Beginner viola etude type books?


Mariya said: Apr 19, 2015
 Violin, Viola
4 posts

One of my students who plays viola asked me for a harder technique/etude music. She is starting Hunter’s chorus and is a very enthusiastic student. I would like to work with her on paying attention to the details like bowing and rhythm. Any ideas for music outside the Suzuki books that she might enjoy and really benefit from?


Charliah Best said: Apr 20, 2015
Charliah Best
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Guitar, Piano, Viola
Hamden, CT
3 posts

Hi Marija -
I love the Viola Time series by K & D Blackwell. They have an entire line out for strings. I think it fits well with advancing students’ note reading and technique.

Along with the Blackwell’s books, I have used:
- Rounds & Canons by William Starr
- A Tune A Day (not as attractive visually to youngsters, but the songs are fun to play)
- String Builder

There’s also, of course, Wolfhart, but you have to pick and choose which exercises best suit your student. I had one child love those exercises, even though we were only in Suzuki Book Two also!

Lastly, I know it’s not as popular over in the US, but the ABRSM exam repertoire is fantastic to use for technique too. I usually use a combination of all the above, depending on the child.

Hope that helps! All the best.

Sarah Coley said: Apr 20, 2015
Sarah Coley
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
34 posts

The Music Development Program (formerly Royal Conservatory program) just released a complete series for the viola. I am thinking that there is a technique book in there somewhere too. Just an option to consider.

Pierre Yves Gagnon said: Apr 21, 2015
Pierre Yves Gagnon
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Oakville, ON
17 posts

Being Canadian, I am very familiar with the Royal Conservatory Viola Series, 2013 edition published by Frederic Harris. It is a remarkable collection of graded pieces ranging from the equivalent of Late Book 1 to Book 9 viola. You will find all the supplemental repertoire you need for all levels. Furthermore, all the repertoire volumes come with CD.

I use the early volumes of that collection to teach music reading. First, I ask students to study the piece without listening to the CD. Once they think they know it, they listen to the CD to confirm that they have learned it correctly. I call this reading approach: “Suzuki in reverse.” Of course, all Suzuki repertoires are learned by ear using the reference CD. This collection also contains two technical books that cover a variety of scales and studies.

Another noteworthy publication is Superstudies for Viola and Techniques Takes off by Mary Cohen, published by Faber Music. Those two study books are as far as Wolfarth as you can get and are great fun to learn. For a much lighter repertoire, try The Fiddler Playalong Collection for Viola by Edward Huws Jones. This is a collection of fiddle tunes from around the world, and it comes with a CD. A great way jam on the viola!

Pierre Y Gagnon

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