Nic has been teaching violin both privately and at Birmingham Conservatoire since 1990. Over the years he has helped large numbers of students to realise their potential and has established a reputation as a firm yet sympathetic teacher dedicated to the development of his students not only as violinists but as musicians. He is committed to being able to give regular weekly lessons, believing that students need the constant repetition and reinforcement of technical and musical ideas that this entails. He takes a great interest in all aspects of his students' development, attending, whenever possible, solo recitals, chamber music concerts and orchestral concerts in which they are involved.
Nic's primary concern when meeting a student for the first time is to ensure that there is good posture, enabling a healthy physical attitude to the instrument. Great care is taken to ensure that the shoulder rest, when needed, is of the correct height so that the violin can sit comfortably on the shoulder and the head rest on the violin in its natural plane thus obviating potential aches and pains which inevitably arise from an unnatural position. Nic is an excellent diagnostician in this regard, able to pinpoint areas of unnecessary muscle tension and, more importantly, able to show various ways in which these can be overcome and corrected. Harmful and inhibiting muscular habits are replaced by good ones over the course of weeks and months of structured exercises and studies. These are skills which he learnt initially from his six years of study with the great Hungarian pedagogue Bela Katona and which he has developed since over his many years of teaching. His years of experience of the Alexander Technique have also fed into this.
Left hand technique is taught through a range of exercises, principally those of Sevcik, designed to enhance such areas as finger facility, change of position, comfort in the higher positions, double stops and so on. Scales and arpeggios feature in all students' practice regimes. Freedom of bowing and ease with a wide variety of bow-strokes are taught through a progressive range of studies beginning with Kreutzer and encompassing such as Dont, Gavinies and Rode, culminating in the Caprices of Paganini. The approach to the 'bow-hold' is undogmatic and concentrates on the feeling, the bow lying naturally in the hand rather than the student attempting to follow any set of more mechanical instructions which in most cases will simply lead to an unnatural placement of the fingers and further undesirable tension.
Students work at a wide variety of repertoire chosen very much with their personal needs in mind; the level of technical competence they have achieved, their musical development and so on. The Sonatas and Partitas of Bach are studied in depth along with a wide range of concertos, sonatas and smaller, single-movement pieces.
Great attention is given to how to practise well, an area seemingly often neglected. Students are encouraged always to think what it is they are trying to achieve before putting bow to string, to practise intelligently and efficiently.
I had the pleasure of studying with Nic Fallowfield for a period of eight years. My lessons were invaluable and inspiring. Nic is a kind and patient teacher with the ability to recognise what is most needed in a student's development and the expertise to address those areas and guide the student accordingly. He has a depth in his musicality which he inspires in others and is able clearly to demonstrate musical concepts and provide solutions to technical difficulties. He has genuine love and respect for music and shares his extensive knowledge with warmth and generosity.
He taught me how best to practise and that through slow, careful work the strongest foundations could be put in place. Through his example I learnt not only how best to approach the violin from a technical perspective but how to go about interpreting music according to its needs and to my own demand to express. Nic encouraged me to find a freedom and openness in my playing, enabling me to express myself with honesty and clarity. He helped me find my own musical voice and I am greatly indebted to him for all that he has given me.