5 Best Violin Beginner Books
When you start playing the violin, you need a good beginner book to teach you the basics, reading notes and your first tunes
What does such a book teach you as a beginner violinist?
The tunes in the book are written, so you build up the technique step by step. Once you’ve learned something, you go to the next thing to learn.
When you would start on playing tunes right away, you would have to learn a lot of techniques at the same time and your playing will get sloppy. It’s really hard to correct from here.
Keep learning and developing when you already play pieces
A lot of beginner books have several volumes giving you a good foundation on the violin. Of course you play separate pieces and tunes you like by that time, but on the side you keep building your technique allowing you to play more music better.
1) Sassmanshaus – Early start on the violin
I’ve used all four volumes of this book in my offline violin studio for many years and for students of all ages. The special thing is that it starts with the second finger, allowing you to play thirds and building a good left hand technique.
The four volumes go up to position play, beautiful classical music, duets and three octave scales. When you went through this curriculum, you’re ready to proceed with some beautiful violin repertoire.
The book is very complete, the sequence of learning things is very good and the introduction of new techniques goes a logical pace. A great way to learn the violin!
2) Stepping Stones for Violin
I loved combining Sassmanshaus with the Stepping Stones book series, that also has four volumes. This is not a complete method book, but a collection of tunes starting with basic easy techniques and getting more difficult throughout the books.
The book is available with a piano score or CD, so you can play together. The advantage of the CD is that a simple song can sound very good with accompaniment. Also you learn to play together and your intonation is easier to check when you play together.
With the two books you’ll have more tunes to learn the same technique, giving you more variation and fun in your practice session.
3) Suzuki Violin School
The book series has ten volumes taking you from the very beginning to playing Mozart violin concerto’s and everything in between, mainly based on the classical repertoire.
In my violin studio I’ve used a lot of the pieces included in the Suzuki books, but I never used them as method books. What I miss are exercises that prepare you to playing the pieces. New techniques are sometimes introduced very quickly and sometimes the books don’t really build on to them. I would recommend combining the Suzuki books with another method book, etude books and other repertoire.
The Suzuki method is a distinct teaching philosophy that is not so popular in Europe, but very popular (almost standard) in the United States. It goes from learning music as you would learn a language: by ear and initially without sheet music.
Lots of great violinist have learned to play with the Suzuki method!
But remember it’s a teaching philosophy that requires years of training for a teacher after the conservatory and is much more than the book series.
This is why the method books aren’t very complete: you should learn the Suzuki method by ear from a teacher with special training in this method, who will probably give you tailer made assignments. Otherwise it doesn’t really make sense to get these books except if you want a structured sequence of repertoire to combine with other books.
4) Fiddler Time Starters
Great colorful book series with CD’s, so you can practice with accompaniment. As mentioned above this is a big advantage. The sequence of the tunes is build up in a good way to teach you the basic technique of violin playing.
I’d say in general the tunes are a bit more modern than in the books mentioned above, that are clearly directed to the classical repertoire.
There are three volumes and more repertoire (concert pieces), scale and accompaniment books you can order on the side. This makes it a very complete method that you can tailor to each individual student.
Personally I think the learning sequence and pace of Sassmanshaus is a bit more consistent and logical, but the Fiddle Time series has a lot of advantages too, like the CD and additional matching books.
What you pick, depends on the style you like. Yup, the look and feel is a bit childish, but adult beginner violinists can certainly learn a lot from these books.
5) Violin Tutor
Looking for a book series that doesn’t look childish and is very classical?
Lots of great violinist have learned to play with the six volumes of the Violin Tutor books by Sándor, Pál Járdányi and Szervánszky. The learning sequence in these books is very good. There are a lot of preparational exercises and a lot of duets, so you can play together.
Children might like a more colorful book with pictures, but adult beginner violinists might prefer this series.
The series is aimed at the classical repertoire, but you can always combine it with a book like Stepping Stones (see above). The easier pieces are a lot of Hungarian and other European folk melodies, which are well known and logical to your ears.
You can certainly build a solid violin technique using these books.
Bonus tip: my free beginner course for the violin
I’ve made a beginner book myself that guides my 10 video free violin beginner course. This covers what you learn on the violin in the first three to four months, but is also good to polish up your basic technique.
As a beginner violinist you need to learn so many things at the same time: a relaxed posture and hold of the violin and bow, bowing straight with a decent sound quality and placing your fingers in the right spots.
In my book I start without reading notes. You can play the exercises and tunes by ear from the instruction videos or you can easily read them from the book where I indicate the strings with colors and the fingers with numbers.
After you’re more comfortable with the basic technique, you can start to add note reading and switch to one of the beginner books mentioned above. This is a great sequence to start playing the violin.
What violin beginner book do YOU like best?
Whether you’re a student or teacher, please leave a comment which beginner book you use!
As a child I start on the Violin Tutor book mentioned above combined with Stepping Stones and some separate sheet music from my teacher.
As a teacher I usually work with Sassmanshaus combined with Stepping Stones. I like the solid technique you build with Sassmanshaus and it’s logical learning sequence. To give students more variation and the possibility to play with CD or piano accompaniment, I think Stepping Stones is great on the side.
I mostly stop after the first or second volume and switch to Wohlfahrt etudes and easy student concerto’s like these. In this way I can tend more to the individual progress and likes of individual students.