Suzuki supplemental repertoire and technique for returning violinist

January 13, 2020, 2:36 PM · Hello!

I took violin lessons as a kid and got through Suzuki Book 5 and a bit of Book 6 in high school. I was almost solely focused on pieces, which I was very good at (always got superior ratings in Solo & Ensemble), but had practically zero training in rigorous technique studies like Sevcik,etc. I haven't played regularly (i.e. only played a couple Christmas carols once a year or less) since I quit lessons eight years ago. Recently, I have become interested in resuming violin has and so I have been playing some Suzuki Bk 1-6 pieces I learned back in my school days. I am glad to find that thankfully, I haven't "lost" as much as I thought...I still sound very nice playing at regular tempo (no issues with Books 1-4) and feel confident that if I took some time to brush up on the trickiest passages in Books 5-6 I could go back to my old level fairly easily.

I really hope to be able to improve and eventually (in a few years when I can have time/money for lessons again) play the standard supplemental repertoire outside of Suzuki(e.g. Thais Meditation, Czardas, etc.) as recommended here:

At this time, I would be grateful for suggestions for:

1) Supplementary "classic" repertoire collections like Barber's Solos for Young Violinists, which I could use to get some repertoire variety at the Suzuki book 1-6 level. A lot of the Suzuki supplementary pieces are in Barber's books (Vol 3+) but I'm not sure I can play those yet.

2) Technique work I should do to improve playing up to Suzuki Book 6 level. I'm aware of Sevcik, Wohlfahrt, Schraedick, etc being essential stepping stones, but I am not sure what the best approach/sequence/short-term goals would be.

Thank you for your advice!

Replies (7)

January 13, 2020, 2:58 PM · For technical etudes, you can work on Whistler "Preparing for Kreutzer" vol1 and later vol2, and Kayser. Give also a try to Mazas. For scales you can use Hrimaly or Sevcik op8 and for double stops you can use Enrico Polo etudes or more in the harder side, Sevcik op9. Sevcik and Schradieck yes, are essential stepping stones, but would not be the core, i mean, yes, they're the foundation of technique but don't go mad with them because you will burnout too fast and maybe bore a bit, so study them in small chunks.
For pieces i'll recommend studying the Corelli sonatas op5 no 8 and 9; maybe the introduction and poloinase from Bohm, and the Infant and Boy Paganini from Mollenhauer.
Wish you luck!
January 13, 2020, 3:16 PM · My daughter really likes the Mazas -- they are prettier than most etudes.

A nice collection that stretches from about Book 4-8 is the Gingold Solos for the Violin Player.

Edited: January 13, 2020, 10:57 PM · Another vote here for Mazas, although honestly you might want to start with Kayser. There is also Dont Op. 20. After Mazas you can start Kreutzer. Everybody recommends Schradieck, but if we're being honest, Volume 1 of Schradieck gets hard pretty damned fast after you turn past the infamous first two pages. But it's good for you.

You should be able to do some of the pieces in Barbara Barber volume 3. Try the Ave Maria and the Dancla Air Varie first. The Potstock and the Accolay are harder (Suzuki Book 6 level).

There is a lovely collection called 37 Pieces You Like to Play, which has some stuff that is rather easier (La Cinquantaine) and some stuff that is murderously hard (Hubay's Hejre Kati).

And of course, find a teacher and get some lessons even if you can only do it every two or three weeks. Don't be surprised if they take you down a couple of rungs on the ladder right off the bat. Be grateful because that means they're going to help you build your technique properly.

January 13, 2020, 11:23 PM · If you want to get back to violin playing and have gotten as far as th beginnings of Book 6, I suggest you visit "youtube Roy Sonne" on line. Roy retired from his career the first violin section of the Pittsburgh Symphony sometime in the past decade. He has continued teaching and performing and has got some good stuff on line, as you will see if you visit.

Roy and I "got together" on line via Maestronet (maybe as much as) 20 years ago and finally met when the Pittsburgh Symphony performed in San Francisco and he and I spent a most enjoyable day together.

I think as a "casual player" the etudes and exercises you work on should be coordinated with the musical "pieces" you are working on and with your deficits. Of course this is best done with a face-to-face teacher, but lacking that one does what one can. (The story of my life!)

If you can join a community orchestra and get involved in some chamber music playing you will find lots of reasons and opportunities to improve. Motivation to improve comes from defining and achieving goals.

Edited: January 14, 2020, 7:38 AM · My current preference is for [Schradiek], Wohlfahrt, Sitt, Mazas, Kreutzer. Forget Sevcik and Whistler.
Edited: January 16, 2020, 9:09 AM · There are some online learning opportunities (for individual and group lessons/coaching), if that is in your budget.

Kayser would be a great place to start, and the Hrimaly scale book too.

I currently do: Schradieck, Yost shifts, Trott double stops, and Sevick bowing. Kreutzer was taken off my plate for a bit, but I still do the ones that I had previously completed here and there "for fun". I've done Wolfarht as well. I have Mazas but have never opened it!

I did a couple of the Telemann Fantasias (1, 10), and really liked them. Do 10 first. (Edited for clarity: do 10 when the time comes that you are ready to work on these. I did these after completing the Bach Double and Vivaldi A Minor.)

January 15, 2020, 4:03 PM · I'll disagree with you, Pamela, because i think he ought play the Corelli sonatas that i had adviced before playing the Telemann Fantasias, because i think they're easier but also they don't have double stops so i think they're better for getting back to Baroque

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