What First Pieces do I give my Younger Students to play ?
© 2001 Westbury Park Strings - Revised 24th Nov 2012
A list of Violin repertoire in order of difficulty
(or as close to an order of difficulty as I could manage)
Sometimes it is nice to overlap books, and run 2 or more in parallel.
Stepping Stones is a good example of this where supplemental material from a variety of sources is ideal.
Other useful pages on Repertoire:
Repertoire database - Violin Repertoire - Essential Violin Pieces
Encore Database - Concerto Database - Concerto Resource -Concertinos - Studies
First 14 Pieces with Open Strings!
Stepping Stones by Katherine & Hugh Colledge, published by Boosey & Hawkes. 26 Pieces for beginning violinists (also viola and cello version available ) with Piano. The print-out is excellent for children. Good simple tunes (much clear tonic / dominant harmony) for open string and first finger pieces. A "slowly but surely" approach is advised in the preface, and I certainly think that key pieces such as n3. "Snakes and Ladders" staccato or n.18 "Caterpillars" whole bow are excellent at very slow tempo so that students can learn to use the whole bow, in a singing, even tone. The pieces are extremely "easy" and herein lies the strength of this book, as sometimes beginners are shunted through to the hardest piece they can manage, maybe using all 4 fingers on their first lesson. Also, by dedicating a special period of study to the first finger, one secures a correct perception and execution of the whole tone. One rare "edit" I use is playing another "A" instead of the rest in Caterpillars.
Stepping Stone Key pieces, to be learned by heart are numbers 1=Jumping Ponies (1st Performance), 3=Snakes & Ladders, 7=Lighthouse bowing, 9=A Restful Tune, 10=Hiding in the long Grass with bowing distribution (half and whole bows), 9=Ice-cream Van also half and whole bows faster than 10 though 18=Caterpillars take it slowly use all the bow, 19=Hobby Horses Grand Staccato, 17=Cowboys & Indians with bowing distribution, 16=Apple Tree softly, 20=Sea Horses, 21-Circus Elephants, 26)
Waggon Wheels by Katherine & Hugh Colledge, published by Boosey & Hawkes. Again, the authors mention the "slowly but surely" approach needed to build a firm foundation for future learning. This is really the sequel to "Stepping Stones", and I have placed it here because it leads on so smoothly, introducing one finger at a time, and slurs in a gradual fashion. Rhythms are very simple and clear, and I find only minor editing is needed to ensure even, consistent bowings. For instance, 2 minims are easier to sustain in the last bar of each line of n.3 "Goldfish Bowl" ( rather than a semibreve ) thereby starting each line down bow. The same applies to n.1 "In a Garden.". I start students off on n.2 "Summer breeze" because of the more forgiving D string and its more forgiving latitude of error for intonation.
Waggon Wheels Key pieces to learn by heart could be numbers 2, 3=Goldfish Bowl (each line should end with two minims, not a semibreve to ensure simpler bowing), 8=Paddle Steamer (play this staccato), 5 or 6, 11=Hills and Dales, 14=Bell Ringers, 19=Windscreen Wipers, 22=Full Moon, 21.)
Fast Forward by Katherine & Hugh Colledge, published by Boosey & Hawkes. (Fast_Forward teaching order I use is n1 n3 n4 n8 n6 n9 n10 n12 n14 n16 with two slurs per bar n17 n15 n19 n20 n21)
Shooting Stars by Katherine & Hugh Colledge, published by Boosey & Hawkes. Is the 4th and last title in the series. Much to recommend here which takes a student on to the beginning of Grade 3 level by the end of Shooting Stars.
"Abracadabra" Book 1 by Peter Davey (Make sure you get the 2nd Edition with CD or now The 3rd Edition with 2 CDs). There are 90 pieces in this book... I teach it in parallel with Stepping_Stones and Waggon_Wheels, so that by the time you move on to Fast_Forward and Shooting_Stars you have finished the best pieces in the book. Abracadabra is a popular book and now has a 2 set CD accompaniment recording in the Third Edition. So it's easy for everyone to purchase. I particularly like around 1/3 of the pieces in Abra, (and dislike another 1/3rd) but that still leaves many great pieces, though I do change bowings and sometimes fingerings, adding more slurs in general, and simplifying bowing, generally making it more stylish.
(in order of difficulty I usually assign n3 n5 plucking then bowing, n4 slowly at first after learning Elephant Parachutist (or Tonus on the G) n6=A Tisket a Tasket with two whole bows then four short notes at heel n9=Fiddle Fanfare. Then on to First finger pieces: n10=A Friend Indeed first plucking then bowing (start by teaching crotchet passage) n12 EEabadabadee n11 n16=Wetsh Lullaby bowing separate then eventually slurred n18=Hot Cross Buns n17=Windmill n20=Pease Pudding Hot n19=Mary had a Little Lamb start both lines with a slur
n21=Clown Dance use same rhythm as ending (ie. 4 crotchets and 2 minims throughout for simplicity of bowing) n22 n24=Twinkle, Twinkle with chocolate mousse rhythm n26 slurred n23 n29=Little Bird slur first two notes of bars 3 and 7 for stylish bowing then n31 n38=Long, long ago first with open A then with 4th finger when it's ready n39 finger the same as previous n32 n33=Brown Bread n48 slurred n40=Way you look start learning quaver passage first n41=Flinstones n44=Troika already bowed perfectly n50=Edelweiss n55=Tea for Two start with slurs n59=Feed the birds slurred and start softly and apply gradual cresc. until loud ending n60 n61=Old Bazzar in Cairo on the string staccato n63=Waltz slurred lift bow end of each line n64 n66 slurred
n71=Snake Dance with all quavers slurred throughout n72 similar to previous n75 n76 n83=Chim, Chim, Chiree even crotchet rhythm in line 2 and play f natural with 1st finger n84=Ragamuffin's Rag lift bow on staccato notes n86=Beauty and the Beast n87) Generally more slurs needed and progress in blocks of 10 (ie. Learn pieces in the 20s before 30s).
Above Centre: Albert Markov's "The Little Violinist" published by Schirmer is an ingenious work. The subtitle is captivating : "One day, there was an emergency at the Zoo ! All the animals had disappeared. The Little Violinist was summoned....." The first ( out of 21 ) piece is really a beginner's open string tonal study. The accompaniments have beautifully rich romantic harmony, and the subsequent pieces ( studies ) exploit finger and bowing patterns in great style ! Not all Grade 1 students will be familiar with the left hand finger patterns, but they are great and essential preparation all the same. I find Grade 2 students more able to cope with the finger patterns, but it all depends on how much finger pattern preparation has been included in the first Grade of study. In addition to being a fine work for developing finger patterns, this volume provides good bowing and rhythm patterns to go with. Great tone is always a great asset.
Certain English works are worthy of mention for the Grade 1/2 student. Above Right is Elgar's "6 Very Easy Pieces" ..in the first position Op.22 published by Bosworth. Andante was recently set as a Grade 1 piece, and I recommend that Grade 2 and 3 students play an earlier Grade piece in order to improve their style. Elgar, before being a well known composer, was a humble violin teacher, busy getting himself known by giving out his Business card at every opportunity. Other very attractive and ideal compositions for children are Peter Martin's Little suites for violin and piano. Gavotte from little suite number 4 and more recently, Hoe Down from suite number 3 have been set as Grade 1 pieces. Published by Stainer & Bell in the UK. The music is well written for violin, and though classical in nature has more modern "jazzy" harmonies, which children respond quite well to.
Enter Mr. Adam Carse: A genius when looking for encore pieces for Lower level Grade students. His pieces are still popular & published by Stainer & Bell.
Above: Mr Carse's "Fiddler's Nursery" is the easiest book to start with, ideal for Grade 1 students. "Fiddler Fancies" could come next, followed by "Classic Carse book 1". Classic Carse book 2 has pieces of Grade 5 level so it's much harder. Also, Carse compiled a good collection of beautiful Violin studies. The "New School of Violin Studies" is a series with Book_1 & Book_2 containing Studies in First Position, Book_3 & Book_4 First and Third Positions, Book_5 First to Fourth Positions. There is also a "Progressive Violin Studies" in a series of 4 books. All Carse pieces are highly recommended.
Neil Mackay was another author contributing admirably to Beginner Violinists. His First Year Violin Tutor and Second Year Violin Tutor, also published by Stainer and Bell Ltd: The 2nd Year Tutor is one I used to have as a young student, myself. The Tutor does a good job of introducing new topics to a Grade 2/3 student.... Double stops, E flat major tunes, string crossing, arpeggio studies, staccato bowing and slurs. The Newbiggin hornpipe and Mulhooley's Ball were my two favourite pieces. New keys, techniques and pieces are introduced lesson by lesson. The book is very well laid out. Moving on in terms of difficulty, another work by Mackay is his Tuneful Introduction to Third Position and its logical sequel Position Changing for the Violin great for Grade 3 students who are required to play in 3rd position. Contents of Position Changing book = A Spring Morning, Butterflies, Danse Macabre, Deeside, Evensong, Hebridean Lullaby, In Old Madrid, Irish Lullaby, Minuet, On Parade, Reverie, Reville, Snake on a Ladder, Spanish Serenade, The, Clown's Dance, The Dancing Class, The Fair Isle, The Tenor and the Bass, The Troubadour's Song, Tyrolean Air, Valse Triste, Waltzing. You can get Piano accompaniments for these books.
Methods and Tutors: Above, as a very first study book, I would suggest one of the above. First, we have The Sandor Violin Tutor Book 1 published by Editio Musica Budapest (z.8064 ) usually easy to find. This is part of a progressive series. I think there may be 7 or 8 books in the series. For example Book 4a is about Grade 3/4 standard, introducing, then covering second position from beginning to end. It deals with shifting from first to second position, as well as double stopping in second position. All in all I would say this is a valuable contribution to the young professional. A very easy method is Wohlfahrt's Op. 38 Easiest Elementary Method published by Schirmer ( Vol.1401 ). This can be used right from the very beginning. In theory it is only available in the USA, but I ordered my copy from Bristol Violin shop, and it arrived in a week. It's not expensive ( $10.95 or £9.95 ) if you consider it's a very thick 60 page plus volume full of beautiful violin writing, often with second violin ( teacher ) accompaniments. There are 114 pieces, and I really recommend them all and the book as a whole. Wohlfahrt wrote in his preface ( this is an old book, even old fashioned one might say - but it's far superior to anything else for beginners ( bar the Sandor ); in 1875 ! ) "Although a good many Violin Methods have been published, there is not one intended simply and solely for children...." well this is certainly it ! And in Wohlfahrt's time it must have been a huge success ; 6 editions in just 6 years ! I would certainly recommend it to students who are finding Wohlfahrt's Op.45 a little heavy going, perhaps struggling to learn a whole study by heart. By mastering Op.38 first, one is sure to take Op.45 in one's stride. So, in conclusion, I would say this is the best beginner's method of all time... yes, I know it may be considered old fashioned because starts with pattern 1 ( later methods agreed that pattern 2 was easier ) but children who start with pattern 2 can't do pattern 1 because their second finger is too weak ! Also, the writing and harmonies are so beautiful and logical, I cannot see any child failing to like these pieces immediately ! Please order this book for your own sake ! On the Right is the most 'modern' of the 3 methods and well worthwhile owning; it's well thought out, and contains an abundance of pieces. For instance, book 3 of Eta Cohen's Violin Method pictured above 'provides quite a milestone for a young pupil to reach' in the author's own words. It introduces a pupil to third position (Grade 3 students take note) but also addresses important areas such as the half position. Lastly, on the right, there are several other methods produced in series for children.
Samuel Applebaum "Belwin String Builder" published by Belwin Inc. Books 1-3. in USA the three books seems to contain good bowing throughout. One may use in class groups, as there are viola, cello and double bass parts, as well as a teacher's copy with piano accompaniments. Book Two starts with a rather good presentation of the C major scale (pattern 1) with détaché bowing. This could be considered ideal Grade 2 material, though Grade 1 players need pattern 1, too. In study number 17 there is good coverage of semitone / chromatic movement in the left hand. This is all vital technique, very often not easy to find in works which cover initial stages of playing. Also in the Belwin series you can find "2nd and 4th position string builder" and a "3rd and 5th position string builder " books. Auer's Graded course of Violin Playing in 8 volumes is a very nice collection of passage work, covering every level.
Selected and edited by Paul de Keyser and published by Faber Music, Violin Playtime (Book 1, Book 2 & Book 3), is a delightful series to own. They consist of a collection of short pieces of Classical and Traditional origin with both English and East European folk material. Book 1, it claims, leads to Grade 1.. Book 2 prepares and leads to Grade 2 and Book 3 leads to Grade 3. While these pieces are not always presented in order of difficulty, they compliment and greatly enhance the Boosey and Hawkes Stepping Stones series books mentioned above. The first halves are always made up of Pattern 2 fingerings, and the second halves of pattern 1 ( or in the case of Book 3 n.26 pattern 3 fingering ). From Book 1, Waggon Train n.7 is a firm favourite with open string players. Number 8 is a key piece to prepare the second half of Stepping Stones, introducing the first finger ( See also the "Ambulance" elsewhere ). In number 10, Chicken Cheeps, I prefer to keep the rhythm crotchet, crotchet, minim....crotchet, crotchet, minim..... all the way through. N.11 Bells is a nice 1st finger piece and 12. Soldiers March another favourite. Number 16 is clearly easier than 13, 14 or 15, so it usually comes next, and again, I keep the rhythm quaver, quaver, quaver, quaver, quaver, quaver, crotchet..... quaver, quaver, quaver, quaver, quaver, quaver, crotchet..... all through the piece for simplicity and musical clarity. In 20 Courageous Climber I introduce slurs, and of course the crescendo ! There are plenty of other jewels in Book 1 and Book 2 is even better : Start with Book 2 n.7, Ukrainian Dance, using open As for clearer sonority. Each piece has its own character, and there are very few "duds". Number 22, Morris Dance is very violinistic, but make sure the slurs (ties) are right ; you'll have to cross the one in bar 11 out, if you want the bowings to work out ! If you're still not comfortable with pattern 1 go back to the great cathedral in book 1 ! Number 31 Hora is another musical Gem, fresh with abandon in a true folk spirit. It takes a good style to play well. In Book 3, you'll find n.5 Presto an easy start. Play n.2 Over the hills with 2 slurs per bar. N.6 To the Maypole must have a solid downbeat start, and 10. Cossack Dance is strictly for the middle of the bow only !. Number 12. Hora should be full of rubato, starting slowly and speeding up. Play 11. Innocence with a n almost floating bow, plenty of it, but sweetly caressing the E string. Number 13 Galop is effective with open As too. In number 18, Minuet, we learn how to start with an up bow... one that almost leaves the string ! Bars 25/26 in the last one (n.28. Icy wind) need to be practised and mastered by heart, before you can put the whole piece together. I really recommend this series to all who feel they want to progress healthily to Grade 2 and 3 standard. These books combine musical character and technique in an inspiring way.
Mr. Paul de Keyser, along with Faber music, have extended The Violin Playtime series with a collection of additional material (some of which comes from East European sources such as the methods mentioned above). All volumes rather thin and a little expensive (try ebay?), unfortunately. Specifically, there are two "Violin Study Time" books. These contain some of the easiest studies one can start with (Danlca and Wohlfahrt feature often). The Young Violinist's Repertoire Books 1, 2, 3 and 4 are a delightful collection of encore pieces, rich in musical content and varied in style. The Young Folk Fiddler and Folk Fiddle Playtime ( the easier of the two ) are unaccompanied pieces, which offer good tuneful studies of a constructive nature.
Some rare Eastern Block methods destined never to be found again! The author of the first steps method you see here is V. Yakubaskaja. published in St. Petersburg in 1974. It contains music of the highest level, music that one would never dream was available to children! I use several pieces from it, including "The Ambulance" (finger drill). Also, Rodionov's method, published in Moscow must be almost as hard to get hold of. However, there is a Russian method (available !) that surpasses any Western equivalent, both in musical content and technical preparation... It's called "The Young Violinist" (Il Giovane Violinista) by K.A.Fortunatov published by Ricordi, Italy ( Violin part = Ricordi 133868 and Piano accompaniments = Ricordi 133869 ). Actually, my copy is marked VAAP-The copyright Agency of USSR, represented by G.Schirmer, Inc., New York / Anglo-Soviet Music Press, London / Boosey & Hawkes, publishers Ltd. / Le Chant du Monde, Paris / Edition Frazer, Helsinki, Internationale Musikverlage Hans Sikorski, Hamburg / Real Musical, Madrid / Ricordi Americana, Buenos Aires / Universal Edition A.G., Wien / Zen-On Music Co., Japan / Ricordi, Italia. I give these details hoping someone will have the tenacity to order a copy, or search for one in the UK. Also, I hope I have made it's value clear, as I do not have the time to impress Parents with its value during lessons when I am so involved trying to fix intonation and bowing ! The midi accompaniments to this method "The Young Violinist" are almost ready, and will be up on this site in July 2001. Somebody has produced a demo CD in Italy available here. My Russian edition has First Lessons 1-5; First year repertoire 1-56; Second year repertoire 1-19; Accompanied Studies 1-6; Ensemble pieces for 2 Violins and Piano accomp. 1-5. Il Giovane Violinista only has the First lessons 1-5 and the first year pieces 1-56.
Student Concertos: Familiar to most in UK and USA will be the excellent series of Student Concertinos and Concertos published by Bosworth. This material is indispensable for the development of Young Violinists. Above, Kuchler's Concertino in G, Op. 11 in 1st position is one of the first such works one should tackle, soon followed by Rieding's Concerto in B minor Op.35 at around Grade 3 published by the same company. Rieding Concertos are always extremely well written and worthwhile studying and playing. Bosworth should have a list of their many concerti, and they are all classed according to the positions they cover. The cover will usually state something like 1st-3rd position or 1st-7th position. Dowani (click on the link to see their catalogue) provide excellent CD accompaniments to Concertos by Rieding and other Composers. The Concertos of George Perlman are wonderful, and here, his Indian Concerto, Grade 1 standard, is published by de haske and Carl Fischer both in a CD accompaniment series. There is also a much harder Grade 3 level Israeli Concerto and a Grade 2 level A minor Concertino by George Perlman. Publishers de haske are releasing Fischer material in the UK, and there are a few other attractive Concertinos in their series, such as the Concerto in Russian Style by Janischow (spelling may vary). Other notable works are the Concertino by Nikolic (search this site for a copy!) and a Concerto in the style of Vivaldi, (actually written by my History of Music Teacher at the Purcell School, Robert Spearing) available in a method by Mary Cohen called "Superstart" violin level 1/2 published by Faber Music. The Seitz Pupil's Concertos 1-5 are published all in one volume by Schirmer for around £10; they cover Lower and Intermediate Grades and are highly recommended. To view a whole databas of concertinos please look at my Concertino Page.
Seitz: Concerto n1 has some 6th and 7th position passages; Grade 5+
Seitz: Concerto n2 is in first position; around Grade 3+
Seitz: Concerto n3 is pos 1-3; around Grade 4
Seitz: Concerto n4 is from 1-3 position with chords so Grade 4+
Seitz: Concerto n5 is in 1st position with open string double stopping; around Grade 3 in difficulty.
Above left "Light Pieces and songs from Russia and East Europe", Edition Peters number 4797 (Getting Hard to find). Now here we come to a true collection of masterpieces. While the two volumes by K & H Colledge are solid works, one might accuse them of being too simplistic, and their slightly infantile "Andy Pandy" harmonies occasionally fail to impress. That is why I would introduce this work about half way through Waggon Wheels. Especially the first piece, "The Hen" is an exceptionally fine piece for tuning up the first two fingers. The harmonies are romantic and the compositions very mature, even though the notes seem easy. For that reason, it's a good idea not to start this book until one's tone is pleasing and of good quality. In fact, a good teacher will ensure a student plays with good tone right from the first piece. In my case, that would be "Elephant Parachutist !". One bit of sad news is that I heard Peters are deleting this from their catalogue, so hurry up and buy a copy while you still can!
Above - Centre: Spielbuch : A great collection spanning Grades 3, 4 and 5 is this Spielbuch of encore type tunes, from Baroque to Classical to Romantic, and 20th Century. It might be hard to find, but snatch it if you can! It comes with an accompaniment CD in Peters' Music Partner series, and it's played beautifully. I recommend it to all, and play some of the pieces myself from time to time. The piano accompaniments are superb, and the tempi just right on all but 2 or 3 of the 30 pieces included. The highlight, and centre masterpiece has to be the Drei Amoretten, by Robert Fuchs, which sound very much like Schumann and are very fiery and Romantic in spirit!
Above Right: Baklanova's 8 Light Pieces, published by Edition Peters Nr. 5703 is a great collection of Grade 2/3/4 standard pieces, all of which can be played in the first position. The Sonatine and Concertino are very useful in introducing those forms to the young student, thereby giving a taste for the grander more extrovert style of playing needed for a concerto and the more intimate a subtle colouring needed to render a sonata. The "Perpetuum Mobile" piece number 5 is one of my favourites, and is a good study in itself of small, compact détaché. All in all, given the paucity of good pieces of repertoire for children, I would say this is a wonderful collection filling a big gap. I believe, as with the Spielbuch mentioned a little earlier, this work is available with an accompaniment CD in the series Music Partner, also published by Edition Peters.
Airs Variés Genre and Collections. Above Left : Dancla's Little School of Melody, op.123 (Schott) is a very refined collection of easy 19th Century French "Piéces de Salon" or Encore pieces. Also by Schott is a second and third volume which are harder. Grade 2 students with exceptionally good technique and style should cope fine with these first position jewels, but alas, so refined are they in writing that even Grade 6 / 7 students are likely to be lacking in enough purity of style to render these works without unnecessary mannerisms and distortions. I suggest Dancla's Easiest studies, Op.84 also mentioned here as suitable preparatory material.
Above right: Hard work will eventually lead to Dancla's 6 Airs Variés Op.89 of which n5 is often set as a good test piece for a grade 6 student. De Beriot's Airs Variés are also worthy compositions written in the French style. French concerti by Kreutzer, Rode and De Beriot will all help give the student a good intermediate standard of playing and a good preparation of technique, so important to lead on to the harder studies by Gavinees, Dont and Wieniawski which in turn will lead to the great Violin concerti such as those by Spohr, Vieuxtemps, Mendelssohn and Brahms by the Great Violinist-Composers and the Great Composers.
Studies or Etudes: Above, in far different category from exercises are studies. These are the backbone of violin playing. Nobody can turn into a good violinists without these wonderful works, handed down to help all future violinists, by the best violinists! Wohlfahrt 60 Studies Opus 45, for instance, was used to train the World's leading Violinist, Hilary Hahn. Though it has a second half which starts in third position, you can see on the right his Op.74 Book II which is entirely devoted to third position. As one starts the Kayser Op. 20 studies, suitable for the Intermediate Grades 4 and 5, more interesting repertoire becomes available. Last, at Grade 6 and above, Preparing the Mazas Op.36 book 1 and preferably book 2 (of 3) leads to Upper level Grades. Students who play Studies well have a solid dependable tone and style of playing. Studies lead on in a very natural way to Concerti, and they prepare a student for such works.
Dancla's 36 Studies Op.84 (Easiest melodic studies) is another work, ideal for very young violinists, but unfortunately only published by Ricordi, in Italy (to my knowledge); the catalogue number is ER 1543. I would think a good shop like Backwell's Music dept. in Oxford would order it from Italy. My first major study book, in the UK, would therefore become Wohlfahrt's 60 Studies Op.45 published by Peters or now Schirmer in one volume (mainly because other editions publish them in 2 volumes, and I think the work is so comprehensive it's better as a single volume). Wohlfahrt's Op.45 is so fundamental and widely recognized as an indispensable stepping stone that all countries throughout the world use it, from China to Russia to Europe and USA. Violin studies are the heavy weights that really teach us the backbone of violin technique. It is so sad that students are unprepared nowadays mainly because they have not mastered their studies. The ones that are well trained ....surprise, surprise... know their studies well ! After Wohlfahrt (which one could say spans Grades 2 to 6!) one should tackle Kayser Op.20 then Mazas Op.36 and then the famous Kreutzer. See our summary of violin studies page to get an idea of the structure of studies.
Exercises and Scales: Left hand mechanism in the early Grades (around 3/4) can be covered in these two volumes of exercises. Dancla's School of Mechanism Op.74 published by Schirmer and Sitt's 50 Daily exercises Op.98 this copy published by Edition Peters. Number 15 in the Dancla, I can't help noticing is an introduction to second position. This edition erroneously suggests it should be played in the first position. There are other moments when shifting down is marked on the A string, whereas for reasons of clarity and purity one might prefer the E string (in number 11). However, the notes are all there, and one edition is much the same as another if a good teacher is there to help improve and edit the fingering and bowing. I would consider mastery of these two volumes essential by the end of Grade 5 / 6. Sitt, especially, is methodical in his introducing the first 5 positions. Both works are likely to improve one's left hand mechanism. Agility, finger pattern and even finger action are common goals in the two works which precede and, in great part, cover the Schradiek / Sevcik mechanism exercises. Above, middle: the Sevcik Scales and Arpeggios book is the father of them all. Sevcik practically invented scales ( well he did invent the harmonic cycle that is commonly used in advanced arpeggio studies ). Hrimaly's Scale Studies is another great scale book which greatly compliments the Sevcik. Some faster, more dynamic left hand styles are suggested which will lead to a rapidly improving knowledge of the fingerboard. There are scale books for the Graded examinations, (Grades 1-5 and 6-8 ) but they are both inferior. Of course, a scale is a scale, so one would not think one work could be superior to another, and yet..
Further Repertoire becomes possible! Above Left: Violin Music for Beginners, by Editio Musica Budapest, this might not be as good a collection as the Spielbuch, but there are some great pieces in it (and 1 or 2 not so great). There about 25 pieces included, though no accompaniment CD as in Spielbuch, and the last few are by Modern Hungarian composers. They may not be to every child's taste, initially, but no doubt help expand one's repertoire. Encore pieces by Carl Bohm are great for the Grade 3/4 student. For example, N. Simrock publish "Bolero" from Album Leaves (Elite Edition 3468) This is a Grade 4/5 pieces, but an easier one ( shown here ) might be his Spanish Dance, a great encore piece in the Romantic style ( about Grade 3 standard ). It is a wonderful piece, though unfortunately buying these pieces is a very expensive affair - £3.50 - £4.50 for a sheet of music! The 6 Telemann Sonatinas (published by Schirmer ) are well within reach of students who have mastered just over half the Wohlfahrt studies Op.45. Indeed, they are the logical conclusion to all that hard preparation, and mastering by heart of at least 20 of Wohlfahrt's studies. Kabalevski's work is quite the opposite in character, and a few of the pieces can be tackled earlier, even in Grade 1, as several can be played in first position. However, knowledge of the first three positions will greatly open up one's possibilities in terms of colouring, tone and good style. I would say the first 3 positions are certainly needed for the Telemann. In Sonatina number 4, 4th position is a pre-requisite. When I did my Grade 4, as a little boy, I remember playing the Vivace to Sonatina Number 1, and enjoying it immensely ( though I did misplace my third position entry in the second half in an end of school concert ! Nevertheless, I was voted "best solo" of the concert. ). There is also a pleasant volume of Grade 3 pieces entitled "Easy Pieces by Soviet Composers" published by Ricordi (n.132943) which is another truly exceptional collection of Compositions by wonderful Soviet composers. Included is a preface which explains very clears how the Russian Schools have flourished thanks to their greatest composers dedicating themselves to arranging and writing and making available their best music to students even in their first years of study.
A few cautions about Graded Exams. After one (but in some cases two years of study), one might like to tackle ABRSM or Guildhall/Trinity Grade 1 Exam... start with the easiest piece first. There's also a "Grade 0.4" Preparatory Test. It is a mistake to take Grade 1 after a just a term's study, as the violin is an instrument which cannot be mastered in the long run by racing to the finishing line. Discuss with your Teacher if and when you should take Grade exams. Not everyone is better off taking grade exams, and try to understand that the Grade pieces are meant more as test pieces than as educational or development pieces. Hence do Grade pieces in the right context. Learning Grade pieces on their own cannot lead to a complete and happy development of your violin playing. In fact, it is a sure road to disaster. Sometimes, one of the three set pieces, or one of the three alternative pieces for list A, B or C turns out to be unsuitable. Occasionally, there are also inconsistencies; I have seen the very same piece, (a Perpetual Motion by Carl Bohm) set as a Guildhall School Grade 4 piece, and in the next session an Associated Board Grade 6 piece. Sometimes one may carefully select an easy set of pieces, for instance one year a student chose all three grade 4 pieces all in first position (ie. around grade 2.5 difficulty). Another major snag occurs with pieces which are musically too difficult for the grade; for example, a Schumann Intermezzo from the FAE Sonata (not one of his Children's pieces) set for Grade 4 and a Mozart slow movement of Concerto n1 in B flat set for Grade 6. Students of these Grades do not have the maturity and technique to play Mozart and Schumann convincingly. The general gist is that the Associated Board (ABRSM) follow a progression of musical difficulty and the Guildhall and Trinity (now merged) follow a more technical slant which develops and prioritises instrumental technique.
With regards to the Graded examinations, I would recommend the listening and accompaniment CDs as essential material. Not only can children listen to their pieces over and over ( so they hear what notes they must be aiming for) but they get to use them for their excellent accompaniments. Naturally, the accompaniments can only be used in the final stages of learning the piece, as they must be played up to speed. The 2001 CDs are fair, sometimes a little fast on the earlier grades, the 2005 CDs are superb in every way, and the current 2008 CDs are not quite as good as the previous set, but certainly very useful. There are usually a total of 6 pieces are played for each list (A, B and C ); so there are at least 18 pieces in all. Grade Exams require Scales, Arpeggios, a Sight Reading Test and Aural questions. Also Grade 5 Theory is required to take Grade 6 Practical. Don't ignore these complementary modules, rather, get the Aural book, which comes with CDs and start 10 minutes training at the beginning of each day. Better still, get some weekly lessons with a dedicated teacher. If the Graded examinations are taken in context, and following the Teachers' recommendation (a Teacher will have a far more accurate idea of what is feasible or not and this is not always the same as what Parents or Pupils might think is feasible), then Graded exams can certainly boost confidence and confirm & encourage good work.
Intermediate Repertoire. Much repertoire from the Intermediate Grades 4-5 and the Advanced Grades 6-8 can be found in the 6 volume series of Violin + Piano Album: Barbara Barber Solos For Young Violinists (also available for Viola). There are accompaniment CDs available... although one or two pieces are played extremely fast (for example; Elves' Dance). Book 1 does contain some pieces of Grade 2-3 difficulty, but quickly settles at Grade 4 difficulty with La Cinquantaine or Kuchler's Concerto in the style of Vivaldi. It's an excellent collection of pieces... well chosen to develop a good solo style with solid technique and musicianship.
Barbara Barber : Solos for Young Violinists
Vol 1. Simple Folk Songs Bach/Seely-Brown: Ten Little Classics (Marche, Musette, Giguetta) Papini/Applebaum: Theme & Variations Kroll: Donkey Doodle Huber: Concertino in G, Op.8 No.4 Jenkinson: Elves' Dance Trott: The Puppet Show, Op 5, No1. Gabriel-Marie: La Cinquantaine Mendelssohn: Mosquito Dance Op. 62, No.5 Kuchler: Concerto in D, Op.15
Vol 2. Bohm: Sarabande in G minor de Beriot: Air Varie, No.14, in G. Rieding: Concertino in G, Op.24, (1st Movt.) Clebanoff: Millionaire's Hoedown Mollenhauer: Fantasia-The Boy Paganini Bohm: Introduction & Polonaise, Op. 12 Dvorak: Sonatina Op.100,(1st Movt.) Seitz: Concerto No.3 in G minor Op.12, (1st Movt.)
Vol 3. Kreisler: Tempo di Minuetto Dancla: Air Varie,Op.89 No.5 Mlynarski: Mazurka in G Bohm: Perpetual Motion from Little Suite, No.6 Bach-Gounod: Ave Maria Potstock: Souvenir de Sarasate Accolay: Concerto No.1 in A minor.
Vol 4. Severn: Polish Dance Kreisler; Rondino on a Theme of Beethoven Haydn: Concerto No.2 in G Major, (1st Movt.) Ten Have: Allegro Brilliant,Op.19 Gluck/Kreisler: Melodie de Beriot: Concerto No.9 in A minor,(1st Movt.)
Vol.5 Weber: Waltz Massenet: Meditation from Thais Viotti: Concerto No.23 in G Major, (1st Movt.) Kreisler: Sicilienne and Rigaudon Tartini: Fugue from Sonata in C Major Op.1, No.3 Monti: Csardas
Vol 6. Vivaldi/Respighi: Sonata in D Major Paradis: Sicilienne de Beriot: Scene de Ballet Op. 100 Rachmaninoff: Vocalise, Op.34 No.14 Bartok: Romanian Folk Dances.
Other useful pages on Repertoire:
Repertoire database - Violin Repertoire - Essential Violin Pieces - Encore Database - Concerto Database - Concerto Resource - Studies
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