TEACHERS: What book do you start your students on?

September 14, 2009 at 02:01 PM ·

 I'm just curious as to what book you start your students on, or it you use the Suzuki method? I started on Essential Elements 2000 for Strings Violin Book 1. What do you think of that book?

Replies (27)

September 14, 2009 at 06:31 PM ·

"Essential Elements 2000". By far the best graded and clearest method to teach/learn from. Great value, including the CD/DVDs. "All For Strings" has its merits, too. 

September 14, 2009 at 09:04 PM ·

I agree with Andrei. The Essential Elements bk. is the best. When my students get to the last few songs (which are a little harder) I usually start them one Suzuki bk. 1

Good Luck!!!!! Lydia

September 14, 2009 at 09:16 PM ·

Depends on your context.  I prefer to start focusing on tone production and technique, not reading, but I actually don't use either Suzuki or EE2000 right away but a compilation of "beginner songs" from a variety of contexts that can be REALLY easily learned without music.  As foundations solidify I teach notereading and ease into a great book I found at a workshop called "Blue Book of Violin Tunes" by Bonnie Greene (One World strings) which is great for beginning readers and basic technique.  And then I start parallelling with Suzuki.  Kind of unusual but it's working really well for me!  I have used EE2000 and think it's well done, but it's just not the way I prefer to sequence things.

September 14, 2009 at 11:11 PM ·

I have students from age four to 74, and some who only want to do fiddle.  Everyone gets Suzuki book 1, the very young ones will get (after a lot of initial rote playing), Bag of Tunes, and I Know a Fox with Dirty Sox.  Fiddlers get book 1 American Fiddle Method.  At the Minutes I add Tune a Day Book 1.  I also do a lot of handouts:  Christmas music, hymns. 

A more complete list of the materials I use may be found here:




September 14, 2009 at 11:21 PM ·


I am sure it is a superb book,  but why should EE be `the best?`  

Personally I use Adventures in Violin Land with young beginners and I am absolutely 100% satisfied with it.   One thing tha really maes it stand out is that it moves so arefully and systematically with so much emphasis on singing and using Kodaly hand signs.  After what seems like rather slow progress at the beginning students can sudeenly play concertos by Seitz,  Reiding et al with abolsute ease.

I use the Doflein books with adults as well as the Wohlfahrt elementat studies book of which I forgot the opus number but apparently it is not reaily availbale in the US. Nt to be confused with op45.  

What all thes ebok have in common is tremedous emphasis on playing duets.  I consider his to be on of the most powerful tools in the techers armoury.



September 15, 2009 at 01:30 PM ·

I've taught Dolflein, and Applebaum's String Builder.  Now I use String Explorer, which has worked quite nicely.  

September 15, 2009 at 01:36 PM ·

Buri, you mean Wohlfahrt Op 38, which is readily available.  I've never used it, mainly because it starts off right away in C Major, not my favorite hand shape for beginners. 

I agree about the importance of duets, which is why I use the Applebaum series "Beautiful Music for Two Stringed Instruments:  Two Violins", four volumes in all.  Applebaum lifted many of the Op. 38s right into his own series. 

September 15, 2009 at 04:50 PM ·

I was started on Schradiek book 1 and Wolfhart.  Before my teacher started me on those I was working out of Suzuki books 3 & 4 for 3 months and the 1st time I played a violin in 23 years.  I've recently been working on double stops and shifting using Sevcik and Scradiek book 2.  I also do scale work out of Hrimaly.  I've been playing violin for 2 years now.


September 15, 2009 at 07:07 PM ·

Adventures in Violinland.  I like them for the reasons Buri described, plus there's enough material to keep any student from getting stuck on one piece for a long time.  I prefer to get my kids reading lots and lots of repertoire, along with providing extensive ear training that empowers them with the ability to sing melodies on their violins as easily as they would with their voices--perhaps more easily.  It is absolutely amazing to see the concepts come together.  I'm seeing kids hatch into butterflies after crawling like caterpillars, and I can say all the work is worth it.

And lots and lots of duets and piano accompaniments makes my job ten times more fun!

September 15, 2009 at 08:28 PM ·


Anne, the hand shape isproblematic in Wolfarht and I think it demonstartes how teaching has evolved over the years that we now have a clear sens eof what is easiest to start with. 

So I change the key.....;)



September 16, 2009 at 12:02 AM ·

Do any of the teachers on here use the Eta Cohen violin method and books?   I was started on them and remember making extremely fast progress and really "eating up" all the exercises and pieces and most importantly for me - never getting bored, one of my bad points!    I was also impressed to discover that my current teacher - a principal with a major British orchestra - had also started his violin studies with this method as well.  It may well be best known in the UK?


September 16, 2009 at 12:41 AM ·


I wa sstarted on Eta Cohen and finished two books quickly.  I seem to recall a hornpipe in 68 at the end of the second book which I really took to,  tyrng to play it as rapidly as possible.   I attribute my affinity to this time signature to this piece . I also suffered through tune a day book 1.

I cannot remeber if the Eta Cohen is a genuinly sound book or not.  t probably is but my early lack of success was due to its being inflcited on me by the school music teacher who was actually apiano player staying onelesson ahead of the string class.

Eta Cohen`s daughter is called Margaret something or other. I think she teaches at RCM but I@m too lazy to check.  I heard her play many years ago. Briliiant violinist!



September 16, 2009 at 04:09 AM ·

After reading these comments, I decided to take a look at Adventures in Violinland.  I checked amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, ebay, half.com, and sharmusic.com.  Evidently the book is out of print.  I found one used copy of Adventures in Violin Land 1.b in ebay.  Where do you folks buy this book?

September 16, 2009 at 04:20 AM ·


probably you need to go here. I can`yt imagine such a mainstream book going out of print.


Actually I just checked Shar. They are in stock.



September 16, 2009 at 06:18 AM ·

I have printed a large note starter book for my young beginners which teaches them to read all notes in first postion/first finger pattern then I move on to Sassmanshaus using books one and two together as the same melodies can be played in various finger patterns.I couple this with the K & H Colledge series Stepping Stones,Waggon Wheels and Fast Forward which make up the repetoire aspect of my programme.This brings children nicely up to Wohlfahrt op45 and the Rieding Concertinos.

September 16, 2009 at 09:09 AM ·

I always get A in VL through sharmusic.com, and they are always in stock. 

September 16, 2009 at 11:06 AM ·

I use my books, Smart Violin Method along with Suzuki.  My students seem happy with the combination of styles and I'm able to get across the skills I'm trying to teach much easier.  After that I add duets from Applebaum and Wolfhardt. 

September 16, 2009 at 08:56 PM ·

Essential Elements is a good book for what is was designed for: group classes of instrumental beginners around ages 8-10. I've used it for years with 4th and 5th grade string classes with wonderful results, especially when it is supported by additional scales/basics in the form of a daily warmup and practice strategy, and corresponding-level ensemble repertoire. As the books use illustrations of players as opposed to photographs, there is room for interpretation regarding things like posture, bow hold.

For private students, it depends on their age. Concepts have to be taught in different ways to people at different stages of cognitive development. While certain tricks work with six year olds to get them to perform certain physical gestures, the same cannot be said of an adult beginner. A 3-4 year old who has not yet learned to read or recognize the letters of the alphabet has to start by ear. A twelve year old who reads at a high school level benefits from note-reading and theory and is able to perform the higher-level task of associating what they hear with what they see.

The instructional materials that are available to us are targeted to a very specific part of our population, We need to use the right materials for the right people, along with informed teaching that is appropriate for their level of intellectual and physical ability.

September 18, 2009 at 02:25 AM ·

"Adventures in Violinland" by Shirley Givens here.  I even use it on my adult beginners (have a few mums), and they LOVE it.  For the adults it simply means that we move along a bit faster and you can use all the books, or just a few to compliment other work you are doing.

'The Kingdom of Stringdom',' Meet Tex Neek', 'Meet Vibby Vibrato' and 'Meet Sammy X L R 8' have received the most thumbs up from my students so far.

I tie them in with a few more books titled 'Encore on Strings' by Mark Gibson (a Queensland examiner with AMEB).  He has two books out with catchy songs, and a great CD to play along to.

September 18, 2009 at 06:16 AM ·

Hey Dianna, did you see the photo of Sammy XLR8 that I posted last spring?  One of my students made it.  (They love those game books, too!)  Let me go dig it up for you...

September 18, 2009 at 07:27 AM ·


It's Sammy XLR8, master of time travel and other fast-fingered feats! 

September 18, 2009 at 07:47 AM ·

Perhaps one of the most significant remarks regarding: Which Book to Use, dealt with the offering of a particular tune in one of the books that captured the interest of the student and they played it endlessly.....As a teacher of younger students, it is important to include what I call a "Zinger" tune.....one that is so attractive and possible that the student's home repetitions cause a call from parents  requesting relief.

I began lessons with the Hohmann series.....An old  5 book series with many duets and etudes of high musical quality....no watercolors nor explanations that would aid a non-string playing teacher. and some really great music.....Position study (after 1st ) began with 2nd position and progressed thru 3rd, 4th etc.  I recall an excercise in Bk 5 by Papini that has haunted me for over 50 years...and abstract warm-ups still include portions of this.

All books have merit and were written by knowledgeable folks....it is dependent on the teacher to use the material to the best advantage. Public school situations perhaps dictate which method to use for continuity and such....I used the String Builder for years and never needed to change...and as a natural follow-thru to Sam's duet books, it simply worked.

From a private studio point of view, the Suzuki books are hard to beat and again, the natural sequence is really great....and there are lots of "Zinger" Tunes in all of these books.

September 18, 2009 at 08:08 AM ·

Awww Emily, I want one :D

Must be sugar deprived 'cause for a moment there I thought he had a marshmallow for a head! (tee hee).

Love it!!!

November 29, 2009 at 08:52 PM ·

I use Fiddle Time Joggers (or Fiddle Time Starters for really little ones) and it works well. I do a lot on posture and technique for weeks and weeks, so when they eventually get to reading music, this one is logical and contemporary. They love the pieces and has proved very useful in group teaching.

November 30, 2009 at 01:49 AM ·

I really like the books I-III of Learn with Tunes by Cal Grissen, and the Dofflein books are really great too...how old are the students you are teaching? There is a really great series called Adventures in Violinland by Shirley Givens, it's really playful and fun, and has pictures that can be colored or torn out. You will love this with younger kids, and my older high school kids get a kick out of it too if they are having a particular issue with something and they need a simple exercise. Good luck!

November 30, 2009 at 05:02 AM ·


I@m glad you mention the Doflein.  Szigeti raves about this series `Szigeti on the Violin.`  Among the many reasons he offers are that it offers concrete descriptions of specifc techniques and places them within a musical context with many of the pieces carefully selected from the greta composers of the past and a huge slew of modern works which jerks the stduents thoughts out of only conventional melody and rythm/   There are works in ther eby Bartok for example which young kids adore.   The techncial problems in essence are stylistic in origin much of the time.

The book is creativley linked with Bartok`s 44 duets which I would like to see as staple teachign material from a much earlier stage.      Its possible the series works a litlte better with more mature studnets but I hacve found that when one is silly enough the most dry material cna be turned into something inetresitng so taht is not really an excuse. It would be really sad to see such a great series of this slip queitly out of fashion.



November 30, 2009 at 02:08 PM ·

I use Doflein to teach, and I used it when I wanted to start from scratch again a few years ago.

Great series, with well-thought out development and introduction to good music of all kinds.

And yes, there is a Bartok duet in the very early pages of book 1.



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