String Method Book Matters

Essential Elements Violin BookHas anyone else been affected by the international shortage of Essential Elements for Strings method books? (Yes, I am over-dramatizing the issue.) Despite the well-intentioned efforts of my district and the local music stores to be prepared for the fall rush, these books have been selling out nationally.

At one of my four schools, I am trying out a different string method: New Directions for Strings published by FJH. My district has used Essential Elements for about 10 years now, and I thought it might be time to explore other options.

New Directions Book CoverIf any of you string specialists would like to share your thoughts about either of these books, please do.


5 thoughts on “String Method Book Matters

  1. I’ve fully adopted the EE 2000 books as my preferred method at my school now. I like the way it’s paced: it fits very well with our school year, and there’s enough repetition to allow slower kids a chance to catch up.

    I got an advance copy of New Directions a while ago, and it seems to be a top-notch method. I say run with it, and let us know about the results.

    As far as I know, there is no shortage of EE2000 in these parts. My school has many old copies which I loan out to students, but those who tried to buy it had no problem at local stores.

  2. Hi Mr. Engel!
    This is Jaquelin Estrada, one of your former music students at Pioneer Elementary.
    I have continued to play violin throughout the years, and I am now giving private lessons to children, mostly beginners and some older students that aim at going more profound in violin, playing classical music and advanced string music.
    I have the New directions music book for violin 1 and 2, but essential elements 2000, to what I have observed, seems more efficient to the beginners building a good foundation in them from the start. That is the one I use towards beginners, especially since it worked with me so well when I was a beginner.
    New Directions is a very good music book; it has very accurate methods and gives a well understanding at the first time since it is straightforward, but I’ve observed that New Directions is better when students are going more in depth, as in going into violin 2 books. I have used it myself and I have referred it to students who know how to play on their own after finishing with the first essential elements book. That’s the way I’ve seen it work more efficiently, nevertheless, it depends on the method a teacher feels more comfortable teaching with as well.

    • Hi Jaquelin! How great to hear from you again. Teaching music has many rewards, but one of the greatest is hearing that former students are still playing. Knowing that you’re teaching is an even more exciting thought! Thanks for sharing your experience with the books here. Best wishes to you.

      • Thank you! I also would like to thank you as well for being such a wonderful and inspirational music teacher. I’m glad you got me back into playing violin when I was in 5th grade. Since then I’ve kept my focus, and now I have reached the opportunity to be able to teach others. It was truly an honor being your student!

  3. After a year of using New Directions at one of the three schools where I teach, it’s my experience that Essential Elements is more effective with the elementary students in my district. A couple reasons:
    – The DVD (video) seems to connect with students. With all the educational talk about “visual learners,” a video can be a great teacher. In the first few hectic weeks of starting music classes, I’ve reminded my students that watching the DVD can be one of the best things they can do. When they show up to class having watched it, they’re already “front-loaded” with the basics about the parts of the instruments and how to hold them.
    – New Directions is probably a more thorough method in that it covers more information, gets students using all four strings, and generally gives more details, it may be overwhelming to my students. The more narrowly focused approach of Essential Elements may work better in my situation.

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