violin bow hold

10 Sure-Fire Ways to Improve Your Violin Bow Hold [Video]

violin bow hold

If you want to be a successful violinist, you need to learn proper technique, and that starts with your violin bow hold. Unfortunately, it’s easy to pick up bad habits. Austin, TX violin teacher Naomi S. is here to help; follow this guide to master your violin bow hold and improve your sound…

Proper violin bow hold is imperative to building a foundation as a budding violinist, but bow hold can be one of the most challenging aspects to master on the violin. Your bow hold affects your bow tone and your overall sound quality. A poor bow hold can cause a lot of roadblocks as you develop, so make sure to address the issue right away, and get really comfortable with your violin bow.

Most of my students look at me like I’m crazy when I show them how to hold a violin bow. In the beginning, it’s not always psychically possible to hold the bow correctly. When you hold your bow properly, you use a delicate set of muscles that you might not use in your everyday life, so it takes lots of time, repetition, and strength building to get your hand ready for the task.

Since you may be unsure of all the specifics of proper violin bow hold, I’m going to walk you through it, step by step, in this video tutorial.

Violin Bow Hold for Beginners

While the video will help you learn proper violin bow hold technique, I also have some helpful tips that you should keep in mind as you play. Here are 10 important things to look out for as you work to master your violin bow hold.

10 Ways  to Improve Your Violin Bow Hold Technique

violin bow hold

When you hold your violin bow, place your thumb on the little bump that’s under the stick and attached to the frog. Your thumb needs to remain bent at the middle joint, at all times, as all of your fingers on the bow hold curve inward and not outward.

This helpful trick goes for children as well as adults– if your thumb is flexed and curved, like a banana, you need to correct it and bend at the joint.

“Bananas” happen to almost all new violinists, especially for the first few months, but if you keep correcting yourself, your muscle memory will kick in and start to remember how the thumb should feel.

violin bow hold

Your first finger, or pointer finger, should wrap around the grip. It’s usually a little black strip of leather or soft plastic for your first finger to grip onto. One common mistake is for students to reach up too far and place the first finger on the bow stick instead of the grip. Think of your finger as a hook that wraps around the grip and keeps your hand anchored and in place.

As you practice, make sure to watch out for these seven common violin mistakes!

violin bow hold

Your middle finger and ring finger, often referred to as the “huggers,” don’t do a lot in the bow hold other than wrap or hug the frog. Make sure that you have your fingers bent at the middle joint and snug on the frog.

Many students place the tips of their fingers towards the top of the frog (near the bow stick), but it’s important to make sure the pads of your fingers are placed towards the bottom of the frog, so that you have full coverage over the frog and good balance for your entire hand.

violin bow hold

Almost all bows come with a little white or light-colored dot on the bow. You may wonder if that dot has a purpose, but it can actually help you with your bow hold! The dot acts as a guide so that you can make sure your hand is positioned correctly. The pad of your ring finger should cover this dot.

Always check back while you’re playing to make sure your ring finger lines up with the dot.

violin bow hold

As illustrated in the video above, the pinky or little finger’s job is to sit high on the stick and act as a weight to balance out the thumb. Like all of your fingers, in order to maintain good form and keep pressure off the fingers, the pinky should be curved at the middle joint.

A common issue for beginners is that the pinky wants to flex the other direction, which creates a “french fry” look. If your little finger looks like a french fry and is not curved under, make sure you correct it right away. Like “banana” thumbs, these french fries will pop in every chance they get when you’re first learning because your fingers haven’t built the strength they need to master this unusual hand position.

violin bow hold

When you play a stringed instrument, it’s important to keep your fingernails on your left hand clipped and tidy, so that your fingers can go down easily on the strings. When you clip your fingers, however, make sure not to clip your thumb nail on your right hand (bow hand) too short. You can clip it, but it’s helpful not to cut the white part all the way off.

When you clip your nail too short, it can cause friction on your thumb against the bump where it rests. This can tug at your skin which makes it uncomfortable to play. If you leave a little sliver of the white part of your nail, it can help you grip the bump and act as a shield against any discomfort.

violin bow hold

Remember, your bow hold is not a death grip! You’re not holding onto the bow stick for dear life, you’re holding onto it to create beautiful, emotive music.

Your violin bow hold should be delicate and graceful. Hold the bow tenderly, so that it might be possible for someone to grab the stick out of your hand.

Sometimes, during more intense sections in your songs, your grip may tighten, but always be mindful to loosen up when you can, so that your hand doesn’t get tired during the song.

violin bow hold

It’s common for beginners’ bow hands to look like mountaintops. If your hand forms into the shape of a steep mountain with your knuckles popping up in the air, take time and care to make sure to bend each finger at the middle joint, and relax your hand down, into the position of a nice, rounded hill or plateau.

violin bow hold

Similar to the mountaintop hand, your wrist may start to bend (too much) when learn how to hold your bow. As a beginner, your wrist should generally be in a straight or neutral pose. Eventually, as you draw the bow up towards the ceiling across your strings your wrist will bend and as you push the bow down towards the floor your wrist will flex. This sort of technique may take years to develop but it’s good to keep a relaxed and flexible wrist from the get go so that you can start to build good wrist foundation.

Eventually, as you draw the bow up towards the ceiling across your strings, your wrist will bend, and as you push the bow down towards the floor, your wrist will flex. This sort of technique may take years to develop but it’s good to keep a relaxed and flexible wrist from the get go so that you can start to build good wrist foundation.

This sort of technique may take years to develop, but it’s good to try to keep your wrist relaxed from the get go, so that you can  build a solid foundation.

violin bow hold

Last but not least, check in on your bow hold, constantly! Take breaks during your songs and glance back at your bow hand to make sure all your fingers are in place.

If something is off, stop everything and fix it right away. Sometimes, your hand may cramp up, and that’s a good time to take a break and shake it to let the muscles relax.

Eventually, you’ll become so aware of your bow hold that you’ll be able to correct things like “bananas” and “french fries” as you play, without stopping. In time, with enough practice and spot checking, these issues will go away.

Violin Bow Hold Exercises

Windshield Wipers

Here’s an excellent exercise to help develop the hand strength and flexibility you need to improve your violin bow hold.

Make sure to do this exercise every day for the first few months, until your bow hold becomes stable. You can start off by doing 10 repetitions, and then gradually increase to sets of 30.

It’s important not to overdo it when you first start learning, so pace yourself and take breaks in between your exercises.

Memorize the finger placement of the bow hold, remember the 10 pointers above, and use the Windshield Wiper exercise every day, and you’ll be well on your way to a flawless violin bow hold. Remember, proper violin bow hold technique leads to great sound quality and bow tone!

Have questions about your violin bow hold? Ask your teacher or let us know in the comments below! 

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.

Photo courtesy Changjin Lee

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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.


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 duets

13 Easy Violin Duets Featuring Various Instruments

violin duets

One of the best things about playing an instrument is getting to play with other musicians. Below, violin teacher Naomi Cherie S. shares some fun and easy violin duets you can play with your musical friends…

Looking for some fun violin duets to perform with your fellow musicians? Below are some violin duets for various levels, instrument pairings, and tastes. Before you get started, let’s go over some important tips for playing violin duets.

Important Tips for Playing Violin Duets

Whether you’ve played a duet before or this is your very first time, it’s always helpful to review some simple tips and tricks.

  • Master your part ahead of time: Get familiar with your violin sheet music before you schedule a rehearsal with your duet partner. It may look like a simple piece, but it can often take lots of time and practice to get the two parts perfectly synced up. It helps to have the piece mastered on your own before you add another player into the mix.
  • Prepare your violin duet sheet music: You may choose to share a music stand with your partner if you’re playing a shorter duet. However, if you’re playing a duet with multiple pages, you’ll probably want to use your own stand. At first, it can be confusing when reading music that has both the A part and the B part on one sheet (e.g. piano and violin parts stacked on top of each other.) If you’re having trouble keeping your eyes on your part, use a pencil or a highlighter to mark it.
  • Remember counting is key: I highly recommend that you and your duet partner practice with a metronome to keep in sync with one another. Start off with a nice slow tempo until you are both ready to speed it up gradually. Don’t be afraid to play it slowly in the beginning. It’s more important that you’re playing together than playing at the written tempo. Choose a team leader who can count off.
  • Stay focused: The most difficult thing about playing violin duets is getting used to another person playing a totally different part than you are. Give your ears time to adjust and be patient. Sometimes it helps to ignore your partner’s part and focus more on counting along with the metronome. If you’re having trouble focusing, try playing the song one line at a time and don’t go on to the next line until you can end one line together as written.

Easy Violin Duets for Beginners

violin duets

If you’re looking for some easy violin duets for beginners, check out the list below. I’ve also included two helpful violin duet books that feature a wide variety of violin songs you can practice.

You Are My Sunshine

“You Are My Sunshine” is a classic folk song in which people love to sing along. Folk songs are nice to start off with because it’s usually easy to find simple arrangements written specifically for beginner violin players.

The great thing about beginner arrangements is that the “bottom part” will closely resemble the same rhythm as the “top part,” except the bottom part will generally use lower notes.

Beginners can pick up folk songs fairly easily, especially if they’re playing with a partner who’s a little more familiar with the piece; for example, their violin teacher.

Jingle Bells

Around the holidays, “Jingle Bells” is a fun to song to play with a duet partner because it’s super easy for beginners to learnFamiliar holiday songs are great to start out with since you already know the tune and the basic parts of the song.

Mozart 12 Easy Duets

The “Mozart 12 Easy Duets” is a great violin duet book for beginners looking to play classical music and wow listeners with a grandiose classical music sound.

The violin songs in this book are simple and short, yet impressive. I recommend that you peruse the book and find out which duets match your skill level, as most of them are great for beginners. However, a few of the songs lean toward the more intermediate/beginner end of the spectrum.

Selected Duets for Violin

“Selected Duets for Violin Volume I” is another one of my favorite easy violin duet books. The book is a nice introduction to chamber music.

The pieces in this book are a little bit longer than the songs featured in the Mozart book above. However, the songs still use very simple rhythms and patterns.

Since these pieces are longer, it would be best to start off with the Mozart book and work up your playing stamina before trying out this book.

Piano and Violin Duets

violin duets

Do you have a friend or family member who plays the piano? Try out these fun and easy piano and violin duets below.

Canon in D

“Canon in D” by Pachelbel is a must learn for every violinist. It’s a versatile piece because it’s easy to find an arrangement for violin with almost any other instrument.

The level is generally intermediate, but easier versions can be found as well. It’s usually performed at a pretty brisk tempo.

So once you become familiar with the piece, it’s fun to experiment and try speeding it up until you find a nice upbeat tempo that works for both you and your duet partner.

Ashokan Farewell

“Ashokan Farewell” is a well-known intermediate level piece off of the soundtrack from the 1982 PBS Series “The Civil War.”

This violin duet uses traditional mountain music and folk influences of the era, and is absolutely gorgeous when paired with the piano.

You can slide your fingers on the fingerboard into the notes, rather than placing them directly into position, to give the piece some extra emotive old time country twang.


Beatles songs are enjoyed by audiences both young and old. Luckily, many of the songs are fairly easy to play on the violin and piano.

If you and your duet partner are fans of the Beatles, I recommend that you look for a Beatles duet book, as there are dozens of songs that make great duets on the beginner to intermediate level depending on how the book is arranged.

Flute and Violin Duets

violin duets

The flute and the violin pair perfectly together. Check out the flute and violin duets below.

Silent Night

“Silent Night” is one of the most basic, yet beautiful holiday songs for beginner violin players to start off with.

Since the violin and flute are close in pitch range and both use the treble clef for written music, it can be fun to experiment and try switching off parts with your duet partner to see how it sounds.


“Spring” from Vivaldi’s famed “The Four Seasons,” a four-part piece which features a concerto for each season, makes a wonderful flute and violin duet.

It’s a great violin duet because it is generally pretty easy to find simplified adaptations of classic pieces to match your skill level.

“Spring” is one of the more well-known and easiest pieces to play out of the four concertos. Therefore, I’d recommend learning that one first. Once you’ve mastered it and you’re feeling up for the challenge, you can conquer all four seasons!

Flower Duet

“Flower Duet” from Léo Delibes’ opera “Lakmé” may or may not sound like a familiar song title, but if you listen to a recording of it, you will most likely recognize it as a popular tune heard in various movies and television shows.

It makes a wonderful violin and flute duet. The piece is good for an intermediate player, but could also be tried out by a less experienced player if played very slowly and carefully.

Cello and Violin Duets

violin duets


“Greensleeves,” also known as “What Child is This?,” doubles as a holiday favorite and a year-round piece to perform at special occasions. Because it’s a well-loved piece, it’s easy to find in a beginner or intermediate arrangement.

This cello and violin duet is generally performed in largo, which means it is played at a very slow tempo, so don’t rush when you’re learning this one.

Take your time to let the music breath in between notes and really ring out. Remember that the beauty that lies in a slow piece of music can often be enhanced by pacing yourself.

The Swan

“The Swan,” a section of Camille Saint-Saens’ piece “Carnival of the Animals,” is one of the most beloved pieces to perform on the cello.

Depending on the arrangement you choose, this cello and violin duet could fall in the intermediate to borderline advanced category.

Since this song was written to highlight the cellist, the cello part is generally more advanced than the violin part. Therefore, make sure you pick a cello duet partner who has plenty of experience.

Wish You Were Here

Even if you’re a classical player, it can be really fun to try an adapted string arrangement version of a contemporary pop/rock song every now and then.

“Wish You Were Here,” by 1970’s classic rock band Pink Floyd, has been a favorite of mine to adapt ever since I saw an experimental cello rock band called Rasputina cover the song several years ago.

Add violin and you’ll get an especially lush string sound. With pop/rock songs it’s recommended, but not required, to find a friend who plays guitar to help keep the rhythm of the song while you’re playing.

Now Get Started!

After browsing through these violin duets, hopefully you’ve found a couple of songs in which you want to try out. Before you grab a friend and start playing, remember the tips and tricks above. Good luck!

Photo by Patrick Pielarski

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

Violin Finger Placement

One of the most challenging aspects of learning how to play the violin is understanding proper violin fingering and hand placement.

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

Learning the proper violin finger placement is a great place to start, as it will serve as the foundation of your violin playing. Let’s get started!

What is First Position?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What You’ll Need

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

How to Put Finger Tapes on Your Violin

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

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

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

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

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

Step One: Index Finger

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

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

Step Two: Middle Finger

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

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

Step Three: Ring Finger

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

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

Step Four: Pinky Finger

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Label Notes

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

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

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

See the violin fingering chart below:

Violin Fingering Chart

Memorizing String Notes in First Position

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

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

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

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

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

See the violin fingering chart below:

Violin Fingering Chart

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

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

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

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

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

See the violin fingering chart below:

Violin Fingering Chart

Understanding Sharp and Flat Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts on String Notes & Finger Placement

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

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

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

If you’re struggling with violin fingering, try taking some TakeLessons Live classes to get guidance from a qualified instructor, or work with a violin teacher near you.

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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10 Different Ways to Tune a Violin

tune a violin

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

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

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

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

Every violinist has their own process for tuning their instrument and there’s isn’t one right way to do it. In fact, there are several different ways you can tune a violin.

This article will describe 10 different ways you can tune a violin, but let’s start out with a quick overview in this helpful tutorial:

Tips on How to Tune a Violin

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

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

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

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

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

1. Electronic Tuner

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

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

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

2. Steady Pitch From an Electronic Tuner

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

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

3. Online Violin Tuner

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

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

4. YouTube

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

5. Violin Tuner App

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

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

6. Nearby Violin

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

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

7. Another Instrument

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

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

8. Tuning Fork

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

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

9. Tune in 5ths

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

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

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

10. Harmonics

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

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

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

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

Photo by Loreen72

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

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15 Easy Violin Songs That Make You Sound Impressive

easy violin pop songs for beginners that impress

As a beginner violinist, chances are you’re eager to play easy violin songs that will show off your new skills. While playing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is nice, you’re probably looking for some more popular tunes.

Luckily, there are plenty of easy violin songs to choose from, many of which you might already know. Before you jump into learning these violin songs however, it’s important to make sure your instrument is in tune.

Follow the steps in the video below to tune your violin before you begin playing!

Remember that the most impressive performances are a result of lots of practice. Your violin practice sessions should be spent studying the key signatures, notes, rhythms, and bowings.

If you can find an existing recording of an easy violin song, it’s a great idea to play along with it and listen for things like intonation and rhythm.

Without further ado, here are 15 easy violin songs in pop, rock, and classical genres to get you started.

Easy Violin Songs: Pop

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

Over The Rainbow

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

All About That Bass

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

A Whole New World

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

Old Joe Clark

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


Easy Violin Songs: Rock

Are you ready to rock out with these easy rock violin songs? These beginner violin songs are sure to “wow” your audience. Use the simple tips below to help you perfect any of these violin songs.

Another One Bites The Dust

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

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

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

She Loves You

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

Stairway To Heaven

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

Hotel California

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

Easy Violin Songs: Classical

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

Minuet 2

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

Hunter’s Chorus

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

Fanfare Minuet

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

Morning Has Broken

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

What Child Is This

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

Playing the violin should be fun, so when you’re just starting out, you should learn easy violin music that is appealing to you. Once you’ve practiced hard and learned a new song, share it with your family and friends by making a video or audio recording. You can even learn a few beginner violin songs and invite some of your supporters over for a mini violin performance!

Looking for even more songs to play? Check out these 50 easy violin songs for beginners.

famous violin players

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

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

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

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

[playbuzz-item url=”//” info=”true” shares=”true” comments=”false” recommend=”false”]

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

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

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5 Easy Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Violin

playing the violin

Are you taking proper care of your violin? Below, violin teacher Ruth V. shares some tips on how to maintain a healthy violin…

Learning how to properly care for your violin is important for many different reasons. First, it ensures you get the best sound when playing the violin.

More importantly, it helps protect your investment. Violins are expensive, and the last thing you want to do is carelessly tarnish your instrument by not taking care of it.

Below are five tips that will help keep your violin healthy so you can sound your best while playing the violin.

1. Wipe violin down

After playing the violin, rosin residue will start to cake on the instrument. It is very important to wipe down your instrument with a small soft dry cloth after each practice.

You want to make sure you wipe the fingerboard, under the fingerboard, on the body of the instrument, between the sound holes, and last but not least, your strings.

Never wipe rosin off the bow with just your fingers, because the oils on your hands could transfer on to your bow. A soft dry cloth is strongly recommended.

2. Loosen bow hairs

It is essential to loosen the bow hairs after you’re done playing the violin, as this will help preserve the instrument’s life span.

Avoid getting polish or touching the bow hair with your fingers. Doing so may damage the bow hairs, which can be expensive to replace.

Typically, bow hairs will last for around 120 hours of violin playing, which means your bow should be rehaired once every six months or so.

3. Tune pegs

Tuning pegs is not the easiest thing to maneuver, especially when you’re first learning the violin. If your pegs are turned too tight the string may pop causing pain to one’s self or nicking the instrument.

Nonetheless, effective tuning is a vital skill for a musician to acquire. When tuning, start with your A string then move onto your E string followed by the D and G strings.

If you’re unsure of how to tune or care for your pegs, ask your violin instructor to help.

4. Store violin in cool, dry place

Keeping your violin in a cool dry place is extremely beneficial to the life span of your instrument.

Heat and/or direct sunlight can cause the wood to expand or warp. After playing the violin, store it in a safe place away from air conditioners or heaters in your home.

And always remember to unload your violin from the trunk or backseat of your vehicle!

5. Don’t forget to store violin accessories

Your violin accessories—such as rosin, tuner, shoulder rest, stand, and carrying bag—should also be stored properly.

Make sure to always remove and place your shoulder rest in your bag after each use. Keeping the shoulder rest on the body of the violin for too long may cause chips and/or nicks on the body.

What’s more, tuners should always be turned off after each use and placed in an easily attachable bag. Don’t forget to keep a pencil with all the accessories as well.

A clean violin is a happy violin. Use the tips above to maintain the health of your instrument. If you have questions or need guidance, consult your violin teacher.

Photo by Andreanna Moya Photography

Post Author: Ruth V.
Ruth V. teaches violin, piano, and guitar lessons in San Antonio, TX. She received her Bachelor’s in Human Arts from the University of the Incarnate Word. Learn more about Ruth V. here!

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5 Tips for Pulling Off a Showstopping Violin Performance

violin performance

Stage presence is an important skill for all musicians to master. Below, violin teacher Ha-eun R. shares several tips on how to confidently pull off a showstopping violin performance…

Have you ever attended a concert in which the artist sounded better if you closed your eyes? A performer’s stage presence is more important than one might think, as a recent study has shown.

According to research, published in the PNAS journal, participants who were shown silent videos of piano competitions were able to pick out the winners more often than those who could hear the music

What this study proves is that nailing a great violin performance isn’t just about your ability to play the violin. It’s also about how you present yourself on stage.

If your stage presence is struggling, here are some helpful tips on how to nail your next violin performance.

1. Watch Where You Stand

You’re the star, not an extra! Be mindful of where you stand on stage, as your placement affects your sound projection. The violin’s F-hole should be facing the audience to facilitate sound projection.

What’s more, if you’re playing with music, try to keep the stand from obscuring your face. Otherwise it may look like you’re performing for your music stand.

If possible, book some time to play in the venue with your violin teacher present so you can determine where onstage is best for you to stand.

2. Avoid Distracting Behaviors

You don’t want to divert the audience away from your violin performance with distracting behaviors, such as foot-tapping, bobble-heading, breathing loudly, or gazing somewhere conspicuous like a high window or ceiling.

Another big issue is excessive body movement. Movement should only ever serve to match the music. If you feel yourself moving too much, try practicing in front of a mirror.

This will have the added bonus of giving you more stability, especially with shifting and bow technique. You’d be surprised how many people do this. With enough mindfulness, you can even choose to choreograph!

3. Be Cognizant of Your Audience

Always play for the people at the very back of the hall. Things that sound somewhat scratchy or harsh in the practice room can end up sounding passionate and energetic to the audience.

On the other hand, a practice room pianissimo will often not translate well in a hall. It’s not about sounding pianissimo, it’s about feeling pianissimo. Always ask your violin teacher for their opinion.

4. Display Confidence Onstage

Enter the limelight with confidence and bravado no matter how nervous you are. In other words, fake it ’til you make it!

If a violin string breaks or you play out of tune, brush it off. If you carry yourself well in the midst of adversity, the audience will admire you all the more for it.

5. Be Gracious

Finally, after you’re done with your violin performance and people are congratulating you, be gracious and thankful. Even if you think you played badly, you should act as if it went well.

This is not the time to nitpick about the mistakes you made. If you complain, people may end up having second thoughts about their good opinion of your violin performance.

Violin performances can be intimidating. If you can, play for experienced musicians as often as possible, such as your violin teacher. Their views can offer great insight on “stage hygiene” and professional protocol.

Remember that no musician is perfect and every violin performance adds to your musicianship as long as you learn from it!

Untitled design (26)Post Author: Ha-eun R.
Ha-eun R. teaches violin lessons and audition prep in Brookline, MA. She received her Masters in Violin Performance from Boston Conservatory. Learn more about Ha-eun here!

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