Free Video Violin Lesson 10

  1. Thom
  2. June 16, 2008 4:58 pm

Review Questions

  1. How how many beats is a half note?
  2. How do you play through a first and second ending?
  3. Are you comfortable with the left hand 4th finger pizzicato?

Hello and welcome to Violin Lesson #10! In lesson #9 we learned about playing half notes, following through 1st and 2nd endings, as well as a basic intro to left hand pizzicato. Today’s lesson is going to cover the use of the fourth (4th) finger!

In the last lesson we played through ‘Texas Two String,’ which required us to pluck open strings with our 4th finger. Hopefully this also helped teach us a proper shape for our 4th finger while also building strength! The fingers should always have a rounded shape for the purpose of accuracy and agility.

Start first by practicing setting the 4th finger down correctly. If it collapses then you may need to check out your angle of attack. Your fingers should maintain their hook shape and turn from the base knuckle of your hand like how a door swings from a hinge.

4th Finger Animation


Finding Pitch

Once we have practiced placing the finger down with form, lets try and match it to our open string! Play your open A string, and then place your fourth finger down on the D string, comparing the two pitches. Do they sound like the same note? Or does one sound higher than the other?

If your 4th finger A sounds higher than the open A string, that means you need to move your finger closer to the nut. If it sounds lower than the open A string, then you need to move your fourth finger higher up closer to the bridge.


Always make small adjustments! Play both notes together at the same time to check- if it sounds like ONE note then you are perfectly in tune! This process very likely is easier if you are using a “Don’t Fret” or have a 4th finger tape placed for you by a local teacher.

Now that you have found your note, release your finger and reset it back on the string several times, each time checking to make sure you have landed in the exact same spot by checking against your open A for accuracy.

Alternating Finger Exercise

This exercise is designed to help you shape your fingers and watch your angles so as to not mute other strings when playing. For instance, you can have a finger down on the D string and still play the A string without any interruption in sound. It is to be practiced keeping fingers down until told to release them. At first this may be a little difficult, as your brain will want to compensate and make you lift your fingers. Keep at it and you’ll be alternating strings in no time!

Download Alternating Fingers Exercise

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]




  • Remember to keep your fingers curled
  • Fingers move from the knuckle like a door on a hinge.
  • Compare 4th finger against the next open string up
  • Keep at it! Your pinky is weak so it may be hard at first, but the payoff is worth it!





  1. #83-86
  2. #64 (with 4th finger)
  3. Alternating Fingers
  4. 4th Finger Placement (Compare with next string up)


  1. Rhythm Rap #66,68,72,77
  2. Texas Two String #82

Back to Lesson Index
Back to Lesson 9
Foward to Lesson 11


  1. A Youtube viewer asked the following question,

    “Hello!. In your video you said that the fourth finger should be curved and you said is wrong if it’s like at 0:50. i play the violin and when i see this video i tried to curved my 4th finger and i can’t, well i can but if i want to play the note in tune my finger doesn’t stay curved. I know a lot of people who plays the violin and none of them curved the fourth finger when they use it. And my violin teacher never has told me that i must curved my 4ht finger. Is it wrong if i play like this?.”

    • I felt this was a good question and decided to repost it here so I can answer without youtube’s maximum 500 character restriction.
      Keeping a curled fourth finger helps aid in accuracy and agility. If your finger collapses in either direction- that means that each time you play that note you are having to allow for the knuckle to bend before you have actually sounded the note.

      When playing slowly this may not be a significant problem other than possibly hearing the split second where the pitch may change, however, in a quicker passage this means that your fourth finger will be late- throwing off the articulation of the passage.

      A finger shape such as the ones shown at :50-:52 will require a great deal of tension, especially in higher positions to produce a clear tone- the 2nd image being extremely counter-productive- as the intonation will stem from the bottom of the last knuckle as opposed to the finger’pad’ or tip.

      I actually had this habit (the first image at :50) for a long time until a teacher pointed it out to me and had me work daily on consciously changing the muscle memory to allow it to land properly.

      Part of the problem may sometimes lie in the hand, where it may be angled too far up, down, or out – causing the fingers to bend in compensation.

      My recommendation is practicing the the technique I mention in the video, of keeping the hook shape in your fingers while only rotating from the base knuckle of where the finger meets the hand. (Shown in the animated gif on this page)

      Practice this with all four fingers- also taking care NOT to RAISE your fingers too high off the fingerboard. “Release finger – never lift- it will simply ‘pop off’ and float based upon arch.” (Drew Lecher in Violin Technique – The Manual)

      I hope this helps answer your question, Good luck!

  2. Stick says:
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 6:57 am | Permalink


    I’ve been interested in playing violin since i was a kid but due to financial issue, my family can’t afford such thing. Now I have my own job, it’s time to realize my dream. I would like to thank you first for all the lessons as it is easy to understand and give me motivation to continue learning.

    I have some questions that I hope you can help with. Due to my accommodation, i can’t play normal violin as to not bother others. My friend mentioned about electric violin or acoustic violin that can be played in silence. My question are: what the difference between electric, acoustic and normal violin? Do they have the same style of play? Which is better out of this three? And lastly, can we really play violin in silence?


    • Hello Stick,

      I am glad you you have decided to begin learning violin! As far as the difference between violins, there are two- Electric and Acoustic. (3 if you include “hybrid” acoustic/electric)

      An acoustic violin is your traditional violin you will see just about anywhere.

      Most electric violins (like the yamaha sv200 pictured here) will be a solid body, and therefore have very little resonance… which means less likely to anger your neighbors.
      I like to use my acoustic during the day and if practicing in late hours I will use my electric, unplugged of course!

      • Stick says:
        Posted September 26, 2008 at 5:08 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the clarification!

        As someone who just started to learn, is it better for me to learn using an acoustic or an electric one? Based from my survey in the internet, an electric is more expansive than an acoustic but i’m prepared to buy one if I need to. Could you also give some recommendation for an electric violin good for beginner? Unfortunately, there are no instrument shops near my place so I need to ask opinion from others.

        Thanks again!

  3. darlein sy says:
    Posted June 11, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Hi Thom:

    I have been a beginner violinist since last year of September and I stopped pursuing my dream due to financial constraints. When I came across your website, it made me very happy and at last I’ve found a very interesting and very effective violin teacher, and that is You. I just need to request you one beginner thing, if it is okay for you to make videos on Suzuki books 1-4? on how to properly execute them, the proper tone and bowings? I am a student of my own now and it would be a huge help for us like me learning their own little way at the comfort of their homes. Thank you so much and I am an avid fan!


    • Yes, those books are coming in future planning!

  4. Sara says:
    Posted October 22, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I am loving your videos!! Thank you so much for doing these for all of us to learn from. They are greatly appreciated more than you know!!

    • Thank you Sara! I’m glad you like them!

  5. Dhananjay Bodas says:
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    HI Thom,
    I loved to watch your videos. Thanks for doing this for us. I am from India and Learning Violin (Indian Classical) in Indian Style. Because of your great guidence here i also like a Westren style of playing. We are using Notes as, D = Sa, E = Re, F sharp = Ga, G = Ma, A = Pa, B = Dha, C sharp = Ni. It looks like, D E FSharp G A B CSharp = Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni.
    I am willing to learn western style and Symbols for all notes.
    Good Day.

Leave a Reply