What levels are the piano accompaniments?

Linda Yokoi said: Nov 6, 2017
 3 posts

Is there a listing somewhere that shows what the rough PIANO level is for the various piano accompaniment books? For example, what level would a pianist need to be at to play from the piano accompaniment for the suzuki violin book 3? Is there a list of this somewhere, for each book?

Lori Bolt said: Nov 7, 2017
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
San Clemente, CA
244 posts

I recommend that a piano student have completed piano book 2 and be able to read at book 2 level to accompany book 1, book 2 violin needs a book 3-4 pianist, etc. Basically, 1-2 piano books ahead of violin books.

Lori Bolt

Linda Yokoi said: Nov 8, 2017
 3 posts

Great—thank you for this information! So that does also confirm for me that the piano accompaniments also become more difficult with each violin book (although I suppose that could simply be simply due to the fact that since the violin pieces are becoming more difficult, then the piano accompaniment would then kind of mirror this progression)—I wasn’t sure if maybe the piano accompaniment books beyond a certain violin book leveled off (e.g., once you get to violin book X, the level of piano for the accompaniments is pretty much the same). Thanks again! :)

Mengwei Shen said: Nov 8, 2017
Mengwei Shen
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello
Jersey City, NJ
145 posts

I don’t think it’s necessarily that they become more difficult in technique
after book 4-5, but it depends on how well the pianist reads, sight reads, understands how the parts go together, what is the performance context, how much time to prepare, etc. There are even some “higher violin book” accompaniments that are easier, depending on the piece, and there is the notorious spot in Becker Gavotte (book 3) where a simplified alternative has been given in the revised edition.

Consider the overlapping pieces:
Attributed-to-Bach Minuets 1/2/3—violin 1, piano 2
Beethoven Minuet in G—violin 2, piano 2
Bach G minor Minuet—violin 3, piano 3?
Bach Gavotte in G minor—violin 3, piano 3?
(Also the book 1 folk songs that are in different keys—if a piano student has learned transposing by ear)

A violin student and piano student having newly/recently learned these pieces could conceivably “play at the same time”. As an exercise in learning to “play together”, using known repertoire is nice because they can focus on playing rather than getting through notes. For anything more formal than practice/training or casual performance, it would help to have the accompanist be considerably more experienced and especially for beginner violin students, be able to catch them if they get lost, adjust to unevenness of tempo, etc.

Personally, I find the Vivaldi A minor 1st movement accompaniment as written to be more difficult than the 3rd movement. I accompanied La Folia (book 6) last year and for some of the particularly gnarly sections, I didn’t want to/have time to/find it necessary to learn the exact part, so I “improvised” based on the chords and rhythm/style and it was realistic. There are also the Frustrated Accompanist arrangements that simplify difficult piano parts while keeping them musically believable: http://www.frustratedaccompanist.com/

Linda Yokoi said: Nov 16, 2017
 3 posts

Thank you for the detailed information, Mengwei. It’s very helpful that you have commented on many issues that will assist me (well, actually, my son), as he continues through Suzuki—he started violin with a teacher who uses the Suzuki books last year, and I just recently discovered that there are piano accompaniments for each book. So my questions were actually twofold—one was how/if the piano levels might be appropriate for some of his friends who play piano, and two, for ME to have an idea of how much more difficult the accompaniments will become as I try to play along with my son (I used to play piano a little bit and am finding that the book 4 accompaniments are getting close to my limit on my ability to sightread—just wondering if the accompaniments will become more difficult with each book, in which case, my sightreading will no longer do!!). Thanks again :)

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