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
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.
Around the holidays, “Jingle Bells” is a fun to song to play with a duet partner because it’s super easy for beginners to learn. Familiar 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
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” 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
The flute and the violin pair perfectly together. Check out the flute and violin duets below.
“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” 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
“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,” 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!