Free Video Violin Lesson 3

  1. Thom
  2. January 27, 2008 10:24 pm

Hello and welcome to Violin Lesson #3! In the last lesson we went over holding the instrument, how to pluck, and learning our string names. Today we will be learning the notes on the D string as well as how to hold the bow!


Opening up to page 6 you will notice how the finger numbers work:

First Finger – Index

Second Finger – Middle

Third Finger – Ring

Fourth Finger – Pinky

Thumb Placement
(Click to view full size)

Place your thumb on the neck, just barely coming over the fingerboard right on your first tape marking and curl your first finger around to be placed on the D string. This is the proper placement for your thumb. It should be just about perpendicular to the neck versus running right along side it.


Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd tape and you’re ready to play G!


To get into position for F#, place your 2nd finger directly behind your 3rd finger. This should be nice and tight with little or no room between your fingers. Keeping your 2nd finger down, lift of your 3rd finger. Now you are ready for F#!


The trick to pulling off Lift Off is to keep your 2nd finger down the entire time. Whenever you play a G, put your 3rd finger down, whenever you play F#, raise your 3rd finger just barely over the string. Make sure that when you do put your finger back down, that there is NO space between the 2nd and 3rd fingers as pictured below!


#20. Good King Wenceslas
The bracket your see underneath the G A G in the first 2 measures is a symbol used to tell you to keep your finger(s) down. The secret to doing this is making sure you’re making a sort of tunnel over the A string without actually touching it.

How to Hold the Bow

  1. Make a thumbs up
  2. Thumbs Down, place on the edge of the frog
  3. Middle Finger across on other side of the bow
  4. Ring Finger on or behind logo/eye
  5. Rest Index and Pinky on top


Pizzicato – Pluck the strings. Also written as pizz.

Alternating Fingers 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



  1. Review Pages 4 & 5
  2. Practice #10-22 on your own.
    • Watch out for rests and repeats!
    • Use your CD to play along with.
    • Alternating Fingers Exercise
  3. Practice your bow hold daily. You can kill time at work/school by picking up a pen or pencil and practicing!
  4. Alternating Fingers Exercise (Pizzicato only!)

    Back to Lesson Index
    Back to Lesson 2
    Foward to Lesson 4


  1. Chris Marengo says:
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    Hello, I’m fortyfive years old.I’ve had my violin
    for about one year picked it up a few times but did’nt have any direction till I saw your videos.
    Now I cant stop practicing.I want to be the best
    I can be.I’m unemployed right now, funds are low
    so this is great.Thank you for your lessons.Will
    there be more lessons.Please let me know.
    Chris Marengo.

  2. Hey Chris! That is awesome, I am so glad to hear that!

    I am actually uploading lesson 4 right now!

  3. mahnoosh says:
    Posted July 9, 2008 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    hello dear Thom,
    i would be so happy if i could describe my feeling, i think you are so amazing. your way of teaching is easy and understandable. i wish all the teachers were like you. i thank you once again and i hope you will continue on your excellent work.
    good luck

    • Thank you so much for the kind words! I hope you continue with the violin, I am currently working and developing new lessons as well as a mini course which will start releasing soon.

      Shoma Irani hasteed?

  4. Hey, These Violin lessons are great! I have an electric violin which I got last month for my birthday. I only have one question… which book do you use with the violin lessons?

    • Hey Andrea! Glad you are learning the violin! I have more lessons in the works right now!

      I use the Essential Elements 2000 book, which you can find a link on the main Lesson index page or right here

      Hope you stick with it, if you ever have any questions don’t be afraid to ask!

  5. Kaitlyn says:
    Posted August 21, 2008 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Hey, Thom! Thank you so much for putting your lessons on the web. My father bought my mother a violin for her birthday about eleven months ago after she mentioned that she would like to learn, and during those past eleven months the poor instrument has been sitting in her closet, untouched. Being a nurse, she has a lot of work to do and not enough time to spare, and simply couldn’t fit any lessons into her already-hectic schedule.

    I’m a classical music nut, and after listening to a version of Debussy’s “Claire de Lune” -the melody being played by one of the sweetest sounding violins I’ve ever heard- about a week ago, I decided that I would like to learn how to play the violin. I dug through the closet until I found my mother’s neglected birthday gift and began searching for lessons in my area. My search results: nada.

    Your free online lessons were a shining light in the darkness, which I practically leaped for after weeks of searching and begging my parents to spare the gas money to take me to another city for lessons. I bought the book, as well as the finger tape, and I’ve been practicing every day since I found this site. I have to say that I feel quite ashamed that I didn’t start learning the instrument earlier. I’m going to try and convince my mother to learn with me, though I’m not sure if she has even an hour a day to devote to practicing. Never fear, though! Her violin shall sit and collect dust no longer, for I am determined to learn how to play it.

    Just finishing up my daily practice,

    • Hello Kaitlyn!
      That is so awesome! That warms my heart! I am glad you are enjoying the lessons and I hope your mother decides to start as well! If you have any questions never be afraid to ask! I have some more lessons in the works coming soon!


  6. Kelvin says:
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Hi Thom,

    have to sincerely thank you for the effort you put into the lessons. i’m sure you’ve already heard loads of this from all the comments but these online lessons has been one of the factors which made me go out and get a violin proper after months of deliberation and i’m really enjoying it so far

    just a question… i’m struggling a bit to keep my fingers from touching the other strings when having my fingers down. it kind of always touches the next string ever so slightly and when i try to compensate and create the ‘tunnel’ my thumb tends to slip from it’s original position to under the neck. might my shorter than average fingers be causing the problem? or is there a trick i didn’t quite catch?

    and again, thanks a lot, teacher, for this wonderful site!


    • Hello Kelvin!

      You are very welcome!

      Yes, as we are all built differently, sometimes you may have to compensate a little. It is ok if your thumb comes under the neck a little bit to facilitate the fingers in only landing on one string, just be sure that the movement is coming from your elbow and arm turning around the neck, and not your wrist and hand.

      I touch on this in lessons 6&7 with the violin on the shoulder, in the case of playing “guitar style” just make sure that you aren’t tweaking your wrist in an uncomfortable way, but rather let your arm allow your thumb and hand to rotate around the instrument. 😀

      I hope that helps!


  7. Daniel says:
    Posted August 30, 2008 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi there, i just have a question where do you know where to put the tape on the violin. Did i forget to watch something or do i need the book for this.

    • I have not yet made a video for this because it can really depend on the instrument.

      There is a product called Don’t Fret (listed on the main Lesson Index page) that gives you tape lines as well as where to place your bridge for accuracy.

      If I get my hands on an extra full size violin to demonstrate the preparation on I’ll put together a video. In the meantime the Don’t Fret is the way to go 😀

  8. Christy says:
    Posted September 17, 2008 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Question… Where can I get this book? I can’t order things offline and I’m not sure if my band director (marching band) would be able to get a copy of this version of Essential Elements… We’ve used that company before to learn the basics our chosen instrument, but I’m really not sure if much else is available to him…

    How would I go about purchasing this book?

    • Hello Christy!

      You can purchase the book through this link here, or by going to the Lesson Index and following that link as well!

  9. sarah says:
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    hello its my first time playing and im having a hard i found your videos which are awsome my only problem is where do i put the tape markings???????? thanks so much

    • Hello Sarah! Daniel asked the same question earlier this week, please refer to my answer 😀

  10. Pia says:
    Posted September 21, 2008 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Hello Thom,

    It has been a month since i started learning to play violin. You are my only teacher. I just depend on your uploads on you tube and on the stringsavvy site of course.

    Im now on lesson 5 part 2. I finished lesson 5 part 1. I felt happy knowing that i have learned something even if i havent met my violin teacher personally..Nice!

    However, i have a problem. I guess i really have to grab a copy of the book you refer your lessons from. I could no longer hear the notes while you play along “old Mcdonald and “Twinkle twinkle”. (whether what you said was a G or a D… or something else…)

    I’ve been to different bookstores/shops to look for that book.. Unfortunately, i could not find one. I do not know if the site selling the Essentials book delivers internationally. Im from the Philippines actually.

    Thank you Thom.

    • Hello Pia,

      The book is definitely essential to following along on the site here, have you checked my amazon link? I don’t know for sure but from what I have heard amazon will ship books and such to the Philippines. Read the comment right above yours for easy links or visit the lesson index page.

      I hope you can find the book!!


  11. Silver says:
    Posted September 21, 2008 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I don’t know if you rmeember me from yesteray, but a really big thanks for telling me for the rosin~ I got some today and finaly managed to get some sound 😀

    Right now it’s too late for me to take a look at the lessons since I need to sleep for work tomorrow and everyone’s in bed already, but I’ll most likely start looking at the videos tomorrow~

    I’ve dreamed of playing violin for so long and sadly simply can’t afford any course because we’re poor so I’m -extremely- thankfull for those videos. I was stucked with the faith of learning all on my own until I found your site so thank you so much for it! (if you assumed buying an electric violin was a huge gap in the buget, well you’re right xD My mom and grand-mother wanted to rip my ears off and probably still do haha.)
    I’m really looking forward to practicing 🙂
    I tried a bit tonight and had a hard time because I use to play guitar and bass and am used to supporting the instrument with my leg instead of arm and shoulder and to have a lot of space between notes on the neck, but I’ll get the hang of it eventually. I just need to stop curling up on my chair to support the violin with my knee and learn to keep my fingers close together 😀

    Funny moment earlier tonight: My sister is in the same room as me so had to endure my crap-tastic first try ever and eventually said “What did I do to deserve that? D:” It was hillarious.

    • Haha I love it! Surprisingly, when I was beginning my cats loved to hang around me while I played… :: insert violin/dying cat insults here 😛 ::

      What kind of electric did you get?

      • Silver says:
        Posted September 22, 2008 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

        Silent Violin from Yamaha, SV-120. I hope I picked something good xD

        I think my dog will do what he can to stay far away from me when I practice for the few first tries haha
        I’m hoping it’ll get my sister interested. She did tell me she would snatch my violin and give it a try every now and then so I think I’ll try to have her take a look here too :3

        • Yamaha is great brand! I use the SV200 when I want an edgier sound with all my effects over my acoustic 😛 Good pick!

  12. Moe says:
    Posted September 30, 2008 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m a beginner violin player, being jobless and parental units not supportive in my Violin Dream, I couldn’t afford 85$ a month for lessons near me. So when I found this site, I was very happy! I can’t believe your doing this for free; then again, I’m rather glad though. (Again, broke.) So I will most definitely stick to this website for a good long while!

    Thanks so much!

  13. Angela says:
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    I’m a beginner when it comes to violin. I finally brought one a couple of weeks ago. (mind you just a cheapy one to learn on xD)
    I was wondering if you could help me. I seem to be having problems getting any sound out of the D and A strings. G and E are fine. Loud and crisp. But the middle two seem to just sound muffled and give hardly any sound.
    I’m not sure what it is I’m doing wrong. I’ve tried different positioning of the bow and just can’t seem to get it to work.
    I’ve wanted to play this instrument for a while and got a little frustrated over this.
    Please help ; ;.

    • Hello Angela!
      If the strings aren’t properly tuned, they could be delivering very little to no sound, but it could also be an issue of the bridge/nut. If the string is too low to the fingerboard it could end up touching, which would stop vibrations muffling the sound.

      If you have any friends who are familiar with working with instruments have them take a look first. If they know what they are doing they can help fix it, otherwise you may have to take it into a shop. A readjustment like that is usually pretty cheap.

      Hope that helps!

  14. Aimee says:
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    Hello Thom,

    Thank you, thank you.. thank you! 🙂 I am forever grateful to you! hehe.
    I got my violin for my birthday a little while ago, and I too was stuck with the reality
    I though would be my faith. (Self-teaching) Luckily you showed up, and saved me. x)

    Oh! And out of the blue, I’ve got a question which I probably shouldn’t be asking you in maybe a year or two,
    I don’t know. But.. I’m willing to do it anyway! :p You see.. There’s this song, called Ave Maria.
    I’ve wanted to play this song since.. As long as my memories go. (The question is:) Is this a easy, middle or hard song to play on the violin. And for how long would it (normally) take a NEWBIE to learn how to play it? 😀

    (I’m truly sorry if my English is a little weird.(I’m not from an English speaking country ;)))

    Once again, Thom. Thank you! 🙂

    – Aimee

    • Thank you very much Aimee! What do you mean? Your English is fantastic!

      As far as your question, there are two popular songs called Ave Maria. One is by Bach, one is by Schubert, which one are you looking for?

      I’m very happy to see people getting so much out of my site, keep up the good work!

      • Aimee says:
        Posted November 25, 2008 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Aw, thanks! And thank you for your reply!

        Oh, hehe.. sorry! I am referring to the one from Schubert 🙂 I’m just simply in love with this song. I think it’s pure magic :*

  15. ..,oi.., saan sa pampamga may music school para sa violin?.., yung malapit lang.., like sa san fernando., apalit., sto. domingo hie! basta malapit.. ok..

  16. Andrea says:
    Posted January 2, 2009 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Hi Thom!

    I was wondering if it is natural for my clavicle bone to hurt during the first week of playing the violin? or am I holding the violin wrong? Btw, I couldn’t find the book that you recommended so I had no choice but to buy the book by Frank Cappelli entitled “Learn to Play the Violin” is that a good book? Right now, I’ve just been doing open string exercises on the different chords…


    • Hello Andrea,

      Are you playing with a shoulder rest?
      These have a little bit of padding and raise the instrument so its easier to hold on your shoulder.

      Also the book can be found at on the Lesson Index page or right here 😀


  17. Nicola says:
    Posted January 19, 2009 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Dear Thom! It has always been a childhood dream of mine to learn to play the violin and I have been practising by myself for at least two hours a day for two weeks so far. I’m 41 and just thought, DO IT! but I don’t have enough m oney for private lessons. I was having trouble with bowing and then found your site! Oh my gosh! You have helped me sooo much and made me even more determined. But I have one HUGE problem, which none of my books seem to answer, or seem to contradict themselves. When you play, for instance, G on the D string, do you keep ALL three fingers down, or just put down the third finger? And when you move from B on the A string, to G on the D string, do you have to quickly put down all three fingers again to play G? Or just play B, then reach over with the third finger and play G on the A string? This is a problem with other notes, too. As you move up the notes, do you have to keep ALL fingers down? Many thanks for you wonderful lessons. Nicola in the UK!

    • While it is not totally necessary to keep all your fingers down to produce the pitch, you SHOULD get in the practice of keeping your fingers down for ease of playing. It is much easier to do ONE action rather than TWO (i.e. lifting your 2nd finger F# and putting down your 3rd finger G).

      When switching strings, you do not need to put all 3 fingers down to “climb” up to G. Like you said, going from B on the A string to G on the D string, just anticipate the G by having your 3rd finger hovering over the G, or even down on the stringer if you have learned how to put your finger down without muting the string next to it 😀

      Short answer: Yes, keep your fingers down as much as possible.

  18. Heather says:
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Okay, I just gotta say, Thomas, you freaking rock. I can’t tell you how helpful this site is!

    I took my violin to the shop you told me about, and turns out it really IS a major POS. As in, not even worth upgrading anything on it, it’s that cheep. Dang. I’ve been mucking about with it anyway, because it’s all I have, and it can’t hurt anything to muck around anyway, but I’m getting a bit fed up. My G string spontaneously detuned itself today, in a rather spectacular manner, and danged if I’ve got no way to figure out where it oughta be, or get it to stay there even if I did. Thus, I do believe I’m going to suck it up & rent one from the shop. Any suggestions, or should I just happily accept whatever they hand me?

    Oh, and btw, I did finally tell Ken about it. It’s been way too much fun, and I couldn’t keep it contained any longer. 😀 He’s thrilled, which is wonderful. Still pretty intimidating, though.

  19. Hi…….I would just like to ask how did you put the fingering tape in the violin? I cant find anyone who can do that for me so maybe I can put it on my own… I just bought a violin and I’m having a hard time finding a teacher since I am working…..Thankz!

    • Yes! I will actually be making a video about this soon! The easiest way is to use a Don’t Fret and follow the instructions that come with the packaging 🙂

      • Well then thank you very much for this we will truly appreciate it! =)I just hope you have a CD with all your lessons so that I wont need to go to the net to watch and learn how to play violin..=) Just wondering,is it okay for me to learn on my own or do I really need a teacher? Can’t find any violin teacher in our place and I dont have time to go to class since I am working..

        • Though it is BEST to study with a teacher who can watch and fine tune the little details, this site is meant to do as much as I can to teach what is needed 🙂

  20. fares y soliman says:
    Posted May 7, 2009 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    hi my all dear
    this exactly very nice .it prove that you are professinal in teaching
    thanks a lot
    Fares y soliman

    • Thank you for the kind words!

  21. isabella says:
    Posted June 7, 2009 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    hello, i am not a complete begginer but i have trouble locating the right place to put my fingers on to do the sound (i do flats and that stuff so i really need the marking) i would like to know who do you know were tu put the markings and how to find a technique for making it esiear for my ear to identify were the right sound is

    thank you

    • Hello Isabella!

      I am working on a video that shows how to put on a “don’t fret” fingerboard marker. This will make it easy for anyone to learn how!

  22. Kram says:
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Hi Thom!

    i found your lesson a great help!

    i’ll use these to become a great musician!

    thanks again!

    by the way,anyone here from Philippines?

    i need some few helps regarding about violin.

    thanks again..

  23. Kram says:
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Hi Thom!

    i’ll use these lessons to become a great musician!

    thanks again!

    by the way,anyone here from Philippines?

    i need some few helps regarding about violin.

    thanks again..

    • Hello Kram! Thanks, I’m glad you’re getting value out of these lessons! I know there have been a few Filipino users from time to time across the site, but perhaps I can help you with your questions?

      • kram says:
        Posted July 3, 2009 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        hi thom!

        how are you doing lately?

        thanks for the reply on my post..

        are you going to provide lessons about how to perform “vibrato” ?
        and also about how to play the notes beyond the normal finger placement like those above “B note” from the “E string”?

        have a great day Thom and thanks for helping us on the basics!!


        • Hi Kram!

          Doing great, thanks! On the topic of vibrato, while some teachers may like to dive right into it, I feel that it is a more intermediate technique that shouldn’t be taught until the student has good level of control over other things they are doing. Vibrato is used to add color to tone, but it isn’t always necessary, nor is it required to produce a pretty sound on the violin 🙂

          More videos will be coming soon, however!

  24. vida says:
    Posted September 29, 2009 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    hi Thom
    actualy it is the first time i see ur site ,but i am enjoying more than what i am doing in my violon class….i am iranian and the hot way that ur are teaching violon remember me some iranian souls…by the way thksss alot…and hope the best

    • Thank you very much, Vida!

      More updates are on the way, feel free to stop by and ask any questions or comments you have any time!

  25. Carolina says:
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    This is first time I see your site its a wonderful thing you’ve done. I played the violin for 4yrs it is amazing that I passed every year with flying colors but never actually learned how to read a single note 😉 I still dont kno how I pulled it off. I learned all the song by ear N even played song that i put together by ear in concerts. My 10yr old daughter is now playin the violin n has came to me for guidance. I’m afraid I will ruin her if i teach her my way. Do you have a video that can help me learn to read notes?

    • Hello Carolina!

      Thank you for the kind words! When it comes to learning to read music, especially at an older age, patience is key! I have some older friends who are just beginning to learn how to play an instrument and are also having trouble reading music. Aside from the teacher, they themselves aren’t WATCHING the music as they play, but rather stare and their fingers and therefore aren’t making the mental connection between what they SEE and what they PLAY.

      Many beginning violin technique method books start with having the student attempting to learn how to use their fingers, use the bow, read music, and interpret rhythms all on their first exercise! It can be difficult and frustrating trying to learn so many concepts at once!

      This is why I feel that the Essential Elements book is fantastic for teaching beginners because it focuses on only one thing at a time! It starts first with two only plucking two open strings and seeing them on the staff. Only after that does the book begin to introduce fingered notes one by one.

      Is your daughter picking up the violin herself or joining a local school orchestra? I started in my elementary school at about the same age she is now!

      • Carolina says:
        Posted October 22, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        That was quick, thanks. She has joined a local school orchestra but she is so exited and ready to play that I have showed her some of what I can play, and even wrote some of the songs down for her but its all finger placements not really notes thats what I feel might ruin her too, if I dont learn to read the notes. I really want to help her N she’s really lookingup to Me for this. I’m gonna get the book N I’ll update you on my progress. I’m really looking forward to it thanks.

        • I’m looking forward to hearing more! As far as finger placement goes, most teachers (in school too) will put down tapes to mark where fingers should go. I myself am putting together a series of videos, one of them including how to put on a Don’t Fret, which is a non damaging adhesive that marks off finger placements 🙂

          Good luck! Feel free to post questions if you ever have any!

  26. savannah says:
    Posted November 27, 2009 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    well, il can top everyone. I am 75 and just starting on the violin and i love thom.

    • That is fantastic! True proof that you are never too old to do what you want to do! Keep it up Savannah!

      • savannah says:
        Posted December 5, 2009 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        savannah is my “violin name”. I have an ordinary name, otherwise.

  27. Josh Khmer says:
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    I really appreciate that there is someone like you that gives free lessons in violin. I have a problem, i just bought a new violin set and unfortunately cannot find a teacher. I really dont have much money to pay for the service that is why i am looking for a free tutorial online. Would you mind giving some basic lessons on it. Thank you very much and i am looking forward to be studying with you soon…God bless you.

    • You came to the right place! There are currently 15 free lessons with more to come, just go to the lessons tab on the top navigation!

  28. pidgen says:
    Posted January 16, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    It doesn’t sound like anyone has the same problem as I do — when holding my bow, my thumb tends to hit the bow strings. And instead of making the “oval shape” I tend to force my thumb concave. I know this isn’t right but withouth the pressure (of jamming my thumb upwards) the bow rolls and my thumb, once again hits the strings. Also I’m assuming that I should be playing with the edge of the bow hairs (not laying them flat on the strings) but that again causes the bow to swing in and the thumb is on the strings again! I would think it was just me, but I have small hands and it shouldn’t be an issue!
    BTW … these lessons are great! I have the book and was wishing for a video ‘teacher’ to go with it … SO glad I found this site!

    • Hello Pidgen!

      Glad you’re finding help on the site!

      To really help I’d have to see how you’re holding your bow, but for now I can tell you that yes- you do want your bow hairs flat on the string. If you are holding the bow correctly your thumb really shouldn’t near the strings.

      Is your thumb higher up on the bow with your bow hold, or is it in the tip of the frog? (See Lesson 4 for the introduction to bow hold).

      I hope that helps!

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