Specifically I am interested in learning how to play the Violin. I am good at reading music insofar as the open strings are concerned, but when we are using the E string such that we are hearing a G I get confused regarding finger placements and the like.

Also, I have no intuition into octaves beyond the idea that they are the same note but at different frequencies. I imagine this to be some order of a harmonic frequency but again I am not sure. Consequentially, I often have a terrible time attempting to tune an instrument. Specifically, when the note I am hearing is clearly not what I expect, yet the tuning device is telling me that I am spot-on.

Just looking for a good place to begin. I have obviously done general searches using Google, but what I found was not always beginner-friendly.

  • 1
    Octaves vibrate at a ratio of 2 to 1. The A string on your violin is tuned to 440 Hz (cycles per second), so the A an octave lower would be 220 Hz.
    – BobRodes
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 23:02
  • Is there a single octave per string? That is, we have only 7 total octaves for respective string?
    – sherrellbc
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 23:09
  • 1
    It seems to me you don’t want resources about reading. You want resources about playing the violin.
    – Édouard
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 23:37
  • When you say you can read music on the open strings, do you mean you can only recognize those four notes on the staff, or do you mean that you struggle to find notes with your fingers while playing notes that aren't open strings? If it's the second, you don't need music reading information, you need basic playing information, and should edit your question to reflect this, or just post a new question since people have already given music reading answers.
    – Karen
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 14:05
  • Also, tuning is very separate from reading, and should probably be in a separate question.
    – Karen
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 14:06

3 Answers 3


Just a quick google search gives me this result:


This doesn't look too shabby. Good luck!

Also octaves are just two notes that are 12 tones apart.

C1 and C2 for example are one octave apart.

Here's a video that should help you tune your violin... Just make sure to tune it in the right octave ;-) or you'll snap those expensive violin strings.


Here are some pointers to train music reading:

Grab a children songs book and try to play it.

Children songs are often very intuitive and quite easy. They might not be very violinistic, ie made to be easy on the violin, but if you play the ones in G or D major (1 or 2 sharps, resp) you will be safe.

If you are not so good at reading so you can play directly, sit down and just read/identify the note names and finger you would use to play it. Don't write on the score the note names and figers. This should be easy songs so writing the fingers might delay your progress at this stage. (Later might be usefull to right finger numbers when you need to change position or play a note with a unexpected finger)

Always have in mind which note you are playing

Every note you play in this phase should be with awareness of its name. Always have a "voice inside" saying/singing the note name. This will develop your reading skills but also (and mostly) your imporvisation and "catch a song by ear" skills. DOn't underestimate it.

Train Gmajor scale

Well, it could be another one, but G major is really natural to the instrument. In any case, take a scale and train it. Always thinking about the note name and finger. Play it with different rythms and not just plain equal length notes. When you feel confortable you can for example choose a random finger and try to answer fo your self which note name it is and how should it sound, then play the note. This is a good exercise, do it some times if you find it fun.

PS: Oh! almost forgot! Trust the tuner untill you know when you should not trust it. Baically it might be your best friend now, but it will probably not tune your instrument with perfect fifths. This is a separate question (and probably already here), but if you are starting keep to the tuner and ask someone who plays already for some years to tune it for you if you are unsure.


The best way I can advice is a kind of mental training:

Reading by writing

You don‘t need any specific material! Just write any song, pop or children, church hymn, Jazz, classical piece - even the one you are practicing right now - notate it in different keys and different layers and different strings similar to the guitar tab notation:

In 2 systems, upper system: treble clef, lower system: „violin tab„

Ex. Guitar tabulatura

So you‘ll draw 4 lines for the violin strings G,D,A,E and notate the finger position (like the guitar fret) on each string right below the standard notation. As you know you‘ll have different solutions. I claim for this way to be the most effective, self-active method.

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