Hello readers! As music teachers and students of music you have probably come to realize how much you don’t know (or how little college actually teaches you). I absorb new information regularly, but there is really no substitute for experience. If you ask me for recommended Clarinet pieces, books, or equipment I can rattle off several brands and composers and the popular opinions of most. Violin? Nope.
I studied violin for about five years with an older gentleman who taught at a music academy. I only ever used Wolfahrt and the Moto Perpetuo by Paganini. Scale books? What are they? I knew scales because I played clarinet, and because there were some in the Wolfahrt book (an excellent etude book, btw., highly recommend) but when it comes down to exercise books based on scales I am clueless. I have been looking for something similar to the Albert or Baermann books for clarinet, and have had some difficulty finding something that would be accessible to younger players. String teachers recommended Galamian. Too hard. Schroeder cello studies seem good, but still not a scale book. So I set out to do some more research. Finding samples of pages has been tricky, so if you want to submit a half page photo or scan it would be appreciated!
Note: With most of my beginners I have used the Essential Elements 200 book. It is good for kids who are not using it in school (if they are using it I will try something else). It comes with online accompaniment and practice tracks to help students with their intonation. I have also tried The ABCs of Violin with some younger students, and it seems to work well for some, but not for all. It does progress much more quickly than the EE method book. I am not an advocate of Suzuki because I believe that students taught in this method often rely too heavily on the ear, and are weak in music reading (which I believe is essential). I also am not able to physically demonstrate everything that I might be able understand and teach a child, and this modeling is easily added to other books and methods by a competent teacher. (I have also had several students in orchestra class who could not play anything by note…I had to play it for them, which I refused to do.)
- Fischer – This seems to be one of the more recent and popular books. I have yet to read any negative information about it. It gives practice tips, intonation help (like raise the third slightly for major scales), exercises for finger independence, and I think I read that the beginning starts with scales without shifting. They were even kind enough to put out a Sample PDF. It looks like a great book, but at $43 on Amazon the price is rather steep (especially if you’ve already had your student purchase another book. Oops.) His book Basics is also recommended by others.
- Hrimaly – This book looks like it would be an excellent addition to the college student’s collection. From the image I found, it appears to go through the scales starting in half steps from the lowest string and going through different positions. This is great if you already know the positions and are familiar with how scales work. $5.99 new (and less if used) on Amazon. If a student gets it and it’s too hard now, at least you know they can use it later and did not spend a lot on it.
- Auer – I did not see this one specifically recommended on the websites I was using for research, but found it accidentally. It seems to be a much more accessible book and is simpler to start. One reviewer said that it is a book that is not one you simply “go through”, but that it works best with perfectionist type students. You can read the rest of his thorough review here — it is the first (and rather lengthy) reply to the initial post. $13 on Amazon seems a reasonable price. I may purchase a used version for myself and see if it will work well for my student.
- Barber – This is another one that I stumbled upon. The description on Amazon coupled with the image I found online makes me excited to try it. It sells for about $12. It seems rather simplistic in some regards, and may not be exactly what you want, but it is reasonably priced and also seems to come in a viola version.
- Flesch – This seems to be one of the standard scale books, along with the Galamian. As far as I can tell from the first page, it seems to present each scale and then several arpeggios starting on the root note of that scale. So C scale, then C minor arpeggio, C major arpeggio, A minor arp. (starting on C), F major arp., and then some diminished chords. Definitely not for the beginning student. I saw some commenters on a thread at http://www.violinist.com saying that they disliked the book as a child and that even now some of the exercises are not easily playable for them. (I think the instructors are looking for books that are simple enough for them to sightread but challenging for a student). Between $15-20 new on Amazon with used versions available for $10. It also does appear that there are versions for all of the other string instruments.
- Sassmannshaus – This one came up several times in searching for both cello and violin books. It does seem to be more of a rudimentary method book, meant for yunger beginners. In researching cello scale books I found this list from CelloProfessor.com
- The Art of Scales (Cello) – There is a sample PDF of these scales. Seems like a reasonable book for a student, and at $18 is not too terribly expensive if they are a dedicated student.
- Simply Scales (And Arpeggios) (Cello) – This one seems to be exactly what it says it is, scales and arpeggios. The first page has two major scales and their arpeggios, along with the three variations of their relative minor scales. This would probably be a good book for a beginning student who is not taking private lessons, rather than a teacher who is looking for something to use in a private lesson. Since I was unable to find anything resembling exercises on repeating scales, thirds, etc. I am going to say I would not recommend this for an advancing and ambitious student, but it might be acceptable as an accompanying book to another method for a younger beginner.
- Fleury (Cello) – Also appears to be only meant for scales, but it goes into jazz scales, modes, and other things that might be useful to someone wanting to broaden their knowledge of scales.
- Galamian (Cello) – This is supposed to be the quintessential book for string players who want to continue to study music in college or beyond. The first page has notes (without stems) for scales in different positions on the instrument (which I take to mean is has a scale for each position…not entirely certain) and then instructs the student to play them in major and minor keys . This assumes the student understands how scales work, or has memorized the key signatures. This is far too advanced for a beginning middle school student who isn’t dedicated to researching and practicing for hours a day.
- Klengel (Cello) – Much more reasonably priced than some of the other books, the Klengel does seem to have scales and other exercises like thirds, etc.
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