The first of these publications dates from 1908, when she would have been 34 years old. It is called Studies in Shifting, by “J. Trott,” and was published by Clayton F. Summy of Chicago, and Weekes & Co. of London. The copy I was able to look at through interlibrary loan bore a fascinating inscription in her handwriting—“M. Edouard Deru in cordial appreciation Josephine Trott”—underneath which is stamped, “Edouard Deru 1875-1928 Violinist to the King and Queen of Belgium.” Deru won many awards as a pupil at the Conservatory of Verviers. He toured France, Holland and Germany, and in 1906 taught violin to the then future Queen Elizabeth. He came to the United States, and died here. His widow established a violin competition in Belgium in 1928 that continues to this day. Were he and Trott colleagues, or students together? Did she study with him? We may never know.
In her forward to these shifting studies, Trott writes, “Several of these ideas have been suggestions of noted European teachers and have proven to be of great practical value in developing finger strength and accuracy of intonation.” The material is along the lines seen later in Yost and Dounis exercises, with multiple combinations of fingers and positions.
Her next publication is a book written with Ruth Ewing entitled The Book of the Beastie. From 1912, the book is a collection of stories, poems, and photographs meant to educate children and adolescents in the humane treatment of animals. Add “animal rights activist” to the list of Trott’s accomplishments.
Melodious Foundation Studies and 28 Melodious Studies in the First Position were both published by Schirmer in 1917. While there is a copy of the first book at the Library of Congress, the second I have only found in London at the British Library. The word “melodious” was certainly a favorite motif for Trott. My guess is that she used it to signify the difference between dry technical studies like Sevcik (and her own shifting and scale books), and etudes in which technique is placed in a musical context. The foundation studies book is more of a beginner’s method, with some fun original duets towards the end. The 28 Melodious Studies are all in duet format, and are excellent.
We know from Bea Booth’s testimony that Trott was living in Denver before her next published works appeared in the 1920’s. No doubt her spare time was claimed by her work starting the symphony, whose first concert took place on May 4, 1922. The Puppet Show was published in 1923. The following year Schirmer published her Daily Scale Studies for the Violin, which for some reason is written in English and Spanish. It is an interesting book, with a novel approach to the study of scales. It begins more as a position etude book. There are about four pages of finger patterns in nine different sections, in first position. The exercises are then repeated up a step in second position, then third, all the way through eighth position. There is no particular key; just “white key” notes except for the finger independence exercises in the ninth section for each position. In these exercises, each finger slides back and forth by a half-step before moving on to the next. When we get to the actual scales, the book begins with two-octave scales beginning on the first finger (starting with Ab). The major scale is written out, with accidentals instead of key signatures, and the instruction is “First play the major scales, then the two minors.” What a trusting woman she must have been! Scales starting on the second and third fingers are given the same treatment. The book finishes off with three-octave scales, with quite modern fingering (shifting after the third finger, rather than a 1-2 1-2 pattern, and using a fourth-finger extension at the top), and a variety of arpeggios.
In 1925, her magnum opus, Melodious Double Stops, Book I, was first published...