Theory Books for violin students

Belita Stout said: Sep 13, 2012
Belita Stout
Suzuki Association Member
2 posts

I have been looking for a good set of music theory books that range from beginner to advanced. Most theory books I have seen are piano related. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Connie Sunday said: Sep 14, 2012
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

It’s true, most of the theory books are based on the keyboard and I’ve searched for string theory books, as well. I have a collection (list) of theory books here:

And the first two:

Dorothy Croft—Violin Theory For Beginners: Bk. 1, Bk. 2
Mel Bay, Beginner Violin Theory For Children: Bk. 1, Bk. 2

are the ones I know of, specifically for violin.

I purchased these and looked at them. However, what I do is (a) I have a keyboard sitting next to me when I teach, in order to demonstrate theory principles, as appropriate; (b) I have children playing scales (one octave A, one octave D, and two octave G) from the very beginning of their studies. [I get these free from: ]

I present scales, etudes and theory to the students like a “magic” way to get really good at their instruments, not as a chore. I tell them that when they see a really good player, that’s how that player got that good, so to speak. I start every lesson with a scale, with “Suzuki bowings” and students are frequently proud of their scale abilities.

We also do this during group lesson, where I also have them conduct time signatures (I have a collection of batons), and go over and over theory issues, note values, etc. I really make sure they understand all the concepts involved.


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Paula Bird said: Sep 14, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

I use the Alfreds basic theory course. It comes in 3 volumes with a teacher guide and 2 volumes of worksheets to supplement the material. I’m not sure what you mean by piano-related, because I ask my students to learn bass and treble clefs. The Alfreds now come with alto clef included as well. I think that referring music theory to the piano is very helpful for students, as it is easier to “see” the theory on the piano. There are confusing spots on the violin related to half steps.

Each lesson comes with a short explanation and then a short assignment. There is a review every four or five lessons and a listening workbook page. After completing the 3 volumes, the student has pretty much learned all the basic music theory. If there are any sticking points along the way, I pull out the worksheets volumes and find some extra page assignments to help.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio (blog) (podcast)

André said: Sep 14, 2012
André AugensteinViolin, Piano
55 posts

Here in Brazil and i used much of the book´s theory Maria Luiza DE Matos Priolli
vol.1 and 2 ,now as in the U.S.I think there should have several that might be useful,
just browse and search.

Violin Student(International Suzuki Association) in Germany 1987
Violin teacher (International Suzuki Association) in Dublin 1995

Carol Gwen said: Sep 15, 2012
Carol Gwen Kiefer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Washington Crossing, PA
75 posts

Hi! Try these Violin theory materials out- by Carol Anderson, a Suzuki violin & viola teacher. Well thought out, interesting, and fun!
[javascript protected email address]

“I have flip charts, teacher manuals, DVD play-alongs, mp3’s of just the melody line of the songs in the books (most are original—I wrote them. For the beginner I wrote open string songs like ‘hopping bows’, running, walking et. al. I have about 60 digital books. Ten Minute music theory lessons for the end of lessons. Teacher ‘bits’ for violin and piano.

I have a series on beginning to understand the first position. Each book concentrates on one finger on each string. The books included in the series are: “Beginner Bowing Book” (open string exercises and fun songs) “The Fickle First Finger”, “One Two buckle My Shoe”, “Three’s Company”, “Four’s a Crowd”.

Here’s a link for one of the books:

This book comes with a DVD of the play-alongs.

Mikaela said: Sep 28, 2012
Mikaela CashViolin, Viola
28 posts

I’ve used the Nuggles and Noodles book ( designed for Suzuki students. It works well, and the dragons delighted my student, but it is quite expensive for the amount of material it covers, imo.

Most frequently, I use the two All For Strings theory workbooks, which are wonderfully designed for the violin student. After they complete those, I move them to the Theory Time workbooks, which are great for challenging creative thinking and introducing bass clef as well. These books are designed so that students can jump into any of the first several volumes, depending upon their age. There are 12 books, so the later books are quite advanced.

Belita Stout said: Oct 4, 2012
Belita Stout
Suzuki Association Member
2 posts

I don’t have a piano next to me when I teach at two of my locations but I do agree it is easier to see the whole and half steps. Thank you all for your input!

Connie Sunday said: Oct 4, 2012
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

Oh, you’re very welcome!  —Connie

Boxwood Studios -Violin, Viola & Piano Lessons

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