Whether you are learning a viola on your own or appointing a private tutor to help with your progress, a viola book is inevitable in both cases. The same applies to your children since private tutors may not focus much on an individual, especially regarding correct posture and bowing angles.
With the best viola books, it is possible to improve your proficiency in playing the viola, learning from the fundamentals to the advanced techniques. However, finding the best viola books can be challenging, given the number of options.
Top 11 Best Viola Books
The best approach is to find books that a beginner can easily use and create a progression toward advanced skills. Here is an overview of our assessment of the best viola books.
|Suzuki Viola 1||4.7|
|Suzuki Viola 2||4.8|
|Suzuki Viola 3||4.9|
|Suzuki Viola 4||4.8|
|Suzuki Viola 5||4.9|
|Suzuki Viola 6||4.8|
|Suzuki Viola 7||4.9|
|EE for Strings Viola 1||4.7|
|115VA Viola 1||4.7|
|116VA Viola 2||4.8|
|117VA Viola 3||4.6|
1. Suzuki Viola School by Shinichi Suzuki – Volume 1
If you want a book to start learning from zero, you cannot go wrong with the Suzuki Viola School, Vol-1. The first book in the viola series guide follows the Suzuki method of Talent Education as espoused by the renowned teacher and violinist Shinichi Suzuki. Besides, it is an excellent beginner book focusing on the essentials like the right posture, proper instrument handling, angling the bow, and more.
It also comes with a CD for reviewing the sounds, which is useful in ear training. However, the first volume might be challenging if one does not understand note reading and lacks theory lessons.
- 32 pages
- Well-distributed lessons
- An enhanced learning experience with an audio CD
- Available in paperback and Kindle format
- Needs previous theoretical knowledge
2. Suzuki Viola School by Shinichi Suzuki – Volume 2
As mentioned above, the Suzuki Viola School books are in a series. The second book promotes Shinichi’s principles of teaching the student. It still mixes folk songs with some classical music like Bach’s songs. Thus, the progression from the first book is continuous. The pieces are also longer and well-arranged in order of difficulty so that each song builds a new skill.
The second book of the viola school may prove challenging if you get straight to it without a stringed instrument background.
- 32 pages
- Available in paperback and sheet music
- Kindle format not available
- Slightly difficult for beginners
3. Suzuki Viola School by Shinichi Suzuki – Volume 3
Volume three of the Suzuki Viola school is built on the first two books’ skills. Besides, it makes an excellent complement to your private teaching. The learning speed is fast in this series, and at this point, the learner starts practicing advanced techniques. There are more classical pieces introduced here, including several Bach pieces. There are also classical pieces by Martini and Becker.
Because of the skills built earlier, the book is much easier to use. However, if you have not learned from the earlier books, its use will need a teacher’s guidance.
- 24 pages
- Smooth transition from vol. 1 and 2
- Not available in paperback and Kindle format
4. Suzuki Viola School by Shinichi Suzuki – Volume 4
Vol. 4 is more suitable for intermediate learners. Seasoned players can use it for warm-ups, freshening, and fine-tuning skills. It features different forms of music, making it an excellent choice for practice.
Ensure your book arrives with the necessary complementary learning material like a CD, though, at times, these may come at an extra cost.
- 32 pages
- Intermediate players can use it without tutor’s help
- It has a combination of easy and challenging lessons
- It should be available in Kindle format
5. Suzuki Viola School by Shinichi Suzuki – Volume 5
The fifth volume of the Suzuki Viola school follows the ideas of Shinichi Suzuki. It develops the unrealized musical skills of the student. Besides, it features plenty of more complex techniques like training for developing left-hand skills and studies related to position shifting, tonalization, and bow handling.
It offers an excellent practice model, making it ideal for intermediate users who want to advance their skills. The song selection features plenty of classics by various classical musicians, including Marais, Preucil, and Pergolesi. Thus, it is a book most teachers recommend for intermediate learners seeking the next step to advance viola playing.
- 32 pages
- Available in sheet music, hardcover, and paperback format
- Fulfills the needs of intermediate players
- It should include additional techniques
6. Suzuki Viola School by Shinichi Suzuki – Volume 6
With 36 pages, the 6th volume of the Suzuki School viola series of books is bulkier than the first five volumes. It has more songs and especially from the renaissance era, including recordings by William and Doris Preucil. There are tonalization and intonation exercises designed by Shinichi Suzuki himself.
The book is more challenging; therefore, suitable for advanced learners. It introduces practice for octaves and sixths, position etudes, and chromatic scale exercises. Besides, it is also ideal for someone who may not have studied using the earlier books but is ready for orchestra practice. At this level, there are no folk songs included in the book.
- 36 pages
- Both kindle and paperback versions are available
- Includes ample techniques
- Not suitable for beginner and intermediate-level players
7. Suzuki Viola School by Shinichi Suzuki – Volume 7
The final volume in the Suzuki Viola School is volume seven. It is also the most comprehensive, with far much longer pieces and exercises, which explains its 44 pages of content compared to 32 for volumes one to five. It is ranked in the top 15 of the best viola books on Amazon. That’s why it is the book most recommended for advanced learners.
It includes classics such as Ave Maria and several concertos by Handel, among other classical composers. By the time one finishes the final songs, you will have developed masterful proficiency in playing the viola. The 7th volume emphasizes repetition and memorization to build your viola playing skills.
- 44 pages
- A masterpiece among all previous versions
- Detailed lessons
- The difficulty level is relatively high here
8. Essential Elements for Strings – Viola Book-1
The Essential Elements for Strings is a general book covering most of the string instruments. It introduces the learner to aspects such as sound pedagogy. This is the best book if you are looking for a stand-alone excellent beginner’s guide for someone with no music background. The book has instrument-specific lessons that help learners study the instrument of their choice.
The Essential Elements interactive accompanying online support features plenty of learning tools. The EE for strings books wins among other beginner books. That’s because it provides plenty of supplemental resources with notes labeled for most initial lessons. The only setback with this book is that it is primarily designed for use in a classroom.
- 48 pages
- Instrument specific study
- Learning resources readily available online
- Stepwise lessons
- More inclined towards classroom learning instead of solo practicing
9. 115VA – String Basics – Viola Book 1
Book 1 of the Strings Basics series lays the fundamentals for learning your viola. Its very basic approach makes it easy to use. Using full-color photos and chart diagrams means you can learn the various techniques described in the book on your own.
The book also collects worldwide music, mixing classics with pieces already familiar to students. While the classical pieces help advance the learner’s skills, the familiar music helps you self-correct misplaced notes since you already know how the tune goes. The main setback is that the book is not among those often recommended by teachers.
- 48 pages
- Provides basic to expert-level knowledge
- Includes video lessons
- Helps students compose their music
- Not so popular among tutors
10. 116VA – String Basics – Viola Book 2
The String Basic Book 2 breaks down viola playing instructions step by step to help the student play in a group. The duets, trios, rounds, and even orchestra forms help with this. Here, the duets are especially useful when you are learning ear training. It is one of the few viola books for beginners with theoretical and musical lessons beyond practical playing.
These lessons help students, even those without a strong musical background, understand the notations. Students can even create their music after rigorous practice. This approach promotes a ground-level experience. Ultimately, it brings a better understanding of the music and the viola.
- 47 pages
- Lessons combine theoretical and practical knowledge
- Useful for all level players (under proper guidance)
- Both audio and video lessons create a fun learning environment
- Kindle version not available
- It should include more techniques
11. 117VA – String Basics – Viola Book 3
Book 3 of the Strings Basics prepares the learner for advanced instrument work. The instruction covers elements such as tuning the instruments independently, practicing major and minor keys, etc. The book ends with lessons for vibrato development.
This book is a combined effort of three award-winning, lifelong scholar and string specialist authors. Their extensive knowledge comes in handy in the video classes offered along with the book. You also get access to an interactive practice studio with this book. There is a separate interactive teacher studio provided to tutors.
- Written by famous and experienced authors
- It gives you access to interactive studio
- Includes a DVD for video lessons
- Filled with ample technical exercises
- Less popular compared to the Suzuki book series
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! While most books are designed to complement your tutor instructions and use in a classroom setting, they also have sufficient resources and are designed for self-learning.
Quality viola books are accompanied by CDs to help with your ear training outside the classroom. These CDs feature recordings of the music you are practicing. Check individual products to confirm the inclusion of CD or DVD.
Adults can equally benefit from Viola books since they are designed for learners of any age. It is essential to pick the book that reflects your proficiency level and not assumes someone as an adult or former viola player.
Our Top Pick
The top pick for the viola book depends on an individual’s present circumstances and future goals. If you want to develop your proficiency to an advanced level, nothing beats the Suzuki Viola School vol. 1 book and its subsequent series. This book series gives a wide variety of music for practice. Similarly, if you seek a comprehensive beginner guide, whether you have a prior musical background or not, then the Strings Basics book-1 and its series are the best bet.