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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. [Need help with violin scales? Check out this beginner tutorial.]

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.

Still need help? Check out this quick vibrato tutorial from violin teacher Naomi S.

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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violin exercises

5 Violin Exercises to Help Build Finger Strength

violin exercises

Just like athletes, musicians must build certain muscles to help them better perform. Below, violin teacher Julie P. shares some fun violin exercises that help build finger strength…

Finger strength is very important for violinists. The fingers in the left hand control the pitches on the violin, while the fingers on the right hand control the bow.

For this article, we’ll focus on violin exercises that will help build your left hand finger strength so that you can play in tune as well as any tempo.

Students who haven’t developed finger strength in their left hand often struggle with pushing the string down all the way to the finger board.

When a string isn’t pushed fully down, the tone quality of the note suffers and it can sound scratchy.

This especially becomes a problem when students start using the fourth finger (pinky) as it is one of the weakest fingers.

Finger strength is also important for playing fast. So much is demanded of the left hand for fast passages of music that sometimes violinists will find that their left hand hurts after playing.

It’s important, therefore, to build up the proper finger strength so that you don’t fatigue your left hand to the point of injury.

Below are five violin exercises you can practice outside of your violin lessons to help build finger strength.

1. Four Little Monkeys

For young violin players, the nursery rhyme “4 Little Monkeys” is a great way to develop coordination and initial finger strength.

First, the student holds the violin in proper playing position and taps one of his or her fingers on a string to the beat of the chant.

The number of monkeys determines which finger gets tapped. As the song counts down from four to one, each finger on the left hand gets a turn.

If you’re not sure how the song goes, here’s a reminder:

Four little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell down and bumped his head
Mamma called the doctor and the doctor said,
No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”

“Three little monkeys jumping on the bed…”

2. Left Hand Pizzicato

A great way to strengthen the third and fourth fingers on the left hand is to play pizzicato with the left hand.

This is usually done with just the third and fourth fingers, and requires a lot of control in those fingers to pluck only one string.

Make up plucking patterns on open strings, or play simple songs and insert left hand pizzicato notes whenever open strings come up in the music.

3. Harmonics

Harmonics are high notes that are created by dividing a string in a certain spot. The way you do this is by lightly resting a finger (usually the fourth finger) in a specific spot on the string without pushing it down.

Practicing harmonics will help you develop finger strength because it requires you to move out of first position, as well as use your fourth finger.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to play harmonics:

4. Finger Tapping on a Table

Here’s a violin exercise you can do without even using your violin! Try tapping different finger patterns on a table or hard surface, as if you were playing the piano.

Challenge yourself by writing out patterns to tap slow, and then fast. Or, try “playing” some of your music this way.

Try these patterns to start (index finger is 1 and pinky finger is 4):
1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4
1 3 2 4 3 1 4 2
1 4 2 3 4 1 3 2

5. Trills

Trills are a great violin exercise to develop finger strength. To play a trill, you’ll play one note and then quickly alternate it with the note above.

The fast movement of the trilling note will challenge your finger strength. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to play trills:

The violin exercises above will help you build your left hand finger strength so that you can play the violin even better.

If you’re looking for more help with building your left hand finger strength, try asking your violin teacher for some more violin exercises and specific advice.

Photo by Changjin Lee

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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playing the violin

5 Exercises to Help Reduce Tension While Playing the Violin

playing the violin

Reducing tension while playing the violin is extremely important. After all, relaxing your muscles is one of the keys to producing a smooth sound. Below, violin teacher Carol Beth L. shares five exercises for helping reduce tension while playing the violin. 

Are you having a difficult time perfecting your violin playing? Very often, violin students have trouble producing a good sound when they aren’t properly relaxed.

High-level players learn, among other things, to eliminate tension in the areas required to produce a beautiful sound, such as their bow-arm and bow-hand.

Some, however, may still put themselves at risk for stress-related injuries if they aren’t careful. For violin students, staying relaxed will help them play more beautifully and for a longer period of time.

Below are a few exercises you can do if you feel yourself becoming tense while playing the violin:

1. Shake your muscles out

If you’re feeling tense, put down your violin and shake away the tension. While this exercise seems pretty simple, it gives your muscles a fresh and relaxed start.

Oftentimes, you don’t even realize that you’re tensing up while playing the violin. Making a conscious effort to stop and shake out your muscles will often do the trick.

However, if you’re still feeling strained, try massaging muscles that don’t want to relax.

2. Take it slowly

It’s easy to give into the temptation to rush. Rushing, however, adds unnecessary stress and takes away precious time needed for the fingers, hand, and arm to understand and respond to messages from the brain.

It’s usually only when you are fairly confident that you should speed up. Don’t take this to the extreme either, though. Some types of perfectionists advance more slowly because they don’t realize how much they can do.

3. Position yourself correctly

When a student holds the violin or the bow incorrectly or they have incorrect posture, muscles tend to tighten. Sometimes, this occurs without the student even realizing it.

If you’re having trouble positioning correctly, stop playing the violin and start over, making sure that your bow-arm is in the right position and your standing tall. Standing while practicing rather than sitting can also encourage correct posture.

4. Let gravity do its job

Some beginner violin players will push the bow down on the strings to make a sound. However, it’s more useful to guide the bow onto the strings, allowing gravity to actually do the work.

If that’s difficult to imagine, try thinking about air-bowing in a “u” shape–almost as if the bow is on a swing moving down onto the imaginary string and then back up again.

In doing this exercise, you’re letting yourself follow the arc naturally dictated by the pull of gravity combined with the forward and backward motion of the swing. Once you can do this with your bow in the air, put your violin back up and let the bow catch the string as it moves.

5. Try the ‘baroque’ bowhold

During the baroque era, the bow looked a lot more like a bow with which you might shoot an arrow. It was difficult to hold it close to the frog, so people held it a quarter to a third of the way up. Of course, modern bows are no longer shaped this way, but we can still learn from the basic idea.

First, find the balance point of your bow–that is, the point at which you can hold the bow by the stick with just a finger and thumb and allow the bow to hang horizontally. Visually, it will look like an imbalanced set of scales; both sides will weigh the same, but the side with the frog is heavier and therefore shorter.

Now hold the bow as closely as possible to your regular bowhold and try playing the violin. Chances are it will feel unnaturally light. Once you have played a little bit and moved back to the frog, you may notice that your sound is more open. If you do, it’s probably because your bowhold has become lighter and more relaxed.

If you’re currently taking violin lessons, try out these exercises and see if they help your playing. Some of these exercises I have done on my own for many years; others, I observed through teachers in recent years and then tried out myself.

All of them, however, can help violin students to improve their playing and, very often, can either directly or indirectly help to reduce tension.

Photo by Scott Schram

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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Top Five Violin Brands for Beginner and Intermediate Students

violin brands

Are you just starting to take violin lessons? Below, violin teacher Delilah B. shares the top five violin brands for beginner and intermediate students…

Thinking about purchasing a violin? Choosing the right violin brand can be difficult, as there are many options available.

While you want to stay within a certain budget, you also don’t want to compromise on quality. What’s more, you want a violin that’s going to last and retain its value.

So, what do you do?

To help guide you through this complicated process, we’ve rounded up the top five violin brands for beginner and intermediate students along with some tips and tricks on how to successfully purchase a violin.

Things to Consider When Buying a New Violin

From price to quality, there are a few important things one must consider before purchasing a violin. Below is a short list of things to keep in mind while you search.

  • Price range: Before you start searching for a violin, it’s a good idea to set a budget. Quality violins usually start at around $500, then go up from there depending on the violin brand you choose. Remember, you will most likely have to buy a violin bow and case separately, so be sure to factor that into your budget, as well. By setting a budget, you’ll be able to narrow down your search by weeding out instruments that are not within your price range.
  • Quality: In addition to setting a budget, it’s important that you know what to look for in terms of quality. After all, you don’t want to get coaxed into purchasing a low-quality violin at a high price. Make sure that you check the instrument’s construction and structure. A high-quality violin shouldn’t look warped or creak when you apply pressure.
  • New or used: When purchasing a violin, you have two options: You can either purchase a brand-new violin or a used violin. If you’re on a tight budget, buying a used violin may be in your best interest. Just make sure that you do your research to ensure that the instrument is in good working condition and that you’re getting the most value.
  • Size: Violins come in different sizes. For children, there are sizes 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16 and 1/32 violins. There are two ways to properly measure a child for a violin. With the student’s left arm fully extended away from his or her body, measure from the base of the neck to either the wrist or the center of the palm. The neck-to-wrist measurement will indicate the most comfortable size for the student.

Difference Between Student, Intermediate, and Professional Violin Brands

Student Violins

In general, a student violin is made from lower-quality wood and involves less hand work. These violins usually have some parts made of plastic, such as the pegs and chin rest. Student violins are great for children who are interested in learning, but are not yet sure if they will play for very long. Prices for student violins can vary from about $100–$400.

Intermediate Violins

Violins classified as intermediate are a good compromise between student and professional instruments. The price range can vary from $400 to $1,000. Intermediate violins are great for musicians who want something better than a beginner instrument, but are not quite ready to invest thousands of dollars in a professional violin.

Professional Violins

Professional violins are usually constructed from highly-quality wood, hand-built and assembled by a luthier, and finished with high-quality components, such as an ebony fingerboard. These instruments, which are only appropriate for professional and advanced musicians, can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000.

Buying a Violin Online vs. In-Store

If you’re debating whether you should purchase a violin online or in-store, below are some pros and cons to help you make your decision.

In-store

Pros:

  • You can try it out: One of the great things about buying a violin in-store is that you can try it before you buy it! It’s common for buyers to request to try out a violin brand at the shop. In fact, many shops have practice rooms for that exact purpose. Also, most violin shops are open to letting students borrow a violin for up to two weeks.
  • Knowledgeable staff members: If you’re a first-time buyer and don’t feel comfortable purchasing online, then you might want to opt for buying in-store. Most music shops have knowledgeable staff members on the floor who can match you up with the best violin brand.

Cons:

  • Limited inventory: Do you have a specific violin brand in mind? Music stores usually only carry a limited number of violin brands in-store. The last thing that you want to do is drive around town searching for a specific instrument that isn’t in stock.
  • High prices: Because they have less inventory, violin shops tend to have higher prices and less frequent sales. If you’re on a budget, you may want to shop around online for the best price.

Online

Pros:

  • You can shop independently: When shopping online, you aren’t bombarded by pushy salespeople trying to sell you the most expensive violin in the store. You can gather recommendations, read reviews, and shop peacefully and independently.
  • Larger inventory: Typically, online violin stores will have a larger inventory of violin brands to choose from. If one site doesn’t have what you want, chances are you can find another site that does.

Cons: 

  • Higher risk: When purchasing goods online, there’s always a certain amount of risk involved. Some websites will try to coax unknowing buyers into purchasing a violin that they think is of a much better quality than what it actually is. If you decide to go the online route, make sure you purchase from a certified violin dealer.
  • Uncertainty: If you’re stuck deciding between two violin brands, there’s no way that you can “try them out” online without having to purchase both and then return the one you don’t want.

Top Five Violin Brands for Beginner and Intermediate Students

As previously mentioned, violins vary by type. Some are designed for beginner and intermediate students, while others are customized for professional violinists. Most of the major violin brands carry a variety of different styles, each designed to best suit a customer’s specific playing needs.

So, what are the best violin brands? While the question is slightly subjective, we’ve rounded up the top five violin brands based on peer reviews and recommendations.

1. Stentor

When looking for a student-grade violin, Stentor violins are at the top of the list. Ranging anywhere from $150 to $180, these violins are reliable and well-built. For true beginner students, the Stentor Student I Violin is the most popular option and features a quality fingerboard and pegs. For intermediate students, the Stentor Student II Violin is a great option, as it offers better quality and tone due to its ebony pegs and fingerboard.

2. Knilling 

Knilling violins are well known among violin teachers and students. In addition to it’s high-quality craftsmanship, the company’s student violins have unique pegs for optimal tuning. Unlike regular friction pegs, Knilling violins feature Perfection Pegs, a 4:1 gear reduction inside the peg that makes for quick and precise tuning. Beginner Knilling violins are priced at around $500.

3. Cremona

Cremona is another great and affordable violin brand. Cremona violins are designed to meet the specific needs of both beginner and intermediate students. Besides using the highest-quality woods, the company takes quality very seriously and has 22 staff members in charge of quality control. The company’s student violin, the Cremona SV-175 Premier Student Violin, starts at around $300.

4. Cecilo

Cecilio is another teacher-approved violin brand. The instrument comes strung with the bridge attached so students won’t have to assemble it on their own. Also, you’ll be happy to know that the company puts their violins through rigorous tests to ensure they are fit for purpose. They also pride themselves on using quality wood, mainly maple and spruce, and top notch ebony. Student violins come in at a low cost of $200.

5. Mendini

Mendini is another brand ideal for beginner and intermediate students. Almost all factory made, the instruments offer good value at the low price of $199. Additionally, although the violins are low in price, they are durable. However, you’ll most likely have to replace the strings at some point, as the quality is not as great when compared to other brands.

 

Purchasing a beginner violin is a very exciting experience. What one person may see as a must-have feature, others are not so keen. Therefore, it’s important that you take into consideration the tips above. Keep in mind that you may want to get advice from a violin teacher or somebody who is experienced in buying musical instruments before you make a purchase.

 

violin techniques

5 Violin Techniques You Didn’t Know Existed

violin techniques

Do you want to liven up your practice routine and add new sounds to your existing repertoire? Violin teacher Julie P. shares some new violin techniques that will take your playing to the next level…

As a beginner or intermediate violinist, you’re probably familiar with the basic bowed sound of a violin. However, there are a number of other techniques you may not have heard of yet. Today’s more modern composers are continuing to come up with new bowing techniques to create new and exciting sounds. Below are five violin techniques you should consider trying during your next violin lesson or practice session.

1. Sul ponticello

In normal violin playing, the bow is placed halfway between the bridge and the fingerboard. When a passage is marked sul ponticello, the bow is moved closer to the bridge, or sometimes even right on top of the bridge. This changes the way the bow causes the string to vibrate. So, instead of getting a full tone, the higher harmonics come out. The resulting tone is raspy with an eerie element. Violinists can control which harmonics come to the front of the sound by altering the bow pressure on the string. Listen to a demonstration of sul ponticello in the video below.

2. Sul tasto

In playing sul tasto, the bow is moved in the opposite direction of sul ponticello so that it’s over the end of the fingerboard. This creates a softer, more ethereal sound that can be used for delicate sections of music. This placement of the bow cuts out some of the high harmonics to emphasize the low harmonics. Listen to a demonstration of sul tasto in the video below.

3. Col legno

Col legno – which is translated to “with the wood” – calls for the bow to be turned upside down so that the wood of the bow (not the hair) comes into contact with the strings. If the composer is calling for long bowed notes with the wood of the bow, it’s called tratto. If a more percussive sound is desired, the violinist would strike the string with the bow, also known as battuto. The battuto version can be heard around the 9:16 mark of Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique in the video below:



4. Spiccato

In the spiccato stroke, the bow actually comes off the string between bow strokes. This is often referred to as “bouncing the bow,” even though the player’s bow movement is horizontal rather than vertical. Spiccato is usually performed in the middle of the bow where there is even weight on both sides of the contact point, allowing the greatest control over the bow. The tension on the bow hair causes the bounce. Many beginner violinists find that the bow naturally bounces on the strings, until they learn how to control the bow enough to keep it from bouncing. Listen to a demonstration of spiccato in the video below.

5. Ricochet

This technique – which is also referred to as jete – means to bounce the bow rapidly while moving the bow in one direction. Ricochet bowing can be performed at different speeds, determined by the part of the bow that is played. If you “throw” the bow near the middle balance point, it will bounce slower than if you use the upper half of the bow. This technique is used for staccato notes that are all to be played in the same bow direction. Listen to a demonstration of ricochet in the video below.

 

These five violin techniques are only a few of the unique methods violinists use to make different sounds on their instruments. There are even more ways to play with the bow and make use of the space behind the bridge, the fingerboard, and even the back of the violin. Using the bow in different ways adds a fun element to playing the violin. If you’d like to learn some of these violin techniques, you might want to consider taking violin lessons with an expert teacher.

JuliePJulie 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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Photo by Flood G.

Inspiration Corner: 5 Famous Violin Players You've Got to Know

5 Famous Violin Players You’ve Got to Know

Inspiration Corner: 5 Famous Violin Players You've Got to Know

Are you just starting to take violin lessons? An integral part of learning how to play the violin is listening to others. Below, violin teacher Julie P. lists the top five violinists every beginner student should know and listen to…

There are literally hundreds of famous violin players from all over the world. In addition to the number of well-known classical violinists, such as Fritz Kreisler and Pablo de Sarasate, there are also many great bluegrass and jazz violinists. Choosing just a few violinists to listen to can be a daunting task as there are so many genres to choose from. I suggest starting out with the five famous violin players below:

1. Itzhak Perlman (1945 – present )

One of the most famous violin players of all time, Israeli-American Itzhak Perlman has had an incredible recording and performing career. Since the 1960s he has toured extensively, playing with all of the greatest orchestras and conductors around the world. He’s also played at the inauguration of President Obama in 2009, and has appeared on many popular television shows including, Sesame Street, The Tonight Show, and The Ed Sullivan Show.

Perlman is featured on over 150 records, most of which are of the classical idiom. However, he’s also featured on some jazz, folk, and Klezmer albums, as well as on movie soundtracks such as Schindler’s List and Memoirs of a Geisha. Below are some videos of Perlman’s most notable performances.

Here, Perlman beautifully plays the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Minor.

More to check out:

  • Perlman plays “Misty” with jazz great Oscar Peterson from the album “Side By Side.”
  • Perlman plays Klezmer music with four fantastic groups.

2. Mark O’Connor (1961- present )

Mark O’Connor is known for being a genre-crossing violinist. He is respected greatly for both his classical and bluegrass playing, as well as for his jazz and country playing. He has won two Grammys, seven CMA awards, and seven fiddling championships. What’s more, he’s also bagged championships in guitar and mandolin. His solo recordings are wildly popular, with over two million copies sold.

If that wasn’t enough, O’Connor is also a wonderful composer. His popular “Fiddle Concerto” combines the classical concerto form with the American fiddle style. Listen to some of Mark O’Connor’s work below:

Here, O’Connor and the American Music Shop Band band push the tempo past what you think is possible.

More to check out:

 3. Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987)

Jascha Heifetz is considered to be one of the greatest, most famous violin players of all time. Before his death, he was praised for his exacting technique, as well as for his beautiful tone and style, all of which has had a great influence on the modern violin style.

His recording career was extensive and the hundreds of recordings he made cover the bulk of the standard classical violin repertoire. If you want to hear exquisitely played music with great depth of musicality, listen to Jascha Heifetz. Enjoy the sounds of Jascha Heifetz in the videos below:

Here, Heifetz’s performance of Paganinni’s Caprice No. 24 is technically inspiring.

More to check out:

 4. Stephane Grappelli (1908-1997)

A giant in the jazz violin world, Stephane Grappelli is a violinist everyone should know. The French native founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France, one of the first and most influential continental jazz groups, with guitarist Django Reinhardt.

Over his 60 plus year recording career, Grappelli recorded with hundreds of the greatest jazz, classical, and folk artists. His talents earned him the honor of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as a spot in the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. Check out his music below:

Here, Grappelli is playing Blue Moon.

More to check out:

 5. Hilary Hahn (1979 – present)

Classical soloist and chamber musician, Hilary Hahn made her orchestral debut at the age of 12. She began her recording career when she was 16 and since then has recorded 16 albums, three of which have earned her Grammy awards. She is a much sought-after soloist, performing with groups such as the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Hahn is also a proponent of new music, and for her album entitled “In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores” she commissioned 26 composers to write short works for her. Listen to her talents below:

Here, Hahn plays Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E minor.

More to check out:

These are just five of the many famous violin players you’ve got to know. If any of these violinists are particularly interesting to you, check out more of their recordings, or find other violinists who play in a similar style. If you’d like to learn to play violin like one of these great players, find a great violin teacher who can help get you there!

 

JuliePJulie 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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Photo by Penn State

Best Places to Find Easy Violin Sheet Music Online

Top 5 Websites for Easy Violin Sheet Music

Top 5 Websites for Easy Violin Sheet Music

 

After weeks of practice, chances are you’ve nearly perfected the beginner songs recommended or required by your teacher and you’re looking for something a bit more challenging. Or perhaps you want to try something different other than a nursery song or scales. If you’ve reached the point where you want something new to supplement your regular lessons, there are several helpful websites that offer a wide range of easy violin sheet music.

Whether you want something contemporary,  classic, or just a slight change from the usual, spend some time combing through the following five websites. Note: If you’re at an intermediate level, the last three websites will give you the challenge you need to keep your interest in violin piqued.

Violinsheetmusic.org

Violinsheetmusic.org is at the top of the list not necessarily because it is the best, but because it has nearly 90 songs that are basic and very recognizable. From Christmas to American patriotic songs, the easy violin sheet music selection will help reinforce the early techniques of fingering and bowing. Because the songs are extremely familiar, you’ll be able to tell when you’re hitting the right notes and when you need to work on your fingering a little more.

Fretless Finger Guides

Another site for beginners, Fretless Finger Guides gives you more than just easy violin sheet music. The website provides additional instructions for each of the songs presented. While it has a very limited selection, the songs give you much easier versions of much more difficult songs, such as Fur Elise and Scarborough Fair. Ultimately, it can be a much more rewarding experience as you work toward transitioning beyond basic songs.

8notes.com

8notes.com offers different levels of violin sheet music, according to both skill and genre. If you choose to select music based on skill level, you’ll get a long list of songs within various ranges, including beginner, easy violin, intermediate, and advanced. If you don’t want to comb through a long list of mixed music genres, you can either select a type of music from one of the tabs at the top of the level page or you can choose from the main page. The various genres listed include wedding music, Christmas, world, and film.

Musicnotes.com

All of the sheet music on musicnotes.com will cost you between $2 and $5, depending on the song’s popularity. For example, Let It Go is available for download at $4.25 because it’s currently the No. 1 downloaded song  on the website. Musicnotes.com is wonderful if you know what song you want to practice. All you have to do is simply enter the information in the search and adjust the skill level of the sheet music, located on the right column.

Virtualsheetmusic.com

Another site that requires payments per downloaded song, virtualsheetmusic.com makes it easy to look up songs based on either your skill level or the song you want to download. Like musicnotes.com, it offers a much wider range of songs than the free sites previously mentioned. So, if you’re willing to pay a small fee, you can find the right song for your current mood or desired level.

Let’s face it, repeatedly playing the same kinds of violin songs and scales can turn practice into a chore. By leveraging the aforementioned websites, however, you can find easy violin sheet music to make practicing more interesting and fun.

View all Takelessons.com Free Sheet Music Resources.

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How to Set Up a Violin Bridge | Violin Tips

How To Set Up A Violin Properly There’s one important – and slightly intimidating – hurdle that all violin students have in common. Whether you’re a complete beginner looking to make a cheap, factory-made instrument more grateful to play, or a more advanced student wanting to customize your “forever” instrument to suit you and you alone, the basic knowledge of how to set up a violin is worth grasping even if your interest doesn’t extend much beyond curiosity and a love of tinkering with things.

As you’re probably aware, the bridge is a major factor in determining the sound of your instrument, and learning how to set up a violin bridge is a worthwhile nugget of knowledge to acquire, as they have a habit of collapsing at inopportune moments — like just before an exam or recital, when you don’t have a chance of getting to the repair shop.

How does the bridge affect my violin’s sound?

Assuming the sound post is properly in place, your bridge will allow the strings to resonate properly, but only if it’s the correct height. Many factory-supplied bridges are not entirely fit for purpose, and either sit too high, or aren’t curved to fit comfortably to the body of your violin. If the bridge is too high, it will require additional pressure on the strings to make a sound, and if you’re younger or less strong, this can be extremely frustrating. The bridge should be safely held in place by the pressure of the string — never resort to glue, no matter how tempting. The excellent YouTube tutorial below, from Karacha.com, will give you a step-by-step guide for setting up your bridge on a new instrument that has been shipped “bridge down”, i.e. without the bridge in place, to keep the instrument safe during transit.

Can I really do this on my own, or should I get my teacher to do it?

If you’re not confident, or you suspect that adjustments are needed that are beyond your capabilities — such as the height of the bridge needing adjustment, or there being inadequate curvature to make it secure — seek your teacher’s advice, or go to a good violin maker or repairer for assistance. However, if everything is otherwise as it should be, it’s a worthwhile skill to acquire yourself. Bridges have a habit of falling over when you least expect — particularly when you are changing strings or re-tuning. This YouTube tutorial on how to set up a violin bridge after it has collapsed is handy to bookmark for reassurance when you hear that alarming “snap” when tuning — it really isn’t the end of the world!

Is that it? Is there anything else I need to do?

Like all instruments, your violin will serve you well if you look after it. Most important in terms of maintenance is keeping your violin at a constant humidity to prevent cracks and other deterioration. An in-case humidifier is a smart purchase as it will prevent the need for expensive repairs.

It’s easy to become quite the repair geek as you find out more and more about your instrument and how it works, and it’s great fun too — talk to your teacher about violin repair and maintenance, and you’ll find yourself acquiring skills and knowledge beyond scales and double-stopping!

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Violin Playing Tips: Surviving Your First Audition

Violin Audition TipsLearning to play in front of an audience can be tough, but playing for an audition can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences, especially your first time around. There are many violin playing tips to help you learn how to play, and how to listen to others in the orchestra, but many of those tips do not apply to an audition. No matter how good you are, nerves can be a huge factor.

Unlike a concert where the audience is inclined to praise you because they are there to enjoy the music, an audition involves a panel that is there specifically to judge your skills. Figuring out how to play under these circumstances is an individual experience, but there are a few universal violin playing tips that can lessen the apprehension and tension of an audition.

Early Preparation

First, take the time to determine exactly what is required of you. You may be asked to demonstrate specific techniques, or play a particular piece. If you know that you want to get into a certain school or class level, take the initiative now to go over this information.

As you practice leading up to the audition, make sure to spend some time actually visualizing your performance. Of course, the actual experience will be different, but placing yourself in that frame of mind will help you when the time comes. Once you have set up the scenario in your mind, start playing.

Setting Up

Some auditions require you memorize your music, others allow you to use a music stand, and you may be asked to play standing up or sitting down. Before you play, make sure you’re both physically and mentally prepared.

Make sure you’re in a comfortable position, especially if you have to stand. Take several deep breaths, fully inhaling and exhaling the air. You can do this with your eyes open or closed, but either way make sure you are focused only on your breathing. This sets up your mind, forcing you to pay attention to your body.

Pay attention to your shoulders, also. If you feel them getting tense, take a couple of extra breaths and relax. The more relaxed you are, the less nervous you will be. This is particularly important for your bow arm, because if it is tense, you can lose mobility and range of volume. Just like one of the first violin playing tips you learn, your bow hand should be remain relaxed.

During the Audition

As you begin your audition, return to what you visualized during your practice sessions. Of course, most of the room and people will look different than you had visualized, but you are turning to your mind’s eye. By focusing on something that is familiar, your body will react instinctively, and you’ll be more likely to play like you did while practicing.

Keep your posture as steady as possible so that your arms are able to move as needed. You left hand needs to be able to move freely, which it cannot do if you start to slump in the middle of the song. Shifting your right leg can interfere with your bow hand. Of course, you don’t want to be completely stiff, as that will cause discomfort, but do be aware of what your arms and back need.

Again, keep your shoulders relaxed. During a long rest or break, take the time to make sure your shoulders are not tensing up. The more relaxed your shoulders, the better your bowing and fingering will be.

Every audition is different, and it can be difficult to fully prepare for playing the violin knowing that you are being assessed. No one set of violin playing tips will work for everyone, particularly when you are trying to get into the best class or school. The most important thing is not to let the final results discourage you too much. Even if you don’t do as well as you wanted, learning from the experience will improve your performances in the future. Regardless of the result, treat every audition as a way to improve. Good luck!

 

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Basics of Violin: How to Set (and Reach) Your Goals

Violin Bascis  When the violin is played properly, it can move listeners to cry, dance, laugh, and experience a wide range of emotions. Violins are played in all types of music, from classical to hard rock to pop. And while it may initially seem challenging to learn to play this popular instrument, mastering the basics of violin yields beautiful and inspiring results.

The Importance of Goals

When you are first beginning to explore your interest in violin, it can be helpful to sit down and set a few goals by asking yourself some basic questions. What type of music are you interested in? What kinds of songs would you like to be able to play?  After all, it is much easier to stay motivated when you’re planning on playing the type of music that you like.

Take out a pen and paper and write out the things that you would like to accomplish on the violin. You may also want to consider a few other things, such as whether you are planning on playing just as a hobby or if you one day hope to play professionally. Understanding your motivations can help you better plan for your future as a violinist.

The Role of Your Violin Teacher

After you have compiled your list, place it in a visible spot so you will always be reminded of your goals. Also, be sure to sit down with your violin teacher to discuss your plans. Your teacher can help you evaluate your goals and determine the best ways to accomplish them. He or she can also suggest practice tips, including which specific exercises to incorporate into your routine.

Mastering the Basics

Your teacher will start with the basics of violin because — as with most other things in life — the fundamentals establish a critical foundation for success. In fact, the basics will continue to be an integral part of your training: ultimately, the better your foundation is, the stronger you will be as a violinist.

While learning how to properly pull the bow across the string may not sound like fun, your violin will never sound good if you don’t learn how to play with the proper technique. Keeping your goals in mind will help you during times when you might otherwise get bored with practicing the basics over and over again.

Furthermore, the basics become infinitely more interesting when you realize their potential applications: for instance, learning and conquering your shifting techniques will become much more satisfying when you realize that they are an important part of playing your favorite songs!

Consistency is Key

Another important factor in improving as a violinist is consistency.  Practicing 30 minutes every day is much more effective than a sporadic schedule in which you might practice for hours at a time here and there with long stretches of no practice in between. Again, your violin teacher will play a vital role in encouraging consistency by helping you set realistic goals. He or she can also assess your progress and acknowledge key milestones along the way.

Many accomplished violinists, as well as their teachers, agree that staying motivated throughout the learning process is essential. Once your motivation has been established, improving as a violin player becomes a simple matter of daily practice. As you progress and your skills improve, your violin teacher will continue to play a critical role during your journey toward violin mastery.

 

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