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improve violin tone

5 Ways Your Bowing Technique Affects Your Violin Tone [Video]

improve violin tone

Dreaming about a smooth beautiful violin tone? For beginners, it’ll take some practice to perfect your bowing technique and stop the “squeak.” Here, violin teacher Naomi Cherie S. shares a few tips…

 

So you’ve learned the basics on your violin. You know how to hold the violin and the bow, you’ve learned where all the notes are, and you’re getting pretty good at reading notes and rhythms. But… your playing still isn’t sounding that great. It’s squeaky, inconsistent, and patchy-sounding, and you’re just not sure what to do to fix it.

If this sounds like you, we’ve whipped up a list of tips and tricks to perfect your bowing technique, which in turn will improve your tone. Just remember, these aren’t quick fixes. But if you stick with them and practice often, you’ll start to notice great improvements!

Bowing Technique Problem: Holding Your Bow Incorrectly

You may have had some basic training on how to hold your violin bow, or maybe you’re self-taught. Either way, it’s a good idea to go through your bow hold and make sure each finger is positioned correctly.

Even if you’ve perfected your bow hold from the start, over time your fingers can creep out of place and cause issues. It’s important to remember that the way you hold your bow has a great impact on your sound, so constantly check in to make sure you haven’t developed any bad habits. Here are the basics on proper bow hold:

  • Your thumb goes on the little rounded bump you see on the black part of the bow, and should be flush up against your thumbnail. Your thumb should be bent.
  • Your first finger wraps around the grip (the plastic or leather part that wraps around the stick near the frog) and should bend at the main knuckle to hook onto the bow stick firmly.
  • Your middle finger sits on the frog. Make sure your finger wraps around the frog and reaches down to the bottom edge of the frog where it squares off.
  • Your ring finger goes right next to your middle finger and should cover the white spot that’s on your frog. It should also wrap around the frog, along with your middle finger.
  • Last but not least — your pinky is very important for balance and sits right on top of the stick. Make sure to place it on the wood, not the metal screw at the end of the bow. Watch to make sure that your little finger, like all of your other fingers, is curved.

Visual learners, check out this guide to holding a violin bow for more details.

Bowing Technique Problem: Not Bowing Straight

Playing with a straight bow is the another major factor that will impact your sound. Watch some videos online of professionals in orchestras, or soloists. Are their bows straight, parallel with the end of the fingerboard and the line that the bridge makes? Or is it making a diagonal line? Odds are, it’s straight for the majority of their performance. This is a huge goal to master as a beginner.

Here are some tips to ensure you’re bowing straight:

  • Practice in front of a mirror daily and watch to see whether you are playing from your shoulder or from your elbow. You should be playing from the elbow, opening and closing it like a hinge; leave your shoulder as still as you can.
  • Try the “wall trick”: Lean up against a flat wall so that the area on your arm from your shoulder to your elbow is flat up against the wall. This will force your shoulder and elbow to stay still. Once you get used to the feeling, back away from the wall and see if you can hold the position. Do this several times a day, and check a mirror to make sure you stay in that position.
  • Imagine you’re driving the bow hairs across the strings as if there were an invisible road laid out straight over a slightly curved hill. What would happen if the car tires went diagonally on a slippery road? You might hear a screech — same sound your violin makes when you play with a crooked bow!

Bowing Technique Problem: The “Bouncing Bow”

If you’re a beginner violinist, you know what I mean when I say “bow bouncing problems.” This is a common issue, even for people who’ve been playing for a while.

Here are some tips to combat it:

  • Think of your first finger as a hook that can dig the bow into the violin string to absorb bow bounciness. When the bow starts to bounce, lean your first finger into the stick to deaden the vibration and smooth out the stroke. (This is a good trick if you’re in the middle of a performance and you need an immediate fix when you feel your bow starting to bounce!)
  • Experiment with varying pressure from your first finger to the bow stick through to the violin string. You’ll notice that if you dig into the string too hard you’ll get a gritty abrasive tone, and if you press too light you’ll get a patchy, inconsistent tone. Look for the middle ground.

Bowing Technique Problem: Uncontrolled Bowing

If your bow strokes feel and sound out of control, take a step back and use small bow strokes instead. Consider starting with about five inches of bow. The area of bow near the frog is closest to your hand (the bow’s main power source) and can come off sounding too harsh or heavy-handed; the tip of your bow is farthest from the power source, so it can sound weak and be hard to control. The middle of the bow is the safest zone to play in.

Playing with tiny bow strokes may feel silly at first, but hearing your instrument sound a bit more under control can give the confidence boost you need. Once you feel like you’re sounding more stable, gradually increase your bow span. You may want to do this exercise over the course of a few days or weeks until you start to feel more comfortable.

Bowing Technique Problem: The Tipped Bow

Beginners sometimes tilt their bow forward or backward, so that only some of the hairs run across the strings. For a thick, even tone, flatten your bow so that all of the hairs are touching the strings. This will ensure that you get a full tone. This also helps the bow balance on the strings.


Video Recap: Fixing Your Bowing Technique For Beautiful Tone

Apply these five major tips to your everyday practice, and you will see and hear great results with time. Have fun exploring your violin, and be sure to check out my profile if you’re interested in online violin lessons with me!

Post Author: Naomi Cherie S.
Naomi teaches violin lessons online. She is a classically trained violinist with more than 20 years of experience and a diverse musical background. Learn more about Naomi Cherie S. here.

 

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Pinspiration: 13 Fantastic Pinterest Boards to Help You Learn Violin

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Believe it or not, Pinterest is one of the best online resources for all things violin! From pictures, charts, and tutorials, to infographics, how-to guides, and video lessons, it’s an amazing place to find instruction and inspiration. Here, music instructor Julie P. brings you 13 awesome Pinterest boards to help you learn violin…

Learning violin can be challenging and sometimes, you can use a little inspiration to keep you going. It may seem like you’re making slow progress, but if you keep working, you can learn to play the violin!

If you didn’t already know, Pinterest is a fantastic place to learn violin, if you know who to follow!

From violin inspiration to sheet music and tutorials, here are 13 Pinterest boards to help you learn violin!


Violin

by Allyson

learn violin

This board features helpful articles about specific topics to help you learn violin. There are practice guides and easy-to-follow tutorials.

You will find inspiration and entertainment through beautiful pictures of fine violins, performance videos, and beginner sheet music and tips.


Violinists

By Catherine Blankenship

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Look through hundreds of beautiful pictures of violinists of all ages.

You can discover new artists and learn about your favorite violinists. Plus, if you picture yourself like the people on this board, you’ll be back in the practice room in no time!


Violin

By Chelsea Hopkins

learn violin
Check out this board for a mix of articles, instructional videos, and infographics.

There are also lots of pictures and helpful tips for both new violinists and intermediate players.


The Violin Player

By Lorene Lash

learn violin
When you’re learning violin, it can be fun to know a little bit about the instrument’s origins.

Learn about the violin through this board by Lorene Lash.

Pins also include artwork featuring famous violinists.


Violin

By Lishno W.

learn violin
If you’re a beginner, follow this board for violin songs and fun activities.

Violin practice should be fun, so use this board to spice up your routine!


Learning the Violin!

By Molly H

learn violin

Learning the Violin by Molly H. is packed with exercises, articles, and tips to learn violin.

It also has a bunch of easy, beginner-friendly sheet music.


Violin

By XxNikki TurleyxX

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Looking for pop, rock and movie sheet music? Check out these pins to learn some new tunes!


Learn to Play the Violin

By Revelle Strings Violins

learn violin

This board is like an FAQ page for learning the violin.

If you have questions about what kind of violin you should buy, how to get started, the benefits of playing the violin, or how to stay motivated, you will find answers here with this board from Connolly Music.


Violin

By Lauryn Gibbs

learn violin

Lauryn Gibbs put together an awesome smorgasbord of violin inspiration!

There are fun, artsy pictures, videos of violin pop covers, inspirational quotes, and violin humor.


Learning to Play the Violin

By Sissy Bates

learn violin

This board is packed with helpful how-to guides. You can learn how to tune your violin and  read about proper care and maintenance.

There are also tutorials where you can learn different violin techniques like vibrato and shifting, and helpful tips to find the right violin for you.


Violin, Music Learning

By Noell R.

learn violin

Violin, Music Learning has a good mix of tutorials, practice tips, inspiration, and fun.

If you play any other instruments or are interested in other music topics, you will find lots of helpful resources.


Violin Tutorials

By MJStreetTeam

learn violin

If you’re working on your bow hold or want to master important violin techniques, Violin Tutorials is the board for you.

From video tutorials to lessons, you can find an easy-to-follow guide to help you boost your violin skills.


Learning the Violin

By Katelyn Lucas

learn violin

From sheet music to infographics and guides, Learning the Violin is a great Pinterest board for beginners.

You can find charts to help you learn proper finger placement, infographics on the parts of the violin, and sheet music to help you learn new songs.


When you check out these boards, you’ll be itching to get back in the practice room! The more you practice, the more you can do with the violin, so get inspired and then get to work!

Which violin boards do you follow on Pinterest? Let us know in the comments below! 

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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Play Like the Pros: 5 Techniques You Can Learn From Famous Violinists

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Don’t just watch your favorite famous violinists, learn from them! Here, music instructor Julie P. shows you the violin techniques you can learn from watching famous violinists…

You have probably seen videos of famous violinists on YouTube and various violin blogs. In fact, these videos may have inspired you to pick up a violin and take lessons.

Want to know the best part?

While these videos are inspiring and entertaining, they’re also educational. You can learn important violin techniques by watching the masters at work!

So grab your violin and your computer, and get ready to watch and learn. Here’s what you can pick up from five famous violinists.


Lindsay Stirling

Stage Presence

Lindsay Stirling is a talented violinist who enjoys her craft and adds her own style.

The famous female violinist combines playing with acting, dancing, and storytelling. The result is a pop-infused violin party.

Her performances are great examples of stage presence and how to enjoy playing the violin. Lindsey is an inspiration to dance to the beat of your own drum and make you dreams come true!


Mark O’Connor

Fast Bowing

Want to learn how to bow super fast? Mark O’Connor shows you how it’s done in this video of “Orange Blossom Special.”

He plays 16th notes at  breakneck speeds with incredible bow technique. Watch his right arm work as one unit, supporting his bow hand.

Also, notice how his right-hand fingers stay relaxed and don’t tense up. His playing is efficient, with no wasted movements.

Want to improve your finger strength? Try these exercises!


David Oistrakh

Projecting Your Sound

In this video, David Oistrakh plays the Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto,” and has no problem projecting over the orchestra.

Watch how he uses his entire bow and a fast bow speed to create more sound. Even on shorter notes, he uses a lot of the bow length to create his enormous sound. His right hand is sometimes just a blur!

His bowing engages his whole arm, which allows him to bow with speed and power without taxing his bow hand.


Taylor Davis

Creativity / Brand

For you aspiring violinists, the internet is full of potential fans, if you can find the right way to engage them. Another famous female violinist, Taylor Davis, has made her mark with a YouTube channel full of videos of her performing video game and movie music.

The millions of views have allowed her to release multiple albums and go on tour. Taylor loves playing this music, so she used her creativity to build a full brand around it.

In this video, she plays music from Pirates of the Caribbean, you can see how she has crafted a full video experience with costuming, staging, and a dynamic accompaniment.

You can learn even more about Taylor in this Q&A she did for us at TakeLessons!


Jerusalem Quartet

Communication

Watching string quartets, like the Jerusalem Quartet, is great a great way to learn about communication between musicians, which is important if you want to play with other performers or in an orchestra.

In this video, notice how the Jerusalem Quartet moves to the music, look up at each other, and gesture at various points in the music.

Solid communication will help you have a smooth performance!


The more you watch famous violinists, the more you will learn. When you find a video you like, watch it several times; you’ll notice new violin techniques each time.

Besides videos and lessons, there are lots of helpful violin resources available online. Take advantage of these materials and use them to boost your violin skills!

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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How to Play Violin Pain Free: 11 Easy Tweaks to Reduce Shoulder, Neck, and Back Pain

MO - How to Play Violin Pain Free- 11 Easy Tweaks to Reduce Shoulder, Neck, and Back Pain

Do you experience pain or discomfort when you play violin? Here, Portland, OR violin instructor Naomi Cherie S. shares her tips to teach you how to play violin pain free…

If you’ve been playing violin for a while, you know that it can be a lot of fun! You’ve probably also noticed, however, that it isn’t always the most comfortable instrument to play. Due to the positions and poses necessary to play this unusual instrument, you may feel sore and stiff after practice.

Like most physical activities, any repetitive motion can cause wear on the body. Over time, these issues can develop into bigger problems.

Just like athletes, we musicians must take the time and consideration to keep up with maintenance and do preventative exercises to keep our bodies in peak playing shape!

We’ve put together a list of 11 quick fixes and healthy practice habits to help you learn how to play violin pain free!


Wear Comfortable Shoes

You may play violin with your hands and arms but this doesn’t mean you should forget about your feet!

If you’ve ever been on your feet all day, for a job or at school, you know it’s important to have proper footwear. The same applies for violin.

Wear comfortable shoes when you practice. Cushioned flats or tennis shoes will give you the support you need and take some of the pressure of standing off your lower back.


Use a Pad or Cushioned Rug for Practice

I always recommend that my students set up a designated practice area in their house to get inspired to practice regularly. Set up a corner in your bedroom, study, or living room where you keep your music stand and violin.

Make sure to keep a cushioned rug or floor mat in your area to stand on, especially if the room has bare floors. This will also help take stress off of your lower back.

If you’re still having issues, try investing in a memory foam floor mat.


Use a Comfortable Chair With a Pillow or Cushion

Many people prefer to stand when they play, to practice presentation and posture. If you get stiff when you play, however, don’t rule out sitting during practice.

You may also want to alternate between sitting and standing every few minutes. When you sit down, make sure to use a proper chair like a desk chair or dining room table chair.

Avoid using something with too much cushion, like a recliner or couch. Make sure to sit up tall on the edge of your chair with your spine straight. Your legs should make a right angle and your feet should rest flat on the floor.

If your chair becomes uncomfortable, keep a flat cushion or memory foam pad nearby.


Pace Yourself

It’s very important to pace yourself, especially as a beginner. You want to achieve consistency but you need to be careful not to overdo it, which can cause burnout and physical strain.

You need to develop the necessary muscles and flexibility required to play the violin. As a beginner, your body isn’t used to the unusual poses required to play the instrument.

Practice daily in segments, rather than extended periods once or twice a week. Beginners should start out with 20- to 30-minute practice sessions. After a few months, you can increase your practice time to 3o minutes to an hour.

This practice time will increase as your playing stamina develops, and as time goes on, you’ll get a feel for how much practice you need to accomplish your goals.


Take Stretch Breaks

Stretch breaks are incredibly important. It’s easy to get carried away and play for long periods of time; make sure to stop and stretch every so often.

You can take breaks in between scales, exercises, or songs. Put your instrument down, shake out your hands and arms, and stretch your wrists. Don’t forget to also stretch your legs, and your neck and shoulders.

These simple stretches can prevent strain, injury, and bigger issues down the road.


Reduce Tension: Breathe and Relax

Breathe. It sounds like a simple concept, but when you’re wrapped up in the passion and energy of music or concentrating on a difficult concept, it’s easy to forget to breathe consistently.

Keep a reminder in the back of your head and allow yourself to breathe throughout the practice session. Be mindful about tension. Your neck and shoulder muscles may tense up during practice, so take note of this and remember to relax.

Sometimes we don’t realize we’re tensing up, so take a breather every few minutes to keep yourself in check!

 Try these five exercises to reduce tension when you play violin.


Proper Posture

When it comes to playing violin, proper posture is imperative!  Whether you’re standing or sitting, your spine must be tall and straight at all times.

While standing, keep your feet about a foot apart with equal weight on each foot. Keep your tummy tucked to avoid putting pressure on your lower back.

While seated, keep your feet spaced about a foot apart with each foot flat on the floor.


Proper Stand Height

The proper stand height (or owning a stand at all) is important to develop healthy practice habits.

Some beginners overlook this detail and try to practice their sheet music by hunching over and reading it off a couch arm, desk, or table. Avoid this mistake and purchase a music stand.

Not only is it important to have a music stand, it also needs to be the correct height. Many of the generic stands sold in stores are made for children and don’t get much higher than five feet. If you’re an adult or you’re taller than five feet, make sure you invest in a stand that has an extension rod that allows you to adjust your stand. You may need to visit a violin shop or order a stand online.

When you’re looking at your music, it should be eye level. You shouldn’t need to bend your neck to read your music. You can reduce tension by keeping your head level and your spine straight. 

Besides a music stand, find out which violin accessories you may need! 


Exercise Daily

Regular exercise is important to alleviate the aches and pains from playing violin, but it’s also important to relieve the aches and pains of life!

In addition to your stretch breaks, make sure you stretch before and after practice. Pre-practice stretching is a great addition to your practice routine. Post-practice yoga is one of my favorite ways to stretch my back and neck after a long playing session.

Keep a yoga mat near your practice area and consider picking up a few poses from a YouTube yoga channel. Trust me, your body and your mind will thank you for it!

In addition to physical exercise, don’t forget to do exercises to build your finger strength!


Strengthen Your Core

A strong core will reduce the tension on your upper back, shoulders, and neck. When you have a strong core and abdomen, you can absorb some of the pressure the violin causes to your upper body.

Try adding core-strengthening exercises like crunches, push-ups, or light weight lifting to your daily exercise routine to help you build a strong core foundation.


Massage Therapy

If you’re like me and you’re prone to back and neck issues (due to genetics or previous injuries), you may still deal with back, neck, or shoulder pain from time to time, even with healthy practice habits.

For more serious cases, it may be necessary to seek professional help from a massage therapist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, or physical therapist. I’ve personally employed the assistance of many professionals over the years, and combined with lifestyle choices and healthy practice habits, I’ve found some relief.

When dealing with a more serious issue, sometimes it’s necessary to take some time off from playing violin. Recognizing the problem and taking time off to heal will make playing violin much more enjoyable.

Use these tips when you practice violin to develop healthy habits, increase longevity, and reduce pain.

If you have questions, let us know in the comments below! 

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

Photo by _zhang (with text overlay)

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The Perfect 15-Minute Violin Practice Routine [Video]

violin practice

Think you don’t have enough time to practice violin? Think again! We all have days where we’re short on time, but that doesn’t mean you should skip practice altogether. Here, Austin, TX violin instructor Naomi Cherie S. shows you how to get an effective violin practice session in only 15 minutes…

We’ve all heard it before: “Practice makes perfect!” However, an intelligent five-year-old violin student improved this saying when she told me “Practice makes better!” It’s a nice reminder that while perfection is something we should always strive for, it’s important to be patient and remember that we’re only human.

How you practice is just as important as how much you practice. In this article I will outline the perfect 15-minute violin practice, and also break down important components for any practice that will help you improve.


Good Practice Habits

As a violinist, practice is essential to develop your skills, and it can determine how quickly you will progress on the instrument. Practice can also be one of the biggest challenges we face in our studies.

With the fast paced lifestyles most of us live today, it can be hard to fit in time to practice consistently. For beginners, I recommend that you practice at least five days per week for 30 minutes to an hour at a time.

Building Your Practice

In music (similar to athletic training), it’s a good idea to gradually increase your practice session length while you’re developing muscles, flexibility, finger callouses etc. so that you don’t overdo it and end up with sore hands, wrists or arms.

Aim to work up to one to two hours (or more) of practice per day. The more you practice, the faster you will improve!

Consistency is Key

Remember, it’s important to maintain consistency over time spent (quality over quantity).

For instance, I’d rather you practice for five days a week, even if you could only play for 15-30 minutes on some days, than waiting until the last day before your lesson to do an extra long practice session.

Our brains need time to process what we practice, and repetition is key to perfect your skills. Sometimes, even when you don’t feel like you’re improving during a practice session, you will start to see progress over time, if you keep at it and look at the big picture.

Think of your violin journey as plants in a garden: you can’t see them growing, but eventually, with love and care, they blossom and reach new heights.


The Perfect 15-Minute Violin Practice Session

(For those busy days when you don’t think you have the time!)

As a beginner, it’s crucial to keep your momentum going and avoid skipping more than a day or two of practice. For the first several months, your budding skills are very delicate. Without consistency, you can easily backtrack, and you’ll have to re-learn certain concepts if you go too long without practice.

This is where the 15-minute practice session comes in. It can take a lot of self-discipline to practice daily, and with busy work and school schedules, sometimes it just doesn’t seem feasible.

Today, I’m going to share a quick solution for this dilemma. For those days when you’re on the go and just don’t think you have time to practice, think about what squeezing in 15 minutes of one-on-one time with your violin can do to boost your playing and bridge the gap between longer playing sessions.

In the video below, I’ll walk you through my ideal 15-minute practice session. Here are the basic goals of the session:

  1. Tuning – Tuning is a great way to warm up your ears and “fine tune” your ear training skills. It’s also imperative to have your violin tuned up and ready to go each time you play. You can tune by ear with a keyboard/piano or a pitch pipe or you can use an electronic tuner or a tuning app.
  2. Abridged Scale Warm Up – In this video, I demonstrate a really thorough scale warm up. For your abridged scale warm up, you can skip a couple of the exercises and just stick to the basics. Using your G Major scale, start with half notes, then play quarter notes and eighth notes.
  3. Song Warm Up – Next, choose a song you’ve been working on or have been wanting to learn. Start from the top of the piece and work your way through. Try to move quickly, without stopping to fix mistakes, and play through to the end of the piece while taking mental notes of your problem areas.
  4. Go Back and Fix Mistakes – Take a pencil and write in some notes. Add parenthesis around your problem measures. Pencil in “x5” above the measures that really need some work and then go back and play those spots five times in a row (or more) until they sound smooth.
  5. Take the Song From the Top – Once you feel comfortable about your problem areas, go back and run the piece from start to finish. By this time, your 15 minutes will probably be up, but if you have some extra time, go ahead and go through the piece again, constantly taking notes of your improvements as well as sections that still need work.

And that’s it! Remember, when it comes to your musical journey, every little bit helps and it’s important to remember that a short practice is better than no practice at all!

Ready to get started playing violin? Find a violin teacher near you

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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14 Fantastic Websites and Resources to Help You Learn Violin Online

learn violin online

When you’re learning violin, it’s always a good idea to have some helfpul websites bookmarked to help you practice and learn between your lessons. Here, music instructor Julie P. shares 14 websites that will help you learn violin online…

If you want to learn violin online, there are TONS of resources available. You can find almost anything you want to know about the violin online, including information about equipment, playing technique, music theory, and inspirational videos. We picked out some of our favorite sites that we recommend to help you on your violin-learning journey!

Bookmark these sites for easy access, and let us know which ones you like best!

Jump to any section of this article here:


Learn Violin Online

FiddlerMan

learn violin online

FiddlerMan has a number of different resources for beginner to intermediate violinists. He even has a special section devoted to people who have never touched a violin before.

Bookmark the site to access video tutorials, and resources on music theory and playing technique. Fiddlerman also has an online violin and fiddle tuner, a blog, and lots of violin sheet music.

Violinonline

learn violin online

This site has tons of articles with pictures on how to care for your instrument, posture, playing basics, practice tips, and more. It’s very user-friendly and easy to navigate.

Violin From Scratch

learn violin online

As soon as you get to this site, you’re greeted with a message from Deborah, the site creator and experienced violinist. Deborah shares the encouraging message that you can learn violin, even with no musical experience.

Besides, the positive welcome message, Violinfromscratch has free beginner articles and a paid violin video course.

Violin Tutor Pro

learn violin online

Tons of free videos and articles from a team of  teachers and enthusiasts.  There are video lessons and you can subscribe to receive daily violin tips.

Violin Tutor Pro is fantastic for beginner, intermediate, and advanced violin and fiddle students.

Beginner Violin Tips

learn violin online

Beginner Violin Tips provides a step-by-step guide for a first-time violin learner. The guide includes everything from equipment, care and maintenance, sheet music, and violin accessories.

You can also browse tips on various violin-related topics, and read articles on violin technique on the blog.


Online Violin Lessons

You can take online lessons right here at TakeLessons, and there are some other great sites that have fantastic online lessons that you can use to practice between your private lesson with your teacher.

Violin Lab

learn violin online

Violin Lab has hundreds of video lessons on everything from basic equipment to advanced techniques.

Red Desert Violin

learn violin online

Red Desert Violin provides subscription-based online video lessons for beginner and intermediate violinists.

ArtistWorks

learn violin online

Subscription-based online video lessons with Nathan Cole, an LA Philharmonic violinist.

Maestro Musicians

learn violin online

Maestro Musicians is the website for Maestro Musicians Academy, greater Boston’s premiere music school.

Check out the website to choose from a collection of pre-recorded video lessons for beginners.

TakeLessons

learn violin online

Don’t forget, right here at TakeLessons, we have both online and in-person violin lessons!

If you don’t already have a teacher, search for a violin instructor near you!


Online Violin Tuner

If you want the best sound from your violin, you need to make sure you tune it properly. With these online violin tuners, you will never have to worry about showing up to practice without your tuner!

Get-Tuned

 

This free online violin tuner plays each note for you, so you can match your strings.

You can use it for standard GDAE tuning, and there is also a new feature for alternate tunings.

 


8notes

 

In addition to a fantastic selection of violin sheet music (see below), 8notes has a great interactive tuner with pitch detection.

 

 

 


Play Violin Online

No violin? No problem! Here are some sites where you can play online. Even if you do have a violin, these sites are a lot of fun to use!

Virtual Violin Online

 

You can play the violin using your computer, or upload your own audio files to play.

Virtual Violin online also has an interactive fingering chart for beginners.

 


Violinonline.com

 

In addition to all the beginner-friendly articles, Violinonline also has an interactive violin fretboard to help you learn violin fingerings and notes.


Violin Games

Practice your skills and have fun between lessons with these online violin games.

Violin Flash Cards

 

A fun twist on flash cards; match the note shown to its place on the fingerboard.


Fiddlerman

 

Check out the learning tools section of the site to access the rhythm game, violin fingering game, and intonation game.


Violin Sheet Music

In order to play new violin songs, you need sheet music! Here are some of the best online resources to find violin sheet music.

Violinonline.com

Image courtesy violinonline.com

 

Violinonline has classical music with melody parts, and separate harmony parts scored for viola, cello and bass.

 


Violin Sheet Music

 

Hundreds of pieces of free sheet music, mostly classical.


 8notes

 

8notes has free sheet music for lots of genres: classical, folk, holiday, pop, rock, film, wedding, Christian, etc.

 

 

 


If you want to learn the violin online, there’s more than enough information available. Pick out a few of these sites to check out first, and explore their learning resources.

Everyone is different, so use the resources that work best for you!

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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The Beginner’s Guide to Violin Scales [Video Tutorial]

violin-scales-for-beginners

One of the most important aspects when learning how to play the violin is understanding the scale. With violin for beginners, learning scales will give you a foundation as you launch into your craft and begin to explore exercises and pieces of music. With a little bit of practice, and these tips and videos from Austin, TX violin teacher Naomi Cherie S., you can learn how to play the violin scales…

Violin Scales for Beginners

Simply put, a scale is a series of notes, ordered by frequency or pitch, that span an octave (a consecutive set of eight notes.) For instance, to play a G scale, start by playing the lowest G on your violin (open G string.) Then, ascend up in pitch and play the notes in consecutive order until you reach the next G on your instrument (third finger on the D string.) Next, descend down the scale and play each note again, but move backwards until you return to the lowest G (open G string) on your violin.

Each scale is accompanied by a set of naturals, sharps, and flats which determine what type of scale it is. There are many different types of scales: major, natural minor, harmonic minor, etc, but as a beginner, the first type of scale to focus on and master is the major scale.


What Makes a Scale Major?

There is an easy way to determine which notes go into a major scale, and if you can memorize this rule, you’ll be able to figure out any major scale based on these two principles:

  1. There are half steps between the third and fourth, and seventh and eighth notes in the scale.
  2. There are whole steps between all of the other notes in the scale.

To play whole steps, leave about an inch between your fingers (for instance E and F# on the D string). To play half steps, squeeze your fingers together so they touch each other (B and C natural on the A string.) If you’re not sure about some of the aspects of violin finger placement, check out this article which includes violin fingering charts.

Once you’ve mastered many of the major scales and have advanced into an intermediate level player, you can delve into other types of scales such as the natural minor. Each type of scale has its own set of principles that determine which notes are used in the scale.


How to Play Violin Scales

The G Major Scale is the easiest scale to learn for beginners, so let’s start there.

G Major Scale

violin scales for beginners

 

Follow the principles above and identify your fingers with these numbers:

  1. Index finger
  2. Middle finger
  3. Ring finger
  4. Pinkie

For the G major scale, use the following finger pattern:

G string: 2 and 3 touching (half steps) with all other fingers spaced apart (whole steps).

 

D string: 2 and 3 touching (half step) with all other fingers spaced apart (whole steps)

 

If you want to go into a two-octave scale and make the exercise a little longer and more challenging (highly recommended), allow the scale to span from the lowest G (Open G string) to the next G (3rd finger on the D string), and then expand and play all the notes leading up to the next G (second finger on the E string). This makes the scale twice as long.

Start over with the counting of the third and seventh notes, and continue the following finger pattern:

A string: 1 and 2 touching (half step) with all other fingers spaced apart (whole steps).

E string: 1 and 2 touching (half step) with all other fingers spaced apart (whole steps).

Once you have this fingering pattern memorized, take note of the set of sharps, naturals, and flats that make up this scale. This set is what we call a key. In the case of the G major scale, follow the principles above, which gives you an F#. Leave all of the other notes natural.

The set sharps, naturals, and flats would then change for each scale you play. For instance, the A major scale would contain C#, F#, and G#, and the D major scale would use F# and C#.

The best approach when learning scales is to memorize both the set of sharps, flats, and naturals, and the fingering pattern for each scale.


Violin Scales Warm Up

Here is a helpful warm-up routine that uses  the two-octave G major scale you just learned. Practice this routine to turn on your musical mind, get your fingers moving, and get  your bow arm flowing before each practice session. This warm up will also help you focus on your intonation and form,  and will explore different areas of the bow.

Follow the outline below as you play your two-octave G major scale:

  1. Half notes (long, slow, smooth bows that span from frog to tip)
  2. Quarter notes (quick, strong bows that span most of the bow)
  3. Four per note eight notes (four quick bow strokes on each note)
  4. Two per note eight notes (two quick bow strokes on each note)
  5. One per note eight notes (one quick bow stroke on note)
  6. Four per note 16th notes (four ultra-quick bow strokes on each note)
  7. Two per note 16th (two ultra-quick bow strokes on each note)
  8. One per note 16th notes (four quick bow strokes on each note)

This video will walk you through this violin scale warm up. Once you get comfortable with the warm up, try playing along with me in the video.

Take some time to grasp the section of the warm up leading up to the eighth notes. Depending on how long you’ve been playing violin, you may need to practice it for a few weeks.

Once you’re ready, try playing along with the 16th-note routine outlined in this video:


Now What?

Now that you’ve learned the G scale and have an excellent warm up routine to go with it, take some time to get comfortable: practice and perfect it! For the next few weeks, play through your warm-up exercise each time you practice.

Learn to play this warm-up proficiently (all notes in tune and you can work smoothly and seamlessly from half notes to 16th notes) before you move on to another scale.

Work your way up gradually and play through your eighth notes and 16th notes slowly, until you can add speed without taking away from the overall quality of your sound and intonation. When you first start learning the scale, you may need to work through the warm up multiple times during your practice sessions.

Once you’ve mastered the two-octave G major scale, try moving on to the A major, the D major, and the C major. Using the scales as your cornerstone, you will become familiar with the different keys and will be able to approach songs and pieces of music with confidence and ease.

Learning violin scales will help you play different types of songs. When you feel like you’re ready, try some of these easy violin songs.

Need some help with violin scales? Sign up for lessons with a violin teacher!  

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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14 Popular Violin Solo Pieces for Beginners

14 Popular Violin Solo Pieces for Beginners

Just starting out on violin and not sure where to begin with violin solos? Here, violin teacher Naomi Cherie S.  has outlined 14 popular violin solo pieces to help you build your beginner repertoire. Whether you’re brand new to the violin or you’ve been playing for a year or two, this list has some great songs for you to tackle…

Note: We’ve included videos, violin tutorials, and violin solo sheet music to help you master these songs!

About Violin Solos

As a musician, solo pieces are great to develop skills outside of beginner exercises and scales. Solo pieces can also give you a great excuse to test your playing abilities beyond your studio or bedroom. Even if you’re not too keen on performing in front of an audience, the ability to perform in front of people is very important in your journey to becoming a well-rounded musician, especially if you plan to perform in an orchestra, band, duo, or quartet. By starting small, with a group of friends or family, you’ll learn to control your nerves and perfect your stage presence and presentation, and eventually, you’ll have no problem performing in front of large crowds!

It’s important to have a violin solo collection, made up of comfortable, familiar songs to build your confidence to perform in front of an audience. These violin solos will help you prepare for a planned recital, family holiday, or an impromptu request.

Where to Find Violin Solo Pieces

This outline of songs uses the internationally known “Suzuki Violin School: Violin Part, Vol. 1” as a base. Since it’s one of the most popular beginner violin books in the world, it’s easy to find at music stores and does a great job of slowly introducing concepts. Keep in mind: you don’t need to be learning in official Suzuki Method style (Suzuki method is a teaching style developed by Shinichi Suzuki in the mid 20th century) in order to use this book. It’s just a good, affordable series of song books with a lot of great beginner material.

Many of these are folk songs or are adapted from classical pieces by well-known composers and can be found online or in other books, however, Suzuki lays it out in a neat, easy-to-follow package. We’ve also thrown in a couple of party favorites and crowd pleasers.

Time Frame and Experience

The songs below are organized by experience level. Please note, the time frames are estimates and can vary from student to student. You can enhance your results by with violin lessons and consistent practice.


Violin Solos

 

 

1. “Lightly Row” 

“Lightly Row” is a simple four-line song found in many beginner books since it’s a popular German folk song. It’s a great solo piece for beginners. With lots of practice, you can learn it within a month or less after starting violin.

The rhythms are very basic and the song uses quarter notes and half notes and focuses on using two strings at a time. You won’t have many string changes, which can be very challenging when you first start playing the violin.

Get the violin solo sheet music to play “Lightly Row“.

2. “May Song”

“May Song” is another old folk song that’s fairly easy to learn within the first few months of playing. It takes things up a notch by introducing different types of notes: eighth notes and dotted quarter notes.

It also ventures on to some of the higher notes on the E string. “May Song” keeps it short and simple at only three lines long, so you won’t get overwhelmed when adding more challenging rhythms.

“May Song” sheet music


 

1. “Allegro” 

“Allegro” is a great song to learn because it introduces dynamic markings.

Dynamics give the song variety and excitement by changing volume levels and the style or attack of your bowing. “Allegro” introduces the terms staccato (short and sticky bowing), legato (long and smooth bowing), decrescendo (play softer gradually), fermata (hold the note out and then cut off suddenly), dolce (play sweetly), and forte (play loudly.)

You may want to add a music dictionary to your violin sheet music and violin book collection to help you understand new terms and markings.

If you were too shy to perform in front of an audience with the previous songs, by the time you’ve mastered this one you’ll be more than ready to show off your newly enhanced performing “chops” (as we like to say in musician speak) with the dynamics, drama, and suspense of “Allegro”.

Get the violin sheet music here.

2. “Happy Birthday” 

Now that you have some of the basics down, take a night off from your regular studies and learn to play “Happy Birthday”. Every musician should know this song for special occasions and surprise parties. It may not be a traditional “solo piece,” but all eyes will definitely be on you when you surprise dad or grandma at the next family birthday gathering. It’s also a handy talent to be able to leave a violin voicemail or text a quick video for friends and loved ones who live far away on their special day.

“Happy Birthday” may not be readily available in most solo books, however, a quick Internet search will bring up many different options, or if you’re feeling adventurous, test out your skills and see if you can learn to play this song by ear.

“Happy Birthday” violin sheet music.

3. “Perpetual Motion” 

“Perpetual Motion” is a good stamina test for beginners. At five lines, it’s a little longer than most of the other pieces you’ve played at this point. It’s also free of any rests or breaks, which makes it really challenging to play since you’ll literally be in “perpetual motion” the whole time.

Think of violin playing like running a marathon: As a beginner, you get tired easily, so you have to gradually work up to playing longer pieces. This song is part of the endurance training that’ll help get you to the finish line, and eventually, propel you into an advanced musician who’ll someday perform pieces that are several pages long!

Get the sheet music here!

4. “Cotton Eyed Joe” 

Even if you’re learning through classical training, it’s nice to throw in a fun, old time fiddle song every now and then. “Cotton Eyed Joe” is a classic fiddle tune.

It’s snappy and short and sure to start a hoe-down in any social setting! You can find this piece in most beginner fiddle books or with an easy search online.

“Cotton Eyed Joe’ violin sheet music.


 

1. “Amazing Grace”

“Amazing Grace” is a must-learn song for any violinist – it’s a classic, old time fiddle-style song with a calming feel. It’s beautiful, poignant, and great for family gatherings around the holidays. It also makes a great duet if you have another violinist or instrumentalist of any kind to harmonize with you.

Click here for the violin solo sheet music.

2. “Minuet” in G

If you’re ready for this song, congratulations! This piece is a big step toward graduating from the easier three to five-line folk songs to playing real, semi-full length pieces. Also, note the composer of this song: Johann Sebastian Bach! You’re officially playing an adapted version of a song from one of the most respected composers of all time, and that’s a big achievement!

It may look like a short song, but it has repeat signs, meaning you’ll be repeating some parts and thus turning it into a full one-page song. It also introduces some new concepts that you likely haven’t seen at this point, such as using your fourth finger (pinky) to play notes, slurs (two notes connected within the same bow stroke), and complex note sequences on three of the violin strings (rather than just two).

This song keeps a great balance, because although it’s longer and more challenging, a lot of the parts that make it longer will be repeats of what you just played; in other words, you won’t be overwhelmed by new information.

3. “Let it Go” 

By now, you’re advanced enough to play music that combines rhythms using quarter notes and eighth notes and introduces slurs and dotted quarter notes. You’re ready to venture out of your beginner book and into some pop music.

If you or your child love Disney movies, now would be a good time to throw in a movie favorite, such as “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen. This song is always a crowd pleaser; everyone knows it and it’s very catchy. It’s also easy to learn and easy to find at any music shop with contemporary sheet music.

If Frozen isn’t your cup of tea, you can search for pop or rock violin sheet music in beginner book format at your local music shop or online.


 

1. “Minuet No. 2” 

“Minuet No. 2” is one of the last songs in Suzuki Book I, so once you finish this one, you’ll be very close to a major milestone in your studies. “Minuet No. 2” is a great song to follow up with after “Minuet No. 1” because Bach wrote it as part of a three-part series.

At this point, you’re definitely ready to perform in front of an audience outside of your friends and family. If you’re working with a teacher, ask him or her to organize a recital so that you can show off your progress. You’ll recognize many of the same themes in this song as “Minuet No.1” that’ll make it easier to learn and will work nicely as a companion piece if you choose to do a double solo performance for your audience.

This song definitely takes it up a notch and although it’s written as a one-page song, by the time you add all of the repeats, you’ll officially be performing your first two-page song – that’ll be great progress for developing your playing stamina!

Get the violin sheet music here!

2. “Gavotte” (by F.J. Gossec)

When you’re ready to learn “Gavotte”, you’re officially at the end of Suzuki Book I, which is a major achievement in your studies! By this point, you’ve made it through one of the biggest rough patches of learning a new instrument – the first year. “Gavotte” adds new, complex rhythms by adding sixteenth notes, which really take things to the next level in the speed department.

Do some simple finger exercises and scales, without looking at your sheet music, to develop the fast finger motion you’ll need to make these notes happen. “Gavotte” combines all the skills you’ve learned, and adds a lot of dynamic markings and repeat signs to make this song a challenging grand finale for the book.

Want to learn to play “Gavotte”? Get the sheet music here!


 

1. “Bourrée”

“Bourrée” is a great introduction to “Suzuki Violin School, Vol 2“, as it  eases you into more difficult material. A delicate and beautiful piece, the tempo can be adjusted to be performed slowly and calmly. A common misconception is that slower pieces are easy or boring – however, playing pieces slowly brings out some of the more emotive and poignant tones that allow your instrument to shine.

Performing a slow piece is a great way to exercise patience, letting the notes ring out and breathe, and it’s a nice opportunity to test out any newly-budding vibrato skills.

“Bourrée” violin sheet music.

2. “Gavotte” (by J.B. Lully)

This “Gavotte” (a type of 19th-century French dance – hence the repetition in song titles) is challenging, but not as difficult as the one below, so I recommended you learn this one first.

In this song, you’ll see the extended fourth finger. This requires you to stretch your little finger up extra high to hit a note that you’ll eventually learn to play in third position (a higher hand position you’ll learn as an intermediate player). This song has a great upbeat, a playful feel, and it’s fun to play fast once you’ve mastered it at a slower pace.

3. “Gavotte” from Mignon (by A. Thomas)

This “Gavotte” is a tricky piece that presents many twists and turns and lots of new challenges, such as 32nd notes (double the speed of sixteenth notes), lots of accidentals (notes outside of your written key signature), and complex rhythms. It’s also a lengthy piece, coming in at almost two-pages long.

This may seem difficult at first, but don’t get discouraged. Learn this song in sections. Go line by line, note by note, and perform it very, very slowly until you’re ready to increase your tempo.

For these more advanced violin solos, I recommend using a metronome, to help you ease into the faster tempos. If you’re having difficulty, try stripping the song down and playing it without slurs or dynamic markings. This allows you to focus on the notes. Once you’ve mastered this piece, you should be really be proud of your accomplishments. As a violinist, you’re on your way to becoming an intermediate-beginner level player!

Now you have a nice collection of violin solo pieces that you can learn as you advance in your lessons. If you need help with any of these violin solos, make sure to ask your violin teacher!

As you work through these inspiring, timeless pieces, have fun, practice hard, and enjoy the music!

Looking for more pieces to play? Check out this ultimate list of violin solos

Post Author: Naomi Cherie S.
Naomi teaches violin online in Austin, TX. She’s a classically-trained violinist with over 20 years of experience and a diverse musical background. She works with all ages and has been teaching for over 14 years. Learn more about Naomi Cherie S. here.

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vibrato violin

Vibrato Violin Tutorial for Beginners [Video]

vibrato violin

Have you always wanted to learn the vibrato violin? Below, violin teacher Naomi Cherie S.  provides a detailed tutorial on how to do vibrato on the violin…

Playing vibrato on the violin can greatly enhance your sound by infusing your notes with emotion, beauty, and intensity. It’s the icing on the cake that really makes your playing shine!

The standard for an advanced player or professional, vibrato violin comes from moving the arm and/or wrist back slightly toward the scroll, and then back up toward the bridge.

While you might be eager to learn vibrato violin, it’s a very complex skill to master. Below is a tutorial on how to play vibrato on the violin as well as some tips to help determine if you’re ready.

Am I Ready for Vibrato Violin? 

You may have heard famous violin players using violin vibrato in movies, at the symphony, or at live concerts, and thought to yourself, “Hey! I’m ready to add vibrato to my playing!”

Prior to embarking on this new journey, however, please note that it is incredibly important to make sure you have a very strong foundation so you don’t become overwhelmed and frustrated.

Before learning vibrato violin, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have good form, proper left hand technique, and a strong bow hold?
  • Can I play through songs and read music fluidly with very little mistakes?
  • Do I have a decent amount of hand strength built up and can I get through songs without my hand and arm muscles becoming easily fatigued?
  • Have I developed a good ear for intonation and enough muscle memory in my fingers to get the notes in tune most of the time?

If you confidently answered “yes” to all of these questions, congratulations! You’re ready to move to the next level and start adding vibrato violin to your skill set.

While professionals make vibrato look easy and effortless, it can actually take some time to master– anywhere from a couple months to a couple years depending on the player.

So the main thing to remember is to be patient and not give up.

How to Set Up Your Left Hand For Vibrato Violin Exercise

Having correct left hand technique is imperative to making the vibrato mechanism physically possible. Below are various steps to ensure your left hand it properly set up.

Step One:

Looking at your left hand while in playing position, the thumb should rest against the side of the neck in a straight or slightly bent pose, as if you were giving a thumbs up sign.

Your fingers should be curved and hovering over the fingerboard. Think of the fingers as arches or “little rainbows” sitting on top of the fingerboard.

A common issue for students is that they allow the palm of their hand to rest on the violin neck. The only parts of your hand that should really touch the violin are the fingertips, the thumb, and a bit of the side of your first finger.

Step Two:

If you find the palm of your hand touching the neck, straighten your wrist and remember that your wrist position should remain in a neutral straight pose most of the time.

When you place your fingers on the string, they should be standing up nice and tall so that only a small point on your fingertips make contact with the string (not the entire pad of your finger.)

Step Three:

If you find that you cannot easily get your fingers to stand up on the fingertips, it may be necessary to permanently adjust your overall left arm/hand form.

You may need to bring your elbow in toward your chest and let your thumb slide from the side of the neck more toward the underside of the neck to allow yourself to hoist your fingers up and get off of the finger pads and onto the fingertips.

Special Vibrato Violin Exercise For Beginners

Once your left hand technique is in order, you’re ready to start your daily vibrato exercise!

Keep in mind that it is important to do this exercise every day so that you can build momentum and develop the hand strength and muscle memory that you will need.

At first your hand may feel weak and tired, but with time it will become easier. Make sure you only do this exercise for 5-10 minutes in one sitting, so that you don’t overdo it and strain your hand.

Let’s get started…

Start with your left hand in normal playing position– good form, fingers hovering over the fingerboard and your first finger (index finger) standing tall on the fingertip.

Place your first finger on the D string where you’d normally place your first finger in first position.

With your bow, play this note for four counts. Then pivot on the ball of your finger and go into the “back” position with your finger and entire hand making a shift toward the scroll.

Although the motion is driven by your wrist, you should feel your whole hand putting momentum into the movement. Play for four counts.

Then begin alternating and counting like an aerobics instructor would in whole notes; for example, up 2, 3, 4 — back 2, 3, 4…

You should hear a shift in tone with each movement from “up” to “back.” That’s because your finger is changing what part of the string it is placed on  to create the vibrato violin effect.

  • Next go to half notes: up 2– back 2…
  • Then quarter notes: up, back, up, back…
  • Then eight notes: up, back, up, back (double time!)

And finally, double that last speed and go into sixteenth notes: at this point you’re just switching back and forth as fast as physically possible.

Your hand should look like it is waving at yourself. If you’re able to do this then you’re officially playing vibrato violin.

Most likely it will take a few weeks or months to work up to doing this successfully, but with lots of patience your fingers will build up the muscle memory and flexibility.

After a while, give your hand a rest and shake it out and let your fingers stretch. Then go to the second finger and do it all over again on each finger.

Most people find the second finger the easiest finger, while the pinkie finger is more challenging since it is weaker and shorter than all the other fingers.

Give lots of extra time for your little finger to adjust. Once you’ve completed the violin vibrato exercise, move on to the next string and go through the whole thing on all four fingers on all four strings.

Remember…

The big key here is to start off slow. While you’re learning, always start with whole notes and work your way up to sixteenth note speed.

That will give your hand some time to get warmed up and get used to the motions gradually.

Once you’ve become comfortable with your basic wrist vibrato, you can explore other violin vibrato styles; for example, arm vibrato which is the same, but with more momentum driven from the entire arm to give you really wide slow poignant vibrato.

Eventually you can develop a hand vibrato too, which focuses on a more delicate and controlled approach.

You can also experiment with the speed of your vibrato, such as fast intense motions for an upbeat, energetic song or strong slow weepy vibrato for a sad, slow or emotional song.

It all just depends on what type of mood you’re trying to convey and what sort of personal preferences you develop over your years of practice.

Photo by _dChris

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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violin sheet music

How to Read Violin Notes: A Beginner’s Guide

violin sheet music

Learning how to read violin notes is a difficult, albeit, important task. Below, violin teacher Naomi Cherie S. shows you how to read violin notes in an easy and fun way…

One of the best ways to build a strong foundation as a well-rounded musician is to learn how to read violin notes.

Playing by ear is a wonderful and valuable skill and should not be discredited in the least, as it can come in handy in many situations.

However, learning how to read violin sheet music can open you up to a whole other world of possibilities and will be necessary if you aspire to perform with an orchestra, quartet, or even some bands.

Think of it as the equivalent to learning how to read as a child and imagine how many possibilities that opened up!

Once you have learned how to read violin notes, with enough time and practice, you will be able to play pretty much any piece of music your set your mind to.

Below, I will walk you through how to read violin notes and test your knowledge with a quick quiz.

How to Read Violin Notes

The Staff

Let’s start with the staff. The staff is the set of five horizontal lines on which notes are placed in standard violin sheet music.

There are seven notes of which all music is based; A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Once you get to G, you would start back over with A and the cycle would repeat again, getting higher in pitch as you go up the staff.

There are also multiple pitches that correspond with the same letter in music. For instance, there are several different A’s on the violin. They are just in varying forms of higher or lower pitches.

 

how to read violin notesThe Notes on the Lines

The easiest way to learn violin music notes is to divide the staff up into lines and spaces.

These are the notes that fall on the lines of the staff, meaning the notes directly on top of the lines with the lines intersecting them.

how to read violin notes

Starting from the bottom line, begin to memorize each note going up the top line. One popular mnemonic device you may have heard is “Every Good Boy Does Fine.” Another is “Elivs’ Guitar Broke Down Friday.”

These devices can be really handy to help memorize the notes! You can start with a beginner violin book, such as Essential Elements for Strings Volume I, which will give you some great exercises to help you memorize and learn these notes.

The Notes on the Spaces

Next, there are the violin music notes that fall in between the lines– on the spaces:

how to read violin notes

Another great mnemonic device applies here. If you look at the notes starting from the bottom note up to the top note, you will see that the letters spell F-A-C-E. And that of course rhymes with space. It’s quite catchy and memorable: “Face is in the space!”

Whenever you’re practicing or working from an exercise book make sure to keep these mnemonic devices in mind. If you forget the name of a note, first determine whether the note falls on a space or a line.

Then take your finger or a pencil and point to each note from the bottom on up, while saying aloud the corresponding mnemonic device to refresh your memory.

Ledger Lines

In the G scale chart above, you’ll notice that there are other notes that fall below the staff (lower in pitch) or above the staff (higher in pitch.)

In order to place these violin music notes, we use small lines or dashes called ledger lines. The notes can fall on the lines or in the spaces between them just like the five lines of the staff.

To read these notes you can use the ones on the staff that you already know as a reference point to figure them out.

Important Symbols on the Staff

Now that you’ve learned the basic notes, look over some violin sheet music or an exercise book and you’ll notice some symbols at the beginning of each staff line.
how to read violin notes

The Treble Clef

Notice the fancy swirly symbol you see on your violin beginner book or sheet music. Clef symbols are reference points that name a specific note on the staff from which the names of all the other notes are based.

Lower pitched instruments use other clefs with different reference points, such as bass or alto clef. But in violin (as well as higher pitched instruments such as flute, trumpet and the right hand on piano) we use the treble clef.

The main thing a beginner should take from this is that if you’re looking at sheet music with a treble clef on it, it signifies that the music is most likely suitable to be played on the violin.

Key Signature

Next, you’ll see the key signature, which is very important to pay attention to because it will tell you whether or not you have any flat or sharp notes in the song.

A flat note (i.e. B flat) is a half-step lower in pitch than the base note (B) and is signified by this symbol: ♭

A sharp note (i.e. C sharp) is a half-step higher in pitch than the base note (C) and is signified by this symbol: #

how to read violin notes

If you see a flat symbol in the key signature, look at the line or space that is striking through the center of the symbol and determine which note corresponds to the line or the space.

Now throughout the duration of the piece (whether it’s a higher or lower version of that note) you will be playing the flat version of that note.

The same goes for when you see a sharp symbol in the key signature. Take a close look at the sharp symbol and notice that there is a little skewed square right in the middle of the symbol.

Whichever note corresponds to the line or space that the square forms around will be the note that will become sharp throughout the piece.

Sometimes there will be multiple sharps or a combination of sharps and flats. If you don’t see any sharps or flats in your key signature, you can just assume that all of the notes in the piece are going to be your normal or “natural” notes.

Any notes that are not mentioned in the key signature are assumed to be natural notes as well.

Time Signature

Next in line is the time signature. The time signature lets you know how to count a piece or how many beats are in each measure.

The staff is divided by vertical lines into segments called measures, which will contain a certain amount of beats depending on what your time signature says.

The top number in the time signature tells you how many beats are in each measure. Once the allotted amount of beats have been counted out it’s time to move on to the next measure and start the counting over again.

The bottom number describes the length of the beat. Since a beat is a loose term it could really mean anything but if you have a 4 on the bottom (most common) that would signify that you are basing your beat off of the length of a quarter note.

These are the numbers you’ll be seeing on the bottom of the time signature and which note lengths they correspond to:

  • 2 = half note
  • 4 = quarter note
  • 8 = eighth note
  • 16 = sixteenth note

These are the most common time signatures you will see:

how to read violin notes

The 4/4 time signature is so common that it is referred to as “common time” and often, you will see a C on the music where the time signature would normally be which means to play the piece in 4/4 time.

Test Yourself on How to Read Violin Notes

Now that you understand all of the symbols and signatures at the beginning of the song, you’re ready to start reading violin notes.

Remembering your mnemonic devices can help you read the notes on the staff, but will you be able to identify the notes that fall off of the staff and outside of the range of the mnemonic device?

As discussed earlier, there are many notes that will fall above the staff and a couple that fall below it.

You won’t need to know these right away, but once you get the notes on the staff memorized, you’ll definitely want to start tackling these.

Just remember that if you know the notes on the staff, you can count up or down using the alphabet to figure out any note you may come across.

Test yourself with the chart below.

Starting with the top line, which you know is an F count up alphabetically to figure out what note this is. Make sure you count each space and line.

how to read violin notes

…If you guessed D, you’re right!

Now that you’ve gotten the basics on reading violin sheet music, you’re ready to start putting it all together.

This is a lot of information that we just went over, so be sure to take some time and go over, reinforce, and really let it sink in.

Once you feel comfortable, you can start to learn about how these notes on the written sheet music correspond to the notes on your violin, which is discussed thoroughly in this article.

Eventually, you’ll want to add rhythms to your note sequences and learn about the different types of notes and their varying lengths–but that’s a whole other lesson.

For now, have fun getting familiar with everything discussed above and get excited about the potentials of this handy new skill!

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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