Siz Destructive Beliefs

6 Destructive Beliefs That Hold Beginner Musicians Back

Siz Destructive Beliefs

Do you ever wonder how good your skills would be now if you started practicing a year ago? A question like this should motivate, not dishearten you. In this article, guest writer Elizabeth Kane will take you through six destructive beliefs you might face as you’re learning how to become a musician, and how you can overcome them…


Mind Over Matter

Your mind is a powerful tool. Your thoughts dictate just about every conscious decision you make.

Whether you’re a beginner guitarist who’s just learning how to hold your instrument or a seasoned singer who’s preparing for an important vocal audition, your thoughts can make or break your self-esteem.

Negative or self-doubting thoughts are mental poison — they can hurt your confidence and stop you from taking risks.

Risks Are Good

As you learn how to become a musician, you’ll soon understand it’s your job to take risks. It’s also your job to bring beautiful music (through passion) to an audience that craves authenticity. For this reason alone, we’ve got to put a stop to these perilous ideas that creep into our minds when we’re feeling overwhelmed.

Are you ready to face them? I’ll help you along.

Six Destructive Beliefs and How to Overcome Them


1) “If only I had…”

We think we need a particular instrument. We imagine learning from a specific teacher. We dream about having more time to practice.

Whatever it is, we have an idea that if only we had this or that, then, and only then, would we become the perfect musician.

But life doesn’t work like this.

Sure, we DO need a quality instrument, a great music teacher, and plenty of practice sessions. However, this “chasing perfection” thought pattern is holding you back from using the resources and skills you have now to become a better musician.

Instead, don’t idealize every step of the process. Take things as they come — you may be surprised by how well it all turns out.

2) “I’ll never be able to do that.”

Too many times we tell ourselves that despite everything we try, we’ll never be able to flawlessly play that piece, nail that audition, or impress that audience.

Naturally, some things do take more practice than others. You might have to work harder than you ever have before, but that doesn’t mean you won’t master the skill you desire at some point.

Think about something that’s ridiculously easy to you now: a skill, sport, or technique you’ve mastered. Remember when you didn’t know anything about it? When you barely even knew where to start?

Keep that in mind the next time a voice creeps in your head telling you there’s no way you’ll ever be able to do that. Time is all you need. Remember that patience and consistency are the keys to achieving whatever you want.

3) “If I mess up, ________ will happen…”

Let’s face reality — you’re going to make mistakes. We all do. To be great at what you do, you’re going to make a ton of mistakes.

Try to think about what you’re truly worried about.

Are you worried about someone laughing at you if you make a mistake? What happens if someone does laugh?

Write down what you’re afraid of if you make a misstep. Better yet — try it out! See what really happens when your fear manifests in real life. Overcoming stage fright is easier than you think!

4) “I’m not ready.”

It’s not easy failing, is it?

That’s what we’re really talking about when we say we’re “not ready” to give our skills a try. Failure is tough for every single one of us.

It’s terrifying.

We’ll never be truly ready to fail, no matter how much we’ve practiced, and no matter how much we’ve prepared. Trust me, there’s no giant sign that flashes across the sky saying, You’re absolutely 100% ready! There’s no way you’ll fail this time!”

But we do it anyway.

And with each moment, we defeat our insecurities, one shaky note at a time. We do this until we feel strong and proud, wondering why we were ever nervous in the first place.

5) “I can’t do that until…”

We spend too much time thinking about what we don’t have in order to achieve our goal. But with all the time and energy we spend worried about what we don’t have, we gloss over what we DO have.

What tools do you have now that will help you get closer to your goal? I’ll bet you can think of a few, even if they’re small: organization skills, persistence, optimism, imagination, etc.

Who can you go to for help when you’re struggling and facing unexpected challenges? Perhaps it’s a family member, a friend, or even a colleague. It’s important to know, especially for young musicians, that you have direct support when you need it.

What skills have you refined that will help you gather even better skills? Knowing one skill can help you learn another.

Use what you have now, right at this moment, to get to the next step. It’s not always easy and it’s certainly not always glamorous, but that’s how real growth happens: step by step.

6) “I’ll never be as good as him,” or “I’ll never play like her.”

Jealousy is a strong emotion.

When you doubt your own abilities, it’s easy to look at someone else’s highlight reel in comparison to your lousy dress rehearsals.

Everyone has someone they can compare themselves to. There will always be someone who began lessons before you did, performed a piece better than you played, and practiced more than you have.

The key is to measure where you are now to where you used to be — that’s a lot more satisfying. Staying motivated is a key to reducing anxiety during your practice and performance.

These destructive beliefs won’t go away overnight. It’ll take some practice to face these dangerous thoughts and eliminate them from your mind. Just know this — it’s definitely worth fighting for.

ElizabethKanePost Author: Elizabeth Kane
Elizabeth Kane is a music teacher who loves helping parents get the music education their child deserves. She is the creator of Practice for Parents, where she discusses what to look for in a music teacher, why kids really hate practicing, and what parents can do to guarantee their child’s success.

Photo by Alex Masters


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A Beginner’s Guide to Proper Violin Fingering [Instructional Video]

One of the most challenging aspects of learning how to play the violin is finger placement. Below, violin teacher Naomi Cherie S. provides a lesson in proper violin fingering…

So you’ve just started to learn how to play the violin. Before you can start wowing crowds like famous violin players Lindsay Stirling and Joshua Bell, it’s important that you first learn the basics, starting with proper violin fingering.

Learning the proper violin finger placement is a great place to start, as it will serve as the foundation of your violin playing. Below is a beginner’s guide to proper violin fingering and placement.

Let’s get started!

What is First Position?

There are several violin finger positions one must learn. However, as a beginner, the first one you’ll need to learn is called first position.

First position includes the first (or lowest) five notes that you can play on each violin string.

Since violins don’t have frets or marks that show you where to put your fingers the way guitars do, one of the most challenging aspects of learning the instrument is knowing where to place your fingers.

If you don’t have your finger in exactly the right spot (even if it’s just a hair off) the note can come out sounding out of tune.

The most common way to get around this issue is to place finger tapes on the fingerboard that show you the proper violin finger placement.

Over time, your fingers will develop something we call “muscle memory,” and eventually you’ll be able to remove the tapes and play in tune without them.

Most beginners keep their tapes on anywhere from six months to a couple of years depending on the student.

What You’ll Need

  • Finger tape: You can find a roll of violin finger tape online or at your local violin shop. You can also purchase pinstripe tape from an automotive shop.
  • Chromatic tuner or smartphone tuning app: See our list of the top 10 violin tuner apps here.
  • Your violin
  • Pencil

How to Put Finger Tapes on Your Violin

You will first want to make sure your violin is in tune. You can tune it using a chromatic tuner or smartphone violin tuner app, as explained in this instructional video.

It is imperative to get each string exactly in tune before applying your tapes. Therefore, check your tuning a couple of times just to be sure.

Once you’ve tuned your violin, place your first finger about two inches down from the top of the fingerboard on the G string and pluck the string.

Look at your tuner and move your finger around until the tuner reads A and lights up green with the tuner needle in the middle of the dial signifying that your A is in tune.

You can use a pencil to mark the spot and then slide a three-inch long strip of tape under the strings and press down firmly to go across the entire fingerboard and around the neck of the violin. This will be your first finger tape.

Place your first finger (index finger) on the tape and pluck one string at a time, looking at the tuner to make sure it reads A on the G string, E on the D string, B on the A string and F # on the E string.

If the tuner reads each note as in tune, the tape has been placed correctly. You may need to adjust it a few times and double check with the tuner before it is perfectly placed. The same process will follow for the placement of each tape.

The second finger tape will be placed roughly one inch away from the first tape. Adjust your second finger (middle finger) on the G string until the tuner reads B and then place your tape down.

When the second finger is placed on the second finger tape on each string, the tuner should read B on the G string, F # on the D string, C # on the A string and G # on the E string.

The third finger tape will be placed about a half inch or less away from the second finger tape. Adjust your third finger (ring finger) on the G string until the tuner reads C and then place your tape down.

When the third finger is placed on the third finger tape on each string, the tuner should read C on the G string, G on the D string, D on the A string and A on the E string.

The fourth finger tape will go down about an inch away from the third finger tape. Adjust your fourth finger (pinky finger) on the G string until the tuner reads D and then place your tape down.

When the fourth finger is placed on the fourth finger tape each string, the tuner should read D on the G string, A on the D string, E on the A string and B on the E string.

Please note that the rough one-inch etc. measurements I am using for spacing are based on a full size or 4/4 violin.

If you’re putting tape on a smaller violin, everything will be the same except that the tape will be placed closer together.

The main thing to pay attention to is getting the correct readings for the notes on the tuner.

And that’s it! Now that you have all four tapes down, you’ll know the proper violin finger placement while playing in first position.

How to Label Notes

Once you’ve put your tapes on, the next step will be to learn and memorize where each note in first position is and how it corresponds to the tapes.

In music, we use the first seven letters of the alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F and G to describe each note.

Once you’ve gotten to the end of the cycle and played G, you’ll start back over with A again and the sequence will repeat.

See violin fingering chart below:

Memorizing the Notes in First Position

So looking at your violin, start with your G string and place your first finger on the first finger tape. This note would be A.

Then place your second finger on the second finger tape. This note would be B. Your third finger would be C and so forth and so on.

You can look at the violin finger chart below to see where all of the notes fall on your tapes.

Over time, you will memorize all of these notes and become so familiar with them that you’ll be able to identify them without having to stop to think.

Making flash cards with a drawing of the note on one side and a label of the note on the other side is a really great way to help you memorize the notes.

See violin fingering chart below:

There are a lot of other notes that fall in between the notes on the tapes.

However, the reason why we start with the notes in the above chart is that these are the most commonly used notes and therefore the easiest to learn.

For instance, most beginner violin books will contain songs or exercises that use these notes.

Once you’ve memorized all of the notes on the tapes and where they fall on the violin, you can start to learn the notes that fall in between the tapes as illustrated in the chart below.

You won’t need to put down tapes for all of these other notes because after getting familiarized with the first set of notes on the tapes you’ll be able to rely on the tapes, your fingers, and muscle memory as guide.

See violin fingering chart below:

Understanding Sharp and Flat Notes

Chances are you’ve noticed that there are the standard notes labeled as A, B, C etc. and then there are other notes such as C#, B♭, G#,  and A♭

So what exactly do those funny symbols mean? Below are some basic guidelines to understanding these other notes:

When you see a # symbol it means “sharp.” A sharp note, for instance a C # (C sharp), is a half-step higher than just a regular C.

When you see a ♭ symbol it means “flat.” A flat note, for instance B♭ (B flat), is a half-step lower than just a regular B.

If you look at the violin fingering charts above, you’ll see that some of the sharp notes fall on the tapes, but for many others, such as B♭ or G #, your fingers will need to stray from the tape.

By sliding the nearest finger either above or below the tape, you can accomplish these notes.

For instance, in order to play the B♭ on the A string, take your first finger which is normally positioned to play a B on the first finger tape on A string and slide it a half step below the first finger tape to turn that note into a B.

You can use your tuner to make sure your finger is in the correct spot at first.

Now You’re Ready

Once you’ve memorized all of the notes in both of the violin fingering charts above and mastered playing them fluidly, you’ll know all of the notes in first position.

Most beginners spend the first couple of years studying first position, while they’re developing their violin fingering technique, bow technique, etc.

Once you have a good foundation and grasp on proper violin fingering, you can delve into learning other more advanced positions on the violin, such as third and fifth position.

In the meantime, I hope this information on the proper violin finger placement has helped you and I wish you the best on your musical journeys!

Post Author: Naomi Cherie S.
Naomi teaches violin in Austin, TX. She is a classically trained violinist with over 20 years of experience and a diverse musical background. Learn more about Naomi Cherie S. here.

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6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Musical Instrument

Here’s What to Know Before Buying an Instrument

6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Musical Instrument

Thinking about buying a new instrument? It’s a big decision, as an instrument is truly an investment — especially if you’re spending several hundred dollars (or more, for higher-end brands and models) on it.

Before making your purchase, you’ll want to do some research. But where do you start? With so many brands out there, how do you know which ones are worth the money? What do you really need to ensure years of playing and practicing?

We came across a great article over on Donna Schwartz’s blog that we think hits the nail on the head for what to consider before handing over your cash — whether you’re looking at new or used musical instruments.

Donna writes:

Whether you are a beginner, hobbyist or pro, here are 5 questions to ask yourself when trying out different musical instruments:

  1. Does the sound of this instrument match my concept of how I want to sound?
  2. Is the instrument free-blowing enough to allow me to get my “perfect sound”? (Or maybe I want a little resistance on this trumpet to help out with high notes?)
  3. Is it easy enough to play in all registers of the instrument comfortably?
  4. Can I control the intonation in all registers of the instrument?
  5. Are the keys placed in such a way that I can perform rapid passages comfortably?

The above 5 questions are important and vary for every performer. This next question though is absolutely necessary for every musician that wants to perform at their best for a long time.

When you are comparing a few different brands and have found some you really like, before you pull out the credit card, it is crucial to ask this question:

If my instrument breaks, do you have the parts to fix it, and if not, can you get the parts?

Donna continues to point out that an instrument like the saxophone has more than 600 moving parts — so if you end up with an instrument with sub-standard parts that can’t be replaced… you may be out of luck if it breaks. Moral of the story? Do your research. Ask questions. Get help from your music teacher, and have him or her try out instruments with you. Make an informed decision!

You can read the article in full here.

For even more tips, we also like this article from the Tampa Bay Music Academy blog. As part of their steps for buying an instrument, they offer some additional pointers regarding instrument quality:

Instrument quality can generally be assessed using three categories: student quality, intermediate quality, or professional quality.

Your 5th grader doesn’t need a professional quality instrument yet, but should you go the cheap route with a student model or shell out a few more bucks for the intermediate? Ultimately, that depends on your goals for your student.

Is this a “try it and see if you like it” endeavor, or have you and your child committed to this instrument for the long haul? Student quality instruments are usually made of cheaper materials and won’t produce as nice a sound, but they are good for students who don’t know if they will stick with it or not. They’re also good starter instruments if money is tight.

If your child (and you) have committed to playing this instrument throughout middle and high school, however, go ahead and invest in the better quality option if possible.

Continue reading the article here.

And finally, if you’re opting for the used musical instruments route, has a great article on how to evaluate a used instrument.

Readers, how have your experiences been buying new or used instruments? What other tips would you add? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Image by Vincent Diamante

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violin tuner app

Top 10 Violin Tuner Apps Reviewed

violin tuner app

Have you ever showed up to violin lesson or a performance and realized that you completely forgot your violin tuner?

If you answered “yes,” then you’re probably familiar with the feeling of having your stomach drop and your cheeks turn red.

Keeping your violin in tune is extremely important. Not only does it ensure you get the best sound, but it also helps train your ear. 

There are tons of ways in which you can tune a violin. However, many of them require a certain skill set or an actual device.

Thanks to technology, there are dozens of easy-to-use violin tuner apps that can replace your old device that you always seem to forget or that’s taking up unnecessary room in your violin case.

Choosing the best violin tuner app can be difficult when there are so many to choose from. To make things easier for you, we’ve rounded up the best violin tuners apps.

But first, let’s explore the benefits of using a violin tuner app as well as how they actually work.

How a Violin Tuner App Works

Every violin tuner app works a little differently, but they are all usually pretty easy to work with after a little getting used to.

Generally, there will be a display that tells you what note you’re playing and a needle hovering over a dial in the middle that will show you how in tune your string is.

Ideally, you want the needle to be as close to the center point as possible. Most violin tuners light up green when the string is in tune.

If the needle is hovering over to the right of the dial your string is “sharp,” which means it’s too high or tight. If it’s hovering over to the left of the dial your string is “flat,” which means it’s too low or loose.

Benefits of Using a Violin Tuner App

So what are the benefits of using a violin tuner app? Below are just a few of the benefits you’ll experience when you use a violin tuner app.

  • Convenient: With a violin tuner app, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you remembered to pack your electronic tuner. Because if you’re anything like most people, chances are you’re glued to your smartphone and rarely forget it. Also, a violin tuner app is perfect for those impromptu violin jam sessions.
  • Cost-effective: An electronic tuner or tuning fork can cost you around $30 to $40 dollars. Many violin tuner apps, however, are free or cost a little as $3. You can’t get much better than that!
  • Easy-to-use: Tuning a violin using a different instrument or harmonics can be difficult for beginner violin students. Most violin tuner apps are very straightforward and easy to use. A violin tuning app works very similarly to the electronic tuner in that it can sense and tell exact pitch.

Top 10 Violin Tuner Apps

Now that you’ve reviewed all of the benefits of violin tuning apps, let’s take a look at the best apps available.

Untitled design1. ClearTune-Chromatic Tuner

Talk about star power. This violin tuning app is used by some of today’s biggest musical acts, including The Black Keys and The Killers. The chromatic instrument tuner and pitch pipe allows users to accurately tune their violin using the built-in mic in their smartphone. The app includes features such as selectable notations, support for transposing instruments, and automatic or manual note section. Cost: $3.99 Learn more about the app here.



tuner lite2. Tuner Lite

Another chromatic instrument tuner and pitch pipe, this free tuner app is perfect for beginner violin players. With glowing customer reviews, Tuner Lite by plusadd has an LED display that’s easy to understand and features an automatic reference note calibration. Users describe the app as being reliable, easy-to-use, and helpful. Cost: Free Learn more about the app here.



3. Tuner-gStrings

Haven’t mastered tuning your violin by ear yet? No problem. The Tuner-gStrings app is perfect for those who need an extra hand in tuning their violin. The free tuner app is a chromatic tuner application measuring sound pitch and intensity. Features include orchestra tuning, various temperaments, and a variable range nonlinear scale. Cost: Free. Learn more about the app here.



4. Pano Tuner – Chromatic Tuner

With Pano Tuner you can tune your violin in seconds! The violin tuning app listens to the sound you make and shows you the pitch. All you have to do is look at the offset from the pitch that you want to tune to. The app also has a feature that allows you to adjust the concert-A frequency to make your violin in harmony with others. Cost: Free. Learn more about the app here.



5. Violin Multi-Tuner

This violin tuner app was made specifically for violinists so you know you’ll experience fast and accurate pitch detection. Violin Multi-Tuner has an abundance of really great features, including a metronome, playable fingerboard, ear and sight reading exercises, and more. Cost: $0.99 Learn more about the app here.




bop 6. Violin Tools Free

This violin tuning app is perfect for beginners. Not only can you use this app to help you fine tune your violin with a high precision and efficient pitch detection algorithm , but you can also use it while you practice to see if you’re playing the right notes. Using a color scale, the Violin Tools Free app will tell you which direction you need to adjust your finger positions. Cost: Free Learn more about the app here.



7. nTune: Violin Free

If you’re searching for an accurate app to tune your violin, then look no further than NTune: Violin Free. The app uses actual recorded violin notes rather than generated sound effects. What’s more, the violin tuner app contains the basic tuning of G, D, A and E and includes playback options of Arco (bowing) or Pizzicato (plucking). Cost: Free Learn more about the app here.



8. PitchPerfect

Are you sick of playing out of tune? PitchPerfect is the easy-to-use tuning app that you’ve been looking for. All you have to do is play a string to see if you are sharp, flat, or in perfect pitch. Then use the app’s preset tunings to tune the note you want. Cost: Free Learn more about the app here.




mgee9. Tune-O-Rama

This foolproof tuning app features a chromatic tuner that you can access at the touch of a button. Tune-O-Rama uses an impressive 4-tier detection algorithm for near 100% accuracy and sensitivity. Featuring a detection range of 1200+ Hz, Tune-O-Rama is suitable for many instruments, including the violin Cost: $2.99 Learn more about the app here.




10. Tuna Pitch

If you’re a more advanced player that knows how to tune by ear then you might want to consider downloading the Tuna Pitch. This tuning app has a built-in pitch pipe lets you play a reference tone for tuning by ear. Tuna Pitch automatically finds the pitch using the microphone and shows note name, octave, frequency. Cost: $2.99 Learn more about the app here.



Each one of these apps offers something a little different. If you’re still not quite sure which violin tuner app to choose, consult your violin teacher. He or she might suggest an app that they currently use or have used in the past.

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vibrato violin

Everything You Need to Know About Vibrato Violin

vibrato violin

Do you want to learn how to do vibrato on the violin? Below, violin teacher Carol Beth L. gives a lesson on how to master this impressive skill…

Have you ever been captivated by the wavering notes in the slow movement of a violin solo? If so, you were probably listening to an accomplished violinist who had thoroughly mastered vibrato violin.

Learning vibrato violin is a big step in your musical development. Mastering this complicated skill will help take your violin playing to the next level. In this article, I will walk you through everything you need to know about vibrato violin.

What is Vibrato Violin?

Vibrato violin is a technique used mostly by advanced violinists to bring attention to their music by making the note oscillate around the base pitch.

Most violinists begin learning vibrato only after they have had a relatively solid tone without vibrato, and have reached a certain level of ease with the left hand.

On the violin, vibrato comes from moving the arm and/or wrist back slightly toward the scroll, and then back up toward the bridge.

This allows the vibration to be passed along through the hand and fingers so that the fingers oscillate slightly back and forth along the string.

A violinist can also control the speed of his or her vibrato via the rate at which the fingers, wrist, and arm are moving back and forth.

Types of Vibrato Violin

There are three main types of vibrato violin;

  • Arm vibrato
  • Hand vibrato (i.e. wrist)
  • Finger vibrato

Wrist vibrato is driven primarily by wrist movement, and is usually very fast. This type of vibrato violin is great for adding flair to a particular song.

Arm vibrato is driven by the arm, and is much slower and broader. This type of vibrato violin is best used for slow or sad violin songs, such as Ave Maria.

Many violinists start learning wrist vibrato first. Although, different violinists may prefer different types of vibrato. For optimal sound, it’s best to use a combination of all three types of vibrato violin.

How to Do Vibrato on a Violin

Step 1: Get comfortable with the movement

To start training yourself for vibrato, first practice the wrist movement away from the violin. For instance, try holding a small object such as a rubber stress ball or a plastic Easter egg that has been partially filled with rice or beans.

Let your hand rock back from the wrist and then back forward again.

Step 2: Place your hand in third position

When you are comfortable with this, try placing your hand in about third position. In other words, your first finger will be where your third finger usually is.

This also means that your palm will rest very close to the body of the violin, which can then serve as a support so you aren’t moving more than you want to.

Step 3: Choose a finger

Pick a finger–preferably the second or third finger–to place onto the string and begin the back and forward motion with your wrist.

This should cause your finger to roll back along the string and then back up to its upright position. Do this slowly at first, and gradually speed up.You might try putting your metronome somewhere between 60 and 80.

Pull your wrist back on the first click, then forward on the second, back on the third, and so on. When you are comfortable with all four fingers, move to two movements per click, then three, then four.

Reaching full comfort with four movements (and two full rounds of vibrato) per metronome click on all four fingers may take some time, especially for the shorter, weaker pinky fingers. So don’t be frustrated if it isn’t easy right away. When you are ready, try moving back to practice first position.

Step 4: Practice slow scales

When you are comfortable in first position, the next step will be to practice with slow scales, followed by a slow, easy going piece or two.

When you reach this stage, begin with songs that are not too difficult so that you can focus on vibrato, rather than finding the right notes, producing a good sound, or bowing correctly.

Am I Ready for Violin Vibrato?

Many intermediate violin players are eager to jump into the vibrato technique. However, it’s important that you’re ready for this big undertaking.

One should develop a full tone before learning the vibrato technique, as this will ensure that you sound the best. You should also have a solid understanding of first and third position.

And lastly, your wrist and arm need to have good form, as this technique can be very strenuous on the muscles.

If you can confidently check all of these boxes, then you’re ready to learn the vibrato technique! Just remember to be patient with yourself, and don’t push yourself too quickly.

Progress may seem slow at first, but with practice, you will reach your goal. Work closely with your violin teacher to come up with exercises to help you master this skill.

Photo by Garry Knight

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches viola and violin in San Francisco, CA. She currently plays viola in the San Francisco Civic Orchestra and has been teaching students since 2012. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

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how to tune a violin

Beginner’s Guide on How to Tune a Violin [Instructional Video]

Learning how to tune a violin is essential for beginner violinists. Below, experienced violin teacher Naomi Cherie S. provides a step-by-step tutorial on how to tune a violin properly…

In video above, I’ll be taking you through how to tune a violin. Eventually you’ll want to learn how to tune a violin by ear. Tuning a violin by ear, however, can take years of practice.

So in the beginning stages of your development, it’s nice to learn how to use a violin tuner to help you keep your violin in tune.

What You’ll Need to Tune a Violin

You’ll need a chromatic tuner, which you can find at any local music shop. These tuners usually run anywhere from $30 to $40. There are also free versions online.

If you have access to a smartphone, you can also download a tuning app for free or cheap. Just search for “violin tuner” or “chromatic tuner” in your app store. In the video above, I’ll be using the tuning app on my smartphone.

How a Violin Tuner Works

Every violin tuner is slightly different, but they are all usually pretty easy to work with after a little getting used to.

Generally, there will be a display that tells you what note you’re playing and a needle hovering over a dial in the middle that will show you how in tune your string is.

You want that needle to be as close to the center point as possible. Most violin tuners light up green when the string is in tune.

If the needle is hovering over to the right of the dial your string is “sharp,” which means it’s too high or tight. If it’s hovering over to the left of the dial your string is “flat,” which means it’s too low or loose.

How to Tune a Violin Using Pegs

On the violin we have pegs and fine tuners. The pegs are used for when your instrument is really out of tune and the fine tuners are used for when it’s just slightly out of tune.

When you’re just learning how to tune a violin, it’s easiest to avoid using the pegs, as they can be very hard to work with. It’s best to get a violin teacher or someone at a violin shop to set your pegs for you.

Normally, the pegs should stay in place most of the time unless they get bumped or your violin is exposed to extreme temperatures.

However, if you notice that your pegs are slipping multiple times a week it would be a good idea to take your violin in to a shop to get checked out.

If your pegs slip and unravel and you don’t have a violin teacher or access to someone who can help, you can start by slowing tightening your peg.

You’ll want to do it very slowly and carefully because the string can easily snap while you’re turning with the pegs. The old saying “righty tighty, left loosey” applies to violin tuning.

If you turn the peg to the right, you’ll notice the string is feeling tighter and sounding higher or sharper. If you turn the peg to the left, you’ll notice the string is feeling looser and sounding lower or flatter.

The Names of the Violin Strings

On the violin we have four strings. Starting with the thickest string, they are called G, D, A, and E. An easy way to remember this is to use the mnemonic device below:

G = Good, D = Dogs, A = Always, E = Eat. Good dogs always eat!

When tuning a violin, we always start with the A string. In a sitting position with your violin upright on your knee, use your left had to pluck the string and use your right hand to turn the peg.

Pluck the string as you turn your peg to the right to make it tighter and look at your tuner to see how close to the middle dial it is.

When it’s right in the center, bring your left hand up to the scroll and support it as you press the peg firmly into the hole to make it stay exactly in that spot, being careful not to let it move.

If the peg turns even a hair while you’re pressing in, it can make the string go out of tune. The real trick here is to press the peg into the hole it sits in firmly, and sometimes you will have to use all of your strength to make it stay where you positioned it.

If you can’t get the string perfectly in tune, that’s okay. Just get it as close as you can and we’ll do the rest when we fine tune.

Depending on what kind of condition your violin is in and how recently it’s been played, it may take several tries to get the peg to stay in place.

As I said earlier, if you’re constantly having problems with your pegs it’s best to get help from a violin teacher or violin shop.

For the rest of the pegs, you’ll use the same process, except when you go to tune the G and the D strings you’ll switch hands and use your left hand to turn and your right hand to pluck and support.

How to Tune a Violin Using the Fine Tuners

Now let’s move on to fine tuning. First, hold your violin in your normal playing position with your chin. Bring your left hand under the violin to hoover over the fine tuners so you can turn them as you’re bowing the strings.

We’ll start off with the A string and tune each string until the dial is in the center. The same principles apply here: if you turn to the right, the string will get higher or sharper. If you turn to the left, the string will get looser or flatter.

If you notice that the fine tuner has been turned as tight as it will go you will have to loosen it all the way up (if it starts rattling you’ll know you’ve gone too far) and then re-tune with the pegs followed by some touch up tuning with the fine tuners.

Keep in mind that if your violin is new or hasn’t been played in a long time, it will usually take a few weeks of constant tuning to get it to stay in tune.

You’ll want to tune your violin up every time you play it. Over time you’ll notice that the more your violin is played the better in tune it will stay.

With lots of practice and patience, you can develop ear training skills that will someday allow you to tune your violin by ear without the help of a tuner.

In the meantime, I hope this tutorial on how to tune a violin helps you get started. Thanks for watching and I wish you the best in your musical journeys!

Post Author: Naomi Cherie S.
Naomi teaches violin in Austin, TX. She is a classically trained violinist with over 20 years of experience and a diverse musical background. Learn more about Naomi Cherie S. here.

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tune a violin

10 Different Ways to Tune a Violin

tune a violin

Are you unsure of how to tune a violin? Below, violin teacher Carol Beth L. shares 10 different ways students can tune a violin…

Whenever you take out your violin–or any instrument for that matter– to practice, tuning should be the first thing you do. Learning how to properly tune a violin is important for many reasons.

Not only does it ensure you get the best sound, but it also helps train your earEven as a beginner level student, it’s important that you learn how to tune a violin so that you will be able to adjust it when your violin teacher is not there.

While some violin brands hold their pitch relatively well; others do not. Violins with recently replaced strings, for example, may hold their pitch less easily as the strings stretch to accommodate the new pressure placed upon them.

While every violinist has his or her own process for tuning their instrument, there’s no one right way to do it. In fact, there are several different ways in which you can tune a violin. Below are 10 different ways you can tune a violin as well as some helpful tips to guide you.

Tips on How to Tune a Violin

Learning how to tune a violin is a skill one should acquire early on. Ideally, your violin teacher will review this process. In the meantime, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind, as noted in a previous TakeLessons blog.

New strings: Ask your teacher to show you how to put new strings on your violin, and even do it for you the first few times. New violin strings need a couple of weeks to settle in and need frequent tuning adjustment. Therefore, don’t get discouraged if you sound a little off after putting on new strings.

Know Your Violin: Familiarize yourself with which peg relates to which string.  It’s easier to navigate the fine tuners, as they’re directly related to the string in question. To adjust the pitch with the peg, turn it away from you in normal playing position to raise it, and in the opposite direction to lower it.  Pegs can stick; if this happens, pull it out slightly, and scribble around it with a graphite pencil to make it easier to move.

Careful Does It: Tightening a string too far or too fast will cause it to snap, so be careful when you’re learning to tune a violin for yourself.  If your string is only slightly out of tune, use the fine tuners instead, turning them clockwise to raise the pitch, and counter-clockwise to lower it.

Points of Reference: Unless you have perfect pitch, you will need a reference note to help you out.  Try any one of the 10 options below as a point of reference.

1. Electronic Tuner

Try using an electronic tuner that can sense and tell exact pitch. The machine is calibrated to have “perfect pitch” (so to speak), and can tell what note you are playing, whether it is sharp or flat.

For beginner violin students who aren’t sure of themselves when it comes to tuning their D, G, and E strings based on a tuned A string, this electronic tuner provides one method to double check and properly tune them.

Such tuners will typically base their pitches off of the standard 440 A, but can often provide tuning feedback for a non-standard A.

2. Steady Pitch From an Electronic Tuner

Using steady pitch from an electronic tuner is a great opportunity to train your ear. Good musicians should be able to hear and match any given pitch.

Tuning the violin’s A string to the A given by the electronic tuner is one way to do this. The D, G, and E strings will also need to be tuned to the A string – preferably in fifths (see “tuning in fifths” and “tuning in harmonics” below).

3. Online Violin Tuner

If you have an Internet connection with audio input, then try using an online violin tuner. An online violin tuner works very similarly to the electronic tuner in that it can sense and tell exact pitch.

If you’re looking for a great online violin tuner, check out The website has an online violin tuner that allows you to change the pitch for each string.

4. YouTube

This option for how to tun a violin works similarly to the steady pitch from the electronic tuner, but can be found easily on YouTube. All you have to do is search for “440 A” on Youtube and match the pitch. Here’s an example below:

5. Violin Tuner App

If you’re always on the go, using a violin tuner app on your smartphone is a great option. Violin tuner apps typically work like an electronic tuner.

Since iPhones are super handy, using a violin tuner app saves you from carrying around an extra device in your case or bag. It also has audio input that is usually set up and working.

6. Nearby Violin

Use another violin to provide an A. This is a great method for when you are playing with your violin teacher or with a fellow student.

Ideally, one of you will already be tuned to a reliable A. If you are not, use a tuner, app, or tuning fork to tune one violin before tuning the other.

7. Another Instrument

Oftentimes, a violin may be tuned to a pitch provided by an different instrument. In symphony orchestras, for example, the principal oboe typically provides an A. If a piano or keyboard instrument is available, this instrument should be used to provide the base pitch.

A typical pianist cannot and does not tune his or her instrument as regularly as a violinist. Instead, specialists are typically called in every so often to tune the piano. Therefore, it’s a reliable way to tune an instrument.

8. Tuning Fork

Using a tuning fork is simple. First hit it on a table or another hard surface to help it start vibrating. Then touch the round ball at its base to the body of your violin. The resulting pitch is the A to which you should tune. Placing the vibrating tuning fork close to the bridge will generally help obtain a louder pitch, since that’s where the sound post is inside the violin.

Unlike an electronic tuner or violin tuner app, a tuning fork can only stay at the standard (or non-standard) A to which it was originally tuned, and cannot alternate between them. However, like the previous two methods, tuning forks don’t require batteries.

9. Tune in 5ths

Violin strings are tuned in perfect fifths. That is, the distance between two strings is five notes (or eight half-notes), including the first and last note. This interval (or distance between two notes) is harmonically important, and when two adjacent strings are played together, a good violinist will be able to hear the more perfect resonance of the two notes when they “click” in tune.

Thus, you will often hear violinists playing their strings two at a time as they tune them up. Once the A string is in tune, this is a good way to tune your other strings to that A. If you cannot do it at first, gradually train your ear to hear the interval correctly. You might try playing them together first, trying to tell which way to tune your next string, then separately, then together again.

Finally, verify and correct the pitch as necessary by comparing it to the correct pitch from another instrument, or by using an electronic tuner or violin tuner app. Then play them both separately and together again. By doing this repeatedly, your ear will gradually learn to recognize the correct interval and tell you when and by how much your strings are out of tune.

10. Harmonics

This violin tuning method can also help you tune your E, D, and G strings to an A that has already been tuned. It is not usually used by experienced violinists, however, it can help you tune acceptably well for many situations.

For this method, you will use two harmonics on each string. Harmonics are created by touching the string lightly in exactly the right place, and result in both halves of the string vibrating. When a player divides the string exactly in half, the resulting note is exactly one octave above the open string. When the player places the division 2/3 of the way up toward the bridge, the resulting note is a fifth higher than the first harmonic.

To tune each string, use the lower harmonic on the higher string, and the higher harmonic on the lower string. To tune the E string, for example, use the first harmonic (one octave above open E) on the E string, and the second harmonic (one octave plus a fifth above open A) on the A string. If your strings are in tune, the two notes should be the same.

Between an electronic tuner and harmonics, there are many options for tuning a violin. Different options are more suitable to different situations and people, but there are appropriate options to cover almost any situation. So don’t trap yourself in a situation where you cannot tune your violin!

Photo by Loreen72

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches viola and violin in San Francisco, CA. She currently plays viola in the San Francisco Civic Orchestra and has been teaching students since 2012. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

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15 Easy Violin Songs That Make You Sound Impressive

easy violin songs

Are you eager to show off your new violin skills? Below, violin teacher Julie P. shares some easy violin songs that will help make you sound impressive…

As a beginner violinist, chances are you’re eager to play fun violin songs that will show off your new violin techniques and skills. While playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is fun, you want to play beginner violin songs that are more popular.

Luckily, there are plenty of easy violin songs to choose from, many of which you might already know. Before you jump into learning these easy violin songs, however, it’s important to remember that the most impressive violin performances come from lots of practice.

Your violin practice sessions should be spent studying the key signatures, notes, rhythms, and bowings. If you can find an existing recording of the easy violin song, it’s a great idea to play along with it to listen for things like good intonation and rhythm.

Below are 15 easy violin songs in pop, rock and classical styles that will make you sound impressive.

Easy Violin Songs: Pop

If you’re looking for some easy violin pop songs to impress your friends, check out the five best violin songs below. While they might not sound like beginner violin songs, these songs are fairly easy to master with some practice.

Best Day of My Life

The verse can be tricky if you use the open A string for the F# to A pattern. Try using your fourth finger for A to see if that helps (it’s also a good fourth finger exercise). Really jump off the staccato notes to create excitement and bounce in this piece. Click here for the easy violin sheet music

Over The Rainbow

The opening octave in the first measure (low C to high C) is tricky because you have to cross over the D string when going from the G string to the A string. Practice the string crossing first on open strings before you try adding the fingers. Click here for the sheet music.

All About That Bass

If you know the lyrics to this song, definitely sing along as you play as it will help you with the syncopated rhythms. For the Bb to B natural change in the first measure, it’s alright to have an audible slide as that will mimic the vocal line. Click here for the easy violin sheet music

A Whole New World

In this song, the syncopated and quarter note triplet rhythms can be confusing at first. Try playing along with a recording of the song to see if you can hear how those rhythms are played. You can even sing along while you play if that helps. Click here for the sheet music.

Old Joe Clark

This fiddle tune sounds impressive when you play it fast, but it’s not very difficult because of all the repeated notes. Practice the rhythmic pattern on open strings first to make sure you feel it in your bow arm, then add the written notes. Click here for the easy violin sheet music.

Easy Violin Songs: Rock

Are you ready to rock out with these easy violin rock songs? These beginner violin songs are sure to wow your audience. Use the simple tips provided below to help you perfect these rockin’ violin songs.

Another One Bites The Dust (John Deacon)

The 16th notes in this song are tricky, but if you spend some time counting and clapping the rhythm, you’ll know it cold. You could also practice singing the lyrics, as they have the rhythm built into them. Click here for the sheet music.

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Watch out for the key change and time signature change in this piece. The feel of the music changes when going from 3/4 to 4/4, so try clapping the two meters first, making an accent on the first beat of each measure. Click here for the easy violin sheet music.

She Loves You (The Beatles)

This is a fast song, but don’t try to play it fast right away. For the syncopated sections, try counting and clapping them first to make sure you understand the rhythm. It’s ok to clap them slowly at first and then work up the speed over a bunch of repetitions. Click here for the sheet music.

Stairway To Heaven

In the opening section, use fourth finger for the high E (instead of the E string) because you don’t have any notes higher than E. Practice those G to A slurs to make sure your bow arm is creating the slur cleanly between the D and A strings. Click here for the violin sheet music.

Hotel California

In the verse, the rhythm for each phrase can be slightly different. If you’re just playing for fun, don’t be afraid to simplify the rhythms a bit, or repeat just one verse. In the chorus, try to mimic the vocal echo on “such a lovely place” and “any time of year” by playing the first time loud and the second time soft. Click here for the easy violin sheet music.

Easy Violin Songs: Classical

These easy classical violin songs are perfect for your first violin performance. Not only do these beginner violin songs sound beautiful, but they are fairly easy to perfect. Again, use the helpful tips below to guide you throughout your practice.

Minuet 2, Bach

The opening arpeggio in this piece sounds impressive if you can play it cleanly. Practice it slowly first to feel where the bow changes strings. If you move your bow arm too much, you’ll overshoot the A string on your way to the E string. Click here for the violin sheet music.

Hunter’s Chorus, Carl Maria von Weber

Have fun with the 16th notes in this piece. They add excitement and vitality to the song. The string changes on the 16th notes are tricky to line with your left hand fingers, so be sure to practice them slowly at first. Really dig into the accents in the second half of the piece. Click here for the easy violin sheet music.

Fanfare Minuet

The repeated notes in this song let you play faster than in other songs. Challenge yourself to play all the eighth notes cleanly, and to make distinct accents. Click here for the sheet music.

Morning Has Broken

The three-note slurs in this piece can be tricky, especially the ones that include string changes. Isolate the parts of the slurs that are hardest and make a little exercise for yourself that you can do as part of your warm up. Click here for the sheet music.

What Child Is This

This is a great song to practice legato playing, as well a playing with two flats. Remember to use your fourth finger on the A string to play the high Eb’s. Click here for the violin sheet music.

Playing the violin should be fun, so learn easy violin music that is appealing to you. Once you’ve practiced hard and learned a new song, share it with family and friends by making a video or audio recording.

You could even learn a few beginner violin songs and invite people over for a mini violin performance. Even if you just play for yourself, have fun playing some of these easy pop, rock and classical violin songs.

Photo by Patrick Pielarski

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

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Techology and online Music lessons

How Has Technology Changed Music Lessons? [Infographic]

Over the past several years, online music lessons have substantially grown in popularity. And it’s no wonder — it’s an option that is convenient and often priced lower than in-person lessons. Plus, you can choose an instructor from practically anywhere!

Advances in technology have made the success of online music lessons possible, but that’s not the only way that technology has changed the way we learn music. New innovations provide fun and creative ways to enhance the learning experience for today’s student. You can find the best online piano lessons, for instance, and then supplement those with apps, games, and YouTube tutorials.

Here are some fascinating facts about how we learn, teach, and promote music online.

Technology and Music Lessons Infographic - Online music lessons

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Teaching Music Online – Additional Resources

Interested in teaching online? These days, you’ve got several options for video platforms to use, allowing you to instantly connect with your student, send files, and record lessons. Learn more about teaching online with TakeLessons here.

Learning Music Online – Additional Resources

Whether you’re looking for the best online piano lessons via Skype, pre-recorded YouTube drum tutorials, or chord charts for guitar and bass, there are so many resources available for students!

Learn Guitar 

Learn Piano

Learn Violin

Learn Drums

Whether or not you take (or teach) lessons online, there are many ways you can use current technology to enhance and supplement the learning experience. If you’re a teacher and need a place to start, online forums are great for sharing ideas with other instructors. The possibilities are endless! And once you start looking, it’s amazing what you can find out there!

Special thanks to online piano teacher Crystal B. for her help with this article! 

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Which of These Famous Violin Players Are You? [Quiz]

Do you love playing the violin? From Hiefetz to Perlman, there are dozens of famous violin players who have helped inspire us all.

Whether you’re just starting to learn the violin or you’re a seasoned professional, chances are there’s a certain violinist who you’ve channeled more than others.

Find out which of these famous violin players is your alter ego in the quiz below! Be sure to share your results with your fellow violinists.

Which of the famous violin players did you get? If you’re struggling to emulate your favorite violin player, you might want to consider sharpening your skills by taking some violin lessons.

Your violin teacher will be able to teach you certain techniques so you can rock like Lindsey Stirling or shine bright like Joshua Bell. All it takes is a little practice and some confidence!

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