Looking for (mostly) first position pieces in key of E and C# minor

Edited: January 27, 2019, 9:15 PM · Hello, I am a beginner so please keep that in mind. I recently elected to proceed through my neglected copy of Maia Bang’s violin method book 1. At the end of the volume it introduces the key of E and C# minor. Unfortunately there were not enough pieces in the book for me to get my fingers familiar with the key. Playing the same 3-4 tunes loses its educational value after a while in my experience. I like to test my skills on new material - especially sight reading.

I am one of the “weird” student violinists who likes to play etudes so I figured my Wohlfahrt Op 45 vol 1/2 would have material to play. I was surprised that there was nothing there in E or C#. The Maia Bang vol II went on to the key of F leaving me adrift. I seems like this key gets the orphan treatment for beginners repertoire. Is there a reason for this? Perhaps it is best suited for higher positions that I’m not ready for.

So my question/desire from this community is suggestions suitable for a beginner in the key of E and C# minor. Gems from IMSLP would be ideal but I’ll take any suggestions. I am especially looking for melodious pieces, slow material like waltzes would be ideal. I don’t need scales - i have those in my copy of Hrimaly. All help is appreciated.

Replies (16)

January 27, 2019, 8:46 PM · Sounds like a silly quest. Just play whatever pushes your technique forward—not what's in a certain key...
Edited: January 27, 2019, 8:56 PM · Cotton, a beginner thanks you for such a thoughtful reply. I thought practice in unfamiliar keys was a way to push my technique forward. Silly me....
January 27, 2019, 9:51 PM · If you need more practice from a music theory perspective (ie remembering which notes to play sharp) then it is probably useful to play more tunes in these keys. But if you just want to improve, I would play lots of E/c# scales and arpeggios and not worry so much about finding pieces.

The Adventures in Music Reading series goes mostly by key. Book III has E major. Maybe 4-5 pages of E major scales and short pieces.

January 27, 2019, 10:45 PM · Waltzes and slow airs aren't likely to be in E major, but you could transpose what you're already playing into E major fairly easily with scoring software. But I do sort of agree with Cotton- I'm not sure how useful an endeavor it is. The E major finger pattern is exactly the same as the A major finger pattern in first position.

Take a look at The Doflein Method books. Book 1 is likely where you'd be. It corresponds roughly to Suzuki Book 2. It sounds like that's more up your alley than what you're currently using. But it's still not going to have tons of stuff in E major.

January 28, 2019, 6:56 AM · Susan - Thank you, great suggestion! I was unfamiliar with the series. The introduction says it was written for students who want material to practice by key - it looks like what I am after. All duets which is a slight negative. Cost is quite reasonable.

Julie - Thank you too! I have the four Doflein books and you are right that there is some key E/C# material, but not much at my level. Doflein Vol I introduces the key of E, has a scale and one tune in the key and then, sigh, moves on to another key. My vast classical guitar collection has loads of material in E but it is not suitable to playing on a violin.

I have hundred and hundreds of Irish tunes in notation (O’Neill’s) but E seems to have been highly unfavored by most Irish traditional tunesmiths. However, this made me look at my two volumes of the Portland collection of contra dance tunes and there are a surprising number of E tunes in these books.

Edited: January 28, 2019, 10:34 AM · My best guess is, superficially yes E and C#m are related, but perhaps not so very much on the violin, not for a beginner anyway - in the C# harmonic minor scale there are some technical difficulties that a beginner needn't worry about, unless maybe you just stick to the A and E strings.

I've just skimmed Suzuki books 1 and 2. They stick to the keys of D, G, A, Dm and Am. And book 3 introduces Gm, and that's all! And I don't think book 4 introduces any new key.

Edited: January 28, 2019, 10:57 AM · This is kind of an advanced thing, and it takes some music theory knowledge, but I believe everyone should know how to transpose on the spot. That is, to look at a piece, in let's say, Eb major, and be able to read it in Eb while playing it in a different key, let's say B major.
Once you learn some music theory and get more fluent with your playing, you should probably learn to transpose.
ANYWAYS: there aren't that many etudes or pieces in C# minor, at least not in the standard violin repertoire. I can think of quite a few piano pieces that are in C#. However, I can think of some E major pieces, but most are in the intermediate level. (Bach E major violin concerto, and Bach E major violin solo partita come to mind.) But I don't think you're ready for those as a beginner.
The best suggestion I can make is to play lots of E major/C# minor scales and arpeggios.
Also, I too love etudes.
January 28, 2019, 3:47 PM · I can't think of pieces, but may I make suggestions for scales.

One octave and a half of E major is easy enough, starting on the D-string.
On the G-string, either high1, 2, high3, high4 in 1st position; or1, low2, 3, 6 in "high 1st" position, which is physically in 2nd position!
Or, start on G#: 1, low2, 3, 4 in half position, then D#-E with 1st finger.

For C# minor I use the fingering for D minor transposed into half position (no open strings!) withe same fingerings.

Any D minor piece or study could be transposed in this way.

January 28, 2019, 4:01 PM · James like Nina said, you can take any piece with 3 flats, do you have enough of those? Then play everything up a half tone. Just don't use the open string for D :-)
Edited: January 28, 2019, 5:52 PM · Nina - transposing on the fly is way over my pay grade for the moment and possibly forever. I agree on its value.

Adrian -I will have to give that a try with my fiddle under my chin. I can’t quite grasp the idea from the description but I’m sure it will make sense when I play with it.

Jean - I have loads of material in 3 flats, etudes and tunes. So if i just shift the notes in E flat major up one “fret” and no open D I am in E major? This is my kind of transposing since the note names remain the same, only the degree (flat, natural or sharp) changes Wow! Wonderful hint. Are there other shift transposing concepts like this for other keys? Again I will need to play it but success leaves me with lots of material to play!

January 28, 2019, 6:31 PM · Check out those etudes in E major
https://www.violinwiki.org/wiki/Category:Etudes_in_E_major
January 29, 2019, 6:28 AM · yup James. forgot to add...the open G string is gone as well but I suppose you got that already! on the other hand you gain the open A and E strings :-)

it can also be useful in the other direction. for example, A major is a rather common key, 3 sharps, shifting down by half gives you four flats, which is a commonly used signature not so much in its A flat major form but in the F minor form.

January 29, 2019, 6:38 AM · Jean - huh, I thought F minor was rarer than A flat...
January 29, 2019, 7:23 AM · The Bach E Major Gigue from the Third Partita meets your qualifications, pretty close anyway. Not exactly beginner material but you could take it very slow and pretend it's a Wohlfardt study.
January 29, 2019, 8:13 AM · Haydn Quartet Op. 20 No. 5 is in F Minor. Fantastic piece. Fairly hard, partly because of the key.
Edited: January 29, 2019, 9:38 AM · WIinter is also in F minor, but I can think of a lot more pieces in Ab.
Wait, they're all piano pieces...


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