September 12, 2008 at 04:22 AM · Recently released in the US in a 4-volume English version this old German violin method for teaching children to learn to read music while learning to play violin.

Is anyone familiar with this method and its results?


Replies (21)

September 12, 2008 at 04:30 AM · I read about this in the Strad. I not familiar with the books, but I'm going to have to purchase them.

September 12, 2008 at 06:11 AM · It is a standard since many years.

Give it a try.

September 12, 2008 at 06:12 AM · The books were written by father of Kurt Sassmanshaus of violinmasterclass fame and are designed to be used from 4 years upwards.Thus the presentation is geared to very young children the notes being large print and the strings are presented as four animals so a creative teacher can spin a story line aound them.In the german version the children learn to sing the rhymes first which lead on to a natural understanding of the rhythmic construction and the melodic fow.Using short phrases the rhythmic values a quickly understood.A lot of the material used are traditional german childrens songs which they will have heard from early infancy so it may make it more difficult to use in the states as the children have to learn all the songs from scratch.As one progresses through the first book the printed notation gets gradually smaller and smaller.There are lots of nice duets in the follow up books giving children a varied musical diet.

September 12, 2008 at 09:36 AM · I bought the first volume a few months ago. It's really kid friendly and well thought out. I bought an edition that was in German (accidentally), so I will purchase it in English when I can.

September 12, 2008 at 01:24 PM · I think print size is a very important detail of music-printing for children which is at times overlooked. As the music-playing public ages, and that so many boomers will supposedly be looking for stuff to do in their retirements, I wonder if there is a market for adult-oriented materials which also take visual concerns into account. Sue

September 12, 2008 at 06:44 PM · Thank you for your inputs.

I had just received the 4 volumes for Sheet Music-Plus when I wrote the inquiry. I have now ordered another copy of the first volume for one of my 6-year old Suzuki students who needs a route for transitioning her brain from successfully playing Suzuki pieces to actually reading music and understanding it in terms of violin "geography" while playing.

I think there is a problem for some students making the transition from Suzuki to a broader understanding and application of music theory, and I have hope this program may be a way to accomplish it.

I also checked with the German born and raised violinist in my quartet, and she remembers the name "Sassmannshaus" from her earliest lessons in Germany. She would certainly be a good recommendation for the program.


September 12, 2008 at 09:47 PM · Sue, as a middlin aged adult beginner who has started to need reading glasses, yes, larger print size on sheet music would be much appreciated. :)

It is not feasible to play the violin with reading glasses on. Too much up and down with the neck to keep the pages in focus. I can only imagine those using bifocals would have the same issue.

September 13, 2008 at 03:24 AM · Tess, I have my opthamologist make a special eyeglass RX for me for the 30-36 inch distance that will encompass my music distance for violin or cello (24 inchers is better for piano).

If you can stand using progressive lesses (too expensive, for one thing, and pretty awful if you have astigmatism(s)) the will cover all distances.


the Sassmannshaus books seem to use a mix of singing songs to words (leading to audiation), learning where on the violin the corresponding words are (adding in the concepts of sharps and flats fairly early, sightreading music, playing in duets (maybe larger ensemble), and really cute pictures on every page of Book 1.

I'm trying it to see if I can add some "dimensions" to expanding student 1magination (this is a very smart little girl, who has been reading English (really reading) since age 4 (or younger) and is now reading and speakings some Mandarin, too.


September 14, 2008 at 02:31 PM · Hi,

I am a German violinist teaching in Singapore. I taught in Germany many years with the Sassmannshaus books and was still using them when I moved to Singapore. The people here speak English but the book is written in German. That is no problem as long as the teacher can explain and translate. I am very successful with this method because it's really progressive and easy to understand for very young students. I am more than happy to see this books now in English. Other teachers here use mainly the Suzuki books which I personally do not find very progressive (maybe they work if you teach a proper Suzuki Method).

October 13, 2008 at 03:29 PM · Thank you, Helen.

My problem has been with students in age ~6 - 7 range, who seem to be learning both to "play" the instrument and to read music in Suzuki book 1 (and sometimes even into Book 2). But then I find they have not really learned to read the notes - and they have problems with "key signature" concepts.

Some students seem to make the transition with no trouble, but I'd say an equal number seem to hit a "wall" and have to back up to gear their brains to new concepts to accompany their playing.

There must be some happy medium that allows for the kind of exciting progress students get from Suzuki with a more informing approach to reading music. Is there?

My students who have started music on piano seem to have an earlier understanding of reading music, but have trouble hearing their own playing and adjusting to correct intonation.

I think the students are really not practicing enough to learn what they need to learn, but I have no real control over that in our weekly 45 minute sessions.



October 15, 2008 at 06:46 AM · Andrew, keep in mind that six- and seven-year-olds are not yet fluent readers of WORDS, so just go really slow. It's okay for the reading level to be behind the performance level.

I was actually thinking about using the Dr. S books along with Suzuki; which is my usual approach, just that I'd use Dr. S as the method instead of one of the other books I use. I always teach the Suzuki by rote but once they've learned about five songs, do a method book along with it for reading.

Dr. S, what do you think of that? :)

October 15, 2008 at 02:55 PM · This particular little girl was a pretty advanced reader of English at age 5 (and ha been studying Mandarin, as well).

I don't try to impose note reading on illiterate children, since I recognize the link language reading skills.

But thanks for the added advice.


October 15, 2008 at 04:01 PM · i think the inability to read music to a teacher's standard, or at par with one's playing ability, for a young kid, is really not a problem but a stage or part of the learning process. when i hear teachers (not andrew in this case of course) complain about it, i wonder one, if they are understanding enough, two, if they are patient enough and three, what are they worrying about since they are already on the right track! :)

i will put in couple lines focusing on the average kids, not the extremely intuitive ones, not the authentically learning disabled. just the average kids.

take math. some will get it faster than others. earlier family coaching? may be. self interest? may be...

take reading and writing. again, same principles apply.

take sports. again, those with earlier exposure tend to learn faster.

take art appreciation. same process.

if a kid can remember where outside the studio mommy parked the car, who sits next to him in the class, what day is today, then i cannot imagine the kid has intrinsic problems learning how to read music. there will be a difference in pace among the kids, but sooner than later everyone catches up where do re and mi lives among the 5 lines...

therefore, i don't understand the paranoia if you will, or even the concern. (if it is a biz decision to bash the other guys, then it is a different story:) any capable teacher, without any specific book or method, can help the kids read music in time. often, when people are obscessed with the "pieces" for the recital, sightreading and music understanding often take the forgotten backseat.

whether the teachers or the parents have taken this seriously, and devoted enough time and energy to it is a different story and imo the key. a "new" or "old" method or two can serve as a tool to help jumpstart the process, but the initiative to use the tool starts on day one.

so, in defense for the kids, give them a chance to learn from you who can make difficult concepts simple and elegant, and dreadful passages fun and creative. watch out,,,they are like sponge!!!

(here is something seemingly negative, but i think someone somehow needs to point it out: may be i am particularly picky. i have been in the position of observing teachers in many fields teaching younger kids for some time. consensus: most are not ready to take on that task. for one, they cannot relate to kids, each at totally different frequencies. i totally understand what the teachers are saying and the kids totally do not understand. imo, teachers of violin can really benefit from taking some child psychology classes)

October 15, 2008 at 03:57 PM · Sharing my experience. When my second son was younger, I scanned in the originals, blow them up and print each into 2 letter sized landscape format sheets. It helps a lot and also allows him to stand further away from the stand.

October 15, 2008 at 04:48 PM · Very good, and again, the Dr. S (Sassmannshaus) books are good in this regard, the print is quite large and appealing.

October 15, 2008 at 11:25 PM · Greetings,

>i have been in the position of observing teachers in many fields teaching younger kids for some time. consensus: most are not ready to take on that task. for one, they cannot relate to kids,

Yousdaid it. I train teachers ofyoung children and sometimes its just plain scary watching the disconnect. I often have to start with somethign simple like `well, you are 6` 2 and shes 2` 6. Maybe you could get down on your knees so she can see your face....



October 17, 2008 at 05:32 AM · Hmm, must they be able to read words before music? Or are the first 7 letters of the alphabet enough to name the notes (not that useful in itself anyway) but the really important thing is recognising the open strings, the key's finger patterns and the intervals?

I find just working out 'how many notes/fingers up do we go now' and 'how many notes/fingers below that last open string do we go now' pretty useful, with the added bonus of intervals helping with other positions later.

October 17, 2008 at 05:46 AM · Notes are symbols not words thus are easily recognisable by must three year olds as single entities.Thus if you have large enough notes on single sheets they van be linked up to the sound.The problem is with the tracking.Once yopu try to have very young children recognise ,name and play more than one note consequetively.However like everything else this can be approached in a game like fashion building up to constructing short tunes.I have a series of A4 cards some rythmic some tonal and these can be spread on the floor in alsorts of ways.Like Buri said,get dowm on your knees and join in the fun.Children who can match symbol with sound have an enourmous advantage later on.

October 17, 2008 at 02:39 PM · "must they be able to read words before music? "

i think our brains are wired differently and receive, respond to and process new info differently. the fun part, aka the joy of teaching, while getting paid, is to try different things to assess the most efficient way of teaching/learning at any juncture in time and acknowledge way in advance that this 3-5 yo is possibly very very different from the last one i know, and possibly a kid that i have absolutely no idea about with my current level of expertise. instead of,,, come on in and i've got a system to dump on you.

imo, some kids are considered slow learners or below average because they do not progress fast enough under ONE way, that is, the only way the teacher knows or offers. may be they tried 3 different ways but the 4th way works the best. the labelling can be quite detrimental because the parents may mistakenly buy the notion and pull the kids away from the embarassment. and the kids, once they know how they are perceived, stop trying and subconsciouly live up to the low expectation. well, i screwed up so not to surprise you.

i see that often with music and sports. inexperienced or narrow minded teachers, along with overly eager and inpatient parents, create road blocks for kids who come with a clean slate, ready to learn.

lets say we have a very "picky" eater kid and the goal is have the kid eat an egg everyday. i can only hardboil it and the kid hates hardboiled. well, tough luck, kiddo, there is a new sheriff in town and protein is good for you!

try to help and end up doing the opposite.

buri mentioned about getting down to kids' level . the same analogy applies intellectually...teachers need to first get down to the kids' level before communication begins. a 3-5 yo is not going to change for you; you have to change for him/her.

why is it not done often enough? because it is work, and a hassle and we don't have time for it.

lets get this straight,,,you are not teaching,,,the kids are teaching you how to help them about learning and if you do not come off your high horse, or pay close attention, both you and the kids do not learn much.

October 17, 2008 at 07:08 PM · Every teacher needs some kind of systematic framework to work within and children usualy respond well if they have a clear idea of where they are headed.I've found that young children also work well if each lesson has a rhythm (not musical) so they are not completely at sea with new ideas.Games need to be repeated lots of times.At first I repeat them in the same order as young children feel very comfortable if they know whats coming next and especially if they know how to respond.Lessons should make children feel good about learning but this does not excude note reading.Strangely enough I once had a retarded pupil (about 10yrs old) who was unable to read but learnt to read music.

February 1, 2009 at 02:15 AM ·

I am looking into Sassmanshaus because I do have students in my private studio that are grade school age but emotionally less mature than one would expect.  I think the lay out of these books is really non-threatening and friendly.  I have adapted some Kindermusik materials in the past year to address this problem.  The visual aspect is really important.  I will be trying this with at least 2 students in the near future.

Every musical learner goes in through a different door at different speeds.  For younger kids, the state of "play" is everything.  Sometimes I think the current crop of  method books eliminate this too playfulness too fast.   Or maybe I am just encountering  strata of students that seem to resist growing up too fast. 

I'm very happy to have this resource.



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