Violin Reviews: TCL's Sight Reading Violin

Joanne Davies
Friday, October 1, 2021

Joanne Davies reviews Sight Reading Violin by Celia Cobb and Naomi Yandell, published by Trinity College London.

It is not often that a sight-reading book makes one smile with appreciation. Celia Cobb and Naomi Yandell have produced an inspirational collection of books for violin, viola, cello, and double bass, which will undoubtedly enable student string players to improve their sight reading. Here, I look at Cobb and Yandell's Trinity College London (TCL) offering for violin.

The books have been thoughtfully designed to take the student on a ‘learning journey’. With the introduction of each new grade comes a set of helpful ‘lessons' in music theory, perfectly tailored to the level, including clapping exercises, teacher/pupil duets, multiple-choice quizzes and useful hints about key signatures, finger positions, tempo, and dynamics. The lessons provide a gentle transition into independent reading, in preparation for the more formal exam-style tests.

The first book starts at beginner level, introducing simple clapping exercises and the use of open strings. It is refreshing to see the inclusion of sight reading at this level. Rhythm here has been tackled in a very organic way, with the teacher playing a well-known melody while the pupil claps along – not only is this beneficial for recognising different note values, but it also develops skills in ensemble playing. As the books progress through the grades, new rhythms and key signatures are introduced in line with grade requirements. Every grade also has a comprehensive selection of formal specimen sight-reading tests to help prepare students for exams.

The other two books in the set cover Grades 3–5 and 6–8, respectively. These follow the same formula; there are lessons in syncopation, bowing styles, key signatures, accidentals, Italian terms, different positions, unusual time signatures, duplets, double-stops and more.

It must be noted that the resources are available to buy in both hard copy and e-book formats. The books – virtual and in print – are excellent value for money and I wholeheartedly recommend them.