Simon Fischer Basics/Scales

February 5, 2018, 7:43 PM · I'm thinking of getting on of Simon Fischer's books. All sound great, but probably between Basics and Scales. Any advice from someone familiar with both? The goal is to fill in some holes in my foundation and make some good progress through self study. Thanks in advance!

Replies (14)

Edited: February 5, 2018, 8:52 PM · I think all of Simon Fischer's books are great, and I have most of them.

Warming Up - Like a Cliff's Notes version of Basics. Once you grow accustomed to the exercises, you can do all of them in <45 minutes. I use this one almost every day.

Basics - Exercises covering most violin technique. Includes thorough explanations and lots of pictures.

Practice - Same content as Basics, but uses examples from the repertoire.

The Violin Lesson - Content also similar to Basics, but a little more theoretical. Includes information about the psychology of practice and performance, as well as technical exercises.

Scales - Everything you might want to know about scales and arpeggios, except for double stop scales.

If I had to recommend just one book by Simon Fisher, it would be The Violin Lesson. It is comprehensive and can be read cover to cover or used as a reference. If you're looking for more of a reference work for technique, Basics and Practice are equally good.

February 5, 2018, 9:06 PM · Thanks for the thorough response Jason!
February 5, 2018, 10:20 PM · If you were going t get only one Simon Fischer book I would recommend "The Violin Lesson."
February 6, 2018, 9:43 AM · I second Andrew's advice.
February 6, 2018, 10:59 AM · The Violin Lesson is also full of intelligently stated anecdotes about past violinists that may apply to whatever is being discussed. Examples abound, as usual.

I also love how Mr. Fischer, near the introduction and if I remember properly, believes that "facts" violin teaching and disciplined practice overcomes the "too old to play well" myth. Which is why he recommends his book to teachers, students, and those who by circumstance have to teach themselves. It is a very supportive book, despite it essentially being a no-nonsense, proper technique treatise.

February 6, 2018, 11:45 AM · I did not like Scales, to be honest. I felt like it was overkill for my scalar needs.
February 6, 2018, 12:10 PM · I would definitely choose "Basics" over "Scales", especially since Basics contains a brief summary of key scale concepts.

I personally find "Basics" more useful than "The Violin Lesson", but for me, it effectively stands in for Sevcik. I need the exercises far more than I need the explanations. But the latter is a great book.

Really you can't go wrong by buying all of them. :-)

February 6, 2018, 12:43 PM · The scale book is actually very useful to use side by side with other scale systems like Flesch, Galamian, Gilels, etc. The organization is well thought-out but indeed looks "unwieldy" in its presentation. That said, it's not a book to use from cover to end every practice session, but to pick and choose the things that you actually may need-and it does have things/exercises that are not included on the other "scale mainstays".

Sometimes the fingerings are similar to the others, but often they are not. More fingerings are good for the brain, and therefore, music-making (I sometimes practice Ysaye's 3 octave fingerings just to challenge my brain). I find the Fischer fingerings to be quite modern, while also making lots of musical !sense.

I still haven't bought Warm Up or the Double Stops books; maybe I should.

February 6, 2018, 3:17 PM · Quoth Buri, "Get Basics." But that advice was from before "The Violin Lesson" was published.
Edited: February 6, 2018, 6:56 PM · I think if you're asking whether to get Basics or Scales to fill some foundational gaps, you're nudging others to answer: Basics. Basics is really a collection of many many diverse exercises that cover different chaters of technique. The Scales book adresses one topic, Scales thoroughly.

I think the Violin Lesson is very interesting but it is more 'wordy' than Basics, has a more expansive feel to it, even more philosophical and anecdotal at times. Basics is more 'anthological',a dryer entry of exercises...like a cabinet of precise medicines for different aspects of technique.

What I've seen from Scales and from what I have read, I doubt the point that was made above that Scales is fundamentally pick and choose. There is a more linear order I think that gets you from building up scales from perfect fourths and fifths, tu a fuller scale, from non shifting scales transitioning to shifting..etc. it is not a scale book like any other (citing Buri here). Basics is however fundamentally pick and choose.

All three books are so interesting...but there is a confounding element as well. Theis so much material there that for some people that very advantage turns into a disadvantage and the books collect dust. So one has to be able to avoid feeling overwhelmed and to piecemeal

Edited: February 6, 2018, 7:07 PM · Adalberto, I agree about the Fischer Scales book seeming unwieldy. At first I didn't use it much, because if I worked through it sequentially, it would take months to get to the 3 octave scales.

What I've settled on is to do one page of Fischer Scales daily and then do 3-octave scales, arpeggios, and double stop scales using the Flesch or Barber books. I use a cello drone to anchor the intonation and a random number app to pick the key of the day and techniques of the day. This prevents me from gravitating to easier scales or techniques. (Yes, I'm a nerd!)

February 6, 2018, 8:33 PM · Thanks for all the replies. I just ordered The Violin Lesson based on majority recommendation. I'll try it out for a while and report back in some time. Thanks again!
February 9, 2018, 3:57 AM · As with the treatises of Flesch and Galamian, none of Fischer's books are methods, to be worked through page by page, except perhaps the Warming Up booklet.

I delve into all the books to devise made to measure exercises for my students. Simon Fischer seems to have thought of everything, and everyone!

February 10, 2018, 1:56 PM · Every pedagogue needs a niche. Fischer's niche is in his approach, which is exhaustively thorough AND pitched at a level that is accessible to amateurs and students who have had at least a few years' worth of lessons. Even the more advanced stuff is readable ... an amateur can say, "Okay, I get that idea, but I'll come back to that when I'm more advanced" to just about everything.

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