Projects: Etude Finder

The Etude Finder is a database application that organizes string etudes by technique. It focuses on viola etudes for techniques found in twentieth and twenty-first century performance repertoire.
The inspiration for developing this pedagogical resource comes from research describing the differences between experts and accomplished novices.
One key difference is the finding that "experts have acquired a great deal of content knowledge that is organized in ways that reflect a deep understanding of their subject matter."1 Additionally, research suggests that "novices might benefit from models of how experts approach problem solving."2
More specifically, experts categorize knowledge by the major principles of their expert field.3 They also organize concisely, using a relatively small number of sub-levels and fewer concepts when presenting instructional explanations.4
The Etude Finder reflects specific characteristics of expert knowledge:
  • Information is organized hierarchically.
  • The number of hierarchical levels is limited (to 3 levels).
  • The number of bottom-level result pages (pages with no further sub-categories) is minimized (meaning fewer distinct concepts).
When given a technically challenging excerpt or piece, a teacher may be able to quickly select an appropriate etude thanks to their knowledge organization and concept understanding of a large collection of etudes. A student with less organization and less concept understanding (and possibly less knowledge) may fail to choose an appropriate etude, or may be unable to choose an appropriate etude quickly.
By developing a model of expert knowledge organization (such as this database application), students can be helped to accurately and efficiently problem solve (choose an appropriate etude).
By focusing on twentieth century viola etudes, this resource is able to reflect the nature of the viola repertoire (which was mostly written in the twentieth century) and can provide information about lesser-known pedagogical materials to students and teachers alike.
Please consider the suggested Grade levels with a grain of salt. The comparison from ABRSM and ASTA grades to the Canadian RCM grades can be a bit nebulous.
RCM (Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto): Prep to Grade 10 and ARCT Level (Grade 11)
ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music): Prep to Grade 8
ASTA (American String Teachers Association): Grades 1 to 6
      1. John Bransford and (U.S.) National Research Council, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2000), 31.
      2. Ibid., 42.
      3. Ibid., 39.
      4. Andreas Lachner and Matthias Nückles, "Bothered by abstractness or engaged by cohesion? Experts' explanations enhance novices' deep-learning," Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 21, no. 1 (2015): 102,