Learn to Play the Violin

Do you love the violin? Thinking of learning? Then this article is for you! Keep reading for some tricks and tips for beginners...

Woman Playing Violin


When you first start to learn to play the violin and see the fingerboard, with no markings or frets, it can seem overwhelming. How do you know where the notes are? This is something you will soon get used to! Many violin teachers, when working with beginners, will put a couple of stickers on your fingerboard temporarily, just to help you find your way around. After a while you won't need them and will naturally find the notes on your own.

When you first start to learn to play the violin, it's really important to be mindful of your technique. Like learning any other instrument, technique is the backbone of everything you do and learn, and it's especially important when you learn to play the violin. Not only is it important to protect you from injury, but it also dictates how good your sound is. That's why it is so important to have a teacher who is the right fit. Here at MusicTeachers, we make that easier for you. In your violin lessons, you can expect your violin teacher to give good, clear instruction on the best way to produce good tone as you learn to play the violin.

See all of our qualified violin teachers here!

Parts of the Violin

Before you learn to play the violin, it's helpful to know a bit about which part does what! Here's a bit of info to get you started...

  • Pegs: these are used to tune the strings - each peg has one of the strings threaded through it. If you tighten the string, it will sound sharper, and if you loosen it, it will flatten. When you first start to play the violin, ask your violin teacher to help you tune in your violin lessons as it's an important but tricky skill to master.

  • Fingerboard: this is where you put your fingers to make different notes sound. The closer to the scroll your fingers go, the lower the pitch of note is.

  • Strings: the lowest string, which is the one nearest your face and shoulders, is a G. The next string up is D, then A, then E. Try and think of a way of memorising this, maybe a four-word sentence, with each word starting with the string letters - for example, Greedy Dogs Always Eat. It can be as silly as you like, as long as it helps you remember the string names! Between the end of the fingerboard (nearest to your face) and the tailpiece is where you typically use your bow.

  • Bridge: the bridge props the strings up. It should sit so it's completely straight, at a 90 degree angle from the body.

  • Fine-Tuners: most beginner violins will have 4 fine-tuners, one for each string. These are really helpful as you learn to play the violin as for those less experienced with tuning the violin, they're much easier to work with than the tuning pegs and help to get perfectly in-tune strings.

  • Chin Rest: as suggested by the name, this is where you rest your chin!

  • The Bow: the bow has a stick and hair, which we use to play the strings. The tip is called, unsurprisingly, the 'tip', and the base is called, surprisingly, the 'frog', which is where you hold the bow. Bow hold is very important and will be one of the first things you focus on with your teacher.

Practice Tips

Its important to remember that making a good sound on your violin is challenging for all beginners, When practicing, it is important to be patient and maintain good habits. Here are some tips to consider as a starting point when you learn to play the violin:

  • Before picking up the bow, try to really relax your wrist and hand. Give it a shake, open and close your fingers, rotate your wrist in a circle. This will help you keep your joints relaxed so they can flow with your bow movement - you never want to have any of your joints stiff or locked when you learn to play the violin.

  • When attempting bow hold, keep your hand relaxed and place it gently on the bottom end of the bow. From here, while maintaining relaxed joints, shuffle your fingers into place: your thumb should gently tuck under the stick of the bow and neatly rest by the frog; the middle joint of your first finger should rest on the stick of the bow, with your finger curved; the ends of your middle and ring fingers should rest on the side of the frog; the tip of your little finger should sit on the stick of the bow, without being stiff.

  • Your left hand should always be relaxed, and again, no joints should lock or be stiff. Your fingers should all be able to comfortably sit on the fingerboard; your thumb should rest on the side of the fingerboard; your wrist should be relatively straight.

  • A common mistake made by beginners who learn to play the violin, is having the wrist bent and the hand flat under the neck of the violin. This will not only make your wrist ache but limits movement in your fingers and hand - when you are more advanced, you will need to move your hand up and down the fingerboard to reach higher notes, and you can't make these movements smooth if you're gripping the neck with your hand. Make sure your wrist is relaxed, not bent, and nowhere near the neck of the violin.

Posture for Violin

It's possible to play the violin whilst sitting or standing. In both cases, and also in your violin lessons or for practice at home, it's very important that you pay great attention to your posture. Sloppy posture can result in aches, pains and over time, more serious conditions such as repetitive strain injury. When you learn to play the violin it feels at first an unnatural position for the body. Your focus should be on making your posture as natural and relaxed as possible. In order to master the principles of a secure and relaxed posture, it's recommended that you seek the advice of an expert violin teacher, who we make easy for you to find.

Reading Music

Depending on what genre you choose to pursue, reading music can be a vital part of your playing - and even if you choose to pursue a genre in which you don't use sheet music, it's still a great skill to have! As a primarily classical instrument, good music theory literacy is important for violin playing. Your violin teacher will most likely cover reading music with you, but for a head start, check out some of our music theory guides here.

Strings on the violin

Your First Violin

The violin is a very beginner friendly instrument, cost-wise. While you may have heard of some of the ridiculous prices for professional violins, a starter instrument from your local music shop or online store is often very reasonably priced. If you are not sure, talk to your teacher about what they might recommend.

Violins come in different sizes, with adults playing on a 'full-size' or '4/4' size instrument. If your child is looking to get started, talk to your teacher about the size of instrument recommended. This will depend mostly on their age and arm-length.

Violin Lessons for Children

Is your child interested in starting Violin lessons? Learning the Violin is an extremely fun, rewarding and educational experience. It has been shown that gaining musical experience is massively beneficial to a child's development, in multiple areas and subjects. Playing the Violin also teaches responsibility, dedication and maturity, all valuable skills for any child.

Most importantly, learning the Violin is fun! Starting to make music is exciting and enjoyable, and one day your child can join ensembles or bands, sharing their joy with others in the best ways possible.

Having dedicated support from parent and teacher is essential to foster learning in children. Here's where we can help: many of our qualified and vetted teachers are uniquely equipped with the skills to sprout and grow your child's passions. Find Violin teachers online or in your area today, to start your child on their musical journey.

See all of our qualified violin teachers here!

Ready for Violin lessons yourself? We hope we have inspired you to get started on your musical journey. We have lots of talented, experienced teachers all over the country. Find a teacher in your city today and get started!

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Questions About Violin Lessons?

The office team at MusicTeachers are all professional musicians and educators. We also believe that we have the best job in the world: we get to spend our day talking to students across the country about how much they love music and we have helped hundreds of people connect with the perfect, professional tutor for them. We'd love to help you too! Please get in touch with us and tell us your story. Call us at 07946125613 or email us at [email protected]. We can't wait to hear from you!