5 Best Violin Books

In a newsletter to members earlier this year, I listed the 5 best violin books I use and recommend for teaching and studying Suzuki violin. I’ve read and bought many good books on everything to do with the violin, including violin methods, technique, musicality, the lives of violinists and violin music.

5-books

Many people found the newsletter useful, so I’ve decided to cite the books in this post and give some of the reasons why I think they are so valuable. They are the only ones I use regularly.

If you’d like to buy a copy of any of the books, there’s a Book Depository link below each of the covers. (Book Depository has free world-wide delivery.) They are affiliate links, which means Teach Suzuki Violin will earn a small commission to help keep the lights on – without any extra cost to you.

The 5 Best Violin Books

1. Nurtured by Love

The first one, unsurprisingly, is “Nurtured by Love,” Shinichi Suzuki’s primary work, which recounts his personal history and the story of his life’s work teaching the violin in Talent Education, the world-wide music education movement he founded. The book was translated into English by his wife, Waltraud Suzuki.

The book begins with Suzuki’s famous epiphany, Japanese children can all speak Japanese! – which became the cornerstone of his education philosophy and the basis of his mother-tongue method of teaching violin. Nurtured by Love was literally the book that changed my life. This slim volume, which I discovered in a modest little country library in the late 1970s, eventually took me and my family to Japan, beginning a journey in music teaching that has never ended.

Like most Suzuki music teachers I expect, I’ve read this book many times and it has always given me practical inspiration just when it was needed.

Here’s just a few of the great topics and stories within:

The origins of Talent Education
Without hurry, without rest
The beauty of earnest repetition
Talent is not inherited
Effect and importance of the environment a child grows up in
What is talent?
Meeting with Casals
The Tolstoy Connection
The meaning of art
Children and kindness
Karl Klinger – Suzuki’s Teacher in Germany
Friendship with Einstein

Nurtured-by-Love

 

2. Ability Development From Age Zero

In his other major book, “Ability Development From Age Zero,” Suzuki explains his ideas about talent in more depth, illustrating them with more stories from his life. The accounts of his interactions with parents reveal his matured thinking about children’s upbringing and education. Although raising and teaching children with kindness can be interpreted in many different ways, Suzuki expounds a compelling simplicity in his philosophy that goes beyond ideas to the heart of the child.

Ability-Development

 

3. Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching

Of the many textbooks about the practical side of teaching and playing violin, there are two which I consider essential for every studio. The first is “Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching,” by Ivan Galamian, containing the essence of his many successful years of teaching at Curtis and Julliard. (Violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman is among the former students of this famous pedagogue.) Galamian’s clear thinking shows right from the introduction, where he is critical of “…  the contemporary insistence upon compliance with rigid rules for everyone and everything that has to do with violin playing.

The book gives very detailed descriptions of practically every aspect of violin playing and technique, including some examples and excerpts of the music where they are featured. The scope of his ideas and experience make it an extremely valuable and interesting reference for teachers and advanced players. Whether planning a lesson on a particular aspect of playing or practising and refining a technique, it is always helpful to read what Galamian has to say about it.

Principles-Galamian

 

4. Basics

The second key textbook I recommend is Simon Fischer’sBasics,” an excellent reference for players and teachers of all levels. Fischer, an exemplary teacher and violinist, has put together an incredibly detailed and comprehensive step by step approach to violin technique. And since Basics, he has published several other publications that if anything, are broader in scope and deeper in detail. They are totally exhaustive (and exhausting!)

Basics-Fischer

 

5. The Suzuki Violinist

The Suzuki Violinist,William Starr’s first-hand account of Suzuki’s teaching methods, also has a lot of very useful material – especially for the studio, teaching group classes and how to set up beginners. Originally published in 1976, it was revised in 1996 and new material added. This is another book that has never strayed from my studio table.

Suzuki-Violinist

 

Thanks again for visiting Teach Suzuki Violin. It’s a pleasure to welcome the new members and I appreciate the emails and feedback.

Cheers,

John

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