Free Video Violin Lesson 6

  1. Thom
  2. March 1, 2008 2:02 am

Review Questions

  1. Can you place your finger on and name each note on the D and A strings?
  2. Are you playing all of your notes with the correct finger, or are you getting lazy and moving your fingers around? Pay attention to where you fingers go!
  3. Are you practicing your bow hold/exercises?
  4. Are you comfortable with the self-test from lesson 5?

Hello and welcome to Violin Lesson #6! In lesson #5 we learned how to play three popular tunes: Jingle Bells, Old MacDonald, and Twinkle Twinkle. I also asked you to learn 44 and 45 on your own. 45 is especially important because it has you doing some fingerings that you aren’t used to. Everything up to this point has been 99% stepwise, meaning that it either went up one note or down one note. Even when it wasn’t stepwise it only went to an open string.

If you have been practicing your bow hold and exercises, then Congratulations! Today we learn the bow!

Review bow hold:

  1. Thumbsup/Thumbsdown
  2. Middle Finger across
  3. Ring finger on logo
  4. Index knuckle on bow
  5. Pinky on top

Hand is leaning into the bow, not away from the bow

Bow is a bow HOLD not a bow touch. Don’t be afraid to grip it a little bit.

NO straight fingers, all should be curled in some way or another.


Stand tall, shoulders back, with your feet about shoulder width apart. Never stand with your two feet together. This not only throws off your balance, but will also cause you both stand and PLAY shyly. Put your violin on your shoulder and place your chin on the chin rest. Now if you are like me and have a taller neck, it may be interest to you to get a shoulder rest. I really enjoy the Kun shoulder rest– its $30 and will last you forever. I LOST two of these growing up before I could ever have the chance to break them! Right now I have one for each of my violins and they have been running strong for over five years, with many more to come I’m sure. You can pick one up on my Amazon store through this link.

Watch your left arm, specifically your elbow and hand. Avoid what us teachers call a pancake; that is when your hand goes flat against the neck, limiting the reach and agility of your fingers. Your wrist should be flush with your shoulder, not bending in any one direction. Obviously don’t let this translate to keeping a stiff arm, you still have to keep a relaxed stance. Your left elbow should be under your violin, and not up against your body. If I do this, what happens to my posture? In addition, gravity will pull my bow down the strings over the fingerboard versus over the F holes where we can get the most tone.

Learn how to set up a shoulder rest!

Funny story:

I once had a parent yell at me for starting their child with a shoulder rest without asking them first! This was because they didn’t understand why they were paying $30 for a “wavy stick.” The next week they showed up with one that they picked up for $14 dollars, some brand I had never heard of. They were a little bit direct and rude in how they presented their find.

Well, I had to hold back the chuckles at the end of the lesson when I telling them that their “budget” shoulder rest had broken in half mid-lesson while on their child’s shoulder! Now they were set back $45 instead of $30 as they bought the Kun I had recommended the previous week. If only they had listened to the teacher!

Starting Position – The Box:

Approximately in the middle of the bow, the bow, arm and violin creates a box. It is here that I am parallel with the bridge. Now I want to maintain that wherever I am. This is achieved through flexibility in the wrist. You’ll see as I bow down, my wrist isn’t staying straight, but bending to maintain integrity of the bow. My elbow also stays still while I come down. As I come back up to the middle I form a box again. Now moving up, my elbow comes forward just enough facilitate my arm and bow to reach the frog.

A great violin player is comfortable with all parts of the bow, and so what better way to learn than to practice each of these together, and then put them together?

Changing Strings

When switching from string to string, we want a clean change. In order for that to happen at higher speeds, we first need to practice that through a much slower and mechanical process.

Stop and Set

Go ahead and play an A. Now stop the note and raise your elbow until you see your bow hairs are exclusively on the D string. Once you have finished the motion, then move your bow and play D. Once more, stop the bow and lower your elbow until the hairs are only on the A string. Set it there. Now you can play A. While everyone has a different name for it, the stop and set method is something that was and probably still is practiced by all the pros, allowing them to maintain very clean changes.

Bow Lift

The bow lift is used to reset the bow and can be used either for the actual physical need to reset the bow, or simply to mark the end of a musical phrase. Here we are using it to reset the bow. If you look in #52, A Strand of D β€˜N’ A, the last note is a down bow followed by a repeat leading us back to another down bow. If we just played a down bow chances are we won’t have enough bow to play a second downbow, and we lift and reset to give ourselves that bow. Be sure to SET the bow, and not throw it down!


  1. Posture
    1. Stand up tall
    2. Shoulders back
    3. Feet shoulder length apart
  2. Get a shoulder rest
    1. Learn how to set up a shoulder rest!
  3. No pancakes!
    1. Watch your left elbow
  4. The Box
    1. Starting position for your middle point
    2. The wrist bends to keep a straight bow
    3. When moving up towards the frog, the elbow comes forward just enough to help reach
  5. Changing Strings
    1. Stop and Set
  6. Bow Lift
  7. Reset the bow, not rethrow the bow.


Arco – Play with the bow on the strings


  • Pages 6-11
    1. Review for total understanding
    2. Focus areas:
      1. Brackets
      2. D Major Scale -up and down
      3. Note names?
  • Songs 41-45
  • Pages 16-17

    Back to Lesson Index
    Back to Lesson 5
    Foward to Lesson 7


    1. Thom…Thank you for the time and work you put into your lessons and videos. I look forward to each lesson they are really fantastic and very much appriciated. And thanks for the RSS feed that always keeps me informed about what you add to the site..

      Take care and thank you!!
      Ken Adams

    2. You are very welcome, Ken!

    3. andy says:
      Posted June 4, 2008 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      hmm.i want to see you play the twinkle2 little star with bowing please…?hehe
      cause without bowing example i don’t know if my bowing is wrong or not
      thx before…

      • Hello Andy! If you are playing #43 Mozart Melody (Twinkle Twinkle) Each bow should alternating (Down up down up).

        That means that each 2 measure phrase starts and ends differently. (Down up down up down up down REST, Up down up down up down up REST)

        Let me know if that helps! If you still need a video to compare to let me know and I’ll put one up right away!

    4. andy says:
      Posted June 4, 2008 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      ok then,i’ll try that
      thx soo much thom…your lessons very helpful

    5. mahnoosh says:
      Posted July 17, 2008 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Hi again,
      I am so sad and disappointed now:( πŸ™ πŸ™
      I have searched for the book here but I couldn’t find it, so I ordered it from abroad , but naturally it would come after 55 days, I don’t know what to do now, can u kindly help me with this?!! :-??

      • I have heard of a few other people having some trouble with waiting for shipping and other things in other countries. Unfortunately due to copyright I cannot post digital copies of the book online for free use πŸ™

        At this time I don’t know of a fix or way around waiting for shipping abroad, if anyone happens to read this though, please feel free to email me or comment so I we can help other users out, as I know there are many visitors from other countries!

        • mahnoosh says:
          Posted July 20, 2008 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

          thank U

    6. Silver says:
      Posted September 20, 2008 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      I’ve been taking a look around, but nothing answers my questions…
      I recently got an electric violin (yesterday, actually) and want to give it a try, but for some reasons it just doesn’t make a sound when I use the bow. it doesn’t cause any vibration and i have no idea why. Could you tell me if it’s just that I can’t figure out how to make sounds or there actually might be a problem with my bow?

      • Hi Silver!

        If you have a new bow, most likely the problem you are having is caused by lack of rosin. Violinists rub rosin on their bow (a sticky substance from a variety of sources) to allow the bow hairs to grip and pull the string many many times per second- something similar to the way Velcro works. Lesson 4 touches on the rosin rap and some exercise to use with the Essential Elements book

        If your outfit did not come with rosin, you can find some here. Do the rosin raps a few times and your bow will be gripping those strings in no time!

        • Silver says:
          Posted September 21, 2008 at 1:22 am | Permalink

          Thanks! I’ll look if I can find some tomorrow.

    7. ..,hei ya.., you talk too fast.. i could hardly hear some words that i can’t understand.. but that’s ok., atleast i learned something new…..

      • Hey Michx! Yes, fast speech is something I’ve been fighting almost all of my life πŸ˜› Thats part of the reason why I like to include a bit of a text summary to what I’m saying. I will be more wary of my rate of speech in the future πŸ˜€ Thanks for the input.

        • .,ur welcome.. can you post another video playig canon in d? i love that!!!!!!!

          • Perhaps sometime I’ll get a Stringsavvy quartet together πŸ˜€

    8. Dale says:
      Posted December 17, 2008 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      On this date, 12/17/08, your video for Lesson 6 consistently fails to load / play beyond 3:37. Thanx for your effort and time in creating/maintainting this valuable resource.

    9. Dale says:
      Posted December 17, 2008 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Problem as to stopping at 3:37 was no longer an issue by evening. Thanx.

    10. David says:
      Posted May 6, 2009 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      wow… thanks a lot for posting your free violin lessons… I’m taking your lessons since we can’t afford having a teacher… I’m just a beginner but really trying to learn violin….

      I have a problem with the bow, sometimes when I play the violin, it shakes a lot… especially when I do the bow lift… because of this the tone becomes shaky… is the bow the problem? or is it my bow hand?

      • Hello David!

        Shaking during normal playing can be due to several factors including not having enough pressure on the bow or moving at a bad angle. More on this at Stop Unwanted Bouncing of the Bow

        If you have bouncing during a bow lift, check to make sure that you are actually setting the bow down on the string before moving it!

        Hope that helps!

    11. sarah says:
      Posted May 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      i love ur site…i have work through the essential element book and can actually bow now..but whenever i bow the bow keep moving towards the finger board…and is not parallel to the bridge, how do i stop the bow from drifting away toward the finger board? and to have it parallel to the bridge?
      also, my right hand always feels sore especially my thumb when playing…i have no idea why..any suggestion to stop the pain?
      thx for helping!

      • Hello there, Sarah!

        I responded to your previous comment here.

        Another suggestion for keeping the bow is turning sideways and looking in the mirror so you can see your bow and bridge as you play. When you can see it, you become a bit more conscious of what you’re actually doing! Then you can practice there to fix it.

        If your right hand and thumb are sore, chances are you are squeezing your bow. Work to relax. This could also be a clue to your bow swinging out. A stiff hand could lead to a stiff wrist. Remember that it is a bow hold, not a bow death grip! πŸ˜‰

        Hope that helps!

    12. Can you put your video lessons transcript please. Because I am not a native English speaker. And it’d be very nice if you may put your lessons transcript to here. Thanks! Keep up the good work! =)

    13. John Yoon says:
      Posted April 19, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      I love your lessons and I refer to them quite frequently.

      I have a question- I am able to use the bow quite well but my violin teacher has emphasized time over time that I fail to use the full capacity of my bow. When playing very fast songs, I need to be able to move the whole bow up and down very quickly. I find difficulty in this. Do have any advice, techniques or practice exercises that you would suggest?

      • Hello John!

        Confidence in using bow comes with time and practice. A good way to start is by realizing how much bow you are actually using. Start by facing a decent sized mirror with your scroll pointed towards it. Now while you play watch your bow and how much you use and where you are. This might be an eye opener.

        You can also rotate approximately 90 degrees to your left and face the mirror again, this time exposing your violin to the mirror. You will now be able to see if your bow is moving around a lot and going over the fingerboard. Use these views and perhaps a metronome to time your movement.

        Start with something slow such as Quarter note=60 and spread your whole bow (W.B.) over a full measure. As you get comfortable try increasing the tempo a little at a time. For quicker movements try narrowing the bow stroke from 4 beats to 3, to 2, and eventually to 1.

        I hope that helps!

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