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on 8 September 2015
I make a strong claim in the title of this review, but I think it's justifiable. In discussion on violinist.com there seems to be a general consensus that this is a unique and remarkable resource. I suspect that any serious student or teacher will gain important insights from a study of this material.

So why is it so important?

As a student of Dorothy DeLay, Fischer has direct insight into the teaching of Galamian, and he draws on many other teachers. But he also builds on these traditions with his own insights.

Essentially, Simon Fischer has been on a decades-long project to demystify the teaching of violin technique. Beyond the introductory level all too many teachers focus more on teaching music than on teaching violin. so students are often left to find their own way on the technical side. Fischer was inspired to write this book after watching an orchestral professional struggle with issues he knew he could fix quickly in the studio, or which she could fix for herself if only the information was available. His aim is to provide teachers with a better resource to help their students, and students with a better resource to become self-teachers.

In this book Fischer uses his "big idea" that everything can be described and analysed in terms of proportions, and applies this systematically to all aspects of technique. This gives it a coherence I haven't found in other pedagogic materials. He draws together the essential insights of his earlier books on Basics (technical exercises), Practice and Scales and structures them into a comprehensive survey of technique. Compared to Basics it's less detailed but more structured and step-by-step. It could be used as a starting point for analytically oriented adults, but it's really aimed at helping intermediate and advanced players by providing a systematic approach to identifying issues and determining next steps. It provides a strong foundation, with an overview of the key issues in each aspect of technique along with fundamental exercises, and gives a sense that learning this uniquely challenging instrument is actually workable. With an understanding of this material, even an average learner like myself can become an autonomous problem-solver.

From this sound platform, students could then delve into the other books for additional detail once they feel ready. If you're new to Simon Fischer's approach, this is the place to start, I feel.

As a self-learner I'm using the book for a ground-up review of my technique and almost every day I'm identifying new issues and solutions. He clarifies the more controversial areas of technique with balance and lucidity, and some of his insights are simply brilliant and can lead to immediate improvements.

The coverage is comprehensive, and as always with his books the production values are exemplary.

Here are the main topics covered. If you are an advanced player and feel they look basic, Fischer encourages all players to return to check their foundations on a regular basis.

- Holding the Violin and Bow
- Setting up the left hand and bow arm
- Tone Production (his famous exercises in their clearest exposition so far)
- Intonation (this was an eye-opener for me - a systematic approach to improving this elusive skill)
- Playing with ease and avoiding injury (with new insights from his work with the Alexander approach)
- Position changing (a single idea in this section has resolved many of my difficulties)
- Vibrato
- Bow strokes

There are also a number of broader ideas on musicality, practice and problem-solving.

For a 340 page large-format book of this quality the price is not unreasonable, and for less than the cost of a lesson with a good teacher you are gaining a resource for life.

An exceptional contribution to the field that's destined to become a classic. Wholeheartedly recommended!
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on 3 February 2016
It has taken me a little while to get around to picking this up after buying it, but what a revelation. Although only part way through, I am stunned at what I have learned already. The writer takes a logical and analytical approach to playing and listening. Such simple things as acknowledging that you have to make physical adjustments in the way you hold the violin to take account of your physical stature! My last two violin teachers -and the reason I stopped playing - tried to force me into positions that were not natural for me. No wonder I gave up. This book makes me look forward to picking up my violin.
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on 13 June 2015
Bought this for my son who is doing Grade VIII. Really helpful for him as good resource to refer to during practice. Explanations help him to understand not only how to practice but also the reasons for it. Wish I had bought it for him earlier.
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on 15 August 2014
A truly invaluable source of information regarding the correct way to play the violin. Set out in a clear and concise fashion, this book will be a source of reference to myself for years to come. Worth every penny!!
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on 18 December 2014
good style, very practical, absolutely worth a purchase, for beginners to the more advanced
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on 10 July 2015
Essential for the student especially self teachers.
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on 3 July 2015
Great book!
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on 10 July 2015
Far too wordy and the presentation is dull.
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on 16 December 2014
Looks great - will take me a while to process all the information.
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