There is no doubt that playing in small ensembles will help students develop good intonation, improve their listening skills and foster a sense of camaraderie with their fellow musicians. For years the standard for flexible string duets has been Beautiful Music for Two Stringed Instruments by Samuel Applebaum. You can use them with any combination of stringed instruments and they come in various levels from beginners to more advanced players. They are wonderful books – but now they have some competition!
Carl Fischer Publishing has come out with Progressive Duets Volume 1 (Easy to Medium – Grade 1.5 to 2) and Volume 2 (Advanced – Grade 2.5 to 3) and the brand new My First Progressive Duets (Very Easy to Easy – Grade 1 to 1.5) which they are calling “An Introduction to the Carl Fischer Progressive Duets Books for Strings.” Published in separate books for violin, viola, cello and bass, each book in every volume has both duet parts so they are playable by any combination of two string players. The top part and bottom part are fairly equal as far as difficulty, and both parts gradually progress in difficulty as players move through the book. This makes them great teaching material AND wonderful performance pieces for festivals, adjudications and recitals.
Each volume has 30 to 40 pieces, arranged by Doris Gazda, a big name in string education and Larry Clark, composer, educator and vice president at Carl Fischer. They feature not only a wide selection of classical compositions and folk songs from around the world, but also a unique sprinkling of contemporary compositions by Larry Clark and Keiko Yamada that add a real breath of fresh air to these collections. These original pieces are actually 2-part arrangements of some of their more successful string orchestra compositions from the last few years. So if you are looking for some fresh duets for your students that are flexible, educational, progressive in nature, very melodic and fun to play, look no further! The three volumes of Carl Fischer’s Progressive Duets will do the trick.
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