Auer method books

August 2, 2017, 6:33 PM · Please give me insights on the Auer method books and their effectiveness if used correctly. I've been playing for half a year already.

Replies (34)

August 2, 2017, 8:04 PM · I find them dreadfully dry. YMMV
August 2, 2017, 8:07 PM · For what reason?
August 2, 2017, 8:22 PM · All vegetables; no dessert.
August 2, 2017, 8:26 PM · I have to agree with the dry assessment. I can't think of a better way to phrase it.

I once tried to read 'Violin playing, as I teach it' as I had seen it mentioned here several times. Good information, terrible presentation, too many words. It reminds me of students who are just trying to reach a certain page or word count.

Doubtlessly there are people who will be able to get through the text and learn a lot from it. For me, I need an exegesis. :P

Edited: August 3, 2017, 1:38 AM · On the contrary to the Suzuki method, the Auer books gives you a solid foundation of bowing to start with --- very important for beginners. However, you do need a teacher to teach you, otherwise, you will just think it is dry like the replies above had said. But I personally dont think it is as dry as the beginner books by Sevcik.

If the teacher teaches you correctly using exercises in the Auer books, you really will fly through the beginning Suzuki books just like that AND play them with the right sound and bowing -- this is why you use the Auer methods: to learn to play the violin with a beautiful full sound from the very beginning.

If you want a solid review of the Auer method books, please search for "Sung-Duk Sung." He has written about this method before.

Ha, if Auer books are all vegetables and no dessert, then Suzuki books are all desserts and no vegetables.

And how about learning to play the opening strings, crossing strings and semitone scales musically? I would say that is very hard for beginners, and even for some professional musicians.

The Auer method is not for everyone. It is for serious teachers and beginners who want to learn to play the violin beautifully and musically.

August 2, 2017, 9:37 PM · Y Cheng,

I think that's the important distinction. They are great if used with a teacher. With a teacher. From the way op worded this question I'm assuming they don't have one, or they would have simply asked their teacher about them.

Sevcik, more precisely 'Selected studies in the first position from the school of violin technics and school of bowing technic' transcribed for viola by Lifschey, is my go to for practice when I need to practice but I just don't have any motivation or feeling for it. I am the first to admit that it is perhaps one of the most boring things ever created!

August 2, 2017, 9:53 PM · This serious teacher has successfully taught beautiful, correct sound and bowing without using the Auer books. That is not to say that they aren't worthy. Of course they are. But they aren't the only way.

Nobody lives on desserts alone without getting sick, but for many of us, eating nothing but vegetables sucks a considerable amount of joy out of life.

August 2, 2017, 10:03 PM · You're both making me hungry.
Edited: August 3, 2017, 1:26 AM · > On the contrary to the Suzuki
> method, the Auer books gives you
> a solid foundation of bowing to
> start with --- very important for beginners.

I'm not sure what Suzuki Method you're looking at, but the first two things you learn to do (Tonalization and Twinkle Variations) are literally all about a solid foundation of bowing. Even our four year olds learn to produce a characteristic tone and execute detache, legato, staccato, and martele (or as close as possible with a 1/16 violin and bow) in the first few months.

Materials are very much like the instruments. It takes a person's ideas and hard work to generate results. This is why it is possible for the modern violin teacher to draw from so many diverse sources and still arrive at common goals.

If you seriously don't believe that folks using the Suzuki Method are teaching these fundamentals, then you owe it to yourself to see the work being done at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, the Indiana University String Academy, and the University of Texas at Austin's String Project (led by Brian Lewis), among others.

August 3, 2017, 1:16 AM · I doubt if Auer ever taught a beginner!
I dip into the books for their intelligence and insight.

And there is no shortage of tasty vegetables in the Suzuki method (note the lower-case "m") if one has a proper teacher...

Edited: August 3, 2017, 5:16 AM · Mary Ellen. - what is YMMV? Anyway, my first teacher, Harry Fratkin, had been a student of Auer and idolized him. Auer in turn gave him a beautiful letter of recommendation and qualified Mr. Fratkin to represent him. And yet even Mr. Fratkin did not use the Auer books, saying that a beginning student would need the patience of a saint for them. (I'm referring to the first couple - I believe that there are 8 books altogether. No. 5, for the bow, has some nice material.) Instead, he used Nicolas Laoreux book 1 and then book 2 along with Kayser - something I do myself as a teacher - except that with book 1 I also use the Herfurth "Tune A Day" book 1.

Auer's book, "Violin Playing as I Teach It" is another matter. It's not a method or instruction book but a conceptual book along the lines of Gemeniani, Leopold Mozart, Flesch's "Art of Violin Playing", Galamian's "Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching" etc. I don't know how anyone could find it too wordy considering what a short book it is. Maybe the writing style is old fashioned - the man was born in 1845! Heifetz recommended it highly. I always found the Galamian book rather clinical in its tone. And if you want to experience wordy, try going through both volumes of the Flesch! Auer also wrote a less known book and I don't know if it has been re-printed: "Violin Masterworks and their Interpretation". This book has struck some as a little superficial but my old first teacher, Mr. Fratkin told me that these short comments were merely hints to the initiated.

BTW, my 2nd teacher, Vladimir Graffman, was also a former pupil and later assistant of Auer - so now, as a teacher myself, I feel justified in charging an "Auer-ly" rate! ;-)

August 3, 2017, 6:01 AM · Book 1, which is exclusively open string bowing etudes, is great as an introduction to bow control: uniform tone, basic dynamics and core articulations, like staccato and martele.

The etudes are mostly little open string tunes so will capture a beginner's musical interest and give a repertoire to entertain themselves and friends while learning the basics of holding the violin and bow.

The later books, especially starting with book 3, are uninspired IMO. After Book 1, the beginner is better served switching to an old classic for fingering, like Wohlfahrt Op. 38, or taking up a contemporary method like Suzuki or any of the large number of string methods books filled with snippets of folk and classical tunes.

August 3, 2017, 6:51 AM · YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary

And I agree with Gene 100%.

August 3, 2017, 11:44 AM · Me too.
August 3, 2017, 11:52 AM · I agree with Carmen. The first is a good book that contrasts different articulations in a natural way that I think clarifies the sound you can be looking for from different bowings.
Edited: August 3, 2017, 4:15 PM · To All & especially Raphael Klayman!

Being a Grandpupil of Leopold Auer, taught by his famed artist 'protege's', Heifetz, Sascha Lasserson (who Was The Official Assistant to Auer at the St. Petersburg Conservatory prior to 1917's Bolshevik Revolution, who left for London where he achieved renown as the greatest exponent of Auer's teaching throughout the U.K.), & later by Nathan Milstein, I've been deeply imprinted by all 3 legendary Violinists & include the UK's Sascha Lasserson (although not well known in America due to his personal choice to remain in London despite a remarkable letter written and signed by 3 of Auer's famed artist - pupils, Efrem Zimbalist, Mischa Elman and Jascha Heifetz, imploring 'Sascha' to leave London to come to NYC), where they wished to set up a teaching studio for Mr. Lasserson to teach the Best and lesser developed talents as Lasserson had a genius for trouble shooting, never making 'snob' distinction's in some of the pupils he accepted as he Loved to Teach and Never charged *'Auer-ly' rates as he certainly could have done in spades in New York City, I've learned quite a bit about Leopold Auer's approach to violin technique's in and of both hands ...

Upon my receipt of a Fulbright to London, Mr. Heifetz (with whom I was most privileged to study as one of the 7 original Heifetz Violin Master Class pupils at USC which are film - available to all musicians globally who have computer access to YouTube to view each of our half hour individual artist-pupil lessons with Mr. Heifetz) told me, "Liz, Lasserson in London!" That is a direct quote from Jascha Heifetz to me upon learning I got the Fulbright to London at the Host Institution, the Royal College of Music. All I knew upon arriving in 'luscious' London was the directive from the great Heifetz who had limitless respect for his Auer classmate/friend, Sascha Lasserson, even taking Erick Friedman 'round to play for Lasserson when JH took Erick Friedman to London to perform in concert in Bach's Double Concerto for Two Violins in d minor which was recorded in/after their public concert's. *Sascha Lasserson was also vastly admired by Nathan Milstein, another Leopold Auer classmate in St. Petersburg, who, btw, coached *his friend, Mischa Elman, in Russian Summer's at a dacha the Elman family owned! This + much more is in my in-process of being written Book! Nonetheless, being so deeply blessed to be an original pupil of Heifetz, Nathan Milstein, & in-between w/Sascha Lasserson, adding up to about 10 and 1/2 years total of violinistic and music making ideas, techniques & Bowing mysteries from all 3 ~ which took me goodly amounts of time fusing ideas of Giant's together as a performing violinist whilst also teaching, I admit while reading various comments here on Auer's teaching it's both hard to take in - yet has some richly insightful truths as expressed by *Rahael Klayman ~

Leopold Auer's Book, 'Violin Playing As I Teach It', is short, hardly wordy but concise and as Raphael states, remember 'the man (Leopold Auer) was born in 1845!' Yes, it's 'old style', but how can anyone playing or teaching or aspiring to do either or both ignore the extraordinary Legacy of Leopold Auer? One has to be truly ignorant or just plain envious as the case may be.

Recall Auer's Star pupils: Jascha Heifetz, Elman, Efrem Zimbalist, Kubelik, Kathleen Parlow, Cecilia Hanson, Nathan Milstein, Toscha Seidel and Sascha Lasserson, and realise all came deeply under Auer's influence in a variety of individual ways! Mr. 'H.' always identified Auer as, 'my teacher, Professor Auer', with profound respect and admiration. Milstein spoke of Auer with high regard yet another influence in his musical development (& only for a short period of time) in Eugen Ysaye, which one can easily detect in various aspects of Milstein's playing, but Nathan Milstein IS MILSTEIN through and through, so much so that upon first hearing Nathan Milstein play for Auer in his St. Petersburg Conservatory pre-Bolshevik Revolution class, stated, "you've a 'Black Sea' technique!" Mr. Milstein relished telling me about his experiences in St. Petersburg to be sure! He used to laugh about Auer's pronouncement of 'my Black Sea technique'! As we know, NM was born in Odessa near the Black Sea! Go figure folks!!!

I guess my writing a bit is testament to a truly Giant Artist Teacher in the History of Violin playing, but would add: There is really no such thing as the 'Auer School of Violin Playing' because Auer was So Astute he embraced his remarkable pupils' uniquely individual violinistic qualities and musical personalities as exhibited in their individual sounds, slides (JH's uniquely personal Slides!), varying vibrato's, personal preferences for selected violin concerto & concert pieces repertoire, etc., etc., and ecetera!!!

Whomever uses Auer Books must be a very informed violinist/teacher to assign all contained in specifically adapted ways for each individual pupil. Violin playing as in Violin Teaching must be, in a manner of speaking, truly
'Home-made' in that its roots form the core personality & intelligence of the individual human being Playing or Teaching others. As teachers, we must have truly learned and performed All we teach or our abilities to tailor make what we know for a given pupil's needs is deeply impeded ~ We must also acknowledge to ourselves if we really don't know How to help pupil A,B.or C. etc., instead of those whom I'm told angrily Yell at pupil's they (teacher's) cannot figure out How exactly to untie the knots or untold technical faults that

~ We must be deeply kind ~

This, for me, is the most important requirement if one is to call one's self 'a Teacher' in any field of endeavour, but especially so when teaching little one's and Everyone encountered on our path's the ways to learn, improve and play the Violin or any other instrument ~

Terming Auer's Books "Dry" is most probably the result of a teacher/s who went through, as prescribed in assembly line fashion, to take a beginner or whomever at whatever 'level' of navigating on the fingerboard and in using the Bow, in a DRY-Dull way. I'm truly sorry for any violinists who have after effects from 'dry teaching' which really isn't fair to blame on Leopold Auer or Leopold Mozart, et al, listed above by my colleague, Raphael Klayman.

Done for this Century or at least on this Discussion, please accept sincere best wishes to all who love Music and the Violin for it is a more than worthy journey into a world of beauty and positives for body, mind and soul ~

Yours musically,

Elisabeth Matesky in America *

*I think Raphael Klayman's own coined word for hourly clever ~ Bravo, RK!!

(c) Copyright by Elisabeth Matesky, August 3, 2017. All rights reserved.

Edited: August 3, 2017, 1:25 PM · Elizabeth, your homage is both moving and enlightening!

May I, though, re-iterate my remark that I doubt if Auer ever taught a beginner. His stellar pupils surely all had exceptional skill and maturity before being accepted in his class.

I often delve into all the his volumes, but not as a "method" for the students in my charge, rather as a marvelous resource. And I flatly refuse to play melodies while my pupils accompany me on open strings: it should be the other way round!

Edited: August 3, 2017, 6:04 PM · To Adrian Heath ~

Thank you very much for your kind words and for displaying (without knowing it) your true humility for those who need help learning how to play open strings. I've lived with great musician's (both my
parents) who achieved musical heights yet felt "The Call" to teach children from Day One ... As a 9 year old, studying with my Juilliard honoured graduate Violinist Father, Ralph, I got to have a Job &
actually received a (to me at the time) Huge salary to teach 5 beginner's every week!! Look up my principle teacher, Ralph Matesky, on BMI, ASCAP, ASTA, etc., & find out about my incredible Dad!

We don't know what Leopold Auer's early beginnings were nor How he learned to play or How Well he played? But we might be heartened if some person on this Earth knew all about Auer!! None of
his "pupils" with whom I studied and write about just above ever told me anything about their revered Professor's life or musical background ~ Strange, but they probably didn't know, either!!

To be sensitive as you exhibit when writing you flatly refuse to play melodies for those who can only accompany you on open strings & then say it should be the other way 'round is very moving to me & I know would be to both my late parents who had the greatest violinistic & pianistic/theory pedigree of the time ~ Dad was with Piastro and Eduoard Dethier at Juilliard + Roger Sessions in Composition at Columbia, etc. Mom, twice orphaned & forced to learn how to survive & live in a cold world, was looked after in a miracle place with discerning cultured people hearing her play Piano who arranged for piano lessons with exceptional teachers in LA .. This all led to my Mother being so clued in to harmony and knowing Theory plus a 'savant' gift for Transposition, that her Theory Professor at then affordable UCLA, Arnold Schoenberg, caught her playing and witnessed her ability to naturally follow & transpose from the composed key signature to Any other key following straying upwards singers naturally & perfectly as she could Hear every note & harmony in Any Key!! The Giant, Schoenberg, engaged my Mother as his other pianist (w/Leonard Stein) to play, impromptu, any of his orchestral & chamber orchestral scores at sight for all his advanced classes! Always asked throughout her over 90 year life, "How can you play Schonberg's incredibly difficult atonal scores at the piano without practising them?". She always would very modestly say, "I just hear it all in my head!" The End! Except, this supremely gifted woman taught children with great joy!! So we never know what will be or Who came from What or How Auer became Leopold Auer!! Maybe he knew how to teach children? Whatever the "Level", teaching is a holy calling and I salute you for your kindness and sensitivity for those who are truly trying to learn to play the Violin starting with open strings ~ Milstein's basic bowing ideas perfectly suit beginner's on open strings & can save them from horrid false bowing habits from Day One!!! (More at another time & place!)

With warm greetings to a fine Human being and Teacher of Violin ~

Yours musically,

Elisabeth Matesky in Chicago

Edited: August 4, 2017, 7:53 AM · Thanks, Elizabeth! BTW, for those who haven't read it, Auer's "Violin Playing As I Teach It" begins with the story of how he, himself, studied the violin - most interesting!

Auer also wrote a memoir as did Flesch. Years ago I read both of them form the library. One day I'd like to get both and add them to my book collection and re-read them (-I'm an avid reader and book collector-) but they are very rare and expensive.

Edited: August 4, 2017, 11:21 AM · To follow up on Raphael, the book contains the anecdote of how Auer decided to become a teacher after he played for Vieuxtemps and Vieuxtemps's wife commented after his playing "I'm sure I just heard a cat meowing, where IS it?" :-)
Edited: August 8, 2017, 10:43 AM · Great books. Auer was the most important pedagogue of the 20th Century on the violin. That isn't a matter of debate.
August 9, 2017, 12:52 AM · Maybe this thread is above my paygrade, but here's my thoughts:

The supposed "Effectiveness" of a method quickly becomes a moot point when a student won't do it, or does it with an utter lack of joy.

So, yes, perhaps Auer taught beginners at some point or another, but I PROMISE he didn't teach hard-to-motivate beginners, and he certainly didn't teach them in such a fast-paced world full of menacing distractions.

So in the case of the "average" student, other methods probably tend to be more effective simply because they're more engaging.

August 9, 2017, 2:26 AM · I love the Auer Method books! The cover art is so snazzy, and the contents is fun to work through, in bite-sized technical chuncks!
Edited: August 13, 2017, 12:36 PM · That's why I dip into them!

(The bite-sized technical chunks, not the cover artwork!)

August 12, 2017, 1:32 PM · I have an affinity for acquiring various "method books", so I have the entire series. I enjoy discovering teaching points, thinking about the time period it was written and how it might relate to the repertoire of the same period, as well as an opportunity for my own technical refinement. It also broadens my library to find just the right exercise for a particular student at a particular time for a particular challenge they're having.

The Auer series is rather dated in my opinion, but I think the inspired Maia Bang has aged nearly timelessly. I also think that the Auer series requires a certain type of student. Personally, I like it and think I would have done quite well with it as a young student. However, I'm also an engineer, software developer, and data geek. Auer's series is systematic and makes sense to me. I have not, do not, and doubt I'd ever use it as a primary method.

The first book is quite nice for bowing and I do use it for many students after my own compilation of introductory bowings and rhythms. They don't mind it because of the harmonies when we play together and seem to recognize that it makes their pieces easier. Books 2 & 3 have value as scale studies and substitution to an early scale book. I've yet to use them this way, but am considering it for an adult student. Beyond that, I think there are more enjoyable ways to learn positions and advanced bowing. Some of the repertoire excerpts in the later books are insightful. However, by the time a student reaches that point technically and musically, interpretations become subjective and a matter of preference. If you're studying that piece then you've acquired an edition which best fits your taste.

August 19, 2017, 4:53 AM · I personally teach with the auer method.

Quite simply because i want to make musicians.
Auers method makes the student realize the possibilities of the instrument and forces them to explore their sound.
The exercises are quite simple but most ppl don't do them. Playing open dim then cresc repeat.

If you can't do the exercises then you have no patience towards the instrument and u just want to play, excuse me, to not practice.

The Suzuki method on its own is bad and should be supplemented with scales and reading.

The Auer method is technique and basics, hand shapes, shifting, finger strengthening.

Auers book made me want to teach. This is the Russian way.

Edited: August 19, 2017, 1:42 PM · "The Suzuki method on its own is bad and should be supplemented with scales and reading." With a committed Suzuki teacher, it is supplemented. If all the technical work created or chosen by the teacher during each lesson were printed, the Suzuki books would be as complete as Auer's. The techniques are introduced in a different order, better adapted to the majority of very young chidren.

Take a look at Vols. 9 & 10 (Mozart's 4th and 5th concertos), if we accept the use of Joachim's editing (!), the preparatory exercises (which fill half of each book) are highly intelligent and effective.

It is sad that criticism of the Suzuki method is always born of ignorance.
This should not happen in such cultured company...

August 20, 2017, 8:38 AM · Well that was quite mean Adrian.

Really mean.

Opinions are opinions.

I'll tell you where it stems from.

Kuwait is a very odd country, no conservatory open to the public, only private teachers.

Teachers either teach with Suzuki or with reference books Sevick Urstudien Sitt etc etc...
I was taught with the latter and within a year i was at grade 8 Abrsm level whilst my friends had suzuki teachers and guess what Grade 2, still stickers, no double stops.


Either the teachers are money suckling leeches or the suzuki method is the problem.

Suzuki students there didn't listen to classical and had a dearth of knowledge on music.

And as such, ignorance being incredibly derogatory, i think lack of knowledge is more appropriate of a term.

Personally when i teach it's Auer with reference books.

Edited: August 20, 2017, 9:57 AM · Ahmed, I am sincerely sorry you found my remarks mean.
"Ignorance" in my book is certainly not derogatory unless it comes from arrogance: to me it indeed means "lack of knowledge".

I congratulate you: playing Grade 8 music after only one year is very rare, and must come from remarkable inborn talent, not from the "method".

The mother of one of my young sudents asked me if her daughter practiced enough; I replied that her daughter learned in five minutes what many learned in an hour, but she still had to do the hour!

With sincere respect,

Edited: August 20, 2017, 11:24 AM · I think both methods are good. Suzuki certainly has its merits. It's how it is taught that counts. Listening to the Suzuki tapes in place of teaching note reading properly is often how many Suzuki instructors train their students to learn. I don't think this is beneficial.

The early Auer books are more about the X's and O's of violin playing whereas the Suzuki methods are mostly based on finding the fun in violin playing and music from the beginning (which is also important). As far as studying Suzuki goes, I'd recommend that a teacher use technical supplements outside of Suzuki to go along with the pieces offered in the volumes. So the Auer books would be perfect to be used in tandem with Suzuki and vice versa. This is coming from someone with a direct connection to the Auer lineage (Friedman--->Heifetz--->Auer).

August 20, 2017, 10:58 PM · Based on the comments in this thread I did take another crack as 'Violin, as I teach it' and found it a bit more interesting than initially. I suspect it's a combination of experience gained since and reading some of the comments in this thread.

I still found my look through of the method books a little dry, but most beginner methods are a little dry and it isn't really that different than how I started playing - although I was highly motivated and not new-to-music, so motivating me wasn't a problem.

I just thought I should post back that my previous comment was perhaps a little hasty and after additional study, I do still think dry but maybe not so much as I was initially convinced.

People on the internet convinced me of something! Alert the press!

August 20, 2017, 11:19 PM · It's alright Adrian ;).

I'll take a look at the Joachim edits

As for Michael.
The Auer book lists all the techniques in less than 40 pages sort of a resume of how violin playing came to be in its shape.

Technique as usual doesn't excite a lot of students.

August 21, 2017, 12:13 AM · Technique? Whatever the method, we must enjoy seeking and making beautiful sounds; scales must be musical rainbows!
August 21, 2017, 3:44 AM · :) yep i love my scales especially on one string. The patterns are interesting but when i gave to only use 3-4 it was odd at first didn't quite get used to it.

We should write a new method book.

The spider hand

Honestly that's what hands that play thirds in succession look like to me

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