Teaching Philosophy

Rudolf Haken - Electric Strings

Musicians are drawn to electric strings for a great variety of reasons, each one serving as a valid starting point. A student’s interest can come from a desire to explore musical genres and playing styles for which electric instruments seem particularly suited. It can come from a deep fascination with the interaction between human performance and technology, or a desire to explore the continuing evolution of musical instruments.  Or it can be something as simple as the volume, playing comfort, or affordability of electric instruments, or the visual design options they provide, or the impression that they are more commercially viable for a career. Even these seemingly prosaic reasons have wide-ranging implications that go far beyond their original intent. For example, the affordability and playing comfort of these instruments makes them ideal tools for public school music programs, and thus worthy of research in the field of music education. The simple fact that the instruments can be played at any volume has fundamental implications for the studies of orchestration and live performance. The commercial viability of electric instruments can enable future musicians to share the magic of bowed instruments to new audiences and in new social contexts.  Every approach to electric strings, and every reason for studying them, makes a valuable contribution to the further development of this remarkable, and continuously evolving, group of instruments.

Similarly, every style of music a student wishes to play is valid. There are valuable skills and insights to be gleaned from all musical genres, and the greater the variety of styles being played in our studio and in your career in years to come, the richer the experience is for audiences, musicians, and students alike. 

My role as a teacher – and the University of Illinois’ role as a major research institution -  is to help you assess and reach your goals, while also providing a constant stream of new experiences that will expand the goals you’d originally set for yourself. Whatever your starting point for studying electric strings may be, it will be enriched by the experience of interacting with fellow students in the School of Music, with the tremendous resources provided by one of the world’s great universities, and through the attentiveness and expertise of your instructors.

As a member of the University of Illinois Electric Strings Studio you’ll not just be preparing for a career in an existing field. You’ll be creating fields of study, genres of music, educational opportunities, and performance careers that do not yet exist. This field of study is on the cutting edge of research, much in the way that engineering, physics, medicine and other “hard sciences” are – and you will be given every opportunity to make your imprint on the world of music.

When assessing your goals as a musician or music educator, we’ll discuss the musical and technological skills you’ll need to achieve those goals. Everything from intense string instrument performance study, to music literature, theory, and ensemble performance, to effects boxes, music production, electrical engineering, educational psychology, 3D printing, video editing, and any number of other fields of study will be available to you at the University of Illinois, all at the highest possible level as provided by this world-class research institution.

Any questions about the electric strings program may be directed to Professor Rudolf Haken, rlhaken@illinois.edu