There are some prerequisites to learning how to play the violin. These prerequisites include understanding violin notes and how to place your finger on the fingerboard. The latter is called “finger placement.” If you want to learn how to play the violin, you should be cognizant of these two concepts. You need to learn reading violin notes. You also need to know how to position your finger to create those notes. Unlike the guitar, there are no frets on the violin fingerboard to guide you on where to position your fingers to create the desired notes. You just need to understand the sequence of music, the tempo, and many other factors to be able to play the notes.
Violins have specialized notations. These specialized notations would indicate to your specific playing techniques. It is critical that you know where to place your fingers, how to use and glide the bow, and many other skills that you need to master to create a piece of beautiful music using a violin.
Just like in the study of a language, you also need to learn intonation to play the violin. But what is this intonation in the case of violin playing? Intonation, in violin playing, refers to the finger placement when playing the violin. It is where you put your fingers to create music. Your finger placement generally influences the note’s pitch. This means that your finger placement can determine whether your note would have a lower pitch or a higher pitch. Intonation is crucial to how you play a music piece.
Similar to playing other instruments like that of a piano, when playing the violin, you will also have to deal with full-steps and half-steps. This means you should have a keen sense to figure out if a note has a sharp mark or a flat mark. So, if it is marked with a # sign, you need to play the note half-step higher. On the other hand, if it is marked with a flat sign, you need to play it half-step lower.
At the onset, it would be good to have a violin fingering charts in front of you as you learn how to play your violin. It is advisable that you memorize this chart by heart to enable you to figure out where you are going to place your finger and produce the right intonation at the onset.
Steps on Learning Violin Notes and Finger Techniques
Just like in learning other instruments, you should know the best steps to take to facilitate your learning of the violin. Here are the steps to help you quickly learn how to play the violin:
1) Mark the Fingerboard with a Tape
If you are a newbie in playing the violin, you will be surprised that the violin doesn’t have frets. Unlike guitars, it is fretless. So, you will be asking how on earth are you going to remember where to position your finger on the violin fingerboard to produce music. Well, music professors have a trick for that. They would usually tell you to use thin strips of tape to mark where you are going to position your finger on the fingerboard. “Ingenious!” You would say, yet that is the most practical way to do it. You can also use round dot sticker, or you can even use electrical tape that is cut into small strips.
2) Begin Marking the Fingerboard
Get your tape and mark the regular first finger (B on A String). Then, mark the high second finger (C# on A string). Afterward, you can mark the third finger (e.g., D on the A string). In this way, you will get to memorize these finger placements faster. Until you have not yet gained a second nature style of playing these notes, you should not remove the markings.
3) Hone Your Sense of Intonation
Once you’ve marked the fingerboard completely, you can then start practicing your sense of intonation. It is better not to be keenly precise in your placement of the markings. It is better to play by ear the notes before marking the fingerboard. This implies that you should figure out intuitively where to place the right marking. You should press your finger down on the marking that you have made and then use the bow to figure out if you got the right note. You can adjust the placement of your marking if you feel that it is not in the right place.
Remember that no two violins are the same. There may be variations too in the shape and width of every person’s fingers, and these variations can play a crucial role in the position of the fingers of each person. Thus, you need to readjust the marking if you feel that it is not on the exact spot. It is good to bear in mind that fingering tapes are only aids in mastering the right position of the fingers. However, in the case of the violin, you need to play by ear and carefully listen to figure out the correct pitch. Moreover, fingering tapes are just temporary aid.
4) Work out the Notes without the Tape Markings
As mentioned above, fingering tapes are temporary aids. You also need to graduate from using these temporary aids as you improve your playing skills. Thus, you need to remove these markings and try to play the notes without these aids. The surfaces from where the markings were removed may be a bit sticky after removing the markings. You should, therefore, clean these spots. You can use a violin cleaner to get rid of these sticky surfaces.
Excessive string tension may cause you problem while playing your violin. Another problem is that of not lifting your fingers using the base of your knuckle. The proper fingering technique necessitates lifting your fingers and dropping them using your knuckle’s base. You should not use the second joint of your finger to press your finger on the strings. You should try to make your fingers loose and limber, and practice more. Moreover, the motion of your finger must come from the bottom joint of your finger.
You should also remember that you need to graduate from using the tape markings. You should instead rely heavily on your instincts to figure out the correct pitch. Lastly, you should not rely too much on the markings for it may retard your progress in mastering the violin.