Violin Basics

Tips for Learning How To Play the Violin

If you have attended a classical music concert or seen a movie set in an orchestra hall, you understand the beauty of violins. The sound of this beautiful instrument captivates audiences and creates an atmosphere that is hard to beat. 

However, learning to play the violin takes more than just buying an instrument and a few lessons. You must understand the fundamentals of violin playing, such as proper posture and bowing techniques.

Taking violin lessons from a professional violinist gets you personalized feedback and guidance, helping you avoid bad habits and progress faster. While learning the violin is hard work, it can be gratifying. Here are a few tips to help you get started as you learn your new skill.

Gather your equipment

As a beginning violinist, you need the right equipment to get started. A quality instrument and accessories are the keys to developing proper technique, good sound production, and experiencing enjoyable practice sessions. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Violin: This may seem obvious, but you need a decent quality violin that fits you well. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to buy one. Many music shops rent them at reasonable prices.
  • Violin bow: A bow is your magic wand to create beautiful sounds on the violin. Bows typically come with the violin, but can come made with various materials like plastic, carbon fiber, and most commonly, wood.
  • Rosin: This is a sticky substance that you apply to the bow hair with a rosin cake. It helps create a better tone and sound quality.
  • Shoulder rest: This accessory helps you maintain the proper posture and increase comfort while playing the violin. It also minimizes your chances of suffering from stress and fatigue on your face, neck, and arms. 

Most violin teachers will recommend a shoulder rest as one of the first purchases necessary for any violinist, though some prefer not to utilize them and can share other options with their students. As everybody is different, no one set up is identical!

  • Tuner: A tuner is a must-have tool for any stringed musical instrument. It helps you tune your violin quickly and accurately. The Trala app’s free digital tuner is a great place to start!
  • Case: A case protects your instrument from the elements and makes it easier to carry around.

Music stores have great budget instruments for beginner violinists and you don’t need to break the bank for them. Trala students get exclusive discounts on great quality beginner string instruments (for rental or for purchase) with our partner, StringWorks, helping you get the greatest value for your investment.

Find the right teacher

Beyond gathering equipment, finding a qualified and experienced teacher is pivotal in your violin learning journey. A great teacher can help you by providing personalized feedback, support, help in creating good habits, and guidance through the overall learning process. 

Let’s look at just a few of the considerations that will help guide you toward the right instructor.

Flexibility and convenience

Online violin lessons provide unmatched flexibility and convenience. They allow you to learn at your own pace and in the comfort of your own space. 

With online lessons through Trala, you won’t need to deal with traffic or the stress of running late to class. You can practice in your cozy bedroom, a quiet corner of your living room, or on the beach as you soak up the sun. And if you can’t make it to your lesson, you can always reschedule at your convenience or by getting in touch with your teacher.

But there are even more benefits of online violin lessons. They give you greater access to qualified and experienced teachers from all over the world — regardless of where you live! This means you’re no longer limited to the professionals in your city or town. This also means more diversity in teaching styles, genres, and techniques, adding to the richness of your learning experience.

Teaching style

Just as everyone has unique personality traits, everyone also has their own learning style. Some of us are visual learners, others are auditory learners, and others learn best through hands-on experience.

An effective teacher recognizes these differences and tailors their teaching methods to suit the individual characteristics of each student. This personalized approach can significantly enhance your understanding and mastery of the violin.

Trala has a diverse group of teachers with unique teaching styles to provide students with the best violin-learning experience possible.

Customized curriculum

Unlike online tutorials and YouTube videos, violin lessons with a professional teacher provide a customized learning plan tailored to your pace and areas of interest. Your teacher can provide instant feedback, support, track goals and progress, and provide customized lesson notes to allow for an enhanced practice experience outside of lessons.

At Trala, our teachers will work with you to design a personalized practice plan that caters to your specific interests, skill level, and musical goals. In fact, our learning methodology is the only one tailored to the unique needs of adult learners and their busy lifestyles!

Whether you want to learn left-hand techniques like vibrato, develop fast bow strokes, or learn how to read music with ease, our teachers will develop a curriculum that meets your needs.

Tech-enhanced learning

One of the beauties of online violin lessons is how they incorporate advanced technology that enhances your learning experience. Trala offers a tailored, interactive experience, plus a practice app to support you between lessons to help you get the most from your journey with interactive exercises, feedback mechanisms, and more.

The Trala app uses signal processing technology that listens to your playing and provides immediate feedback as you practice. Every time you play, you get a score for your tempo and pitch accuracy.

This helps give you a deeper understanding of your technique. You can send your teacher a recording of one of your practice sessions, so they know where you stand and can guide you toward improvement. Similarly, you can even record your lessons and use them as an excellent resource to refer to between sessions with your teacher!

Continuous learning resources

Beyond the realms of lessons and practice, having access to continuous learning resources like video tutorials, practice exercises, and reference materials can significantly expedite your journey toward violin mastery. 

Video tutorials demonstrate complex techniques such as vibrato, bow strokes, and pizzicato. Practice exercises help you build musicality, articulation, and intonation. Reference materials like sheet music, scales, chord progressions, and etudes add depth and breadth to your understanding of violin music. 

You can revisit these resources whenever you need a refresher or want to dive deeper into more advanced areas that interest you.

Start with the basics

If you want to learn to play the violin properly, you need to start with the basics. The following will help you develop a solid foundation of skills and technique before taking on more advanced pieces.


Proper posture impacts your ability to produce good sound. It allows you to hold the violin and bow comfortably, enabling efficient movements and better control over your instrument. 

This results in better tone production, more precise intonation, and increased stamina during long practice sessions or performances. 

When you practice good posture, you will go a long way toward preventing neck, shoulder, and back fatigue or injuries. Sitting or standing are both fine playing positions, but the golden rule is to keep your back straight, your head up, feet on the floor, and your shoulders relaxed. 

Bowing technique

Bowing technique can enhance your overall musicality. The sound of your playing will vary depending on how long or short, connected or separated, smooth or accented your strokes are.

Common techniques include:

  • Detaché
  • Staccato
  • Legato
  • Spiccato
  • Ricochet
  • Martelé
  • Tenuto
  • Sautillé

These techniques can help you bring flair and personality to your music. Your instructor will help you learn beginner bowing techniques if you’re starting out and guide you through more advanced techniques as your skills develop.

Violin care

Regular violin care and maintenance are essential for preserving the quality and longevity of your instrument. To keep your violin in top condition:

  • Clean the violin strings with a soft microfiber cloth after every practice session, lesson or performance to remove dust, rosin, and other particles.
  • Store the bow in its case after loosening the hairs to promote longevity.
  • Keep the violin in its case when not in use to protect it from dirt, dust, sunlight, and moisture.
  • Avoid leaving the violin in the car in warm and cold temperatures.

Your teacher will go over the basics of violin maintenance and give you tips to help you care for your instrument.

Tuning the violin

Properly tuning your violin ensures that you produce the best sound possible and trains your ears to recognize the correct pitch of each note, improving your overall musicality.

Listening and adjusting with the fine tuners is the most common way to tune your violin. Your teacher can help guide you with using the pegs located at the top of the violin, used for larger adjustments not possible with the fine tuners by the tailpiece and bridge. 

Electronic tuners, smartphone apps, or tuning forks to help you get the right pitch for each open string. With enough practice, tuning your violin will become second nature. (Pro tip: Try the Trala app’s free electronic tuner!)

Learn beginner songs first

There’s something incredibly motivating about playing a song that you recognize, especially as a beginner. The sweet sound of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” “Hot Cross Buns,” “Happy Birthday,” or any familiar tune or melody emanating from your instrument can be incredibly satisfying and motivating, reinforcing the fun of learning and highlighting your progress.

Don’t rush the process, though. The key is to progress to harder music gradually. Doing this ensures that your foundational skills are solid before you move on to more challenging pieces. 

As you master each piece, you’re not just learning new songs — you’re also developing your skills, boosting your confidence, and enriching your repertoire. Trala provides violin sheet music for beginners, so you can find the perfect piece to practice and enjoy.

Explore different genres of music

The violin is not restricted to any one musical genre or style. This versatile string instrument is a staple in classical music, evoking profound emotions through symphonies and concertos. It brings soul to folk music with its rustic, earthy tones and forms the backbone of bluegrass music with its lively, toe-tapping melodies. It’s equally at home in jazz, contributing to the genre’s improvisational spirit with its rich, warm tones. 

As a violin student, exploring different music styles can heighten your appreciation for the instrument, expand your musical tastes, and become a more well-rounded musician. 

Trala teachers specialize in 30+ genres of music, from classical and jazz to bluegrass and rock, so there’s plenty to appeal to every student — no matter what music style you’re most passionate about!

Set realistic goals and expectations

Setting achievable milestones is one of the most effective ways to stay motivated while learning the violin. Think of these as stepping stones to becoming a proficient violinist. 

Whether it's tuning your first violin, mastering a new bowing technique, or understanding a complex piece of music theory, each small victory boosts your confidence and spurs you on to further achievement.

At Trala, we’re all about helping students of all levels realize these milestones. Our platform is designed to track your progress and provide tangible proof of your improvements, so you can celebrate each win along the way. 

Check out our student success stories for inspiration and motivation!

Practice daily (or as often as you can)

Consistency is the key to mastering any skill, including playing the violin. This instrument requires a unique blend of skills — accurate finger placement, bowing technique — and each one builds upon the other. 

Because of this interconnected growth, it’s a good idea to attend lessons on a consistent cadence that works for you, and to find time to practice if possible. Your teacher can help set you up for success by recommending a practice plan that fits your goals and capacity. 

The consistency of lessons and practice sessions also reinforces the knowledge you’ve acquired in your lessons, allowing you to refine your skills, learn new techniques, and gradually progress in your violin-playing journey. 

Let Trala’s teachers help you start your violin journey

Learning how to play the violin opens up a world of opportunities for musical exploration. The possibilities are endless, from developing technical proficiency and musicality to learning how to read music and mastering new genres. 

At Trala, we understand that learning the violin can feel intimidating at times. But with our world-class instructors, personalized instruction, and app brimming with resources, you have all the support you need for a successful learning journey!

Let Trala guide you as you learn to play violin: Take your first lesson today!