Diagram of the parts of a violin and bow

About the Violin

The violin is the lead instrument of the string section. It is held on the left should, supported by the left side of the chin, and held from underneath by the left arm and hand at the instrument's neck. Its practical range extends from its low G string just below middle C to the high E two octaves above the fourth space E in the treble clef. During the classical era, the range only extended to the A two octaves above the A string. Beyond the seventh position the high notes are difficult to control and play in tune. The violin is played in positions that extend from first position to sixteenth (or even higher). Each position represents a hand and finger shift by the player.

The strings are tuned in fifths, G-D-A-E. Each string has particular properties that are exploited by composers and arrangers. The G string is the thickest and most sonorous of the four strings. When played in its higher positions, the sound becomes very intense and stringent because the vibrating portion of the string is constantly being shortened. The D string is possibly the least powerful of the four. It has a warm and rather subdued quality in contrast to the G string. It mellows even more when you play it in its higher positions. The A string is quite strong in first position, but loses some of its brilliance in the higher positions. This is useful for soft lyrical passages in the high register. The E string is the most brilliant of the four strings. It has tremendous carrying power when played loudly, but can be ethereal as well when played softly.

All string instruments can play double stops (two notes at once) but they are most often used on violins. With a arpeggio type of bowing, you can even play triple and quadruple stops on the violin.

Orchestras have two sections of violins, first and second, covering soprano and alto voices in most orchestrations.

Violin Types:

There are four sizes of violin, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, or full size. The smaller sizes are designed for young children just starting out who don't have the hand size needed to play the full sized violin.

Violin Care:

  1. Rosin the bow before you play. A lack of rosin will cause your bow hairs to break and the sound will suffer as well.
  2. When you finishing playing each day, wipe the rosin dust from the strings, instrument, and back of the bow. Letting the rosin sit on your instrument will allow it to eat through the violin varnish making it look bad in appearance and affecting the sound.
  3. Check the bridge lean. Tuning with the pegs will pull the bridge foward a little which could cause a serious accident. Make sure the bridge is always leaning backward or at least in a vertical position.
  4. Keep the instrument stored in a place that is not too dry or hot. Extremes could cause cracks in the wood. This can be prevented with a humidifier.
  5. Make sure the strings aren't frayed or falling apart.
  6. Loosen the bow before returning it to the case or the stick will become warped.

Some Repertoire for Beginning Violinists:

Twinkle Twinkle
Suzuki Book 1
Suzuki Book 2
Suzuki Book 3
Suzuki Book 4

Examples of Repertoire for Advanced Violinists:

Wienawski Concerto
Pagginini Caprices
Bach Sonatas and Partitas
Tchaikovsky Concerto
Symphonie Espangnole
Vitali Chaconne
Carmen Fantasy