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Embrace and Spread Suzuki – Simply Violin – The Sing, Play, Learn Songbook

Simply violin: sing. Play. To learn. Favorite Songs for Violin in First Position is a new book for beginning violin students. I have been teaching violin and viola for almost 30 years and am always looking for new ways to inspire and teach my students. It can be difficult to keep today’s children interested in learning to play the violin, especially when they are assigned unfamiliar songs and exercises. Although Suzuki has been considered the Gold Standard almost since Book One for violin first came out in 1978, I have always found the songs to be quite boring. I also think the difficulty level goes up too fast. Instead, sing. Play. All Learn songs are intended to be played in first position, and each song can be played with or without using the ring finger of the left hand.

After using the book for about 6 months, I have had good luck with it. I appreciate that there are 80 songs, more than is contained in any other violin book I can think of. And yet, children know most of the melodies and enjoy playing music that they recognize. Parents are also happy to hear recognizable melodies and are better able to help their children learn them. Also, the music editing is very clear, bows and articulations are well thought out, and there are no page turns within the songs.

Another aspect of the book that I like is that it is logically divided into sections that feature fingerings such as first finger low, second finger high, etc. presented separately. The book also has lyrics for each song. I’ve found that if a student is having trouble with pitch or rhythm, it can be helpful to sing the song with the student first, so they can make the connection to the notes and rhythms on the page. Due to its logical division of songs, fretboard and note reading charts which Suzuki does not have, and arrangement in order of increasing difficulty, I consider this to be a method book as well as a song book, and therefore a possible competitor. or at least a companion to the Suzuki Book One. As a companion book is also available, all songs can potentially be used in recitals, another strength.

I have found this to be a very well thought out book and am glad to have it in my teaching studio. However, to name just the few quibbles I have with the book, I would like to see a page presenting the opening rhythms and possibly also some pictures showing the correct bow hold, violin holding position, and proper finger position. feet, as well as other instructional images, as incorporated in the latest version of Suzuki Book One. However, because the book is unique in the beginner violin book market, I believe it is worth considering despite lack these items.

I hope this book will also come out for viola, as there are even fewer good songbooks for viola than there are for violin.

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