As a member of several professional string teacher organizations, my name and address have ended up on some mailing lists. Unexpected stuff just shows up on occasion. Recently, a new method book just appeared in the mail. As a Suzuki teacher, I'm not particularly fond of any of the classroom method books, as it's a completely different setup to what I do. Classroom methods are geared towards beginning older (5th grade and up) students in groups, whereas my beginners tend to be under the age of 6, and I get to work with them one on one. While I'm not cut out to teach groups of older beginners, that's how I started my own musical journey, so I always respect the teachers who can teach that way and I fully support school string programs. String Basics is not something I would use in my own studio, but I'm always interested in what's out there. Especially since this particular method book comes with the promising "Interactive Practice Studio" software.
I'm all for method books taking advantage of current technology to enhance the student's experience, and I was just recently wishing SmartMusic had some competition in this space. It should be noted that most string method books these days come with an interactive DVD/CD with instructional videos and accompaniment tracks for some or all of the exercises in the book. Essential Elements comes with a basic version of SmartMusic (access to only EE accompaniments with an offer for a full subscription), Finale Notepad, and tempo adjustment software in addition to the usual CD/DVD. SmartMusic comes with accompaniments for Essential Elements, Ochestra Expressions, Sound Innovations, and String Explorer methods.
I've flipped through the book, watched the DVD, and I'm currently doing battle with the software to see if I can it up and running to evaluate properly (currently having some activation issues, not a good sign). Stay tuned for more.