Fischer books

Edited: February 5, 2021, 6:50 AM · My teacher doesn't use reference books, or rather, he doesn't have me use any books outside of the actual material on which we are working. My progress is evidence that his approach works well :-) As a 61 year old intermediate amateur who will never be a professional, this is fine. He also has a small ensemble in which I play (outside Covid) - he pulls out other educational tools when I need them.

I, however, do like having reference books as these help me. I already have Fischer "Violin Lesson" and "Scales", as well as Barber's "Scales for Young Violinists". Is there a need to add Fischer's "Basics" to this? I've certainly not outgrown the 3 books I already have and likely never will. I've also looked at his "Double Stops" book, I suspect this one is well beyond me and not worth the current expense. I do have several other scales books that I don't currently use - I suspect they are too advanced for me so that may change. I don't need to add books to that category :-)

Looking forward to hearing thoughts on this. I'm taking a couple days away from practice to allow my left elbow tendonitis and shoulder arthritis flare to calm - I got stubborn and this is a good time to read and explore.

Replies (14)

February 5, 2021, 7:39 AM · Greetings,
I think I may have been once of the first people on the planet to use Basics in depth! Hah! To be honest, it’s slightly better suited to teachers and experienced players. Simon evolved into a truly great writer over the years so if you are going to buy a book of his I would actually start with ‘The Violin Lesson’ which has a lot of ‘basic’content but is such a glorious book you need to keep it on your bedside table...
Edited: February 5, 2021, 8:08 AM · Thanks Stephen, good to know. I already have both "The Violin Lesson" and "Scales" as noted above.

Interesting story - I ordered "The Violin Lesson" from a violin store (in Washington State, I think) - they used Amazon for order fulfillment at that time. Amazon put this huge paperback book in a floppy unprotected envelope, and it was also damaged in the picking process. They gave me a partial refund (I wasn't convinced the same thing wouldn't happen for a replacement), and I had Staples replace the spine with one of those large plastic spiral bindings (NOT comb) as the spine had been damaged. I suspect it will have a longer life than if it hadn't arrived damaged!

February 5, 2021, 9:23 AM · sorry. replied halfway through the friday night cocktail. The violin lesson is just so good I’m not sure one needs basics at this point. if I were you I7d but ‘warming up’ and the accompanying DVD instead. Plenty of material there.
a of course, wherewithal permitting, buy all Simon’s stuff. A truly great pedagogue.
February 5, 2021, 10:22 AM · Catherine, I find Basics to be rather fussy, although many like it. I find Flesch more interesting, and to include more convincing context for his suggestions.

As Buri notes, Basics is probably better for teachers than students.

Edited: February 5, 2021, 10:36 AM · You might also want to take a look at 'Warm up'. Unlike the other Fischer books this one is rather skinny and is proposed to serve as a 30 minute warm-up for your practice sessions.

Since I received it (about 3 weeks ago) I have been working through the exercises one bit a day - and it is truly excellent. I will keep working through the book to see how much I can eventually do in one session but I doubt that I will ever do it in an hour, let alone 30 minutes. A nice 'allround' rapid workout.

[BTW I also have Basics - which I think is terrific for any violinist. The reason is that it gives you a deeper understanding to find the solution for your particular body and style. I also have Scales which is OK for when you only want to work solely on scales but just too much as a reference volume.]

February 5, 2021, 11:13 AM · The great thing about Basics is that it is very comprehensive and has an extensive index, I would estimate it has close to 500 entries! If you notice you have difficulty with string crossing for example, just look up string crossing in the index, and it will send you right to the solution of your technical problem, with step-by-step explanations and everything. Now replace "string crossing" with just about any of 500 aspects you may encounter in violin playing.
February 5, 2021, 12:13 PM · Thanks everyone, will check out "Warming Up". I really like both "Scales" and "Violin Lesson". I will keep Basics in mind should I start needing references not in "Violin Lesson". I suspect there is a lot of cross-over between the two.

Scales is really not a reference book, of course. For whatever reason I find it far easier to use than the other scales books that I have and I find his narrative to be helpful.

February 5, 2021, 12:54 PM · WOW, Abe Books has the Warming Up DVD for $80 US, and an additional $41 shipping - from Germany. $41 for shipping a do they send it from Germany, on a golden airplane? I have noticed other very high shipping fees from Germany from other vendors, this isn't Abe Books...

Guess I will keep looking.

February 5, 2021, 1:35 PM · The best place to get the Warming up book is usually directly from Simon Fischer’s website. Not sure where you are located, but shipping from the UK to the US was reasonable.
I have most of Simon Fischer’s books (all but double stops and tone).
I find I reference “The Violin Lesson” much more than any of the others as a violin/viola teacher and freelance performer.
Basics is also a good reference, but I don’t think there is too much that isn’t also covered in the Violin Lesson.
Edited: February 5, 2021, 2:14 PM · Catherine - buy warming up (and likely the others too) direct from Fischer. It was about $US34.50 including shipping to Ontario.

Edit: or just what Ingrid said!

Edited: February 5, 2021, 3:04 PM · Fischer is the only place that seems to have "Warming Up" that I can find outside of that DVD in Germany - and their website does indicate that. Also ordered the Tone book as they are bundling them for a bit of a discount. Sadly, the United States is in a different shipping price category for Royal Mail than Canada is - shipping is almost half the cost of the two books - but that's still far less than the German source for 1 DVD. I am getting the book(s), only. Still, this should round-out my Fischer collection, given my needs, adding these 2 to the two books of his I already have is likely all I will ever really need.

Thanks again for the input. I really do like his books, and for now I see no reason for either "Practice" or "Basics".

February 5, 2021, 4:02 PM · I love every one of Fischer's books. I think I now have a complete collection, though I turn most often to "Basics", personally.
February 5, 2021, 4:53 PM · Greetings,
Basics is my hardcore go to. One aspect Of Simon’s contribution to the music scene which may not be so familiar to people outside the UK are his painfully honest broadsides against the teaching system for young people. At the time he was writing they caused a lot raised hackles. What he basically explained was how my generation (and after I expect) had nowhere to go for adequate teaching unless we lived in London/had money etc. So we struggled our way into music college’s which in spite of having international reputations of sorts had very little interest in creating a system that actually suited individual students. Endless hours are/were spent on orchestral rehearsals because we ‘have to know the repertoire’ while the absolute necessities Simon teaches were largely ignored by most teachers because we needed to scramble through our exams and spend a year honing our recital program because doing a recital with technical deficiencies is really hard. Then huige go out into the profession with all sorts of minor unchecked problems that translate into injuries over the years that are completely unnecessary. (This wasn’t true of all teachers , but there were . perhaps are, very few willing to go back to the essentials within the college time frame)
Anyway, on a whim I bought Basics the day it was published, never having heard of Simon. And I rebuilt my technique from the ground up using that book over a couple of years. A long time ago Simon asked me if I was his students because he didn’ remeber me and I replied with a laugh that I was. I have no hesitation in saying that in the end I pretty much learned the violin from Simon and yes, it was via ‘Basics.’
February 5, 2021, 5:18 PM · Wow Stephen, that's one heck of a recommendation! I do want to buy Basics at some point, once I start needing things that the Violin Lesson doesn't answer.

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