A Flying Start for Strings

A flexible resource for the teacher

for violin, viola and cello

The A Flying Start for Strings series presents a carefully graded sequence of music for teaching the beginning string player. The books are suitable for teaching individuals or groups of the same instrument. Many tunes in the series for violin, viola and cello are in the same key and can be played together.

Teachers can use this versatile series in a way that suits their own teaching style. There is ample room in all books for the teacher wishing to add more dynamics, slurs, bowing signs, tempos, instructions or explanations. The large easy-to-read notes and clear and simple layout help students concentrate on the notes they are learning. Lively folk and traditional tunes make learning fun and lead to confident playing.

With only one tune on most pages, the young student gains a sense of achievement from turning the pages quickly and moving on.

Book 1

Book 1 is ideal for getting young beginners off to a flying start. The early part of the book can be used flexibly, accommodating the approach preferred by the teacher and suited to the progress of the student. Learning areas may be introduced separately and combined when ready.

  • Reading rhythms
  • Bowing
  • Using left hand fingers
  • Pitch notation

Rhythm exercises are used before any pitch notation. Rhythms may be clapped or played, bowed or plucked, on open strings or using fingering. Left hand fingers may be introduced in the order preferred, using the rhythms to develop finger skill and strength.

Major scales and arpeggios are played starting on an open string. Many short, easy tunes gradually introduce reading and playing with all fingers on each string (fingers 1,3 & 4 for cello).

Book 2

Book 2 starts with D string tunes to consolidate reading skills and provide the most comfortable pitch for singing. Students progress from one-string tunes to two-string tunes. The book introduces slurs, simple dotted rhythms and dynamics. There is a page of bowing variations with rhythms and bowings to apply to a scale, arpeggio or melody. Ensemble playing is brought in with canons and rounds.

Book 3

Book 3 introduces more complex tunes within an octave. It further explores intervals across adjacent strings and introduces semiquavers, staccato bowing, low second finger notes and major scales and arpeggios starting on the third finger (cello fourth finger).

More duets, canons and rounds extend experience in ensemble playing.

Simple harmonics and tunes in 6/8 are included. A bowing variations page has new rhythms and bowings.


The supplementary books Duets with an Open String Part are available for violin, viola and cello. The duet books provide additional folk and traditional tunes with simple open string parts. The tunes may be sung or played by the teacher, a family member or a more advanced student on strings, piano or other instrument. The duet book can be used alongside Book One of the series to develop confident rhythm and bowing skills. Beginners make satisfying music right from the start – experiencing the fun of ensemble playing and learning the skill of keeping time. A lively duet is a great way to warm up, or to wrap up a lesson that will have many students saying, “Can we play that again?!” Most tunes from the Duets with an Open String Part books are in the same key for violin, viola and cello and can be used together in a group of mixed strings.

Accompaniment Books

A piano accompaniment book is available for each instrument covering the three books in the series. The accompaniments are easy to play, allowing family members to join in. The books contain teaching notes and include a complete index and reference to page numbers in the pupils books.

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