Book Review: 'Violin Star Books 1–3' by Edward Huws-Jones
'Violin Star Books 1–3' by Edward Huws-JonesABRSM, $9.27/$12.39 (Book 1, student ed. with CD/accom. book); $10.83/$13.94 (Book 2); $12.39/$15.50 (Book 3).
Composer, arranger, and music educator Edward Huws-Jones’ experience as a string teacher is evident in his earlier books, notably his violin collections featuring traditional fiddle repertoire. Violin Star, Huws-Jones’ latest contribution, offers three beginner books containing graded easy repertoire pieces.
All 106 tunes were penned and then “road-tested” by students during the course of his peripatetic teaching. They take the young player on a delightful music journey from first plucking pieces like “Big Ben” and graduating to a simple arrangement of Vivaldi’s “Autumn” by the end of the 47 tunes in Book 1. Throughout all three books, styles include classical, traditional, pop, jazz, and world music. Huws-Jones has also included original pieces written especially for the series, maintaining a logical and approachable progression, while also being fun. The pages are dotted here and there with activities. Students are encouraged to make up two-bar phrase answers and play in different rhythms or dynamics to stir the imagination. Children will be unable to resist turning the delightfully illustrated pages to try out pieces with quirky titles like “Happy Hippo.”
Violin Star, Book 2, progresses through 31 exciting, eclectic tunes introducing slurs, ties and hooked bowing, the fourth finger, and scales of D, G and E minor.
Violin Star, Book 3, contains 28 pieces and introduces further finger patterns, more minor keys, and Grade 2 repertoire pieces. None of the three books contains fingerings, and only a very few bowing marks make for clear, uncluttered pages. A Haydn minuet and trio vie for attention with tunes from China, Turkey, Greece, France, and North America.
Each piece has two consecutive tracks on the accompanying CD: a full performance with solo violin, followed by a play-along version of stylish accompaniments. Additionally, accompaniment books have separate piano and violin accompaniments for every piece. This variety allows plenty of flexibility and interaction between student and teacher.
The Violin Star series checks off all my wish-boxes and will definitely be on my studio music stand ready to entice the new term’s beginners.