Violin book 4

Tags: ,

said: May 17, 2011
 12 posts

Can anyone explain to me the rationale behind Violin book 4? It’s an immense jump from book 3 technically and in length of the stuff (or it seems so to my eye). It starts with three tough pieces which have lots of new technical stuff, but are by the same composer, so if you don’t like him, then ploughing through all that similar material makes getting on top of the technical side even harder; then the two Vivaldi movements which are also both challenging and pretty similar to each other. Luckily my daughter likes Baroque so while the Vivaldi have taken a while to master she has quite enjoyed playing them—but she hated and loathed the Seitz and it was a real challenge for her to push through them—especially as she had a shoulder injury followed by a broken finger on her bow hand which really slowed her progress so it took her most of last year to get through just those three things. Then after that she has found perpetual motion is a real doddle to play as far as technique goes—but a beast to memorise—and quite hard to make sound like music!.

She is starting the last piece in a couple of weeks time (after she gets a major audition out of the way) and hopefully book five is on the horizon. Admittedly she was injured last year, and that slowed her down, but it seems that Book 4 has taken for ever, after getting through a book a year easily up until then. I know there are no prizes for completing the course quickly, but is Book Four such a big hurdle as it seems to her?—or was it partly because we went through the first three books so fast that her techniques wasn’t so sound as she thought it was and so it’s taken her longer to master this, or does everyone find Book four a large mountain to climb?

Diane said: May 18, 2011
Diane AllenViolin
244 posts

Yes book 4 is a jump and yes that is where a lot of growing pains are felt. Is it worth it? YES! The results are well worth the effort. Finishing book 4 is a huge confidence and self esteem builder for violinists.

From a teacher’s standpoint—I know exactly what needs to be in place to play book 4 so I make sure I’m dealing with those teaching points in books 1—3. If I know a student is not ready for book 4 I will supplement with other material until they are ready.

Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

Barb said: May 18, 2011
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
685 posts

I quit violin lessons after starting book four. I had other exercises as well—can’t recall which. But at that level it seemed it changed from fun to work. I was 11 and it was summer time, and I just wasn’t willing to put out so much at that time. I did not dislike the music, by any means. I remember being surprised that my mom said “okay” so easily when I said I wanted to quit lessons. (I did not intend to quit playing violin in the school orchestra, but after starting the cello violin fell by the wayside.)

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Michelle said: May 18, 2011
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
25 posts

I haven’t had a student dislike the music yet. All of the students I’ve taken into book 4 have been super excited to be playing the Seitz and I can’t stop them from wanting Vivaldi right away. Book 4 is when I really started to love playing myself. I keep hearing that it’s a big jump, but I find it’s when my students really take off. I even tried to warn one student going into book 4 that it might feel harder and it might take us longer to get through the pieces. By the time he was working on Vivaldi, he asked me when it was going to get hard.

I agree that it’s important to make sure the skills are already in place before starting the book. Many techniques are already covered in 1-3. As a violist who had to learn to shift before the end of the book 2 and had to play Nina when it was still in book 3 (it has since been moved back to 5), I’m glad they moved shifting up in the revised violin books. I was already teaching it much sooner than book 4 and adding shifting into book 3 anyway.

I find the students who love the Seitz like the variety of sections it goes through, so creating a story around the characters can help students who aren’t as into the music. I’ve also been advised that it’s okay to skip the 3rd one and come back to it after Vivaldi, which makes perfect sense to me as a violist, since we don’t have that one. The viola book only has the first 2 Seitz’s then goes straight to Vivialdi (then actual music written specifically for the viola, woo!).

Now available in blog form.

said: May 18, 2011
 12 posts

My daughter did like the first Seitz initially but got fed up with it very quickly (partly because it was her main audition/solo concert piece for the year so she performed and played it a lot) and she really loves Vivaldi so she wanted to go on and play that instead of the next two Seitz which she got stuck on.
I just don’t see why the Sietz pieces couldn’t be mixed up with something a bit different. The other thing that bugs me a bit is the lack of slow pieces in book four. Every audition she does seems to require contrasting fast and slow pieces and at this point that seems to be hard to find in the Suzuki repertoire. We’ve tended to get by with highly contrasting styles but a nice slow piece to really work on controlling long bows and vibrato would seem to me to be a useful addition to slot in between the Seitz pieces.

She could shift well before she got to book four; her teacher had her shifting wherever it was possible in book 3 and doing scales involving shifting as well as shifting exercises as she needed it for orchestra—it’s the bowing she had more trouble with. Her bowing has always been more of a problem technically, and really she has only started to get enough control over her bow to get the sound she wants in the last couple of months. Looking at other kids who have been playing longer but are at about the same standard, I think that control over the bow is often the main difference—my girl has excellent intonation and a well controlled vibrato, but her bow often looks (and sometimes sounds!) all over the place. She tends to have grand thoughts about the expression she wants to put into her bowing but doesn’t have the finesse to carry out what she wants to do cleanly. I think it’s not helped by the fact that she has really long arms and long fingers so she fits a 3/4 size violin well (by the time she moved on her half sized violin looked really cramped), but she is very very slight, so that the extra weight and leverage in the 3/4 size violin and bow made things hard for her. Presumably children who start really young have been better able to go slowly and develop the right muscles as they grow.

Teresa Hakel said: May 26, 2011
Teresa Hakel
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Houston, TX
9 posts

Like some of the previous posters, I’ve found book 4 to be a pretty big jump technically, but another big challenge for my students has been that they often reach this book just at the age that they’re starting to learn to practice independently. I think that book 4 is less forgiving of poor practice habits than the other books, and many kids have to learn from experience that they can’t learn these pieces by playing through repeatedly, or without listening. If the kids are still practicing with their parents when they reach this level, a teacher who presents the techniques thoughtfully can guide them through without too much trouble. But a lot of kids who are learning to practice on their own practice poorly for a while (even if they’ve been taught good practice skills before) until they learn how important good practice techniques are, and poor practice can lead to frustration very quickly at this level.

Rachel Schott said: May 27, 2011
Rachel SchottViolin
Harrogate, TN
127 posts

An AMEN from this pew on Thakel’s post!!

Barb said: May 27, 2011
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
685 posts

until they learn how important good practice techniques are, and poor practice can lead to frustration very quickly at this level.

Ah yes! I know now that the way I had been taught to practice violin (the way I remember it—I started at 9 and parents were not involved) was to play until I made a mistake, and when I made a mistake go back to the beginning. Definitely bad news for longer pieces, and very frustrating!

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

said: Jun 2, 2011
 24 posts

There is a very good help for all book 4 violin students to learn all pieces of book 4 together with good practice techniques:

Edition Peters (EP 11291)
by Kerstin Wartberg

♦ This book with two CDs contains ALL pieces of book 4 in slow practice tempo, medium practice tempo and performance tempo (with and without the violin part)
♦ Preparatory exercises and supplemental practice tips are included with most of the pieces.
♦ Numerous photographs with technical details will help clarify any theoretical explanations.


This book focuses on the confident mastery of individual movements from violin concertos by Seitz, Vivaldi
and Bach. Each piece will be learned in three practice phases:

  1. The learning phase = Technically demanding passages are broken down into small building blocks.
    They will first be mentally prepared and then learned in the form of short exercises. Here, the student
    will become familiar with numerous practice techniques useful for independent work in the future.

  2. The shaping phase = Short sections are strung together. The musical shaping of phrases is now the
    main emphasis. Entire sections should be played in the slow and medium practice tempi without
    interruption. Corrections should only be made after a section has been completed.

  3. The performance phase = The entire piece should be played in the medium practice and performance
    tempi. The points of emphasis in this phase are development of physical stamina and learning to
    concentrate for long periods. Not only will confident mastery of the musical text be accomplished, but
    endurance, manual facility and musical expression will be developed as well.

Lilli Gatti said: Jun 10, 2011
 7 posts


There is a very good help for all book 4 violin students to learn all pieces of book 4 together with good practice techniques:

Edition Peters (EP 11291)
by Kerstin Wartberg

I just can come round to Antonella’s opinion. Recital Training is a high quality material and helps the book 4 student to practice better, with more inspiration, and better results.
I have tried it with some of my students. Everyone enjoyed playing with these musical CDs and made remarkable progress. So the big step between books 3 and 4 feels not as a barrier but as a steppingstone.

said: Jun 10, 2011
 12 posts

That book looks useful—although as my daughter is now on the Bach double it’s a bit late!

I think she learned her lesson on practice techniques on the first movement of the Vivaldi where she sight read it herself over the Summer holidays but then had to come back and essentially pull it apart and relearn it phrase by phrase with her teacher as she had only covered it superficially and wasn’t solid enough on intonation or fingering to bring it up to performance pace.

She did it eventually—well enough to use as her audition piece to successfully audition for a place in a music scholarship to a special interest music high school. But the process was painful! So yes I agree practice technique (or rather lack of it) may be part of the problem. She uses Smart Music to slow down the accompaniment until she had it at her perfromace pace.

This topic is locked. No new comments can be posted.

You must log in to post comments.

A note about the discussion forum: Public discussion forum posts are viewable by anyone. Anyone can read the forums, but you must create an account with your email address to post. Private forums are viewable by anyone that is a part of that private forum's group. Discussion forum posts are the opinion of the poster and do not constitute endorsement by or official position of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.

Please do not use the discussion forums to advertise products or services