Printer-friendly version
Laurie Niles

Simply Violin Books to Enhance Skills

September 14, 2012 at 8:10 PM

One of my youngest students was getting a bit bored with "Twinkle." Parents and teachers can attest to this common phenomenon. "Twinkle" is the first tune that many students, especially Suzuki students, learn, and it has five variations. They are learning some 45 skills in the process of learning Twinkle, and the whole endeavor can take a long time.

Very often it helps to go "sideways" instead of "forward," at this point. In other words, instead of going ahead with songs that require new skills, stay at the same level for a while and learn a lot of songs at that level. This gives the student a chance to build their foundation and repeat simple patterns, without getting bored. Also, the fact that they are playing a lot of songs helps them feel a sense of progress.

While there are many books out there which can serve this function, I'd like to share a book I've recently used that my youngest students have enjoyed. It's called 90 Favorite Songs, Classical Melodies, and Fiddle Tunes, written by violinist Lisa Berman. I had picked up several of her books while at the Suzuki Association of the Americas Conference in June in Minneapolis, where she is also based.

Simply Violin

Suzuki's idea, in his first book, was to teach children folk songs that would come easily because they were simple and familiar. Lisa's book is full of very common kids' songs, most of which my students find to be very familiar: The Muffin Man, The Wheels on the Bus, The More We Get Together, Taps, Clementine, Simple Gifts, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, If You're Happy and You Know It, Oh Susannah, When the Saints Go Marching In, Star Spangled Banner, Yankee Doodle, Turkey in the Straw, Danny Boy, and Theme from Beethoven Symphony No. 9.

One can teach these songs by rote without listening to recordings, as the students already know them well. And if they don't, then pick another song -- there are more than 90.

Lisa has written and produced entire line of products all under the name Simply Violin. The materials fit the name: they are visually and conceptually simple, and thus easy to understand and use. For example, Lisa told me that she hired someone who designed signs for emergency use -- in other words, signs that could be read very quickly and easily -- to design her Circle of Fifths chart for Simply Violin. (I got a dozen postcard-sized ones and gave them to my students, instructing them to post them next to their beds and gaze at them while falling asleep…)

Other books by Lisa include a scale book with one, two and three octaves; a book of 40 easy fiddle tunes appropriate for a student in about Suzuki Book 2-3; also a more advanced fiddle book, a sacred tunes book and a Christmas book. All her books listed and described on this page.

As I said, there are a variety of books one can use to supplement beginning methods, but I just wanted to share this one, as its straightforward presentation and plentiful familiar songs make it so easy to use. Thanks, Lisa!

From Annette Brower
Posted on September 16, 2012 at 2:25 PM
...sounds intriguing....I bought one. It didn't appear to come with a piano part but was happy to see the shipping was free:-).
From Rachel Neville
Posted on September 16, 2012 at 4:38 PM
I.m glad to hear even the kids get bored of twinkle. I wouldn't have made it past book one if I hadn't bought a beginning Scottish fiddle book for some variety. the books sound interesting, i'll check them out.
From Paul Roby
Posted on September 19, 2012 at 1:37 AM
How about a viola transcription?

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Protect your instrument this winter

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Starling-DeLay Symposium
Starling-DeLay Symposium

Los Angeles Philharmonic
LA Phil

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

ARIA International Summer Academy

Study with the Elizabeth Faidley Studio

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine