Violin Tuning

Title: Mastering the Art of Violin Tuning: Essential Tips and Techniques

Tuning the violin is a fundamental skill that every violinist must master to produce beautiful, harmonious music. Proper tuning ensures that each string resonates at the correct pitch, allowing for precise intonation and a balanced sound. In this guide, we’ll explore the process of violin tuning, from basic techniques to troubleshooting tips for maintaining optimal tuning stability.

What to Do When Tuning the Violin: Tuning the violin involves adjusting the tension of each string to achieve the desired pitch. Here’s a step-by-step guide to tuning the violin:

  1. Prepare Your Tuning Device: Before you begin tuning, ensure that you have a reliable tuning device, such as an electronic tuner or tuning app, to assist you in accurately adjusting the pitch of each string.
  2. Start with the A String: Begin by tuning the A string, which is the second string from the left when holding the violin in playing position. Play the open A string and use your tuning device to adjust the tension until the pitch matches the designated A note.
  3. Tune the D String: Next, tune the D string, which is the third string from the left. Play the open D string and use your tuning device to adjust the tension until it matches the designated D note.
  4. Continue with the G and E Strings: Tune the G string, the fourth string from the left, followed by the E string, which is the rightmost string. Use your tuning device to adjust the tension of each string until they match the designated G and E notes, respectively.
  5. Check Your Tuning: Once you’ve tuned all four strings, double-check your tuning by playing open strings together or playing simple scales to ensure that each note is in tune relative to the others.

Tips for Troubleshooting Tuning Issues: Even with proper tuning techniques, violin strings may occasionally struggle to stay in tune due to factors such as temperature changes, humidity, or string age. Here are some tips for troubleshooting tuning issues:

  1. Stretch Your Strings: New strings or strings that haven’t been played in a while may need to be stretched to settle into their proper tension. Gently pull and stretch each string along its length to help it settle and hold its pitch more consistently.
  2. Use Peg Compound: Apply a small amount of peg compound to the pegs if they are slipping or sticking. Peg compound helps lubricate the pegs, making them easier to turn and helping them hold their position more securely.
  3. Adjust the Fine Tuners: If your violin is equipped with fine tuners, use them to make minor adjustments to the pitch of each string. Fine tuners provide greater precision and control over tuning compared to the pegs, especially for small adjustments.
  4. Monitor Environmental Conditions: Keep your violin stored in a stable environment with consistent temperature and humidity levels to minimize the effects of climate on tuning stability. Extreme fluctuations in temperature or humidity can cause strings to expand or contract, affecting their tension and tuning.

Tuning the violin is a vital skill that every violinist must master to achieve optimal sound quality and performance. By following proper tuning techniques and troubleshooting tips, you can ensure that your violin stays in tune and produces beautiful, harmonious music. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced violinist, regular tuning practice is essential for maintaining your instrument’s sound and playability. So, grab your tuning device and your violin, and embark on your journey to perfect tuning mastery!

Violin Finger Positions

Violin Finger Positions and how to do it

One of the complicated things about the violin is to get your head around the violin finger positions. It can be confusing, especially in the beginning, especially when you don’t have a musical background and this is the first instrument that you are attempting.

Violin finger positions on the strings need to be in the exact place so that your note pitch is not off. The slightest incorrect spacing and your notes will sound false. So before you attempt to put your fingers on the positions, you need to put some sort of a marker on your violin fingerboard. Click here to go to the violin finger positions and see how to mark your violin properly.

When you have done the marking of the finger positions, you need to remember your violin fingering. Your pointing finger is your first finger, middle finger is your second finger, ring finger is your third finger and pinky is your forth finger.

The basic violin fingering works with the scale of D Major. D Major has two sharps, F, C sharps. Therefore, your notes that fall on these will be sharps. Below is an image of how the violin notes work.

So in other words, for the G string positioning, first gfinger will fall on A, second finger on B, third finger on C#.

For D string, first finger will fall on E, second on F#, third on G and so on.

For A string, first ginger will fall on B, second on C#, third on D

E string: first ginger on F#, second on G and third on A

Below is an image of how to position the fingers on the violin fingerboard. The tips of your fingers need to be pushing down on the strings, your fingers need to be curled and your pulse need to be out.

For more on violin finger positions, please read my article on the placements or watch my YouTube video on the finger positions for the violin.

Violin Bow Exercises

Violin bow exercises for beginners

Violin bow exercises are incredibly important to correct your violin bowing technique. Especially when you are a beginner and you are struggling with balancing the bow on the strings and hitting different strings at the same time.

Violin is not an instrument that can be learned overnight unless you are a super musical genious. There is a lot involved in learning the violin. A lot of technique and also musical knowledge goes into it. Part of the technique is getting the bowing right from when you are a beginner. For that you need the right kind of violin bow exercise for the particular issue that you are struggling with.

There are several exercises that you can try to correct your bowing. The most important one is learning how to bow. I have outlined some exercises below that you can use to get your violin bowing right.

  1. Try to bow a long full bow on just one string. This would be from the end of the bow to the tip. This should have enough pressure to make a nice sound, but not so much that it scratches. If you hear a scratchy sound, you will know that the bow is being put down too hard. You will also need to balance the bow so that it only touches the string you want to play. Do this exercise going up and down several times at 60 beats per minute (use a metronome) on each string. Count four. After you have done this on each individual string, do it on different strings eg A D G D A E A E
  2. Do the same violin bow exercise again except this time, use only half the bow.
  3. The same exercise can be done again using a quarter of the bow and counting one count per note.
  4. When you get the balance right, do a down bow, full bow. Pick up the bow and put it down for another down bow. Just do down bows.
  5. Do the same as no 4 except now its an up bow.
  6. Try two strings on a bow. Move from A to D on the same bow without stopping. If this is an issue, try stopping in the middle of the bow first and switching. When you get that right, you can try the switching without stopping.

These violin exercises will help with the basics of the bowing. If you can get these right, you should be good with beginner violin bowing.

You can see more on my YouTube video regarding beginner violin bow exercises. Below is a link to the video on violin bow exercises.

Link to YouTube video: Violin Bow Exercises for beginners

Violin finger placement

Violin finger placement woes

So you have started violin lessons and have gotten to the part where you learn where to place your fingers on the fingerboard. But the violin finger placement is quite tricky and you don’t always get it right.

Many times it’s false when you play and you just struggle, especially with that third finger.

A big part about violin finger placement has to do with your ear and how in tune you are to the pitch of the notes. That’s why developing your musical ear is important. I believe that this is possible, even if you are completely tone deaf. With enough practice you can definitely develop enough of a musical ear to deal with these challenges.

Another part of correct violin finger placement is how you hold the fingers on the fingerboard. Are they curled or flat? A flat finger is not going to give you the correct sound, even if your finger is in the right place. But a curled finger on the other hand, will give you a better tone and have more of a correct placement too. It is important to remember how to hold your fingers on the violin fingerboard. The placement needs to be correct and the fingers need to be curled.

There are aids that can help you with the finger placement, although these aids should only be used right at the beginning. We do not recommend using these aids for more than a couple of weeks. If you keep using violin finger placement aids, your finger placement will not develop on it’s own as you will start to rely on the aids instead of your tone and yourself. Below, I have linked to some aids on Amazon that can help you with violin finger placement.

Getting the correct finger placement right from the start is incredibly important to having success with learning how to play the violin. In the video linked here, I share some insights into the correct finger placement and where to put your fingers, as well as which note each one of the fingers represent. I hope this helps you with your violin finger placement and that you can finally overcome those woes that get you down.

How to effectively practice violin

How to effectively practice violin

The secret to practicing an instrument is not how many times you practice the same exercise over and over. The secret is in playing the same thing over and over again, but in different ways and with different methods.

For example, if you are going to practice Mary had a little lamb effectively, first analyse the piece of music. Look at the time signature, Look at any ornaments, volume indications and other symbols etc. Then play it through on the violin once.

The second time, practice it with counting out loud as you as you play the piece on the violin. The third time, play it in perhaps playing each note four times. Make sure you practice it in different ways, at least three different ways.

The key to how to effectively practice the violin is in variation in your playing through of the music.

Another important thing to do is in any piece of the music that you are struggling with, play just that one piece, that one bar or one line slower and over and over again until you get it right. then add it into the rest of the piece again. This is how you effectively practice the violin.

Violin Bow Hold

Correct violin bow hold

Playing the violin is not just a “pick up the bow and play” like a plug and play device that you can do with a kitchen or computer. Playing the violin is a combination of technique and the effort that you put into it. Part of this effort is the violin bow hold that you have.

If your violin bow hold is not correct, your bow stroke and your violin sound may sound bad. It will look off and just be wrong. You will bow skew (yes you will) which will NOT help your sound and your general playing. The bow can fly out of your hand during fast music and in general, your playing will be bad.

So to get your violin bow hold right, you need to put the time and effort into practicing the bow hold so that your violin playing ultimately becomes professional. It is hard practice and many people struggle getting the correct violin bow hold right from the start.

Howdo you hold the bow? Your ring finger and middle finger needs to be around the frog. Your pointing finger needs to be around the finger grip and your pinky needs to be on the top of the bow. The image below shows you how to do a correct violin bow hold.

Violin Bow Hold
Violin Bow Hold

It does not stop there though. The back of your fingers over the bow also has to curl. Below is a picture from a different angle on the correct violin bow hold and what your thumb is supposed to be doing.

Violin bow hold
Violin bow hold

Several aids can help in how to hold the violin bow. It can help your fingers get used to the position the bow has to be held in. This is a known fact, it’s hard to hold the bow in the way it’s supposed to be held. Especially if you’re new at this. That’s why the aids are useful. Below, you will see some aids to help you with the bow hold.

There are other factors involved in holding the violin bow correctly as well. Your upper arm needs to be still as you attempt the bowing and you need to go straight between the bridge and the finger board. Check out my YouTube Video on how to bow straight and have the correct violin bow hold.

I hope this article has been helpful in you learning more about the correct bow hold for the violin. Remember, with a lot of practice your fingers will eventually get used to holding the bow. If it feels like the bow is about to fly out of your hand, you are probably holding the bow correctly!

Violin bowing techniques

When you look at violin bowing techniques, it is important to learn the correct technique and not the wrong technique. Now, while there are several violin bowing techniques out there, only one has ever worked for me.

The different ways to hold the bow on the strings, the different grips etc can all be debated. This is an important part of violin technique that needs to be gotten right from the start. We do not advocate the “Russian” way of doing the violin bow hold as we feel this is going to teach you the wrong technique.

Along with having the correct violin bow grip, you also need the correct bowing technique. Learning how to bow straight is a very important part of the technique that needs to be gotten right from the start. There is no point in learning the violin unless you have got this bowing technique down. It takes many hours of practice to get right.

So what violin bowing techniques to you need to remember? There are several. When you go onto my YouTube channel, I explain the violin bowing technique in detail. But for the purposes of this article, let me take you through some of the important techniques that you need to know.

Bowing straight is an important part of technique. This is obtained by keeping your upper arm still and bowing straight. Along with this, your eye needs to be on the bow to make sure that it’s moving straight between the bridge and the fingerboard. You cannot have the bowing go sideways. Straight upper arm, straight bowing.

Another one of the violin bowing techniques is to have your pulse move up with the up bow stroke and down with the down stroke. This is also important to remember when practicing bowing techniques.

Next, you need to remember to not bow too heavy and not to softly. The bowing needs to be just firm enough to get a sound, but not so firm that you are going to get a scratch out of it.

Also remember when practicing bowing technique to make sure that your posture with the violin is correct. The violin needs to be up to your side and parallel to the floor. This is vital.

The last thing to remember when practicing bowing techniques is to make sure that your bow is balancing between the two strings on either side of the string that you want to play on. Tip it if it’s touching another string you do not want it to touch.

For more on violin bowing techniques, please check out my violin lesson channel on YouTube. The link is on your left at the top.

Why is it important to bow straight on the violin?

This is the question many new violinists just starting out ask. Why is it important to bow straight on the violin from the start. Why do I need to get my technique right first before I can start learning how to play?

The answer is simple. Violin is not just any instrument that can be picked up and learned in a couple of hours. There are people claiming that it’s possible to learn in a couple of hours, but these people are actually just giving you information. To learn the violin takes hours and hours of dedicated practicing. And to learn how to bow straight on the violin is of vital importance for technique.

Why is it important to get my technique right, specifically for bowing straight? Well the answer is “acoustics”. If you are not bowing straight on the violin, your sound will be all wrong and you will run into problems later on when you get more advanced. Bowing straight on the violin and getting it right from the get-go, is very very important and vital to the success of violin playing.

Not only is it important for getting your tone and sound right, but it’s also important for not hitting your bridge, fingerboard and damaging your violin. Bowing skew can cause all sorts of problems, along with playing well later on. It is best to get your bowing right from the start to avoid all these problems.

I hope this has helped to answer the question; why it it important to bow straight on the violin from the start. Any further questions, you are welcome to check out my YouTube channel.

Having the correct violin posture

Having the correct violin posture

Playing violin has a lot to do with having the correct violin posture. From the way you stand to the way you hold the violin and the way you rest your violin on your shoulder.

If you do not have the correct violin posture, you will find yourself struggling to play correctly and also in some cases have aches and pains in places you did not know existed.

When standing, it important to stand correctly. Lessons from a Suzuki violin teacher or professional private violin teacher would help you and teach you the correct posture. It is very possible that your posture would have to be corrected the first couple of times as you get used to this new way of standing with the correct violin posture.

The same goes for holding the violin. There is a correct violin posture that needs to be maintained when holding the violin and the bow. If you fail to maintain this correct violin posture, you will find that it affects your playing and your sound.

The correct violin posture is something that needs to be sorted out in the first couple of lessons. Failure to address posture problems will result in difficulty later.