Violin Notes, A Playing Journal with Tips and Tricks to Keep the Violin Fun

Is for kids and is really playful. It is NOT a technical book. I hope it will get kids laughing with and loving their violins, so they stay musicians for a long time. I want kids to stop thinking “practice” and, instead, think “playing.” I also want kids to see how helpful it is to journal about their playing.

I am in the process of compiling tips for Cello Notes and Piano Notes. If you have any tips for those books, please send them to me and I’ll include your name and your tip in my book.

Listen to my interview with Capital Public Radio: CPR Interview

Read an article about my book in the Reno Gazette Journal: RGJ Article

Praise for Violin Notes:

VIOLIN NOTES—A review in the American String Teacher Association Journal, May 2014

This is a delightful, interactive 52-week journal for violin students. Written and illustrated by a 12-year-old violinist, this notebook is a perfect accompaniment to students’ weekly lessons. The book contains 52 chapters – one for each week of the year. Each includes a Playing Calendar and notes on one side of the page and a fun violin game or activity on the other. The Playing Calendar has places for the date and a couple of lines for the student to keep daily practice notes, with a larger space for other notes next to the calendar—perfect for teacher or parent to write weekly practice items at the student’s lesson. The chapters are adorned with clever titles such as “Name Your Violin,” “Change the Venue,” and “Am I Bugging You? Huh? Huh?” (Sit with your violin in the living room while your family is watching a movie or hanging out. Pluck, bow, strum, and finger for as long as it takes for them to: A. Kick you out of the room. B. Stop what they’re doing and listen C. Continue to ignore you until it’s time for bed D. Join you with their own instruments!) Each title refers to an enjoyable activity for students to try to liven up practice. Every student I’ve shared this book with has been excited to get started! Parents were enthusiastic and motivated as well. It truly is a wonderful teaching aid, and it was no surprise when many “named violins” came back to my studio the following week! From chapter #2: “‘When it starts getting tough, make faces!’ – Itzhak Perlman.” A.R.

Reviewer Amy Rosen has been a String Orchestra Director in the Mamaroneck (NY) Public Schools for 34 years. In addition, she is the Director of the Hudson River School of Music—a Suzuki-based after-school music program. She is a certified SAA Teacher Trainer and received her Suzuki Teaching Certificate from The School For Strings (NYC). Ms. Rosen received a BA from Carnegie-Mellon University and an M.Mus. in Performance from Manhattan School of Music.

“This is a truly wonderful book, full of spirit and youthful wisdom – any violinist is likely to find great value in reading it.  The fifty-two ideas and games that Eleanore suggests here can lead us towards a more playful, attentive, and joyous path in our practicing – and that is the most natural way to go with music.  Thank you, Eleanore and all, for this wonderful gift!“

-Jeremy Kittel
Violinist, Improviser, Fiddler, Composer

“Eleanore Hamilton’s Violin Notes is a marvel of creative problem-solving.  Ms. Hamilton identifies unusual and helpful suggestions for working steadily toward those seemingly insurmountable goals — one day, hour, or minute at a time.  The ability to make work fun helps not only the young musician practicing independently, but also the teacher looking to inspire students with innovative techniques, and the professional seeking to motivate colleagues or teammates to work well together… Above all, this is a book about play, and how to reinvent the often arduous process of practicing by eliciting joy and laughter, offering inspirational quotes by accomplished musicians, and bringing the black lines, dots and squiggles off the white page and into the technicolor realm of audible music.

I particularly appreciate the fine quote about regular and rhythmic breathing.  Young string players will benefit mightily from inhaling and exhaling through their phrases.  Ms. Hamilton also mentions the often-overlooked importance of silence and makes valuable suggestions on taking breaks, changing your routine and conquering distraction.

In presenting her own suggestions in conjunction with those from various contributors, Eleanore has illuminated a curious, fun-loving, light-hearted mind and revealed novel ideas for feeding and growing the appetite of a hungry young musician.  Enjoy this outstanding piece of work!”

-Ann Krinitsky
Director, San Domenico School Virtuoso Program

Director, Marin Symphony Youth Orchestra


Eleanore Hamilton’s Violin Notes, is a wonderful tool for kids who find practicing the violin to be a chore. There are lots of fun, playful games to try and the illustrations will make anyone laugh. Eleanore’s creative mind and playful approach to the daunting task of learning an instrument is genuinely inspiring. I wish I had had this book when I was a young violinist. I would have practiced more often!

-Laura Jackson, Director and Conductor, Reno Philharmonic Orchestra


“I wish I had Violin Notes as a child learning to play the violin. In Violin Notes, Eleanore Hamilton strategically pulls ideas from her own experiences to create a guide to making practicing the violin fun! She has also gathered ideas from her teachers, family members, friends and fellow musicians, putting them collectively into one resource for the benefit of all children learning to play the violin. All of the tips in this book are fantastic! The writing and illustrations also make this book easy to read and exciting to use. I will definitely recommend this book to all of my young students learning to play the violin to keep them excited about practicing!”

-Jenni Charles, Fiddler, Dead Winter Carpenters


Violin Notes is a creative book that is both wise and funny. It helps improvement in small, steady, fun increments and will help you to become one with music and your instrument. Anyone will benefit from reading it!!!!”
-Bella Betts, 12, Musician 


“In Violin Notes, Eleanore gives students and teachers of music a wealth of ideas for not only young musicians, but for anyone involved in music. The suggestions are easy to read and contain suggestions that are imaginative, inspiring, and thought-provoking.

This book is a must for teachers and students alike with so many concepts and ideas that work with students of any age and ability.”

-Jim Mazzaferro
Artistic Director

Camp Director
Cazadero Music Camp


“I am happy to recommend this book to all of our students!”

-Rob DeNunzio
Director of Music Conservatory and Music Programs
San Domenico School 


“WOW.  Incredible.  Great.  A 12-year-old girl is thinking about how to help other teens like playing the violin!   So often it happens that young instrumentalists stop playing at the age of about 13 or 14.  Maybe because its un-cool or too boring or makes no sense.  It is especially hard for the parents and teachers of the teens to support them through this time.  What a great idea to help kids form a real connection, a relationship, to their instrument and to its sound. It is possible to have a good relationship when the instrument is not a “must” but “fun.”  Eleanore invites kids to have fun with their instruments, not just when they play in a group with others, but when they’re by themselves, just the player and the violin. For me, this building of a relationship, starting very early, is the most important thing in Eleanore’s book.  I LIKE IT. It is very thoughtful, creative and practical. Awesome!”

-Elisabeth Fuchs
Artistic Director & Chief Conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Salzburg
Artistic director of the Salzburg Cultural Association
Artistic Director of the Kinderfestspiele Salzburg