Teaching Pieces

for Violin, Viola, & Cello

As a violin, viola, and cello teacher, Elizabeth Erickson has an ever-increasing collection of original compositions and arrangements for student-level performers of popular, jazz, folk, and classical works for beginners through advanced players. Her specialty is tailoring pieces for students of wide-ranging ability levels to play together.

Additionally, after years of improvising off of the original scores, Liz is formally arranging same-instrument accompaniment parts for violin, viola, and cello sonatas and concertos. These arrangements are not only invaluable when preparing a student to play with piano or orchestra, they also provide a viable performance alternative to the original accompaniment.

Echoes for String Students
This series of edude books is designed to fill in the gaps of the Suzuki method! Short, fun exercises dovetail perfectly into the Suzuki pieces they foreshadow.

Duets:
Beginner Duets (two folk songs)
Two lovely French folk songs which can be played by any pair of violins, violas, or cellos. 
The first, Au Clair de la Lune, is for beginning students in first position; melody is shared 
equally between the two parts. The second song has a slightly more advanced part for 
the first player (4th finger and lower 2nd finger from violin and viola, shift to 2nd position 
from cello) and a comfortable 1st position part for the second player.

Canon (Hayes)
Played with as many parts as you have, this canon is all in first position. Works for any 
combination of violins, violas, and cellos.

Crocus in Snow (Erickson)
An original work by Elizabeth J. K. Erickson for beginners in first position, either a 
same-instrument duet or a violin, viola, and cello trio. In the duet version, the first player 
has the melody while the second player has an open-string pizzicato ostinato for a 
section of the piece and easy first position arco for the remainder. In the trio version, the 
melody is divided more equally amongst the three parts.

Devil's Dream (trad.)
This high-speed fiddle tune is for any duet between violins, violas, and cellos. The first 
part has the melody in eighth notes in first position (high 3 for violins/violas, forward 
extension for cellos) and the second part accompanies with quarter notes and 
occasional eighth notes in first position.

Greensleeves (trad.)
For two (or three) violins, violas, or cellos, this piece requires frequent shifting from the 
first player (lower four positions). The second part is quite rhythmically complex, though 
the notes are less difficult (4th finger for violins/violas, shift to 2nd position for cellos). 
Optional very easy pizzicato accompaniment part (all open strings or 1st finger).

Lasciatemi Morire (Monteverdi)
For same-instrument duet, this harmonically intricate piece requires a good sense of 
intonation. While all notes can be reached in first position (with extensions), there are 
cases where shifting within the lower four positions is preferred.

Twilight Waltz (Erickson)
An original work by Elizabeth J.K. Erickson for any duet of beginning violins, violas, or 
cellos. All in first position with no extensions. The first player has the melody (quarters 
and eighth notes) and the second player has the accompaniment (all quarter notes).

When Irish Eyes are Smiling (Ball)
A lyrical piece for any duet of violins, violas, and cellos (all in first position with a variety of 
hand shapes/extensions). While the first player has the melody and the second the 
harmony, both parts are of equal difficulty.

Trios:
Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms (Moore)
For same-instrument trio all in first position, the first and second parts are active 
rhythmically and melodically (with one high 3 for violin/viola or extension for cello) while 
the third part is a four-bar ostinato using only open strings and first finger.

Canon (Hayes)
Played with as many parts as you have, this canon is all in first position. Works for any 
combination of violins, violas, and cellos.

Crocus in Snow (Erickson)
An original work by Elizabeth J. K. Erickson for beginners in first position, either a 
same-instrument duet or a violin, viola, and cello trio. In the duet version, the first player 
has the melody while the second player has an open-string pizzicato ostinato for a 
section of the piece and easy first position arco for the remainder. In the trio version, the 
melody is divided more equally amongst the three parts.

Flow Gently, Sweet Afton (Spilman)
A short, lyrical same-instrument trio all in first position. The first player has one low 2nd 
finger (for violins/violas). The third part is the easiest with frequent use of open strings.

Melody (Haydn)
A slow, sweet melodic piece for same-instrument trio, all in first position. The first part 
has one low 1st finger (for violins/violas) or backward extension (for cellos) and the 
second part has low 2nd finger (for violins/violas). The second part has the melody while 
the first and third parts are primarily on the lower two strings.

The Ash Grove (trad.)
This Welsh folk song is arranged for same-instrument trio or quartet. Two of the parts 
require high 3 (violins/violas) or extensions (cellos), while the other two parts are in 
regular first position.

The Star-Spangled Banner (trad.)
A harmonically exciting rendition of the USA national anthem for same-instrument trio all 
in first position. The first and second parts have high 3rd fingers and low 2nd fingers (for 
violins/violas) and forward extensions (for cellos). The melody is divided amongst the 
three parts.

This Nearly Was Mine (Rogers)
A lovely piece arranged for any trio or quartet of violins, violas, and cellos. Occasional 
shifting required of 1-2 of the parts, depending on instrumentation, but mainly playable in 
first position.

Quartets:
Alleluia (Thompson)
Originally for a cappella chorus, this piece transforms beautifully to cello quartet. Cello 1 
goes up to a high C5 and is the most difficult part; Cellos 2 and 3 should be able to shift 
easily within the lower four positions; Cello 4 could be done entirely in 1st position, but is 
better with occasional shifting.

Andante Cantabile (Lee)
This lyrical piece has four parts which can be distributed as needed between violins, 
violas, and cellos. The melody part is for violin (1st position, lower 2nd finger required) 
and/or cello (1st-4th positions); the harmony part is for cello (1st position); the pizzicato 
part is for violin or viola (1st position); and the broken chords part is for cello (1st 
position, backward extension required).

Canon (Hayes)
Played with as many parts as you have, this canon is all in first position. Works for any 
combination of violins, violas, and cellos.

Italian Song (Tchaikovsky)
A lively carnivalesque piece full of "oom-pa-pa" originally written for the piano, Italian 
Song is arranged as a quartet for any combination of violins, violas, and cellos. The 
melody is divided equally amongst the top three parts (violins change finger shapes in 
first position, violas and cellos need to shift for two out of the three parts), while the fourth 
part chugs faithfully along on the downbeat in first position (high 3rd finger for violin/viola, 
forward extension for cello).

Kyrie (Young)
This chant-inspired, harmonically gratifying piece was originally for a cappella voices. It 
has been arranged as a quartet with the first part playable by violin (first position with low 
2 and high 3), viola (some shifting required), or cello (shifting required into thumb 
position); the second part playable by violin (first position with high 3), viola (first position 
with high 3), or cello (shifting required into thumb position); the third part playable by viola 
(first position with high 3) or cello (first position with forward extension); and the fourth 
part playable by cello (first position with forward extension).

Soldier's March (Schumann)
Originally for piano, this brisk march is for beginner string quartet (two violins, viola, and 
cello). All four parts are in first position (no extensions) with only the first violin part 
requiring lower 2nd finger.

The Ash Grove (trad.)
This Welsh folk song is arranged for same-instrument trio or quartet. Two of the parts 
require high 3 (violins/violas) or extensions (cellos), while the other two parts are in 
regular first position.

This Nearly Was Mine (Rogers)
A lovely piece arranged for any trio or quartet of violins, violas, and cellos. Occasional 
shifting required of 1-2 of the parts, depending on instrumentation, but mainly playable in 
first position.

To a Wild Rose (MacDowell)
This beautiful piece, originally written for piano, works splendidly for string quartet (two 
violins, viola, and cello). The first violin has the melody and is mostly in first position with 
one shift into fourth position. The second violin is entirely in first position. The viola is 
also in first position with occasional low 2, high 3, and one double stop of a major 
second with an open string. The cello is primarily in first position with one shift to second 
position, forward and backward extensions, and one double stop of a major sixth.

Accompaniment Parts
Sonata in G Minor for Two Violins or Two Cellos (Handel)
This accompaniment part is for viola (violin duet only) or cello (either duet version). It 
appropriately provides harmonic stability without drawing focus from the entwining 
melodies of the upper two parts.

Sonata Op. 4 for cello (Kodaly)
This accompaniment part is for cello. Just as in the original, this version is a true duet 
with melody, rhythmic complexity, register, and dynamic range balanced equally between 
the two parts.