Method book for adult beginner

December 2, 2004 at 08:54 PM · I have an adult beginner student starting lessons with me on Sat. I always feel a little silly using the Suzuki method books with adults. Are there any other method books anyone can recommend for adult beginners?

Replies (19)

December 2, 2004 at 09:09 PM ·

December 2, 2004 at 09:08 PM · If you believe in Suzuki as a method, there is no reason not to use it with an adult beginner.

December 2, 2004 at 09:18 PM · I agree that Suzuki repertuar sometimes doesn't fit to adult beginner. But it doesn't mean that we can't apply Suzuki approach using just different music examples. So, be creative... Recently I found A Comprehensive String Method 'Strictly Strings' and think it's a kind of what we need for adult beginners (actually, it's good for all ages).

Good luck.

December 2, 2004 at 09:42 PM · Hi Rita,

Could you decribe the kind of approach Strictly Strings uses? Does it start with open strings, or is it more left hand orientated? And what kind of pace? I too am interested in alternative material which suits adult beginners.

December 2, 2004 at 09:46 PM · My teacher used the Doflien books with me. I'm not an adult, but I was almost 11 when I started and definately would have noticed if they were "immature." I think they'd be very good for an adult...and actually that reminds me...I'm going to start teaching an adult too! (I'm a 14-year-old starving artist looking for ways to earn money, lol) I'm going to use a book my teacher made up, but I think she used some of the Doflien stuff in it.

December 2, 2004 at 10:08 PM · I feel the Suzuki method is actually appropriate for all ages, for the repertoire suites everyone and it's not like it has silly cartoon pictures in it. As for the instructions, though, I don't feel it explains. That's why I think Suzuki is just a repertoire book, and that someone should have supplements. Perhaps Essential Elements (even though it is more of an school orchestra book). It explains how to do things, what things are, and showing how to do a technique in just a few measures. Anyway, my point is, you should always have something that shows you what to do instead of working on it with a rather large piece, which doesn't show you how to do all of the technique clearly. But, you know, whatever works.

December 2, 2004 at 11:34 PM · I have with me Book 1 of "All for Strings" that I bought for my son before he had a teacher and that I wish had been my first book rather than the one with the pretty tunes that rushed through the elementary grade. May I take the opportunity to ask what teachers think of it? As an adult I like the fact that it very methodically builds up hand shape, muscle memory, basic technical training that will serve a student well later on. A lot of time is spent on the first hand frame so that the fingers get used to forming that shape and moving comfortably - yet while the music is very simple being based on few notes, it doesn't seem childish. I picked it off the shelf after I'd gone to higher grades and used it as a reference once in a while, and used some of the exercises to strengthen weak points. It has a serious look, explanations, checklists: an 'adult look'.

For me personally the fact that there were more studies and less predictable and well known tunes would have been an advantage. I played mostly by ear, conceived music in a "solfege" style, and it was all too easy to zero in on where the sound was located on a string rather than building a sense of the relationship of fingers (hand shape etc.) with things like "London Bridge is Falling Down". That part is just me, though.

(Edited addition) : I'm not responding to Suzuki because I wasn't taught that way or used their books.

December 2, 2004 at 11:34 PM · I began the viola as an adult, used the Suzuki books, among others, and was fine with it, didn't occur to me to question it--I was a beginner, after all. There is a really nice scale book, Essentials for Strings by Gerald Anderson, Kjos Music. I do think it is helpful for adult beginners to understand that their brains probably will learn faster than their muscles will. I remember feeling impatient with the amount of time (sometimes nearly the whole lesson) that my teacher spent on making sure the viola was balanced correctly, with just the right shoulder rest/sponge combination, but, boy, do I appreciate her now!! If the beginner is middle-aged, good upper-body strength and flexibility are important, for a violist, at least. I just acquired a book, Stretching for Strings, that looks interesting. I also agree that it is important for a lot of the music to be unfamiliar; I have met some amateurs who can only play a few intensely familiar pieces, which limits the satisfaction and fun in a chamber group. Hope this helps!

December 2, 2004 at 11:30 PM · Hi, Sue,

This method starts with learning open strings, using 'letter-note' style (without staves); at the same time students learn the time signature 4/4; quarter notes and rests, bar line, measure, double bar, repeat sign, relationship between open strings and notes (E, A, D, G). Using Pizzicato, students learn different rhythmical combinations from quarter notes/rests. After that, is introduction of 1st and 2nd fingers on D string: E, F# (still pizz. and 'letter-note' approach); learning 'sharp' and finger numbers. Next-3rd finger, whole step and half step. Next-the same on A string, music alphabet and D-Major scale. Now students pluck the short pieces.

Next-bowing... again there are open strings, but notes are written on the music staff; studying half notes/rests; down and up bows; bowing exercises on open strings; and so on.

Pace is not slow but not very fast. I think, if we work with student ones in a week, all I wrote about takes not more than a month.

What I don't like: I never start from D string, but from A string (On A we have the more natural left hand position and not too high right elbow, what can be cause of future lifting of right shoulder).

About repertoire: there are famous examples of folk songs, classical tunes, symphonic themes which will be useful in the future. And there are lots of opportunities to play in ensemble. Also, students can use Play-Along Accompaniments.

December 3, 2004 at 01:42 AM · Thanks Rita, your description's very useful. Some of my adult beginners have enjoyed A Tune A Day - particularly since my editions are very old and look rather serious! I really like the two or three books I use for beginners... but I do wish someone would consider printing 'adult' editions minus the cute pictures and kiddie titles; I'm well aware that many of my adult learners find the formats patronising.

December 3, 2004 at 02:32 AM · Strangely enough, I was more vulnerable to "patronizing" when I was 16 than now. I remember after two months of the likes of "Kitty Kat Jumps Up and Down" with the piano teacher whose idea of a lesson was to cook supper during part of it, I brought out my grandmother's Clementi Sonata and played through it from beginning to end. She changed books in a hurry. Unfortunately she was an extremely lazy teacher. Years later I dug out one of those serious books and found what I was looking for, "Teacher - before beginning these studies make certain your student has a thorough grounding in the following scales and chords." She didn't, and only years later I discovered why the studies with all those sharps and flats had been so hard. Good teachers - give yourselves a pat on the back and a heaping serving of prune ice cream.

P.S. The Clementi was probably in C and G. One sharp.

December 3, 2004 at 03:29 AM · I was playing at a fifth grade level when I started taking lessons again as an adult. After a few lessons, my teacher asked if I would mind starting back at book one of the Suzuki Method. We went through it very quickly, but I sure learned a lot. I wish the rcm method I took had taught me some of those basics.

December 3, 2004 at 08:05 AM · Wolfhardt. Suzuki.

January 2, 2005 at 12:30 AM · How about suggestions for a 11 year old piano player who wants to add violin? She already knows how to read music, and would probably be frustrated at the relatively slower progress on violin than her mastery of piano leads her to expect?

I'm going on Monday to a local shop to look over method books, but wanted some leads and opinions. thanks!

January 2, 2005 at 12:59 AM · I second Candace on Doflein. I don't think they are immature because the choice of music is interesting (they even do Bartok in the very earliest stages) and they give the student the chance to create small compositions. I really liked the books.

January 27, 2005 at 05:43 PM · I am a struggling Violin student I began two years ago strictkly Suzuki method. essentially no previous musical instrument experience no .

I begin at 58 am now 60 and find itit very difficult Suzuki Bk 4 in particularwhich I am now completing is very very cahllenging I blame it on age I practice about 45 minutes every day Any advice would be appreciatedted.

January 27, 2005 at 06:31 PM · wondering why no one mentioned "basics" by simon fischer

January 27, 2005 at 07:51 PM · You just have. Excellent suggestion as always when it comes up.

January 28, 2005 at 12:02 AM · Greetings,

Frank, not really anything to do with age. You have plenty of time to become a very competent violnist which in turn can lead to the joy of playing in local orchestras and the like . So stick with it.

The biggest obstacle, -at any age-, is quite simply getting a teacher. Most of us on this list disagree about everything from strings to favorite brand of prunes, but there is one common denominator we seem to have and that is the mantra -get a teacher-. It`s can be an expensive nuisance, but the other way is just not worth it in the long run. Learn without a teacher and your progress will be slow and unsystematic at best. In the history of violin playing ther ehave been -very few- successful autodidacts and most of them had indiretc lessons as it were before sliding into obscurity.

An example of where a teacher is invalauble for someone like you: the degree of efficiency in practice is directly related to the preddetermined goal. IE most player s on this list would probably agree that when they have nothing to shoot for their practice is lacking in motivation andfocus, no matte rhow pleasurable. Its just too hard to go the extra mile for success. So a teacher can look at your generalized goals like `play in a local orchestra` and say okay, within this time frame you need to have covered x,y,z. You can then work backwards from one yera from now to six months form now, to one month from now, to by next week to today. if you don`t have a daily goal that is extrapolted from a weekly goal which is extrapolated from a monthly goal which is extrapolted from a yearly goal then you will drift. And yes, the teacher can help you put this program together.

Another problem for payer sof any age is lack of mental and physical preparation before you practice. Meditation, stretching, and then a mental review of your plans for the day (as above) makes hte difference between good and average practice.

Stop after ten minutes and review what you have done. Did oyu work towards a particlaur goal and achive it? If not, what wa sht eproblem? Goal not clear enough? Method of solution ineffective? Try something else? Ten mor eminutes, repeat procedure!

Also, rmeember that a highly complex motor skill like this requires heavy focus on technique. Sad, but true. So you can choose. Are you willing to spen half your time on scales , bwoing exericse sand etude s(recommended and taught by a teacher) or do you just like working on pieces?

If the latter then your drema of playing in a good amateur orchetra is doomed to stay that way.

I hope this helps. Please kepe coming back with more specific questons and I llok frward to hearing aout your e r lessons ;)

All the best,


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