Let’s say that you have always wanted to learn to play the violin or that you already have some playing experience under your belt and now you’re looking for violin books. Whether you’re wondering which books are perfect for beginners or what book you should buy next to refine your skills, you’re in the right place!
Books are a great tool and companion to help you in your musical journey. What you buy depends on what path you want to follow. Do you aspire to become a professional soloist or orchestra musician? Do you just want to play for fun? Maybe you’re drawn to exploring the jazz violin or Irish fiddling. Luckily, this guide contains everything you’ll need. Let’s dive together into the world of violin books… Shall we?
The Best Violin Books for Beginners
If you just bought a violin and you have no idea how to hold it, let alone play it, then you’re a beginner. The following violin books will guide you through your first steps of posture, holding the instrument, and playing your first notes:
The Ultimate Songbook for Beginner Violinists by Julia Termeer
The Ultimate Songbook for Beginner Violinists
by Julia Termeer
I created this book for all beginner violinists, who would like to start playing the violin right away, even without prior knowledge of sheet music notation. When you download (yes, it’s for free) and open the book, you will see a quick explanation of the violin tabs that I use in every piece and the list of 50+ pieces. There is an indication of the difficulty level next to the name of each piece, so you will directly know which ones to choose if you’re just starting to play the violin, and which ones will be a bit challenging. Moreover, I recorded video tutorials for many songs from this book so you can hear how it should sound and you also get an extra explanation from me. With this book and my video tutorials, all you have to do now is to get your violin and start playing!
Essential Elements For Strings – Book 1 With Essential Elements Interactive (EEI) by Robert Gillespie, Pamela Tellejohn Hayes & Michael Allen
If you’re an adult beginner, Essential Elements for Strings is definitely tailored to your needs! It is a violin method that guides you through your first steps of reading music and notation up to playing your first exercises and short pieces. The preparatory exercises contained within (like getting familiar with the bow hold by holding a pencil first) and its pedagogical approach to posture, arm movements, and ease of playing make it extremely suitable for children as well.
Everything is demonstrated through illustrations and pictures and it really has the most essential elements to start playing songs on the violin and learning how to read sheet music.
All For Strings – Comprehensive String Method – Book 1 for Violin by Gerald E. Anderson & Robert S. Frost
The detailed instructions on how to play, the musical games on each page, and the information about reading music and notation makes this book one that surely has a lot to offer to the newcomer. It gets you from naming the violin’s parts, to teaching you how to place your bow on the string, and all of it is supplemented with clean illustrations.
It is easy to understand as it breaks down every aspect of violin playing and is definitely suitable for self-taught students. The difficulty is gradually increased towards some folk songs by the end of the book.
Violin For Dummies: Book + Online Video and Audio Instruction by Katharine Rapoport
This violin method book for beginners contains literally anything that the beginner should know. Just to name a few examples, it has a rough guide on buying or renting an instrument, features demonstrations of violin and bow parts, and the technical exercises are suitable both for adult beginners and children. It will surely sharpen your note reading skills and showcase various playing styles such as classical, jazz and country.
Near the end of the book, you can find some intermediate techniques such as shifting and vibrato. The fact that it is accompanied by a CD and DVD makes it a valid choice for self-taught beginners.
Suzuki Violin School: Violin Part – Volume 1
The Suzuki Method is well-known for its violin books for young violinists, as well as for intermediate and advanced players (more on that later). Volume one is beginner-oriented since everything in this book is in first position and uses mostly open strings. It contains warm-up routines, exercises for bowing, and covers the most primary bow strokes used in violin playing. Unfortunately, it covers only the fundamentals of violin and bow hold, thus making it necessary to have a tutor to guide you, but don’t worry, I created a series of free video tutorials to make the learning process easier for you. Click here to go to the Video Library with Suzuki Book 1 tutorials.
The arrangements in this volume are drawn from famous nursery rhymes and folk songs which make it an ideal choice for children and young students who want to have fun while playing. They have been sequenced depending on difficulty, so near the end of volume one you can expect to find a bit more challenging songs.
Laoureux – A Practical Method for Violin by Nicolas Laoureux
Here’s a violin method book that you probably won’t find mentioned enough. It starts off with demonstrations of the natural hold of the violin and the bow with pictures and then moves on to simple, meditative-like routines. Open strings, slow string crossings, simple scales and interesting melodies are the first things to welcome the student, young or adult.
The explanations above each exercise are clear enough for a student who is starting out by themselves, but I would recommend that you have a teacher who will aid you to execute the exercises in the correct way. Each one comes with a detailed explanation of what you should have in mind while practicing. You should definitely be able to read sheet music in order to make use of this precious book.
The Best Violin Books for Intermediate Players
If you know how to hold the violin and the bow and you are familiar with scales, arpeggios, a variety of bow techniques, and shifting, then you probably fit in this category.
Basics by Simon Fischer
This violin book is a real treasure to students and teaching enthusiasts alike! It’s the most thorough resource available and it contains 300 exercises and routines that cover every aspect of violin playing. To me, it is a true wonder how well organized and yet simply laid out it is. Keep in mind that it requires a fundamental understanding of music theory and reading music, and it covers ground from the beginner to the advanced level so you can find anything you want from violin and bow hold to shifting, vibrato, double stops, and harmonics.
While it can help students focus on one technical issue each time, the role of a teacher is important here, since it can be overwhelming for children and students who have just started playing the violin.
Suzuki Violin School: Violin Part – Volume 2 & 3 by Shinichi Suzuki
As mentioned above, the Suzuki Method is a perfect fit for students of all ages and levels. Suzuki’s intention was to get children to play songs from the very beginning in order to cultivate their musicality through well-known songs and tunes.
Though there are no exercises exclusive to bow techniques or finger placement, these collections of musical pieces can serve as a great starting point to get you familiar with new bow strokes and finger patterns while playing easy violin solos by Bach, Handel, Beethoven and Boccherini.
I recorded for you video tutorials for some of the pieces you learn in book two, they are available in my Video Library on this link.
Wohlfahrt Op. 45: Sixty Studies for the Violin – Book 1 by Franz Wohlfahrt
At this level, it’s important to be familiar with scales, arpeggios, and generally the very foundation of violin technique in order to comprehend this book. I would definitely recommend a teacher to explain and show you how to practice the exercises in an efficient and correct way. Each one focuses on a specific technical aspect, and yet everything is in first position so that the student can focus more on bowing techniques (slurred notes, dotted rhythms, dynamics).
It definitely covers technical skills that are needed in order to play demanding concertos or pieces on the violin while its interesting and pleasant melodies will help students cultivate musicality and phrasing.
It’s quite demanding and the difficulty rises every couple of etudes, making it a book that is going to keep you company for some months.
This book is available for free to all students at Julia’s Violin Academy – click here to download the 60 Etudes by Wolfhart.
Otakar Ševčík Violin Studies – Op. 8 Changes of Position and Preparatory Scale Studies
I really can’t tell how many hours I’ve spent on this one… After years of teaching, I have come to understand that shifting is such a huge and important part of violin playing. It is mainly used for expressiveness and convenience, and this is the ideal violin method for polishing your shifts.
The book is well organized, starting out with shifts from 1st to 2nd, then 1st to 3rd, and so on. There is a short introduction as to how the student should approach it and you can always practice those in any key, with any kind of bowing, and with vibrato as well. Just stay creative and do anything that comes to mind.
This book is available for purchase and also part of the public domain so… it’s basically free!
Otakar Ševčík Violin Studies – Op. 8
Changes of Position and Preparatory Scale Studies
The Best Violin Books for Advanced Players
If you have a few years of experience and you have played your fair amount of etudes and concertos, the following books can help you finesse your technical skills and musicality:
Scale System: Scale Exercises in All Major and Minor Keys for Daily Study by Carl Flesch
Flesch’s Scale System is a highly recommended violin book written by a highly appraised violinist and pedagogue. You will hardly find any classically trained student that hasn’t practiced this book before. It has plenty of things to offer: major and minor scales on one string, scales extending on two and three octaves, arpeggios, harmonic scales, double stops based on scales, shifting… all in one violin book!
It helps students focus on intonation, shifting, sound production, and double stops; literally everything an advanced violinist needs in order to keep laying a strong foundation for more demanding repertoire that is to come.
If you are a student at Julia’s Violin Academy, you can download the Scale System by Flesch for free over here!
Kreutzer 42 Studies or Caprices by Rodolphe Kreutzer
Do you want to improve your right hand technique? Do you need to work on intonation and finger speed, or practice your string crossings and your trills? This violin book offers a wide variety of etudes while remaining musically demanding both to the intermediate and advanced player.
While you can definitely work on that on your own, a teacher can make your struggle easier by explaining, guiding, and giving you feedback on the correct ways of working on it.
You can download for free the book of Kreuzer Etudes over here (Julia’s Violin Academy members only).
Violin Practicing Books
You may have heard the cliché phrase “Practice makes perfect”. Yeah, sure but…what kind of practice gets you to the results you want? In case you are practicing a lot but don’t see any results, it may be a sign that you need one of the following books:
Violin is Easy: Practice Better by Peter Bucknell
Peter Bucknell is a renowned performer and musician and in this book he uses vivid analogies to describe his practicing philosophy and principles. He discusses the essentials for a healthy posture, of holding the instrument and the bow, and sheds some light on ways to work on vibrato, intonation, and tone production.
Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching by Ivan Galamian
He is considered one of the most influential violin teachers of the 20th Century and his book can be beneficial to students of all levels, as long as they have some primary knowledge on note reading and music theory. It contains information about the essentials of violin playing and posture, core principles and objectives of practicing, and a great insight into his teaching philosophy.
And now let’s take a look at violin books of different styles…
You can teach yourself fiddling by Craig Duncan
The title of the book is pretty self-explanatory; Craig Duncan offers you all the guidance needed to start and progress as a fiddler. With his beautiful illustrations, he walks you through the fiddle parts, basics of holding the violin, reading music, producing a good tone, and all of that while working your newly acquired skills on simple scales and famous tunes.
Everything you are ever going to need for fiddling consists of this method for beginners. It is well fitted for the self-taught student and not overwhelming at all. Lots of students have benefited from it, what are you waiting for?
Fiddling for Dummies: A Wiley Brand by Michael Sanchez
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between the violin and the fiddle? Have you played the violin before, but classical music is not really your style? Look no further because this book has everything you need to get you started!
This particular book is more than suitable for complete beginners and it even covers ground for Advanced fiddlers. You are also going to learn all the note reading and music theory basics you need to start having fun with it.
For Irish Music Fans
O’Neill’s Music of Ireland by Miles Krassen
After going through the basic Irish ornamentation, the editor moves on to laying out an extensive collection of Irish jigs, reels, hornpipes, and dances that Francie O’ Neill had gathered from players who came from different parts of Ireland.
You can expect to find more than 1,000 famous tunes and melodies and an introduction to the history of Irish music with some tips on playing with an authentic feeling. The difficulty of the book is mainly intermediate and up, but I believe that even new fiddlers can have fun with this book and get an idea for Irish tunes.
The Irish Fiddle Book: The Art of Traditional Fiddle-Playing (plus CD)
Matt Cranitch, a famous fiddler and the author of this book, has undoubtedly produced a high quality result for violinists interested in Irish music! In the beginning, you can find instructions in note reading, the basic ornamentations and bowings, along with easy scales.
The book is well-fitted for beginners, but it can get hard pretty quick. The CD provided, featuring the playing of Cranitch, is a vital aid to listen to how the music and ornamentations should sound. The last sixty pages of the book are dedicated to dance music, airs, jigs, reels, hornpipes, and marches, all intended to help you explore the traditional style of playing and get a real feel for Irish music.
For Jazz Lovers
Beginning Jazz Violin: An Introduction to Style and Technique by Chris Haigh
Chris Haigh’s approach to jazz violin playing and improvisation has surely helped to make this book become a great choice for any kind of violin player who is interested in jazz music.
The book consists of six parts, from getting you through the foundation of the posture, violin hold and jazz music theory, to playing with swing, improvising principles and pentatonic scales, as well as blues and licks. It features finger patterns, making it easy for starters to follow.
It’s up to you now…
Hopefully, you got an idea for the most beneficial violin books out there and how to choose the best ones for you. Whether you’re an adult starting out or a teacher looking for book recommendations for your students, this list can act as a reference point to some of the most well-known and used books, or a kickstart to start exploring the world of violin books on your own!