Learning to play the viola can be a challenging but rewarding experience, and having the right resources can make all the difference. A good viola book can provide a solid foundation of knowledge and help players of all levels improve their skills.
Whether you’re a self-taught musician or working with a private tutor, a viola book can be an invaluable tool for honing your technique and developing your musicality. From basic techniques to advanced skills, there are a variety of options to choose from.
But with so many Viola books on the market, it can be tough to know where to start. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best viola books available to help you find the right resource for your needs.
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
This book is an excellent guide for beginners who want to learn the right techniques from scratch. The book is based on the Suzuki method of Talent Education and is written by Shinichi Suzuki, a renowned teacher and violinist.
One of the best things about this book is that it focuses on the essentials of playing the viola, including posture, instrument handling, and bow angling. As someone who has struggled with these basics in the past, I found the explanations in this book clear and easy to understand.
The book also comes with a CD that you can use to review the sounds, which I found useful in ear training. However, it’s worth noting that the first volume might be challenging if you don’t have a basic understanding of note reading and lack theory lessons.
It’s an excellent beginner book that covers all the essentials and sets a solid foundation for more advanced techniques.
- 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
When we moved on to the second book in the Suzuki Viola School series, we were excited to continue our progress. We found that this book continued to follow Shinichi Suzuki’s teaching principles, with a mix of folk and classical music, including some of Bach’s works.
The songs were longer and more challenging but still arranged in a logical order of difficulty so that we could build our skills gradually. We did notice that the second book might be a bit overwhelming for those who don’t have any background in playing a stringed instrument.
However, for those who have completed the first book or have some prior experience, it’s an excellent continuation of the Suzuki method for learning the viola. We appreciated how the book challenges us to learn new skills while still providing an enjoyable repertoire of music to practice.
- Available in paperback and sheet music
- Kindle format not available
- Slightly difficult for beginners
3. Suzuki Viola School by Shinichi Suzuki – Volume 3
As we continued our journey through the Suzuki Viola School series, we found ourselves progressing to volume three. At this stage, we were already familiar with Shinichi Suzuki’s teaching principles and techniques.
The third book continues to build on the skills we learned in the first two books and introduces more advanced techniques. It also offers an excellent complement to private lessons. The pace of learning in this book is fast but manageable with consistent practice. We were excited to see more classical pieces being introduced, including works by Bach, Martini, and Becker.
The pieces are challenging but well-arranged in order of difficulty. Each song builds upon the previous one, creating a solid foundation for advanced playing.
We found that the skills we had built earlier made using this book much easier. However, we also realized that if someone had not learned from the earlier books, they would need a teacher’s guidance to make full use of it.
- Smooth transition from vol. 1 and 2
- Not available in paperback and Kindle format
4. Suzuki Viola School by Shinichi Suzuki – Volume 4
The pieces featured in this book are diverse and cater to a wide range of musical tastes. It includes music from different genres, such as classical, folk, and contemporary.
One thing that stood out to me about this book is that it’s not just about learning new pieces. It also serves as an excellent tool for fine-tuning skills and getting in some warm-up exercises. The pieces are challenging but not too difficult, making it a great choice for practice.
I also appreciated that the book came with a complementary learning CD. Having access to the audio version of the pieces is a great way to improve one’s ear-training skills, and it was helpful to be able to listen to the music as I practiced. One thing to note, though, is that some sellers may charge extra for the CD, so be sure to check beforehand.
- Intermediate players can use it without the 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
Having used the Suzuki Viola School books extensively, we can say that Volume 5 is a great resource for intermediate learners.
The book builds on the foundation established in the previous volumes and introduces more advanced techniques such as position shifting, tonalization, and bow handling.
We found the exercises and pieces to be challenging yet fulfilling and helpful in developing our skills.
The song selection in this volume is diverse and includes classical pieces by well-known composers such as Marais, Preucil, and Pergolesi. We appreciate the book’s structure, which allows us to develop our left-hand skills through well-placed exercises.
However, we do recommend this book for those who have already completed the previous volumes and have a solid foundation in viola playing. Otherwise, some of the exercises may prove challenging without proper guidance.
- 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
The Suzuki Viola School, Volume 6, is an excellent book for advanced learners. This book has more pages than the first five volumes, with more songs from the renaissance era, including recordings by William and Doris Preucil. It also includes tonalization and intonation exercises designed by Shinichi Suzuki himself.
This book is more challenging than the previous volumes, making it suitable for advanced learners who are ready for octave and sixth practices, position etudes, and chromatic scale exercises.
It is also ideal for those who have not studied the earlier books but are ready for orchestra practice. Unlike the previous volumes, there are no folk songs included in this book.
One thing to note is that the book can be quite challenging without a teacher’s guidance. Additionally, the book should arrive with the necessary complementary learning materials, such as a CD or DVD, to aid in learning.
- 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
As we experienced while using the Suzuki Viola School series, volume seven is undoubtedly the most comprehensive and challenging book of the set. It builds on the skills taught in previous volumes and emphasizes repetition and memorization to develop advanced viola-playing skills.
This book contains a wide range of classical music, including concertos by Handel and classics like Ave Maria, making it an excellent choice for advanced learners seeking to improve their proficiency.
The pieces are much longer and more complex than those in the earlier volumes, which is to be expected at this level.
The book’s exercises and pieces require significant effort and dedication to master, but the results are well worth it. The 44 pages of content provide ample opportunity for practice, making it the ideal choice for those seeking to perfect their viola-playing skills.
- 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 book is an excellent beginner’s guide for those who have no music background. As a string instrument learner, I found this book to be quite helpful.
It covers all the basics of playing a string instrument, such as how to hold the instrument and the bow.
What’s more, the book is instrument-specific, so you can select the instrument you want to learn, and the book will tailor the lessons accordingly.
One of the most notable features of this book is the interactive online support that comes with it. The online tools are quite useful, and the notes are labeled for most initial lessons. This makes it easy for learners to follow along and learn at their own pace. Compared to other beginner books, the Essential Elements for Strings book is one of the best, as it offers plenty of supplemental resources.
The only downside to this book is that it is primarily designed for use in a classroom setting. As a self-taught learner, I found some parts of the book difficult to understand without the guidance of a teacher. Nonetheless, the book is still a great starting point for anyone who wants to learn to play a string instrument.
- Learning resources readily available online
- Stepwise lessons
- More inclined towards classroom learning instead of solo practicing
9. 115VA – String Basics – Viola Book 1
When I started learning the viola, I decided to use Book 1 of the Strings Basics series to get started. It was perfect for a beginner like me. The book had a clear and straightforward approach, which made it easy for me to understand the concepts. The full-color photos and diagrams helped me learn the different techniques step by step.
I also loved the collection of music in the book. It mixed classical music with familiar pieces, making it easy to learn and enjoyable to practice.
I found that the classical pieces helped me to advance my skills, while the familiar music helped me self-correct misplaced notes since I already knew how the tune should sound.
However, one downside of the book is that it is not frequently recommended by teachers. Nevertheless, I found the book useful and would recommend it to anyone starting to learn the viola.
- Includes video lessons
- Helps students compose their music
- Not so popular among tutors
10. 116VA – String Basics – Viola Book 2
The String Basics Book 2 is a fantastic book for viola beginners who have completed the first book. It is designed to help students transition from playing solo to playing in groups.
This book features duets, trios, rounds, and even orchestra pieces, which are perfect for someone looking to advance their skills and play in an ensemble.
What makes this book unique is its inclusion of theoretical and musical lessons beyond practical playing.
These lessons make it easy for students, even those without a strong musical background, to understand notations and create their music after rigorous practice. This approach provides a more comprehensive learning experience and a deeper understanding of the music and the viola.
The duets, in particular, are especially helpful when learning ear training, which can be challenging for some students. The book is well-organized, and the step-by-step breakdown of viola-playing instructions makes it easy to follow along. Overall, this book is a great tool for viola students looking to improve their skills and play in a group.
- 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
The book covers everything from tuning the viola to playing major and minor keys, which are essential skills for any advanced learner.
What I liked most about this book is that it comes with video classes taught by award-winning, lifelong scholars who specialize in strings. These videos are a great supplement to the book and provide further insight into the techniques covered in the book.
The lessons in Book 3 are well-organized and easy to follow, with clear explanations and helpful diagrams. The book also includes exercises and songs that are both challenging and fun to play. As a learner, I appreciated the interactive practice studio that comes with the book. This studio allows you to play along with accompaniments and tracks your progress, making it easier to see where you need to improve.
Overall, Book 3 of the Strings Basics series is an excellent resource for any advanced learner. The authors’ extensive knowledge and expertise, along with the interactive videos and practice studio, make it a valuable investment in your viola education.
- 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.