From Bow to String: Exploring the World of Violin Mastery

Looking to tug on heartstrings with extraordinary violin prowess? Keep reading below to find out how to master your violin!

March 25, 2024



Learning the violin could come across as cultured and refined because it is rare to hear of Singaporeans who took violin lessons compared to piano lessons. Furthermore, mastering the violin is an impressive feat as it is one of the more difficult instruments to play.    

Violin mastery calls for dedication, practice and a drive for constant improvement. The journey is not without obstacles, so overcoming them will give you a sense of accomplishment.    

Whether you are a novice or an up-and-coming violinist, we explore methods in this article, such as developing ear training, tone production, etc., to aid you in taking your violin playing to the next level.      

A violinist passionately playing the violin with her eyes closed. She is in a music studio with a grand piano in the background.
Training Your Ear    

The process of sharpening your skills in hearing, identifying and replicating musical elements to a T is known as Ear Training. However, it is not just pointing out pitch but also digging into the varying details of the theory of music theory and auditory skills (e.g. intervals, scales, chords, rhythms, etc.).

This method is beneficial to violinists to play around with the music piece while granting them the freedom to play expressively with confidence. It also aids violinists in enhancing the ability to blend in when playing in an ensemble and boosts musical memory.      

Some exercises you can try are:    

1. Matching specific pitches just by hearing
2. Playing along with recordings
3. Deciphering the notes of a song by ear
4. Work on recognising chord progression

Work on these exercises with your teacher and take a step closer to improving listening, performance and collaborating skills!    

Experiment With Tone        

When you first play the violin, it could sound like nails on a chalkboard or a fly buzzing around. And if you are lucky and apply the correct pressure while holding the bow properly, you produce a wholesome sound or tone.      

Instead of pressing down our arms to do most of our daily tasks, “use gravity and the natural arm weight to apply the amount of pressure needed” to the strings via your bow. Modify how much weight you apply as your bow speed changes.    

The “contact point” - when your bow meets the strings of the violin - also affects the tone. When your bow is near the fingerboard, it produces a lighter sound. When it is near the bridge, it makes a bolder sound. The amount of hair (from the bow) that comes into contact with the string also affects the strength of the tone produced. The more hair there is, the stronger the tone, and the less hair there is, the softer the tone.  


The general rule is to apply more arm weight when the bow is near the bridge, as a slower bow speed is usually needed. The opposite rings true when the bow is near the fingerboard – less arm weight with a faster bow speed.      

The fun starts when you mix the weight and speeds at the different contact points. Experiment with these techniques and let your creativity run wild with the various tones you can produce.    


Master Vibrato    

While tone gets controlled with the bow, vibrato comes with controlled movement of the fingers on the strings. Through the motion of the wrist or elbow, the fingertips roll up and down and literally vibrate the strings of the violin, adding flavour to the musical piece and creating an opportunity for self-expression.  


Play around with the speed and amplitude of the vibrato to evoke different feelings and moods from the music. For example, the faster the speed, the more intense the sound produced feels.    


Work with your teacher to develop a well-controlled and highly expressive vibrato with exercises such as “practising the motion of the vibrato with a metronome”.    

Hear the difference between having vibrato versus no vibrato!    

A student is holding a violin and an off-screen teacher is correcting her finger placement on the strings.
Find A Mentor    

As mentioned in the previous points, we recommend working closely with your teacher to practice the exercises for ear training, experimenting with tone and mastering vibrato. Find an experienced and skilled teacher who can match your learning style and provide you with a tailored learning plan and feedback to help you refine your techniques and achieve mastery of the violin.    

At Aureus Academy in Singapore, the teachers can understand the journey you would be undertaking as they have been through it themselves. They will encourage and gently guide you as you persevere through your path and ensure you enjoy the process without the added stress of learning exam material. So, if you want to make violin covers of all the songs by Taylor Swift, let your teacher know, and work together to achieve that in your lessons.      

If you are ready to take your violin mastery to the next level but worry about committing, click here to book a free violin trial lesson with us before enrolling!      


Expand Your Repertoire    

Challenge yourself by playing songs with technical difficulty while maintaining your self-expression. These are not limited to progressing to more challenging songs per se but also delving into other genres and musical styles to build up your range.      

One example is the Bridgerton series on Netflix, which takes place in the Regency period, where “classical symphonies defined the era”. The show cleverly uses classical violin covers of modern songs (e.g. Billie Eilish’s “bad guy” and Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next”) to help the current audience relate to the scene while also staying true to the period of the show with accurate portrayals of what music at the time might sound like.


However, you can also hear the use of the violin in modern pop songs and even rock bands! So, try playing some of your favourite songs in an entirely different genre or style to aid you in developing versatility and have fun with it!    


Savour the Journey        

Remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. Each technique you pick up along the way and every new song you perform presents a chance to grow. Persevere and welcome the challenges you face with open arms so you can tackle them and discover new possibilities about yourself and your violin.

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