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Starting a new teaching studio

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One of the members here wrote me privately, inquiring about the literature to be used when starting a new teaching studio. I am posting my reply in case it would be of use to anyone. I welcome any criticism, corrections or additions.


Developing a private studio is one of my abiding interests and the real impetus for developing my 300 or so pages online over these past 15 years; I wanted teachers to have more information than I had, to start.

I have addressed this question in the Violin/Viola FAQ (that of beginning materials for students), and I continue to expand my library and use of such materials. Under "How to Teach Yourself the Violin" I have a list of good beginning method books

(see: )

These include:


1. Tune A Day, Vols. 1-3 (available for violin, viola and other instruments): This is an excellent set of progressively more difficult books which includes good introductory explanations (I love book 1!) and pieces based on American themes and folk music (lots of Steven Foster pieces). I started on these as a child, and I still use them to supplement the Suzuki books, in order to go sort of sideways rather than forging ahead inappropriately, or forcing the student to play the same Suzuki pieces interminably. There is also a Tune a Day Scale Book, which may be used to proceed the Hrimaly.

2. The Doflein Method, Vols. 1-5: This is listed second under the "Violin Literature" link (see below). I am not familiar with these books, but I have seen them recommended by European teachers and my impression is that this is what is used in Europe by traditional (or eclectic?) teachers who do not primarily rely on Suzuki for their beginning students. I'm sure it's good material.

3. Kerstin Wartberg, Step by Step: An Introduction to Successful Practice for Violin: This is another method which I'm seeing recommended a lot, especially by Suzuki teachers who use it along with the Suzuki books. I suspect this is the most contemporary set of materials of the three mentioned thus far. Good stuff, by all reports.

4. New students are also likely to get the Suzuki books and CD's; these are very widely used internationally and are slowly coming out (circa 2008) in revised editions which have lots of explanatory text. Suzuki books are used by many teachers who have not taken Suzuki training; this training is expensive, and requires adherence to principles with which many teachers do not agree —that is, the initial teaching of the violin to very young children, by rote. Many of the ideas in the Method (or Philosophy) are quite good, however, especially the child-centered Montessori-like notion that "Every Child Can" and respect for the student—versus the old "ruler over the knuckles" approach in traditional teaching. It is probably wise to keep an open mind. Please see: Suzuki books (texts, not method books).

Further study, see: Violin Literature; Violin Scale Books

I would really not worry about using the Suzuki books; they are widely used by traditional teachers and are very useful, especially in the revised version which has come out recently, and which have much more technical materials. I would also read *about* Suzuki method, as there are a lot of useful ideas therein. You don't have to pretend to be a Suzuki teacher, or take the endless coursework they offer; you can call yourself as "eclectic" teacher, as so many of us do, and that is just fine.

On the Learning & Techniques section of the Violin/Viola FAQ at there is a section devoted to developing a private studio (questions 19-27):

19. How can I develop a private teaching studio?

20. What areas might be covered in a private teacher's studio policy?

21. What are some of the techniques teachers use to approach beginning students?

22. I'm a music teacher with an online Studio Policy (as you recommended) but I receive a lot of odd emails that I suspect are phoney. What should I do?

23. What are some of the advantages of studying music?

24. How much music history and music theory do you cover, or attempt to cover, in the private lessons?

25. What is the purpose of practicing scales?

26. What is a cost effective and reliable way of recording students?

27. What are some of the questions perspective students ask?

And most specifically, regarding your étude questions, please see:

(9) What is the usual progression of violin études?

Études: I use an eclectic combination of materials; at the Minuets in the first Suzuki book, I add A Tune a Day Book 1 (for the younger students) and the Tune A Day Scale Book (an excellent book!) for the older ones. I find the Tune A Day Book 1 and Book 2 helpful for ensemble practice and to review topics in musicianship. I introduce Wohlfahrt Book 1 at the beginning of Suzuki Book 4 (Seitz concerti - see Suzuki Repertoire List), and the progression after that is Wohlfahrt Book 2-Kayser-Dont Op. 37-Mazas-Kreutzer, followed by Rode, Gavinies and Dont Op. 35.

Scale Books: After the Tune a Day Scale book, I use Hrimaly. Between the Hrimaly and the Carl Flesh, I've started using the Barbara Barber Scales for Advanced Violinists or Scales for Advanced Violists. I use the first two pages, with all the different bowings, applied to all keys in three octaves. I have a small box with small cards with all the major and minor keys written on them, and the student picks a card, which is their scale for the week. In order to develop a consistency in the fingering, I have the students shift up into third position on the A (or D on viola) string, and then shift down on the top string. Every three octave scale starting with a 2nd finger has the same fingering. Thus the students are easily able to memorize all the scales in every key.

Along with the first Wohlfahrt, I add Trott Melodious Doublstops Bk. 1 and then Bk. 2, and the Whistler, Introducing the Positions, Bk. 1 and then Bk. 2. At Book 2 in those series, we can begin to add Schradieck (Book 1, Book 2, Book 3). Along with the Schradieck, I introduce Carl Flesch Scale Studies. No Sevcik or Dounis. [see Indiana University String Academy Sequence of Études, which coordinates the études with the Suzuki books.]

It should be noted that there are violin teachers (Dr. Schmeider at Rice and later, at USC, is I believe an example) who don't use any études at all, in their teaching, and they have great results with students. On the other end of the spectrum are teachers who load you up with Sevcik, endless hours of purely mechanical study, and some people swear by this method. I'm somewhere in the middle; I like Wohlfahrt, Kayser, Mazas, and all those works which sound musical to me. I don't like Sevcik and don't burden students with it, as a rule, though I may show it to them and demonstrate it. It's fun to look at sometimes, and do a little bit, but not endlessly.

One way of acquiring many of these materials inexpensively is to purchase the CD Sheetmusic CD which has the etudes. Contents are listed here: Violin Methods, the Ultimate Collection. This has Hohman and Sitt, which are great, and Secvik, Dont Op. 35 and 37, Hrimaly, Kreutzer, Schradieck, Rode, Fiorillo. If you don't mind printing this stuff out yourself, it's worth getting. Bear in mind that after three downloads of the software, it locks. So you only want to download it with that in mind.



Violin Books & CDs • Viola Books & CDs

Piano Books & CDs • Chamber Music

Piano Accompaniments • Midi Disks


Violin Etudes • Violin Scale Books • Violin Sonatas

Student Concertos • Viola Etudes

Viola Scale Books • String Pedagogy

Piano Etudes • Piano Scale Books

Advanced Violin & Viola Literature

Advanced Chamber Music Literature

Étude List with Composers' Dates

Tartini (1692-1770): Devil's Trill and Art of Bowing

Locatelli (1693-1764): L'Arte del Violino in 1733

Gavinies (1728-1800): 24 caprices in 1800(?)

Kreutzer (1766-1831): 42 studies in 1800

Rode (1774-1830): 24 caprices in 1814-1819

Paganini (1782-1840): 24 Caprices in 1820

De Beriot (1802-1870): L'Ecole transcendentale

Ernst (1814-1865): 6 Polyphonic Etudes

Dont (1815-1888): Op. 37, Op. 35

Vieuxtemps (1820-1881): 6 concert studies

Wieniawski (1835-1880): L'Ecole Moderne

Étude List from Leopold Auer

In the last chapter of Leopold Auer's Violin Playing as I Teach It he lists the following works in the following order:


What I Give My Pupils to Play

Kreutzer 40 Études

Rode 24 Caprices

Viotti Concertos A minor, E minor

Rode Concertos A minor, E minor

Kreutzer Concertos D minor, D major

Spohr Second Concerto D minor

Vieuxtemps Rêverie, Morceau de Salon in D minor,

Ballade et Polonaise, Tarantelle in A minor, Fantasie Appassionata

Rode Études

Rovelli Études

Dont 24 Caprices

Spohr Concertos Nos. 7, 8, 9, 11, Vocal Scene

Wieniawski Légend, some of the mazurkas, Polonaises in A

Sarasate Spanish Dances Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3, Vol. 4, Nocturnes

After mastering the Rode 24 Caprices:

Concertos of Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky

Movements from Bach's six sonatas for violin solo [see footnote regarding the Bach violin concerti.]

Beethoven, two Romances

Kreisler transcriptions of "older masters" (he does not indicate which)

Kreisler Collection: Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3

Auer's own transcriptions of pieces by Beethoven, Schumann, Tchaikovsky

Ries Troisième Suite

Elman transcriptions of pieces by Grieg, Rubinstein, Fauré "and others"

Favorite Encores, Concert Favorites

Zimbalist Danses Orientales, Suite dans le style ancien

Achron Hebrew Melody and Hebrew Lullaby

Tartini Sonata in G Major Op. 11 No. 12, The Devil's Trill Sonata G Minor

Various "other sonatas by the older Italian masters"

Vieuxtemps Concertos Nos. 2, 4, 1, 5.

Wieniawski Concerto No. 1, F sharp minor, Concerto No. 2, D Minor

Ernst Fantasie brillante on themes from "Otello", Aires hongrois

Ernst F sharp minor Concerto

Paganini Concerto in D major

Last group of compositions which represent the maximum of technical difficulty:

Bach-Wilhelmj Air on the G String

Handel Larghetto

Handle Sonatas E, A, D

Bruch Concerto

Saint-Saëns Concerto (No. 3, B Minor?)

Lalo Symphony Espagnole

Paganini 24th Caprice in A minor, Perpetual motion

FOOTNOTE (Dover ed., p. 97): "With respect to J.S. Bach's two Concertos for violin, I have never given them to my pupils to study because, from my point of view, only the two slow movements in them are musically valuable and really worthy of their composer; while the first and last movements of each Concerto are not very interesting, either musically or technically. This, of course, is my own humble opinion."

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"With respect to J.S. Bach's two Concertos for violin, I have never given them to my pupils to study because, from my point of view, only the two slow movements in them are musically valuable and really worthy of their composer; while the first and last movements of each Concerto are not very interesting, either musically or technically. This, of course, is my own humble opinion."

I remember reading this......I had to laugh.

The Bach concerto(s) outer movements are played appallingly by almost every young player I have ever heard, especially the E major, when one has to endure a complete re-run of the first section.

I once heard a first year conservatory student destroy this difficult piece, there was hardly a note in tune, the 16th notes were as consistent as a three and a half legged race horse! and it lacked any insight into the shaping/polyphony/tonal contrast so difficult to practise in the much harder sonatas and partitas.

I commented to the student that perhaps he should give some time up to really analysing "how to play in tune", because any fool can give the impression of playing in tune in romantic repertoire, but in Bach and Mozart you can get shown up in an instant.

I like the accompanied Sonatas of JS Bach and recomment THESE as the best place to start with this important genre. Then the concerti and then the unaccompanied. There is a very important lesson or two hiden in the notes of the Bach concerti, let's not forget them, but please, leave it later.

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