It’s generally accepted that the violin is one of the most difficult musical instruments to learn. The good news is that a great violin book can be an incredibly helpful tool. Used alongside plenty of practice, it can develop your playing in leaps and bounds.
But how do you choose the book that will suit you best? We’re going to take the guesswork out of your search by reviewing ten of the best violin books for beginners.
So let’s get started!
The Best Violin Books for Beginners
1. Essential Elements for Strings – Book 1: Violin (Our Top Pick)
The Essential Elements range of music books has been trusted by musicians over the decades. They’re as good as ever – and now have additional interactive elements to help learning.
Book 1 of the violin edition provides a great combination of tuition, scales and music. It’s supported by access to the Essential Elements website with a host of extra resources.
Beginners will benefit from the exercises helping them to familiarize themselves with their instrument. This isn’t just about knowing your scroll from your tailpiece. Cleverly thought-through lessons help students identify the unique characteristics of their own individual violin.
It’s a great way of gaining confidence, as well as understanding how to get the best from your instrument.
All the exercises are well-paced, becoming more challenging as the book progresses. And there are easy and fun tunes to try out what you’ve learned.
One thing to note with this one, though, is that it’s designed as an accompaniment to one-to-one tuition. There isn’t as much description of technique as you’ll find elsewhere.
If you’re prepared to spend some time hunting down online videos, it’s not the end of the world. But students wanting a DIY approach to learning may prefer something more comprehensive.
2. Learning the Violin, Book One
Cassia Harvey’s 80-page violin book is designed for students between five and nine years old. But adults will equally find plenty of helpful guidance here.
The book begins with simple songs using finger numbers in place of the notes. The emphasis is on developing intonation before moving on to reading music. The print is large, so it’s easy to read.
If you want to start learning notation straight away, you can flick to the back of the book. Here, you’ll find a description of the stave and notes.
There are also plenty of well-known songs that are easy for new students to practice. Nursery rhymes feature heavily, with examples including Twinkle, Twinkle, Old MacDonald and London Bridge is Falling Down.
It’s all very basic, but that’s exactly what you need as a beginner. And you won’t find much that requires any additional explanation. If you’re learning without the assistance of a tutor, this book will be a good companion.
When you’ve got past the very first stages of learning, Book 2 in the same series provides a good follow-on.
3. How to Play the Violin
This beginners’ violin book by Cynthia Reiss and Jason Randall is aimed firmly at the adult market. Its 68 pages cover lots of theoretical as well as practical ground.
The theory includes the history and evolution of the violin as a musical instrument, and information on musical notes and rhythm.
For new musicians, there’s also guidance on how to choose the right violin. And once you have one, there’s lots of information on keeping it playable, including how to tune and maintain it.
When it comes to playing, there’s a helpful guide to ensuring your posture is right. There are also some great exercises to warm up your hands before you begin to play. And there are a range of other exercises to play tunes and help sharpen up your skills and technique.
This isn’t quite as basic as other books on the market. Those who are new to reading music and to musical vocabulary may not find it the best fit for their needs. But as a more comprehensive accompaniment to books with simpler tunes and information, this is a good option.
4. Suzuki Violin School: Violin Part, Vol. 1
This guide from the renowned Suzuki Violin School contains 48 pages of music and exercises. It’s aimed at adult beginners, and is fairly text-heavy as a result. There are nevertheless lots of useful illustrations to help you work out what to do.
This works particularly well as a companion to formal tuition. A lot of the exercises include notes and additional suggestions for violin teachers.
The music is a more adult selection than some other books for beginners. Compositions include Schumann’s The Happy Farmer, Bach’s Minuet I and Minuet III, and Allegretto and Etude by Dr Suzuki himself.
Each piece is annotated with guidance on bowing and fingering. There’s also a useful illustration of where to place your fingers on the fingerboard. And there’s a glossary of musical terms and a guide to musical notation.
All in all, then, this is an excellent book for those who are taking violin lessons from a tutor. You’ll get plenty of useful material to help you navigate the learning curve quickly. But if you’re brand new to music theory and are studying on your own, there are better options out there.
5. Play Violin Today! Level 1
If you’re looking for a book to support you as a self-taught violinist, this one from the Play Today! series is well worth a look.
Here, you’ll also get a DVD to accompany the 48-page paperback music book. The book includes 70 songs, all of which are also played on the DVD. The latter shows the notation alongside the music as it plays.
It’s also great to have the visual aide when it comes to learning correct posture and technique. And the helpful DVD menu lets you go straight to the information you need. The production values aren’t top notch, but the content is all useful stuff.
The book covers topics including assembling and caring for your violin, the different ways to produce sound, and music notation and rhythms. There’s also a useful fingering chart to match up your fingers to the notes.
And if all that wasn’t enough, you’ll also get access to the Hal Leonard website. Here, you’ll find a wide range of audio files and exercises to help you improve your playing.
All together, this is a great package for adults who enjoy a multi-media approach to learning.
6. The Violin Fun Book: for Young Students
For younger beginners, The Violin Book is well worth considering. It’s written by Larry Newman, an award-winning former teacher and director of music who also founded the Children’s Music Workshop. His flair for developing children’s love of music is evident here.
There are lots of illustrations, and the large print is easy for younger violinists to read. Each song has an amusing title, and there’s a letter inside each note to help those learning to read music.
Songs begin on the D and A strings, making it easier on the ears of long-suffering parents. Pupils will have developed more control before they start sawing at the G string or squealing away on the E. And there’s a steady, easy progression to more difficult tunes as students work through the book.
There’s also a link to a website where students can download music and find links to videos.
This is a book designed to be used alongside tuition from a violin teacher. As a companion to lessons, it will work brilliantly, and will give students fun options for extra practice. But it doesn’t work as well as a stand-alone tool for self-learning.
7. Violin For Dummies
That’s right, the popular For Dummies range of manuals also includes one for the violin. Written by professional violinist Katharine Rapoport, it’s a great choice for adults looking to teach themselves to play.
This is a considerably thicker volume than the other books on our list, with 432 pages. And it’s accompanied by video demonstrations and audio clips via the Dummies.com website, adding an extra dimension to learning.
The book covers an extensive range of topics. There’s an introduction to the different instrument parts, so you’ll know what’s what. Then there’s advice on buying or renting your violin, and taking care of your instrument and bow. There’s even support to find the right teacher if you want to buy tuition.
It will show you how to hold your violin and bow, and adopt the right posture. It also includes an introduction to musical notation and explains how to use your fingers to produce different notes. And there are a pile of useful exercises to help you learn and improve your technique.
For adult beginners looking for a comprehensive guide to getting started with the violin, this is a great choice.
8. The ABCs of Violin for the Absolute Beginner
The ABCs of Violin is a 48-page guide for new students of all ages. It’s particularly suitable for older learners, written with a chatty and cheerful tone by experienced violin teacher Janice Tucker Rhoda. It has a great mix of exercises, study pieces and fun melodies.
Yes, it starts with basic nursery rhyme tunes that some adults may not enjoy so much. But with exercises before each piece to build the technical skills necessary for the melody, you’ll make quick progress. By the end of the book, you’ll be learning how to slur notes and tackling more challenging compositions.
Also included are easy duets, scales, a worksheet to help you learn notes, a glossary and a practice chart. There are plenty of illustrations too to help with fingering.
There’s less content here in relation to holding your violin and bow, however. And you won’t find material on tuning and caring for your instrument.
You will, though, get useful downloadable content to support the learning experience. This includes audio clips of the pieces in the book, so you can hear how they should sound. You’ll get one version with violin accompanied by piano, and a second with just the piano accompaniment to play along with.
There’s also a printable file with the piano music. If you can find a pianist to accompany you, that will be a real bonus.
9. I Can Read Music, Vol 1: Violin
If you’re looking to focus specifically on learning to read violin music, I Can Read Music is a great choice.
It covers pitch, rhythm, meter and timing. And at 108 pages, you’ll get steady progression from the simplest crotchets through to dotted notes and semi-quavers.
It’s a great accompaniment for student violinists learning through the listening method of the Suzuki School. And it will work equally well for any beginner wanting to get to grips with the fundamentals of reading music.
It’s divided into easy lessons. Those on notes are separate from those on rhythm, so students only have to concentrate on one thing at a time. Focusing on one lesson a week, it will take about a year to complete the exercises.
The layout is clear and concise, and the large print makes for easy reading. Note that this isn’t a comprehensive guide to learning the violin, however – it’s concerned solely with reading music. And you won’t find humorous illustrations or cartoons. The approach here is strictly business.
10. Violin for Beginners: The Complete Guide
Violin for Beginners is produced by the Riviera Music School, a twenty-year-old academy based in the Pacific North West. It’s subtitle is “The complete guide to learn to play the violin in a simple way”. So does it live up that promise?
There’s certainly plenty of content. The 115 pages are divided into 13 chapters. Topics include the history of the violin, its different parts, and how to choose and care for your instrument.
There are more practical elements too, with chapters on finger positions (including how to apply tape to the fingerboard), tuning and posture. And there’s a chapter on how to read music, plus one consisting of sheet music to apply your learning.
There’s a lot of theory and useful information here, but it will work best alongside formal tuition. If you’re looking for a book to help teach yourself to play, look for options with more exercises. They’ll help you build technique so you’re better able to tackle simple melodies.
Ready to start playing?
That brings us to the end of our round-up of ten of the best violin books for beginners. We hope we’ve given you some ideas to help you as you learn.
Our favorite is Essential Elements for Strings, Book 1. We love its mixture of exercises, scales and simple tunes. It’s a great companion to learning with a violin teacher.
If you’re going the self-teaching route, however, check out Play Violin Today! or Violin for Dummies. Both will provide a comprehensive resource for those striking out alone.
Whichever book you choose, we hope you enjoy learning the violin. Happy music-making!