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Giving Notes

The purpose of this project is to provide teaching repertoire for instrumental teachers who have students whom they cannot ask to purchase books for whatever reason. The repertoire is a mixture of original compositions and arrangements of out of copyright material. It is provided here under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence.

In the process of setting up this project, I discovered that there was also a need for ensemble arrangements, and so I have included my arrangements that have been created for very specific groups, but should be easy to adapt for others.

As I teach violin, the repertoire here is focussed on that instrument. Much of it is suitable for adapting to other instruments, but I would also like to encourage other teachers (of any instrument) who arrange / compose for their students to contribute to this resource – please contact me if you have repertoire that you would like to share, if you would like Sibelius files for any of the pieces, or if you are interested in reading more about the rationale behind this project.

Pieces for Beginners

(open strings only)

Piece Instrumentation Notes
Question and Answer Song One or more violins (the more the better!) This is very popular with my beginners – it’s usually the first tune I teach (generally learning by ear and playing pizzicato). I split pupils into 2 groups, so that half of them play the ‘questions’ and the other half the ‘answers’. They also enjoy being given the chance to make up their own questions and answers.
Breakfast! One or more violins An opportunity for some solo structured improvisation.
Question and Answer Song (for SEN) One or more violins An adaption specifically aimed at pupils who cannot access the original version. I’ve found teaching the ‘answer’ first and practising the counting and playing 4 beats with percussion instruments first to be beneficial. Then more able students can go on to learn the question.
The G Song One or more violins, with violin accompaniment Also suitable for SEN pupils
The E Song One or more violins, with violin accompaniment Also suitable for SEN pupils


Pieces for beginners

(some left hand technique required)

Winter Song Violin with violin accompaniment. I have included an extra part of about Grade 1 standard that I have found useful in mixed ability groups.
Spring Dance Violin with violin accompaniment Although this piece only uses the first finger, the string crossing and articulation means it is quite tricky. However, it’s a good fun piece for developing bow technique (and has a bit of left hand pizz, which is popular in my experience).
Rachel Dafydd Ifan Violin I usually replace the boxed phrases with improvised solos from each member of the group. I start with getting them to play rhythms on open strings, and progress to experimenting with the notes of the A major scale.
A major scale song 2 violins A fun introduction to the A major scale (ascending only).
Twinkle Twinkle Violin, open string violin No introduction needed!


Towards Grade 1 (and beyond)


Oh the Britches (full of stitches) Violin, with optional harmony part I use the harmony part for players who are struggling with the melody. I start by teaching bars 1, 3, 5, 7-8 and more able students learn more to fill in the gaps.
Si Hei Lwli Mabi Violin A lovely lyrical melody to encourage good tone production. I also use it as a starting point for students to compose their own lullabies.
Down the Road Violin, with optional harmony part The harmony part is suitable for less able players. More able players can experiment with adding some stylistic elements to the melody (e.g. sliding up to the B, droning on adjacent strings)
Summer Breeze 2 violins with violin accompaniment Can be used as an introduction to slurring or a slurring exercise.
E-string Boogie 2 or more violins with violin accompaniment An improvisation-based piece introducing the G natural on the E string and encouraging 4th finger use.
Old Joe Clarke Violin This piece uses both ‘low’ and ‘high’ second fingers.
Autumn Air Violin, violin accompaniment This piece encourages students to explore glissandi through improvisation. I’ve had mixed reactions to it, some students love it and others don’t!
Sharp Town Violin, piano accompaniment Written to be learnt alongside harmonic minor scales.


Ensemble Pieces


String Ensembles


Uncle Bernard Violin 1, 2, 3; Cello 1, 2, 3 An arrangement of a traditional English tune designed to cater to many different levels of violinists and cellists. All the violin parts are pre-grade 1 level, cello 1 requires some shifting, 2 and 3 are pre-grade 1. The violin 1 part is the melody, all other parts are optional.
Summer Scribble Violin 1, 2, 3, Cello A collaboratively composed piece by my after school string group. We decided on a key, and then came up with a 4-bar chord progression. The students improvised in turn over the chords, which I played on the keyboard. I recorded their improvisations, and the next week we listened back together and discussed them. They then repeated the exercise – I took away the resulting recording and arranged it into this piece. They added the dynamics afterwards, so they’re not in here!
Haunted Mansion Violin 1, 2, Cello Another collaboratively composed piece, on a Halloween theme. For this one, I composed the first four bars and brought it to a session. The children then talked about what they thought the story might be, and what was going to happen. After they’d made up a story, they decided how they would depict it musically. The violin parts are grade 1-2 level, with the cello part slightly harder.
Special Strings Sunset Violin 1, 2, 3, Cello The final collaboratively composed piece (for now!). For this one, I played a chord progression and the children experimented with coming up with riffs that fit. When they all had riffs, they then composed melodies to go over the top. I put it together into a piece, then they added dynamics. Before we performed it, they also added some stomping and shouting which is not in the score.
First Things First Violin 1, 2, 3 An ensemble piece using only open strings and first fingers. For the melody line in section 1 and section 5, rather than play what is written I usually encourage individual students to improvise using the notes E and F#. I also treat it as a modular piece, so I get the students to experiment with playing the sections in different orders, swapping parts, etc.
Jingle Bells Violin 1, 2, 3, Cello 1, 2 Violin 1 and 2 are about grade 1, violin 3 is easier. Cello 1 is tricky and includes an ossia part for some of it in case it’s too hard. Cello 2 is pre-grade 1.
Silent Night Violin 1, 2, 3, 4, Tune (for violin), Cello Violins 1 and 2 are just above grade 1 (some high 3rd fingers), violin 3 is open string and first finger only, and violin 4 is open string only. The tune is about grade 1. The cello part is about grade 2, but could easily be adapted to make it easier.
Bear Dance Violin 1, 2, Cello 1, 2 I took over some teaching from the fabulous Laurel Swift, and they had been working on this piece. I subsequently adjusted and developed her arrangement. Violin 1 is about grade 1, Cello 1 requires some shifting. Violin 2 and cello 2 are pre-grade 1 level.
Seneca Square Dance (version 1) Violin 1, 2, Cello This is Laurel Swift’s arrangement, for pre-grade 1 level players.
Seneca Square Dance (version 2) Violin 1, 2, Cello Laurel’s arrangement (above) was so popular that I adapted it after a while to add a greater challenge for some of the players as they improved. All parts are about grade 1 level.



All my orchestral arrangements are hymns / carols as they were done for a Catholic school. The instrumental line-ups are flexible, many of the parts can be removed and the arrangements will still work. They were all done to accompany a choir – dynamics are generally not included as they were established in rehearsals with the choir. Please contact me if you would like the Sibelius files to modify the arrangements for your needs.

In the Bleak Midwinter Fl, Cl, Tpt 1&2, Tmb (bass clef), Euph (treble clef in B flat), Violin 1, 2, 3 (open string only), Cello, Double Bass Melody in Trumpet 1 and Violin 1.
Ding Dong Merrily on High As above Melody in Violin 1
Silent Night As above Melody in Clarinet. 3 verses are arranged, with variations in the brass parts. Verse 3 features a difficult trumpet voluntary in the trumpet 1 part.
Once in Royal David’s City As above A 6 verse arrangement – the first two verses have no melody, with the intention of accompanying (amplified) solo singers. Verse 3 is brass only, with the melody in trumpet 1. Violin 1 has the melody in verses 4-6, joined by trumpet 1 in 5-6.
While Shepherds Watched As above Melody in trumpet 1, and shared between violin 1 and 2 – this was so that the more experienced players got the more chromatic elements of the harmony, but means that the individual parts don’t completely make sense which makes it a little more difficult to learn.


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