Violin students searching for the best violin book will see that there are many options available. It can be difficult to know which one is best and is often dependent on the violin teacher's preferences. It also depends on the approach the teacher will have: if the student is in a private lesson, the books needed will be different than if the student is in an ensemble. Of the Best Violin Books for Beginners, we offer the best violin books for those taking private lessons and those learning violin playing in an ensemble setting.
What is the Best Violin Book For Beginners?
Suzuki School of Music
The Suzuki School of Music is probably one of the most well-known methods out there and is responsible for having completely transformed violin playing and teaching. The Suzuki Violin School was founded by Japanese violinist and pedagogue, Shinichi Suzuki, in the 1950s. Suzuki Violin is founded upon the concept of aural learning, or learning by ear. Shinichi Suzuki first developed this after recognizing that young children tend to learn languages most quickly by ear, not by reading.
With this in mind, Suzuki focused his teaching on aural learning rather than written. He quickly found success with this approach and developed what is now known as the "Suzuki method." The Suzuki Violin School has a few unique characteristics:
- The learning process is primarily aural based - students learn to play the violin by ear first, then learn to read the written notes later. When students practice study pieces, they are expected to also play along with the CD or streaming mp3s, which include piano accompaniment tracks.
- Suzuki is generally taught in a private lesson environment with a violin teacher
- Students as young as three-years-old can learn to play the violin because reading written music is completely removed from the process
- Parents or guardians are expected to be highly involved in the process: parents sit-in on the lesson and are the primary practice supervisor throughout the week between lessons. This allows the parent to reinforce what was taught in the private lessons, such as warm-up exercises, left hand finger placement, and bowing techniques.
- The series begins with folk songs but progresses to quite an advanced level. By the end of the series, students will have learned advanced techniques such as double stops and at least one concerto.
If you have signed up for violin lessons with a Suzuki Violin School teacher, then you'll definitely need these violin books:
- Suzuki Violin School: Book 1
- Suzuki Violin School: Book 2
- Suzuki Violin School: Book 3
- Suzuki Violin School: Book 4
- Suzuki Violin School: Book 5
- Suzuki Violin School: Book 6
- Suzuki Violin School: Book 7
- Suzuki Violin School: Book 8
- Suzuki Violin School: Book 9
- Suzuki Violin School: Book 10
- Suzuki Violin School Complete Set (Books 1 - 10)
ABCs of Violin
The ABCs of Violin for the Absolute Beginner series is also focused on individual learning as opposed to group learning. This series has a more traditional approach to violin learning and welcomes learners of all ages. The series begins with easy note reading from the very beginning.
Book One contains a nice balance of visual aids and lays out beginning violin technique in an easy to understand way. The book includes downloadable mp3s of the performance pieces as well as piano accompaniment for the violinist to play along with. You can also download PDF sheet music of the piano accompaniment if you want to perform the pieces with a pianist.
The series also contains a fingering chart, practice chart, musical term glossary, and warm-up exercises.
This series is great for anyone new to playing the violin and is one of the best books for a beginner who wants to learn music fundamentals in addition to learning the violin.
Essential Elements for Strings
The Essential Elements for Strings series (from Hal Leonard Music) is one of the most popular and best-selling ensemble-based series books and for good reason. The Essential Elements paces its curriculum steadily for beginners and in such a way that allows all string instruments to learn together in an ensemble setting. Essential Elements for Strings offers exercises for everyone to learn together while also offering targeted exercises that help each instrument focus on technique and sound for their particular instrument.
The series also offers a unique virtual component called Essential Elements Interactive (EEi). EEi is an online resource that can be accessed from any device. EEi can be used to enhance and reinforce music theory, history, and cross-curriculum learning, making it a well-rounded choice for the beginner violin player.
All for Strings
All for Strings is another example of a series that is focused on ensemble learning. Each book contains folk songs, classical music arrangements, and exercises that are written for all instruments to play in harmony together. The idea is that violin playing is learned together alongside other violinists as well as students learning other string instruments, such as viola, cello, and bass. This is often an easy way to help students feel motivated and build confidence.
This series is an easy way for beginners to learn music basics, such as key signatures and note reading. The series includes visual aids such as photo examples and beginner finger charts.
Strictly Strings is yet another ensemble-based book that focuses on note reading for each instrument in the orchestra. Book 1 introduces note reading in an easy and unique way that progresses from rhythms and letter names to actual note reading. This approach allows beginners an easy way to learn by ear while progressing to
Strictly Strings also includes scales and arpeggios and many fingering charts as new notes are learned. Because it is written for ensembles, the violin player can develop a sense of harmony and unity while in the ensemble.
There are certain features you want to look for in choosing a violin book. While the decision of which book series to choose is often made by a private teacher, there are a few violin book features you can discuss with your teacher.
Accompanying CD / Virtual Aids
Learning music is a lot like learning a new language. When learning a language, you don't only want to read the language, you also want to be able to hear how it sounds and practice pronouncing new words. The same goes for music. Violin books will help you to learn to read, but books including an accompanying CD or virtual resources (such as streaming libraries) will help you to hear how the music should sound.
Including a CD or mp3 download with violin books for beginners is an easy way to remember to keep practice musical. Sometimes a beginner can get caught up in the songs or pieces that they are learning and forget to be musical. This is why it's important for beginners to listen to music as well as learn to play it.
For some violin book series, such as the Suzuki School of Music, daily use of the accompanying CD is even a required component to the method.
It is important to see that a violin book series offers progressing levels. This shows that there is a path for growth and some kind of curriculum in place. This helps put more trust in a book to know that concepts are being presented cumulatively and thoughtfully to build technique and a good foundation.
It is helpful to have clear visuals and references for key concepts. For example, having a fingering chart or photo of where to place fingers to play certain notes will be a helpful tool when practicing and learning new concepts. Also, showing what healthy violin posture looks like in a photo is much more clear than describing it with words.
This is an important feature because, if you think about it, most beginners see their teacher once a week. During that lesson, the teacher can offer feedback and guidance on proper posture and positioning. However, for the rest of the six days of the week, the student is at home and on their own. Having clear visuals will help fill in the gaps between lesson days.
Some books offer practice tools and resources, such as a practice chart. These can be helpful incentives for students and teachers alike. Teachers like them because it helps keep track of a student's progress, and it can be a great motivation and guide for students. While such tools are not necessary, they are a nice perk to certain violin books.
Private Lesson versus Ensemble
Some books are designed to be used with a private teacher, while others are designed for an ensemble setting. Both offer different approaches and again, choosing the right violin book often comes down to what your teacher advises.
Private lesson violin books, such as Suzuki and the ABCs of Violin for the Absolute Beginner, tend to focus more on learning a solo song violin that can either stand-alone or be accompanied by piano or the teacher on violin. The Suzuki Violin School is a classic example of such a series: students learn solo songs that are ultimately accompanied by piano. The Suzuki Method does incorporate ensemble playing, but the essence of its violin books are geared toward solo playing.
Ensemble books, such as Essential Elements, Strictly Strings, and All for Strings, are meant for an ensemble or string orchestra setting. This means that you can have beginner violins, violas, cellos, and bass all learning together. Each instrument has its own book and all the exercises in the book are written in such a way that the students are playing in harmony with each other.
Both avenues offer different pros and cons, so it's good to know what your teacher prefers so you can buy the best violin book.
The Best Violin Books for Beginners
Whether you are an adult learning a few new songs or you are the parent of a young violinist searching for The Best Violin Books for Beginners, there are many great options to choose from.
If you are taking private violin lessons, then you'll want to get the Suzuki method or the ABCs of Violin, depending on which your teacher recommends.
If the student is playing the violin in a school ensemble, there are also many options available that offer a variety of songs and musical approaches to learning the violin. Essential Elements, Strictly Strings, and All for Strings are great choices for ensemble settings.
Enjoy the fun in learning to play the violin!