I recently picked up an almost complete set (bks 2 - 8) of the "Leopold Auer Violin Method" Books (ed. Saenger) at a music store for about 10 bucks. They have some great excerpts and exercises I've been using as teaching resources and personal practice resources as well. I am wondering whether anyone has experience with these books as an actual *method* - either as a teacher or student, what you think about them, and whether you think it's worthwhile to have a student purchase books from the series or continue using photocopies of select pages?
Well, I think that said it all!
One more suggestion--pick up a copy of "Violin the Way I Teach It" (I think that's the title). It's Auer's method book. It's rather small and it's only a few bucks. You can finish it in one sitting. Understanding where Auer was coming from fundamentally would help, I think.
Yes, Kimberlee's suggestion on reading the other Auer book is very important. It gives you a better way into the "how's" and "why's" of Leopold Auer's method and system. If you understand his views then I think it would be easier to appreciate his method books (available in 8 separate volumes).
Kreutzer is also very helpful for "beefing up" technique, and I think Auer would agree (albeit for an advanced student). It's nice to read from someone else who's been trained in Auer technique and method, Sung-Duk, and I agree with your well stated posts.
I have wanted to begin the Auer series and am wondering how to find the books. Does anyone know where I can obtain a copy of the set? Thanks.
Shar Music Sheet Music Department sells the books. They are published by Carl Fischer. If not available there, try Johnson Stringed Instruments Sheet Music Department near Boston, MA.
Thank you for taking time to respond. I have another question, if I may. I am an adult of 38 years of age and have been taking violin lessons for about 6 months now, and started Suzuki about 4 months ago. I just finished Suzuki Book 1 and am wondering if this is this a good time to consider beginning the Auer series? Please let me know your thoughts on this when you get a chance. Thanks again.
Thanks for your information Sun Duk. Can you briefly describe books 3-7?
I think after Suzuki Book 1 is a perfect time to begin Auer Book 1. Although, if you go through Auer Book 1 & 2 (either separately or simultaneously together), I think you'll find Suzuki Book 1 is very easy. Even Auer Book 1 alone (just all open string exercises) is more difficult than the hardest song in Suzuki Book 1.
If you are willing to dedicate minimum 1 hr/day and you want to improve quickly, then Auer Books will help you get to your goals quickly. Depending on how well you respond to these books and how fast your progress is, you could be playing Mozart Violin Concertos in little as 2-3 years from now. And not just "playing the notes" but with beautiful expression and hopefully personality like the greats of this century.
Auer Book 3 & 4: is further application and review of Book 2 (training all 4 fingers on all 4 strings including chromatic intervals). It consists of all 24 scales in 2 octaves (with different bow/rhythm patterns), bowing etudes, broken chord studies, etc.
Auer Book 5 & 6: takes you into higher positions. He talks alot about 1/2 position, 2nd position, and the 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th positions. Position exercises and etudes are taught first then you apply to 3 octave scales in all keys (using different rhythm and bow patterns). Double thirds, 6ths, fingered octave scales are taught rigorously.
Auer Book 7: A whole book devoted to every type of bow technique you ever wanted to know. It is what I call a "bow technique encyclopedia".
Auer Book 8: is a summary book for you to apply some of the things you learned to difficult passages in various violin repertoire including Paganini, Ernst, Spohr, etc. I do feel that the jump from Book 7 to 8 is a bit unreasonably huge.
So my recommendation is this:
1) If you are a student who is a perfectionist and very analytical, then you should go through Books 1-7. (FYI: Even Nikolaj Znaider did a similar thing like this in prepareation for the Queen Elisabeth Competition in which he won GOLD when he was studying with Boris Kuschnir).
2)If you are curious about these methods, but lack the time and you're further advanced, atleast do Book 2-6.
3)If you are intermediate/advanced and just want to focus on the "quality" of the basic bow technique, then go through Book 1.
4) If you want a secure foundation in intonation for 1st position, then go through Book 2.
I recognize everyone's goals and needs are different so I think finding the best path for the individual is important. As long as you improve and are happy with your own playing, I think that's the best reward.
In my teaching, I usually wait until the students are atleast finished with Books 1-5 before starting Kreutzer. It's a great preparation for Kreutzer and the Kreutzer etudes will be less painful for the student. Of course, I supplement Auer Books 1-5 with other etudes of Wolfahrt, Kayser, Dont op.37, etc too.
Hope this information helps a bit.
"If you are a student who is a perfectionist and very analytical, then you should go through Books 1-7."
Sun-Duk, this is exactly how my teacher describes my approach to the violin...exactly! I analyze everything down to the finest detail and when it comes to the violin I am very definitely a perfectionist.
With respect to my practice routine, while I have enjoyed Suzuki I very much enjoy doing scales and exercises also as this allows me to work on technique in a way that meshes well with my personality. I make up my own excercises all of the time, usually to work on some specific aspect of technique. Given this, the Auer books have always intrigued me. I have the utmost respect for Auer as a teacher, and so desire a more rigorous study with which to supplement the Suzuki series.
Thanks again for taking the time to respond to my question.
Chris: If you go to my "blog" section, I wrote down a few thoughts on getting started with Auer Book 1 & 2. As you can see, I'm so passionate about helping people discover and get familiar with this outstanding method that has been lost for a long time. I have nothing against Suzuki or other methods.
1) Book 7 bowing studies are organized with with explanations, several short exercises, then application to an etude or a passage of a music. Topics include martele, staccato, slurred stacatto (up and down bow), flying staccatto, spicatto, ricochet, etc. The ABC of good bow technique used in solo and orchestral music are covered.
2) I'm not familiar enough with Hrimaly Scale System to make a comparison with the Auer System. All I can say is that if you spend time on the earlier levels of Auer (i.e. Book 2), his scale system will just be a logical extension. It's straightforward and I appreciate the fingering suggestions. Some of the fingering suggestions on double 3rd scales seemed very practical and some were very pedagogical. I also really like how Auer does scales on "1 string" (i.e. a 2 or 3 octave G major scale all on G string). This really helps you get comfortable with the fingerboard.
My students find that after going through the Auer Scale system, the Carl Flesch scale system is much more easier to do.
P.S. I heard a clip of you doing Tambourin Chinois on cd baby.com through violinist.com. I hear influences of Heifetz and Friedman in your playing. I was impressed with the quality of the execution and articulation. You're a very impressive player!
Great posts, Sung-Duk! I have a question too... I'm not familiar with the Auer method. How does it compare with Maria Bang's method? Thanks.
The Maia Bang method is very good too. To my knowledge, she was Auer's assistant.
Her method is based on Auer's method. Very outstanding as well, but a bit more "kid" friendly. For example, she demonstrates rhythm concepts through slicing apples, etc. More pictures, diagrams, etc.
It's not as rigorous as the Auer method. For my students who wanted a more rigorous method than stuff like Essential Elements for Strings, Suzuki, etc. and found the Auer to be "too rigorous", they typically found the Maia Bang method to be a perfect compromise.
My very analytical students typically said that the Auer Method makes alot more sense to them. These are the students who do REALLY well in mathematics and sciences in school. Even if you choose to learn only the 1st two books of Auer, it will be so beneficial. I really am serious -- the 2nd Auer book will have the student know their 1st position fingers inside out. It will be like 2nd nature!
But very young children found Maia Bang to be slightly more fun. Most young children who saw the picture of Auer's face with the scary eyes sort of got terrified. So I had to find creative ways to add fun stickers and only gave portions of the book so they didn't find it overwhelming and terrifying.
Former unmotivated students thought both were boring.
So my recommendation is to consider the alternatives and try to pick the method that is best suited to your or your student's learning style and amount of time available to commit to practice.
Thanks. I don't teach with Maria Bang method, but I have it (on the CD-Rom "Violin Methods and Studies"). It is always interesting to see what's out there...
This thread got me sufficiently interested to purchase the first two volumes of the Auer which I had not done in the past as they are not child friendly at all.However the 2nd volume is extremely logical in its approach and there are plenty of repetitions of notes using different bows and rhythms.This is very useful for cemeting note reading.I think I will dip into the first volume and use some of the later excercises with some of the slightly older students.I do plenty of open string work using pieces with piano accompaniment.I wouldn't use these volumes as a method per se but there is certaily a wealth of useful material.Incidently I love the pictures and the advice to students.Not too keen on his bow hold though.
I read your blog. It was great! The information given was well-presented and very specific. Thanks for taking the time to write this all down.
Dear Sung-Duk thank you for the kind words. You've been a great resource with these Auer books. You got me to think of using these books with students now.
Check out my blog section for a more detailed list of accomplishments of my 6 year old student using the Auer Method Books. What he has learned in 9 months is unbelievable. The point that I'm trying to make is that the method really works!
Wow, I posted this question5 years ago and it took a while to get going...but nw there is some terrific information! Bringing it back up for my own and others' benefit.
I dip into these volumes for inspiration; the technical insight is tremendous, though Auer's own compositions and arrangements I find less than inspired.
I doubt if he ever met a child beginner! I had one little girl who had been right through Vol.1 (bowing only). Apart from having had no real music for a year or two, she had great difficulty waking up her left hand, and gave up in frustration.. (I was less experienced then).
Perhaps Auer, like many top violinists, was left-handed? Suzuki was, which made him a wonderful analyst of bowing, but his left hand was agile but unstructured (and often out of tune!) Auer's Vol.1 is great for the more advanced student, and maybe for a few precocious youngsters older than their years..
Sorry to post on such an old thread, but is the blog post discussed above by Sung-Duk Song still available anywhere? His profile doesn't return anything...
Thanks for bumping this Dale. I'd been interested in it too.
It's certainly not true that Suzuki students don't get solid basic technique. Most do not, in fact, fly through the pieces, and the relentless focus on continuing to review old pieces and play them better ensures that the basics get reinforced and applied not just to new pieces but to old pieces as well.
I agree with Lydia about the Suzuki method, which is how I started and how quite a few of my colleagues started as well. Last time I checked we were doing OK, both technically and musically.
A good Suzuki teacher does not allow or encourage students to "fly through the pieces;" in fact, students should not be moving on to the next piece without having mastered the previous one. Of course one can find bad Suzuki teachers, just as one can find bad traditional teachers, but in both cases the problem is with the individual, not with the method purportedly being used.
Incidentally, it's not unusual for a very young child starting out in Suzuki to take an entire year to work up to the complete Twinkle and all the variations.
Where we are (Victoria, BC), some of the best young violinists all started Suzuki at very young age and went on winning all sorts of national and international competitions; e.g., Nikki Chooi and Timmy Chooi (both Curtis graduates, Nikki is now the concertmaster of NY Met Opera, Timmy is a busy international concertizing soloist). Even my teacher (who doesn't teach Suzuki) is sending her little twins to a Suzuki teacher to start their violin lessons.
I think the problem may be that parents that don't know what is what may latch on to some term, like "Suzuki", and not knowing anymore, may not vet their teacher much further, or may not know how.
Kinda like being a Lean 6-Sigma blackbelt or something. It's not bad, but people can use it as a sort of mental shortcut.
I'm a little weary of Suzuki, but I'm sure there are plenty of good teachers that use Suzuki.
Suzuki teacher-training here in Europe is very, very demanding, as indeed it should be. The method does not pretend to be complete musical training, but it is a whole lot more than what appears in the books.
Suzuki could teach anyone: Auer only appears to have accepted advanced prodigies.
Take what suits you!
Mark O'Connor has a gigantic axe to grind when it comes to Suzuki, and not coincidentally has written his own series of method books for beginners, which is in direct competition.
It's worth noting that Suzuki never intended for students to play only repertoire. He wrote two etude books himself that are intended to be used with the Method -- the Quint Etudes and the Position Etudes -- plus there are little exercises (like the tonalization exercise) in the repertoire books. As far as I know, formal Suzuki teacher training also teaches a bunch of little exercises (both with the violin and away from the violin) to be used in developing certain techniques.
Supplementation is expected and encouraged in Suzuki teaching, and in fact is essentially mandated during the later books. You'll find that most Suzuki teachers (those formally trained in the Method, not merely those hanging out a shingle and calling themselves Suzuki teachers) usually take their students through the typical sequence of exercises, scales, and etudes used at those levels.
The Method places very deep emphasis on not just being able to go through the notes of a piece, but also to have it solidly memorized (which means all the notes and rhythms exact), played with a beautiful tone and in tune. Routine playing as a group means that it's vital for every student to get the right notes in the precise notated rhythms, with the correct bowing, which in Suzuki also means careful attention to exact bow distribution. Watch the Suzuki studio of a decent teacher play together, and you will get something that looks and sounds quite uniform. (This sometimes leads to the accusation that the kids play like robots.)
That emphasis on polish isn't for everyone and can be frustrating for some students / parents, and not all teachers, parents, and students have the patience to continue to polish. But students are not supposed to move on until a piece is mastered.
By the way, you're not correct that basic technique only takes four books to teach. The first four books cover what is basically the beginning stage of playing the violin. Book 4 starts to introduce 3rd position and vibrato. It's not until book 5 that early-intermediate technique starts being introduced, and at that point, most teachers lean heavily on etudes to teach technique instead.
So you're "willing to take a look at all options" -- yet unwilling to fairly consider Suzuki? Yeah, that's broad-minded for sure. (We're talking "consider" here in the general sense, not "decide it's right for you". Suzuki is certainly not intended as a training method for adults.)
I should note that I don't teach or otherwise have anything to do with "selling" Suzuki, so I have no particular horse in this race. I do, however, consider myself reasonably well-acquainted with the Method as well as various other approaches to learning the violin.
Memorization is fundamental to the Suzuki Method. In part that's because children who learn via the Method typically start playing the violin at a much younger age -- as young as 2.5 -- and they usually are taught to read music around the same time they're learning to read words (which depending on what country a kid lives in, word-reading is usually taught in school somewhere around age 5 to 7, though of course many kids learn to read younger). That means that initially music is taught by ear, which basically means a requirement for memorization. But even after students learn to read music, they will normally be expected to perform from memory. Repertoire is constantly reviewed so that it stays memorized.
The common base of Suzuki -- same fingerings, same bowings, and specific "teaching points" that Suzuki-trained teachers emphasize -- allow kids around the world to play the same things together. Some people think that's loathsome (Mark O'Connor, for instance, infuses his belief about this with a really nasty coating of anti-Asian racism). But it can be pretty awesome for a kid who goes to a Suzuki festival or camp, for instance.
These days, you'll certainly find plenty of Suzuki teachers who do change some of the fingerings and bowings, especially once you get into real repertoire in the later books -- in general, most teachers will substitute a modern edition of, say, the Bach A minor concerto rather than use the Suzuki version. You'll even find this to some extent starting in book 4, where there are more modern editions of, say, the Vivaldi A minor concerto, although this is less common. (I would expect that the dividing line is, "Will a student ever perform this outside of a Suzuki context?" If the answer is yes, learning it with standard modern performance practice is a good idea, as would be true with the Bach A minor.)
There are no complete methods out there, period -- no one's going to learn to play the violin via only the Auer books, or the Maia Bang books, or the Mark O'Connor books, or Doflein, Essential Elements, etc., and even within the range of technique that's taught by those books, practically any teacher would supplement with additional material. Suzuki-trained teachers supplement the Suzuki repertoire with other things, as suits their own preferences and violinistic training; indeed, some of them will use the Suzuki etude books and some won't. And there's quite a popular following for William Starr's books, which are designed to complement the Suzuki books.
I would argue that there's not really a market for a comprehensive set of method books, anyway. There's such a body of tradition around the violin -- exercises, scale books, etudes, etc. -- that there's plenty of mix and match from, even if a handful of elements (like Kreuzer) are used by just about everyone. I think the only post-Galamian pedagogue to really have their technical materials absorbed broadly across the globe is Simon Fischer, and deservedly so -- but there's no Fischer Method, merely a set of well-organized books covering different topics.
Great post Lydia. As always!:-)
When I sarted teaching forty-odd years ago, (Doflein etc)I had best results with students who resembled me a little (poor things!). Suzuki training in Lyon (with Christophe and Judy Bossuat, and Karen-Michelle Kimmet) gave me enough tricks and insights to adapt to anyone, even in other fields than music.
One thing I have noticed on almost all of these discussions that turn to Suzuki Bashing, Almost all of those that oppose the method know very little about how it is actually taught. I've rarely seen anyone who has taken Suzuki teacher training completely dismiss the method.
I've personally taken the first 3 books worth of teacher training, and while I don't necessarily consider myself a Suzuki teacher, I believe that this training is very valuable in learning how to teach well. I should add that I went to book 1 training very skeptical of the Suzuki method (having had a less than stellar experience with Suzuki as a beginner) and found it so helpful I decided to take more training. I have explored many options and own an almost embarrassingly large collection of method books, scale books, etudes, and books on pedagogy. I may change my mind in the future if I find something better, but so far I have decided that the best way for me to teach most beginning to intermediate students is via the Suzuki repertoire, supplemented as necessary with other materials.
I can't imagine how most teachers would have a full studio teaching via the Auer method exclusively, I believe even Sung-Duk Song, who replied with his student who was very successful with it admits that this is not a method for all students. I can't imagine 99% of my beginning students having the patience to do an entire book of exclusively open strings. Yes, there are teacher duet parts, but unless you have a violin-playing parent, you are going to be practicing on your own, just the open string part all week between lessons.
Anyway, isn't the point of playing the violin to be able to play music, not technical drills? The first couple of Auer books seem to be lacking in real music (I haven't seen the whole series, but I wasn't overly impressed by the books I have seen as a method for beginners (I think they could be great as a supplement to another method or for an intermediate/advanced student wanting to solidify/review technique), this could be great for an analytical adult or teenage beginner (although I find many/most adults want to play "music" too), but most kids would be out the door in a month or two without a recognizable melody to play.
I think of the Auer method books as basically being the early-20-century parallel to Simon Fischer's "The Violin Lesson". Unlike Fischer, though, there's a little bit of music included -- but not much. It's certainly not a comprehensive method.
To return to the original question, I find Auer's books a marvelous resource, but not really a "method", and certainly not for children.
I view every basic need as covered by:
- A mix of Kreutzer, Rode and Dont
- Some hand exercises (Schradiek, Sevcik, maybe some Dounis)
- Some passages from Paganini, Bach and Beethoven (while learning them)
- Chromatic scales with 1 finger (also in octaves and thirds for mapping the fingerboard and spacings very quickly)
My first method book was by Joseph Hofmann - no written or printed instructions - just progressive exercises and melodious duets. It was left to the teacher to physically guide the student
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August 6, 2007 at 07:38 PM · I have very extensive experience learning from and teaching the Auer Method books. It is unfortunate how many methods are not as thorough as these. The method books (if taught properly) is like an intensive olympic-style training boot camp for basic violin technique. After all, it was Leopold Auer who brought the world Heifetz, Milstein, Elman, etc.
Generally, this is what I have discovered from using them in my teaching. The Auer books are not for everyone. It doesn't work on unmotivated students. The failure rate of this book is extremely high. But if it is successful on a student, he/she will reap big benefits. It works however, very well for very analytical and "perfectionist" type of people. Just "going through" the Auer books doesn't help. Rather, you have to invent your own teaching system using the Auer books as a reference guide. It's kind of hard to explain what I mean in words.
Book 1 allows you to learn quality of tone, different bow and rhythm strokes all on the open strings. My former teacher Ivry Gitlis made me do all these long, sustained bow exercises in Auer Book 1 to develop a very good edge technique. He had me work with and observe figure skaters so I can try to understand and develop the concept of a smooth, seamless edge. I've never thought of it this way before, but Gitlis felt that violinists could learn a tremendous amount from figure skaters especially in the concepts of outside and inside edges. (outside edge = tilting violin bow slightly towards the finger board; inside edge = tilting violin bow slightly towards the bridge).
Book 2 has the most extensive intonation and finger training drills in 1st position on all 4 strings for all 4 fingers (including chromatic 1/2 steps). Students after the exercises can play 2 octave scales extremely well. In addition, intonation in 1st position will be almost near-perfect and the fingers will be so well trained.
I have a 6 year old student right now (only has been learning violin less than 1 year and started with me as his 1st teacher) originaly from Venezuela who is a perfectionist and very analytical. He is extremely detailed and self-motivated in his practice sessions. He practices 4-5 hours/day after school at his own will. (He can be home sick with a fever/flu and still be seen practicing away at his violin. This summer, he went on a trip to Disney World and took his violin with him and got up everyday at 6 am and practiced for 3 hrs before having breakfast and enjoying the rides at Disney). I reassure everyone that his parents are not stage parents and they just love and support his love affair with the violin. The way he practices the Auer exercises is that he tries to strive for "5 perfect" times on each exercise at 5 different metronome markings (from slow, medium, and fast range). Therefore, if done thoroughly and perfectly, he gets in about 25-30 good practice sessions on each exercise per day. Honestly, he does it on his own will. I don't force him to do it this way, but he is a perfectionist so he settles for nothing less. Even if I am fully satisfied with his performances at the lessons, he still searches for more perfection. He so demanding on himself that he has broken down into tears at times. I have to give him a reality check and help him realize that he's far beyond his years in his achievements and that I'm so happy and proud that he's trying his best! (It is scary when a student is more self-critical than the teacher).
I first started this boy on Essential Elements for Strings (because I didn't want him to be bored or scared by the Auer Books). My plan was to gradually give him the Auer exercises in small dosages. But it turned out he was bored to death with the Essential Elements book so we tried switching full time to the Auer Books and he has not put down the violin ever since.
Now, he just completed the 1st 2 books of Auer. I'm teaching him 3rd & 2nd positions, left hand pizzicatos, trills, spicatto's, ricohets, and double 3rds, 6ths and octaves. He isn't fearful of having to learn all this technique. He sees it as an "opportunity" and it being "so cool" that he can do stuff that his classmates haven't learned yet. He recently auditioned for two orchestras (one at his school for the fall semester and another local youth orchestra) and got the concertmaster positions for both of them without any problem!
I think the Auer books made a real big difference in how fast he progressed. He finished the first 3 books of Suzuki in less than 3 months after finishing the 1st two books of Auer. The school music teachers asked him what was his "secret" to the progress and we say that it was the rigorous training program written by Leopold Auer. His father just bought him a wonderful modern italian violin so he sounds great and improved his playing.
A few years ago, I had another talented and ambitious student from India. She wanted to get into her youth orchestra, but they wouldn't allow her to get in until she worked with a private teacher and reached a minimum level of profiency. So she took lessons 2.x. a week (1.5-2hrs per lesson) and she dedicated herself to the Auer books. In 5 months, she not only was allowed into her youth orchestra but was awarded the Concertmistress position. When she had to relocate to Georgia, she wrote me the most heartfelt letter saying that the Auer books made a big difference for her and so quickly.
The Auer books are definitely in my opinion a "short cut" to successful results. The only thing is that it requires alot of hard work and attention to detail.
Good luck in your teaching with this outstanding material. I hope these true storis are a motivation for anyone to try out the Auer books. I give the method book the highest ratings!