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How To Play The Violin: Step By Step Guide For Beginners 

 March 16, 2021

By  Zen Chung

Playing an instrument can have many benefits, including improved posture, stress relief, improved sensory development, and can also improve your memory and attention span. All these benefits can be experienced by playing any instrument, but a violin has some additional benefits.

A violin is one of the most rewarding instruments. However, learning how to play one can be a long journey, but with enthusiasm and patience, the tips below will make it easier for you to learn. Below are some steps that show the basics of violin playing that will help you learn how to play the violin.

Getting the Right Equipment

For you to effectively play the violin, you need the following items;

i. Violin

Violin instruments can be very expensive for some people. This is why if you're just starting out, you may want to consider renting one. However, if you're planning to buy here are some things you should know:

  • At most times, the higher the quality of the violin, the higher the price.
  • The violin is generally a tiny instrument, but they come in different sizes. So, you should find one that perfectly matches your body.
  • To avoid unnecessary costs, it is crucial to buy from a reputable seller.

ii. Accessories

The violin should come with the following things unless you have bought the instrument only;

a. Four strings.

They come in different types;

  • Gut-It gives a complex range of sounds, but it is expensive and can be challenging to take care of.
  • Steel- The sound can be scratchy, however, it is bright and loud.
  • Synthetic- It produces clear and smooth sounds but not as good as the gut.

b. A bow

The bow should be new. Look at the hair of the bow. Ensure that the color is bright and uniform from one end to another. Bows can wear out over time, but you can always have them re-haired.

c. A chin rest and rosin

Although not all, most violins come with these two. The rest is meant to hold your shoulder and neck since violins are not designed to match those body areas perfectly. The rosin will help the bow make a sound when it comes into contact with the strings.

iii. Other Violin equipment

Other equipment such as a music stand, a tuner, etc., may come in handy. You can get them from any music store online or in your local area.

Getting Ready To Play the Violin

Here are the steps you should follow to ensure the violin is ready;

1. Take out the violin from the case

Place the shoulder rest at the back of the violin. You can use rubber bands to secure them. Set up the music stand and sheet music.

2. Tighten the bow.

Turn the end screw clockwise until the width of the hair from the wood is the size of a pencil. It is advisable not to use a pinky finger because the oils from your skin may transfer to the hair.

3. Rosin the Bow.

Gently rub the rosin along the bow hairs three to four times. The reason for doing this is to transfer some dust to the hair to make it stickier.

4. Tune the Violin.

The strings should be tuned G, D, A, and E, from the lowest to the highest tone. You can also buy an electric tuner to make it easier. The major adjustments are made using the tuning pegs. However, if the tone is a bit off, you can make adjustments using the metal dials at the bottom, commonly referred to as fine tuners. Not all violins come with fine tuners, but they can be easily installed at music stores.

Positioning the Violin and the Bow

1. Grip the bow.

Begin by laying the middle part of your index finger on the padded part on the stick, a few inches above the tightening knob. The tip of the pinky should be placed on the flat part of the stick, ensuring it is slightly curved. Place the ring and middle fingers on the middle parts and their tips on the side of the black piece that connects the hair to the tightening knob. Your thumb should be underneath the stick, on or near the bow hair, and at the front side of the frog. Ensure your hands are relaxed and rounded as when holding a small ball.

2. Hold the Violin

While standing or sitting, pick the violin by its neck using your left hand and bring it up to your neck. The right hand is called the bow hand as it controls the bow while the left-hand hold the violin. The lower back of the violin should be resting on your collar bone.

Hold it in place using your jaw (the area under your ear lobe, not your chin). The jaw should be on the chin rest to prevent the violin from sliding. This is why you see the violinists on TV seem like they are looking to the right and down. However, if you're looking to learn the notes of the violin, you can hold it like a guitar, get a music book and seek help from a music teacher.

3. Hand Position on the Violin

Place your left hand under the top part of the violin's neck. Allow the thumb to remain on the bottom side and four fingers to come over to the fingerboard (the black plate on the front side of the violin's neck)

Learn to Play the Violin Instrument (How to Play)

1. Play the Strings

The flat side of the bow hair should be placed halfway between the wooden stand and the fingerboard. For the sound to emanate, pull the bow along the string as straight as possible and apply a small amount of pressure. Ensure you're holding it at a 45 degrees angle. If you apply more pressure, you'll get a louder sound, but it can make the sound scratchy if the pressure is too much.

2. Playing the Open Strings(C, A, E, and D string)

With the open strings, the neck of the violin instrument should be resting in the space between the first finger and the thumb of your left hand. The bow should within one plane with your elbow, shoulder, wrist, and the contact point on the string.

To change the strings, raise or lower the elbow to ensure the bow is at the required height. Using both long and short strokes is an essential method for playing the violin instrument. First, practice the short strokes of 6 inches or on the middle of the bow. Then practice half strokes and later try full-length strokes. Keep practicing playing one string at a time without touching the rest of the strings.

3. Playing Other Notes

To master the pressure required and the positioning of the fingers takes a lot of practice. In order to get your fingers to give clear notes, begin with the strongest finger, and using the tip of the finger, press down the highest string, which is the E string. Do not apply too much pressure, but the press should be firm enough.

Move the bow across the E string, or you can relax the muscles in your arms to give a higher note. Once you manage to produce a clear note, you can now add notes and string. However, you should pay attention to the pressure applied to produce a clear note on each string.

Practice and Practice

If you're an adult beginner violinist and are hoping to become good at playing the violin or any other instrument, then you should practice consistently. As the saying goes, Practice makes perfect. You can't learn to play the violin instrument in one day. Do it every day. Vionilists who are serious about learning should practice for at least two hours daily. Practice as much as you possibly can. It can take months to know how to play the violin or a particular song, but things will eventually fall in place.

Important Things to Consider While Playing the Violin Instrument

1. Posture

It is essential to hold any musical instrument in the right way. Having a great posture while holding the violin is the foundation of becoming a good violinist. Ensure the violin instrument is in a great position and your shoulders are not raised but relaxed.

2. Fingerings

This involves learning how to use the fingers on the fingerboard. Teachers should mark the violin instrument as a sign for the learner to identify the spot where you will place your fingers. This is because if you place your fingers in the wrong place, it may result in terrible sounds.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

1. Is it easy to learn the violin?

Although the violin instrument is, for a fact, one of the most complicated instruments to play and may take up to years to learn. However, with the proper training and dedication, it is something that will take a few months to perfect.

2. Can you teach yourself to play violin?

Yes, it is possible to teach yourself to play the violin through resources like YouTube videos and blogs, but it can be challenging. Thanks to the master classes and good teachers available online, students can now learn to play the violin. For the first lessons, it is recommended to learn this new skill in a class. There are many opportunities available in the digital world.

3. What is the hardest instrument to play?

The top five instruments that are considered hard to play include the violin, piano, accordion instrument, acoustic drums, and French horns.

Zen Chung


I'm Zen Chung, a piano and violin teacher based out of Plano, Texas. I started this blog because my students (and their parents) kept asking about the best musical instruments to buy online. Look no further I'm here to save the day! 

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