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Most Commonly Used Traditional Violin Method


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I have seen the following traditional methods being used to teach violin: Essential Elements, Strictly Strings and All for Strings. I would like to hear what you guys think is the best one out of all of these methods to use? I looked at all of them and can't decide which is the best method to use.

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These are all modern methods. I have used as a beginner - All For Strings. The print is nice and easy to read (for us old timers). There are three books. Book 3 spends a lot of time introducing third position with shifting exercises and small pieces to play. It then tries at the end to introduce second position too abruptly. It seems that a book 4 is needed to properly introduce the higher positions.

I have looked at book 2 and 3 of Strictly Strings. The printing is harder to read. Book 3 has 3 octave scales with nothing leading up to it as far as I can see. The little pieces are nice however.

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Suzuki, combined with fair dose of Sevcik (op.1 book one and op.2 book 1), scales (Hrimaly) and Wohlfahrt (op.38). For position exercise, I like the Whistler and little later, Schradieck.

Strictly Strings and All for String are fine for someone who does not have a musical background, but their 2nd and 3rd volume are rather uninteresting musically speaking (I rarely use the 3rd volume of either of them. By then, I prefer giving Dancla Op.84 or Wohlfarht etudes). I would like to emphasize the importance of Sevcik, though. As long as they are given in digestible doses, they really work well.


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There is no one best method. Every method works differently for each teacher and each student. Everything mentioned so far is good. Here's a plug for one of my current favorites: "First Lessons Violin" by Craig Duncan. I use it in the first year if the student is an adult and already reading. The younger kids have enjoyed using it in their second year, in conjunction with note reading studies. It comes with a CD and a DVD. Each page is a numbered lesson, which helps satisfy everyone's desire to feel that their progress has been measured.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I like Herfurth's Tune a Day, Book 1; this is what was used to start public school string players back in Wichita, when I was first introduced to the violin. Book 1 starts with open strings, and I use it for my very smallest Suzuki students, to practice sight reading**, point of contact and rhythmic accuracy. For older students, I also like the Tune a Day Scale book, which I think is very good, and rather difficult: scales, arpeggios, intervals against the open string, and 3rds and 6ths. I really like it and use it as the first scale book, preceeding the Hrmaly. I usually introduce one or the other of these at the first Minute in the Suzuki book.

There is an ancient series called LaRouex (I can't spell it), but the photos are very outdated with respect to the way the instrument and bow are held (the old, German way, I think it is.) I went through these myself--or was put through them--and then Wolfahrt, Kayser, Mazas. As a result, I could sightread anything at a pretty early age.

There is an interesting document at http://www.indiana.edu/~yvp/rep.htm#sequence which is I think the way Mimi Zweig handles the supplementary materials to the Suzuki books. I'm sure you know that there is a bit of controversy regarding whether or not to just play Suzuki books, or to add in all these other works.

My vote is to add the other works because too many times, you have someone who can (say), play one concerto beautifully, but can't sightread, can't play chamber music very well, and has problems in orchestra. The side of the controversy that adds in all the traditional material gets my vote, I'm afraid.


**I do realize that "sight-reading" sounds a little odd in this context. I have ceased calling myself a Suzuki teacher for this very reason. I dearly love Dr. Suzuki and use the materials, but I think to say that I am a Suzuki teacher is not quite fair, since I handle things a bit differently. In my work, there is more physical connection to the notes on the page, I guess I would say. I am appalled sometimes to hear students who have played "for three years" (for example), and are still in the first book and have little knowledge of music. I just don't think that's right. ALL of my students do better than that.

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That is the strangest imagery of Russian anything I have ever encountered! And rather insulting to people coming from that part of the world, some of whom may well be part of this forum.

Being a student of not that many years myself I am by no means an expert. I discovered, by dabbling before I should have dabbled, that there do seem to be two broad streams and have conveniently called one of them "Russian". This is the school under which I have been taught. I am gathering that for a time the two paths grew independently of each other. There is a fundamental difference in how some things like bowing functions, and it's not just a matter of having the bow deeper or less shallowly in the hand or holding the elbow higher and lower. One person I encountered on this forum was exposed to both and described mixing the two as being like oil and water. There also seems to be a fundamental philosophical difference form what I gather, with the Russian philosophy working more with and drawing out of the inner person and taking into account temperamental types (here I'm going from gleanings of Flesch and my own experience) and the idea that only some are born to really be violinists and musicians. The Western system seems to be more outwardly, mechanically, and analytically oriented, though both obviously consider the mechanics of playing the violin, and when you go as far as Suzuki, everyone can learn to play the violin. I've recently had a chance to talk to a family that moved to North America from Russia after one of the young people had been studying violin for a number of years. Her North American teacher did not understand the physical system that she had been learning under, and this student had a huge struggle to change the entire framework and experience of playing the violin. There were certain elements of the Galamian system that were appreciated, especially a greater technical understanding of the role and control of the individual fingers in a bow hold. It may be that the Russian philosophy is more intuitive and the Western more overt. These are very rough impressions on my part that are not rounded out by any extensive knowledge. "Brutish" is an adjective that I could not use, though.

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  • 9 years later...

What is meant by the "russian method"? The term brings to mind images of screaming, brutish teachers and sobbing students.....


My daughter and I are both taught by either Russian violinist or studied violin playing in Russia.  Not only such image never happened in our lessons, but I can also say it with confidence that Russian violin teachers truly rock!  I was thrilled to find a Russian violinist in our little town to teach my daughter.  Although never a harsh word has been heard in the studio, my daughter daughter's bow hold and tone production amaze me.  The best method book (for children anyway) I've seen is in Russian.  

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Wow....... you dug deep into the 'archives' to find this thread.

I wouldn't be overly concerned about an isolated comment some nine years ago.


Good to distinguish between a Method as in a tutorial book of exercises

and a technical approach or 'school' of teaching perhaps.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A retrospect on All for Strings, mentioned in the original first post.  A child of mine preceded me as an older student, and since we had already bought All for Strings, that was the first book, before going on to grade 1 RCM and subsequent grades.  Several years later I started, and was asked whether I wanted to start with the book this teacher usually used for beginner's, or the one we already had.  I went with what he usually uses.

The book I used as a beginner leaned heavily on familiar melodies to teach.  You learned your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th finger in the usual positions, your half bow, whole bow etc., but in the context of pieces.  It covered things faster.  I had played different instruments and had a decent ear, so I caught on quickly and very soon I had graduated to gr. 1, 2 etc.  I know now that it appeared I knew some basic things which actually I didn't.

When I look through All for Strings, it emphasizes technical things and basic theory.  It is "boring" in the sense of few fun and familiar melodies.  But it taught the things that I need(ed).  On p. 19 for example, you learn to keep a finger down if you will use it again.  There are bow patterns, rhythm exercises, and basic music theory.

Especially as an adult student, I think that if a single book were to be used to introduce violin, in hindsight I'd go for one that emphasizes technique and introduces basic theory.  Ofc if I read this again some years from now, that may have changed.

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