Finger placement

When learning how to play violin, a violin player needs to correctly land his/her fingers in the correct positions along the finger board. Learning how to correctly land your fingers in the right places can take a lot of practice.

Here are some beginner finger placement techniques.

Fingering Tape:
Many beginners who want to know how to play violin often use tape which is placed on the fingerboard of the violin. This allows them to be able to properly place their left hand fingers on the fingerboard. Once beginners know where to place their fingers, the tape is removed.

  • Use book binding or scrapbook tape (See Fingering Tape example, courtesey of Violin Online).
  • The tape is used to mark a regular 1st finger (such as the note B on the A-string), high 2nd finger (e.g. C# on the A-string), third finger (e.g. the note D on the A-string), and 4th finger (e.g. the note E on the A-string, which sounds the same as open E).
  • Rather than use precise measurements to place fingering tape, it’s best to place the tape by ear (after placing each piece of tape, press your finger down on the tape and listen carefully to determine whether or not the note sounds in tune). This is due to the fact that variations in the width and shape of each person’s finger may affect where each tape should be placed.

Over time (sooner than you expect), your ear will become accustomed to the correct sound each note emits. Fingeirng tape should be used as a temporary aid, not as a long term solution!

Fingerboard chart:

  • Fingering for notes played in the first position can be found to the right of the fingerboard (see Fingerboard Chart, courtesey of Violin Music).
  • Fingering for notes played in the 3rd position can be found to the left of the fingerboard. These notes require the violinist to “shift” the position of their hand to a higher position on the keyboard in order to play these notes. Shifting is a more advanced technique and will be discussed later on.
  • The fingerboard chart shows many instances of two musical letters being placed on the same space. This indicates those two notes are enharmonic, meaning, even though they are named or “spelled” differently, they sound the same pitch. For example, in the first position on the A-string, D# and E flat have the same sound (called enharmonic notes). The pitch would be the same.
  • All variations of notes and fingerings in higher positions are not labeled and shown in the image example above (the entire length of the fingerboard can be used to finger and play notes).
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Violin accessories

Here are some other violin accessories that you will come across during your violin career. As with all things, some accessories are more necessary than others.

Mutes: Mutes are devices placed upon the violin bridge to dampen or mute the sound of the violin. Violinists generally use two types of mutes:

  • Mutes for passages of music which call for a muted sound. Composers use these muted passages for special effects or a contrast of sound.
  • Practice mutes which significantly reduce the sound of the violin, so that violinists can practice and not bother others nearby.

Music stand: A music stand holds sheet music. Most music stands can be adjusted according to the height of the violinist. When the sheet music is placed on the stand, the stand should be at eye-level.

Fingerboard Tape: To assist beginning violinists, some violin teachers use thin strips of colored tape to mark where students should place their fingers on the violin fingerboard.

Violin Polish: To clean your violin, all that is generally needed is a dry, lint-free cloth to wipe rosin from your strings after each playing session. Although polish is rarely necessary, there may be times when you need to clean your violin. It is important to never use commercial furniture polish and/or water to clean your violin (doing so could damage the varnish and acoustics of the violin).

Extra violin strings: As you progress as a violinist, it is thoughtful to keep on hand some extra violin strings, particularly A- and E-strings, the ones that tend to break the most frequently. Having an extra string in your violin case will quickly solve the problem of an unforeseem string breakage. Nothing is worse than having a string pop before a performance or speical event!