Feel like buying a book to help you learn to play the violin or fiddle?

The violin can be one of the hardest stringed instruments to learn, after all.

Not sure which book or method is the right one for you?

There are many different methods for music teachers and for those just teaching themselves to play the instrument. They can help you learn step by step or be used as a valuable resource to be referenced rather than read at length. These books, which are often accompanied by CDs with violin music, can be found in brick and mortar music stores or online.

So which is the best book for learning to play the violin quickly?

Let’s have a look.

Why Learn to Play the Violin with the Help of Books?

Today, most people use tablets and smartphones almost every day for things like cooking, having fun, and learning.

96% of 16-24s own a smartphone, after all!

However, despite a wealth of online violin resources, books are still hugely important when it comes to teaching music and can be incredibly useful for anyone wanting to learn to play a musical instrument.

While not as interactive as apps on tablets and smartphones, books have been around for longer and know what they’re doing when it comes to teaching. They’ve been improving with violinists for almost as long as the violin’s existed.

Why should you use books to learn violin?
Books can complement your violin lessons. (Source: Hermann)

Violin teachers were the first to start arguing about which one’s the best (new learning methods, new pieces, better exercises, etc.). There are a lot of music professionals who write these books as opposed to apps which might be developed by somebody with no experience with the violin. Something to keep in mind.

While apps (on iPhone or Android) interact with musicians, which is really beneficial in the learning process, books boast better content and a more serious approach and can still be useful once you've become an intermediate or advanced player.

They are still one of the best ways for learning the violin on your own. With these books, you don’t need to worry about the battery running out or your connection dropping.

A book can be read, discovered, and then passed on. The pages are bigger than a smartphone screen and this can be useful for learning, especially when also holding a violin.

In some cases, the methods can replace a music teacher. This is very useful for musicians who are teaching themselves. Some people make the mistake of letting Facebook be the only book they ever open.

Where Can You Buy the Best Violin Books?

Everyone knows how to buy a book.

But where can you find the rare gem for learning the violin in a simple and effective way?

Should you buy online or go to a real shop?

There’s one big disadvantage to buying violin books online: you can’t flick through the pages. It’s important to see how the book is structured, whether or not it catches your eye, or whether it’s something you know would end up collecting dust.

You can’t really do this when you just see a preview of its cover. Some sites do let you see a few of the pages. This depends on the site and the book, though. You should make use of this function if you can.

However, we’d still recommend heading along to a specialised music store. You’ll be sure if you’re buying the right book for learning to play the violin.

You can take online violin lessons to practice more.

Where can you buy sheet music?
You can buy sheet music from specialist music stores. (Source: Stevepb)

Furthermore, you can benefit from the advice of the sales assistants. As violin players or musicians themselves, they can help you find the best books and steer you towards books that are appropriate for your level.

Sales assistants are probably better at giving you advice than the strangers on the internet leaving reviews of the books. They’ll not be able to tell you whether or not the book is suitable for your level.

You can also talk to the sales assistants for advice on playing the violin. Customers can build up trust with their regular sales assistant, after all. They can act as a point of contact within the store if you’re learning to play the violin and need some help. This can help you keep up with your violin lessons and not give up. Additionally, these stores often sell violin sheet music, too.

How Do You Choose the Best Violin Books for You?

Before you can work out which book to buy, you need to work out what you’re looking for.

There are two types of violists:

  • Those who are learning on their own and require a more holistic approach.
  • Those who are learning with the help of a tutor or teacher and will need a book that acts as a learning support.

Keep in mind that you’ll be using some books for months or even years and the book you choose will depend on how quickly and often you’re improving. Depending on your age when learning the violin, you might prefer different types of books - with more illustrations, or more technical terms. When you first start out, you’ll need books with chapters covering:

  • The parts of a violin
  • Tuning your violin
  • Adopting the right posture
  • Holding the bow
  • Hand positioning
  • Finger placement

These chapters might even come with a few lessons on music theory. However, if you want to learn music theory, I’d recommend getting a book dedicated to it.

Which are the best books for learning music theory?
If you want to learn music theory, you should buy a book on it. (Source: MIH83)

Learning to read sheet music can be tough and requires a lot practise as well as a good knowledge of music theory. A few pages in a violin book probably won’t be enough. In any case, in order to choose the right book, you should ask for advice.

Be it from a specialised sales assistant or the reviews left on an online store’s product page.

Keep a few things in mind:

  • The book needs to balanced. Check how the pages are arranged. You’ll need a good balance between illustrations, diagrams, pictures, and text.
  • The book needs to contain exercises. Training exercises are essential for any budding violinist. If you’re teaching yourself, it’s important that the book you buy has a series of exercises for you to do.
  • Does it have a CD? While not necessarily essential, a CD can help you train your ear and hear how things are supposed to sound before playing them.

Furthermore, it might be worthwhile investing in a book with a few classical pieces such as:

  • Ludwig Van Beethoven’s 5th Symphony
  • Beethoven’s Für Elise
  • Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
  • Fréderic Chopin’s Funeral March
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute
  • Maurice Ravel’s Boléro
  • Piotr Ilitch Tchaïkovski’s Swan Lake

These are great ways to improve. You should also check out the music of these famous violinists for inspiration. While their pieces may be beyond your skill level, just listening to them should inspire you to pick up the violin and start performing, even if it is just “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”.

Antonio Vivaldi16781741
Johann Sebastian Bach16851750
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart17561791
Niccolò Paganini17821840
Pablo de Sarasate18441908
Jascha Heifetz19011987
David Oïstrakh19081974
Yehudi Menuhin19161999
Isaac Stern19202001

Are these Methods enough for Learning to Play the Violin?

These approaches to learning to play the violin will never replace a violin lesson or the sage advice of quality violin tuition. However, they are a good alternative for those who are learning the instrument on their own.

In fact, while online violin tutorials are great for starting out, they won’t cut it if you want to progress past a certain level. Neither will smartphone apps. On the other hand, you can still learn to play the violin with books and a whole heap of motivation. Books will act as your teacher and guide you towards becoming a virtuoso. However, you’ll need several books to even come close to this level.

Once you reach a certain level, some books and pieces just won’t cut it and you’ll need to invest in more books. The rest is up to you.

Which are the best apps for learning violin?
There's only so much you can learn from apps. (Source: Stevepb)

You could opt for getting other complementary music lessons such as:

  • Music theory
  • Music training
  • Introductions to music

Some of these methods will accompany violin tutorials taken with a tutor. They can teach you important skills for playing the violin such as:

  • Note value
  • Left hand technique
  • Tempo
  • Rhythm
  • Improvising
  • Fingering
  • Reading tablature
  • Using a metronome

You can still use music manuals and books to help you learn outside of your violin lessons London.

There are books available for many different instruments (bass, cello, accordion, electric guitar, clarinet, flute, saxophone, etc.). Don't forget that sheet music for one instrument can still be used and adapted for the violin.

The Best Violin Books for Beginners

There are plenty of books for learning to play the violin.

Whether used in conjunction with your private tutorials or for teaching yourself, here are three great books for learning to play the violin.

1. Violin for Dummies

While embarrassing to buy (since you sort of have to accept that you’re a dummy), the Dummies series, especially when it comes to music, is a really useful resource. After all, they’re aimed at the absolute beginner and if you’ve never played a musical instrument before, they'll be a great help. In fact, you probably should read this book in its entirety before your first lesson so that you know how:

  • The different parts of a violin
  • How to hold the violin
  • Bowing techniques
  • How to clean the violin strings

It also has the benefit of coming with a CD so you can hear what you’re supposed to be doing as well as read it. In addition to audio clips, there are also video clips to you can also see exactly what to do.

2. How to Play the Violin

This book, written by the British violinist Max Jaffa is aimed at beginners and will show you scales, arpeggios, how to read music, and how to play several popular violin pieces.

3. The ABCs of Violin for the Absolute Beginner

As you may imagine, this book is for beginners and includes everything you need to know to start playing. There are plenty of exercises for beginners to start getting used to their new instrument, too.

The best thing... It comes with a CD to help you learn.

Whether you're learning to play an acoustic or electric violin, you should definitely invest in at least one good violin reference book to study outside of your lessons or during your personal study periods and learn everything you need to know about violins.

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.