V.com weekend vote: How much of the Suzuki Books have you played, for your instrument?

April 8, 2023, 11:12 PM · If you've studied violin with a traditional teacher - not with a Suzuki teacher - chances are that you've still played at least a few of the pieces that appear in the Suzuki Books. Yet if you've studied violin (or viola or cello, etc) with a Suzuki teacher, there's still a pretty good chance that you did not actually study every single piece in all 10 Suzuki violin books (or 9 Suzuki viola books, or 10 Suzuki cello books).

Suzuki books

So I'm wondering - have you played music that appears in the Suzuki books, and if so, how much?

Here are a few examples, from a few different levels of study, of pieces that are in the Suzuki books: Go Tell Aunt Rhody, The Happy Farmer by Schumann, Boccherini Minuet, Vivaldi Concertos in A minor or G minor, the Bach Double, La Folia by Corelli, Handel Sonatas in F major or D major, Bach Concerto in A minor, Mozart Violin Concertos in A major or D major... Here is a list of all the violin literature in all the Suzuki Books; and here is all the viola repertoire. Unfortunately I could not find a similar list for cello.

After about Book 5, it's not uncommon for teachers and students to branch out into the vast repertoire that is available - either while still studying the all or some of the repertoire that is in the Suzuki books, or letting go of them entirely.

If I were answering this vote right after college, my answer to it would be that "my teacher wasn't Suzuki, but I've studied some pieces that are in the books." I did not study the Suzuki way as a child, but I did learn pieces such as the Vivaldi Concerto in A minor, the Bach Double, Mozart Concertos 4 and 5 (and 3), La Folia, etc.

However, in my late 20s I started taking the training courses for teaching Suzuki, and over a period of about five years, I learned all the pieces I hadn't studied before. For that reason, I can now say I have played "every piece in every book." But I've certainly played some of them a lot more than others!

Incidentally, 10 years ago a Violinist.com reader posted the discussion, Has anyone ever actually completed the Suzuki method?, and the first person to answer was LA Phil Associate Concertmaster Nathan Cole, who said, "Yes!"

How about you? Did you study from the Suzuki books? Did you study traditionally, but still use some of the books? Are you one of those rare birds who has learned very piece in every book? Did you start with Suzuki and then switch courses, mid-way through? Are you still in the books? Please participate in the vote, and then tell us your story!

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April 9, 2023 at 06:36 AM · I went through violin books 1 through 6 (mostly) as a child, and for piano I went through books 1 through 5, though by the time I was on book 5 I just moved to a piano teacher who is non-Suzuki. I did go through Suzuki books a bit longer than most of my peers, maybe because my possibly autistic brain insisted it was necessary, but I don't know. I was definitely suplementing with repertoire from other sources by the end of book 2 or so on both instruments.

April 9, 2023 at 11:55 AM · My childhood teacher used Whistler books and rep compendia. When I returned to the violin in my 40s my new teacher started me in Suzuki Book 4 and we did everything through Book 6 plus the Bach Cto from Book 7 and the Eccles from 8.

April 9, 2023 at 12:16 PM · I replied most through 5/6 - but actually I never did Suzuki (I predate them) but used them for self-teaching when I returned to the instrument. Thus, I started at about book 3. Once I reached 5 there didn't seem much point continuing without the guidance of a teacher and my interests went elsewhere.

April 9, 2023 at 12:46 PM · My teacher is certified Suzuki and we’ve gone through all the pieces in books 1 - 4. After that we’ve used many different repertoires from different books/composers and still pick out some pieces from book 5. But, after book 4 she likes to introduce different styles, not just Suzuki.

April 9, 2023 at 04:00 PM · When I was taking lessons Suzuki wasn't a thing yet. I voted "no Suzuki". I did play some pieces that are in Suzuki but the teacher did not have Suzuki's help in picking them.

I'd like to know if there is even a single player who has not been given Vivaldi a-minor at some point by their teacher!

April 9, 2023 at 07:05 PM · I didn’t study from the Suzuki books, and none of my teachers were Suzuki; but there is some overlap. On the linked page with violin literature in all the Suzuki books, I spotted right away some repertoire that I played. “Lightly Row” is one piece - I played it during the first week or so with my first teacher. Vivaldi A minor also stood out right away. This same teacher had me on it toward the end of the second year.

April 9, 2023 at 07:21 PM · I was self-taught until I was well past that level, and Suzuki was not the main thing I used (it relies too much on the teacher to provide technical instruction), but went through all the pieces in Suzuki violin books 1-4 and into book 5. I don't have any Suzuki viola books, but they're more or less the same as the violin books until halfway through book 4.

I don't think playing pieces that happen to be in Suzuki books 4 and up is quite the same thing, not least because the editions often differ considerably.

April 9, 2023 at 08:52 PM · I am old enough to precede the Suzuki era, at least for the USA. I have played some of the pieces featured in the Suzuki books, but have never used those editions. Among other things, they have too many fingerings, which leads to a student playing by the numbers instead by the notes. If a student already owns a Suzuki book, I will use it. Example; I have a student starting on the Bach double concerto. I replaced his Suzuki edition with a photo-copy of an Ur-text edition.

April 10, 2023 at 12:44 AM · I did Suzuki for about 3-4 years, and then switched to a conventional teacher. I can't remember which book I stopped on, but it was before the real concertos started to get dropped in.

April 10, 2023 at 09:57 AM · Doflein with assorted etudes and classical pieces. Suzuki wasn't popular, if known at all, almost 50 years ago.

Gotta love those Bartok Duets though.

April 10, 2023 at 01:26 PM · The Fiocco Allegro was a signature Suzuki piece that my teacher (traditional Belgian school) valued highly.

April 10, 2023 at 03:07 PM · I played part of Book 9, but in a different edition, for a Diploma that I scraped through. Several other works I played (some studied with my pre-Suzuki teachers, including part of Book 10 in another edition with my father before he passed me on to his former teacher, who then shifted me to Vivaldi G-minor) also appear in the Suzuki books.

April 10, 2023 at 07:55 PM · I couldn’t vote because I don’t have the faintest idea how I would fit in. It was “Listen and Play” when I was a beginner, and I went through the three books that existed at that time. Shortly thereafter we moved from Kansas to Maryland, and I began studying with a traditional teacher, who did not use the materials at all.

I have taught out of every book up through book seven, but my usual preference is to use the materials only through the Vivaldi a minor concerto (book 4) and use other editions for subsequent repertoire. I almost always teach Vivaldi g minor, always teach Bach a minor, but I don’t do some of the other pieces. Fiocco Allegro is my go-to piece for a less advanced high school student who wants to play a “Class 1” solo (it’s a Texas thing) but otherwise I don’t often teach it.

Editing to add that Listen and Play books 1 and 2 are essentially equivalent to the Suzuki violin school book 1, and book 3 of the former is nearly identical to book 2 of the latter.

April 10, 2023 at 10:45 PM · I had Suzuki teacher training in the '80s in Lyon.

Before that, I taught from the Doflein Method.

My own viola teacher, Phyllis Ebsworth used Watson Forbes materials.

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