How to Play Violin




This instructable is going to teach you the basics of playing the violin.

You will learn:
1. How to prepare to play
2. How to read violin music
3. How to hold the violin and bow
4. How to put all of this information together to play "Hot Crossed Buns"

Step 1: What You Need

In order to play the violin, you'll need the following things:

A violin.     (A decent violin usually costs upwards of $800, so I recommend finding a friend or teacher with a violin that you can borrow, or renting one from a local music store.)

A bow.       (The bow does not always come with the violin, and can also cost hundreds of dollars. Hopefully, if you are borrowing or renting a violin, a bow will be part of the deal. If not, inquire.)

A shoulder rest.     (This is used to hold the violin between your neck and shoulder. Since a violin is not shaped to fit this part of  your body, this helps violinists be able to play longer and have a better sound overall.)

Rosin.         (This is a sticky resin obtained from various trees and plants that helps the bow make sound when it comes in contact with a violin string.)

Music.           (For this instructable, see slide five for the music. Otherwise any local or online music store, or music teacher can help you find music for beginners.)

A music stand.        (You need something to put your music on! Most music stores carry stands that are fairly inexpensive. If you are unable to find a stand, I suggest using other household items placed on a table or shelf to prop your music up.)

*All of these things can be obtained from a local or online music store.*

Step 2: Getting Ready to Play

Setting up your violin:

1. Take the violin and bow out of the case. (not shown)

2. Put the shoulder rest on the back of the violin. If you are using a sponge, use rubber bands to secure it. (shown in the first picture)

3. Tighten the bow. Use the screw on the end of the bow, tighten the hairs of the bow. The hairs should be about the width of you pinky finger away from the wood of the bow. (not shown, but the picture from step one can be a guideline)

4. Rosin the bow. Rub the rosin up and down along the bow hairs. This should take you about ten seconds unless you have a new bow. In that case it will take you about a minute. (shown in second picture)

Step 3: Learn to Read Music

This is just the basics, if you want to learn more about reading music, I recommend seeking out a teacher that isn't the internet.

Most violin music is written in the treble clef (see image of the clef). That symbol will appear at the beginning of a set of lines, called a staff . The staff is a set of five lines and four spaces. Those lines and spaces each correspond to notes. In music notes are named with the letters A through G. The lines and spaces are named as so:


A good way to remember the order of the lines and spaces is from the bottom up. Lines correspond to the acronym "E very G ood B oy D oes F ine" and the spaces from bottom to top form the word FACE .

After you know the names of the notes, you have to know how to count them.

A piece of music is divided into measures. These measures have a certain number of beats in a measure, most commonly four.
The numbers at the beginning of a line indicate the time signature, which lets the musician know how many beats are in a measure, and how to count each beat. Since "Hot Crossed Buns" has four beats in a measure, I will only discuss this particular time signature.

"Hot Crossed Buns" is in what is called "four four time". (see image) This means that there are four beats in a measure and a quarter note gets one beat.

What is a quarter note?
A quarter note represents one quarter of the measure, or one beat. Similarly, half notes last two beats, or half of a measure. I bet you can guess that whole notes last the entire measure, and eighth notes last half as long as a quarter note, or an eighth of a measure.

Rests are also measured in the same intervals, only they look different from the notes. You'll notice the difference noted in the image.

Also important to note is that the strings on the violin correspond to notes. The one closest to the left when looking at the violin is a G, then left to right is C, A and E. That order is also lowest pitch to highest.
Got all that? Okay, on to the next step!

Step 4: Put It All Together!

1. Set up your stand and music.

2. Place the violin on your shoulder, holding it mostly with your chin and shoulder.

3. Hold the bow by placing your thumb on it's tip between the wood and hairs of the bow, and curling your fingers around the wood of the bow as shown in the image.

4. Drag the bow across the strings to create sound. At the same time, put the fingers on your left hand down on the strings to change the notes.

I've included the image of the "Hot Crossed Buns" music again, and have labeled the corresponding fingerings for the piece. I have also included the string that each note is played on.

Good Luck!



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18 Discussions


1 year ago

Admittedly, playing the violin successfully requires years of practice. However, this is a commendably short, yet concise method of teaching.

Once you can play very well, it sounds amazing!


2 years ago

I have been playing ever since 5th grade. Playing the violin has been passed through generation to me. Most of my family plays. Some quit and I wasn't surprised. I love these instructions.


5 years ago

Still awsome instractable iv been playing since i was 7

1 reply

5 years ago on Introduction

Actually you don't need a music stand. You can use a laptop or anything that has a slant to hold your music up until you learn the song by heart.


As said by FueledbyRamen, you should REALLY edit the G C A E thing to G D A E, especially for those that are planning to use this instructable as a reference to learn violin.


7 years ago on Introduction

I love it how you assumed you could learn to play violin in 4 steps. I've been studying at a music school for 10 years now, and I still find new things all the time.


7 years ago on Introduction

im in a band and i need a secondary primary is guitar,but we dont have money to any right now to i need to learn violin and play lots of rock(heavy metal).so do you know any good places to learn rock music on violin.thanks

forever young

4 replies

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

thanks.ill tell that to my friends tomarrow.thanks again.oh and when we make our music ill send music albums(songs on disks)to you for free.hope u like it

forever young


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

If your anything like apocalyptic im sure it will be. Saw the live a few months ago by accident which has led me to loving them. Im in the process of building a electric fiddle with the same plan to play untradditional.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

hmmmmmmm.well if me and my bandmates decide to use violin we will.but we need lots of money

Just a little something on Step 2: Not enough info on how to read notes. Most people usually don't know what a measure is for, how long a quarter note would sound relative to other notes relative to a preset tempo, or how to properly draw the violin / hold it in place. It's on...


8 years ago on Introduction

where can i get sheet music for violin!!!! (i try online contless times but they all cost money!!)

1 reply

Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

This site's pretty good: , and you can also get a lot of sheet by Googling the song name and using "filetype:pdf" to get PDF files of the songs.