) . “It was written with the intention of helping other teachers more easily access the materials which can be overwhelming at first glance.”

The first Bornoff books were formalized and published in 1948 and the approach is based on Gestalt philosophy and an awareness of the developing brain. Bornoff knew what further research in cognitive psychology discovered decades later: that a documented learning slow down, referred to as the “power law of practice,” can be circumvented for significantly faster progress with frequent, deliberate, changes. Bornoff applied his system of study to all levels of instruction with the intention of creating long-lasting flexibility of mind as well as muscle. His approach was created for use in group classes in public schools to foster the development of conservatory-level proficiency without the need for traditional private lessons.

Lyle first met George Bornoff as a sophomore in high school at the National String Teacher’s Workshop – started by Bornoff and Dr. Marvin Rabin – in Madison, Wisc. Following that meeting, she became the youngest member of the Bornoff Teachers “CORE” group which met monthly at his home to study pedagogy on the four string instruments.

During what would have been her sophomore year in college at the Hartt School of Music, Debbie spent ten months in Boston in an independent study with Bornoff that included five private lessons each week and a guided practice schedule of 50 hours per week. In addition, she taught at two after-school programs under the watchful eye of Jennie Chan, Bornoff’s colleague and assistant, for more than 40 years.

Lyle began teaching at the Bornoff training camp, the Bay State String Camp at age 19, and now oversees the Bornoff Training Workshops throughout the United States and abroad. For the past five years, Lyle has taken St. Anne’s-Belfield School students with her to American String Teachers Association National conferences. Each June she offers week-long workshop at the School during which teachers earn professional development credits and may apply for Bornoff Teaching Certificates.


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