I'm teaching myself to play the violin and only just starting on the notes and how to read the music, but i am getting a little stuck on knowing what note to play on what string from reading the sheet music?

example: how to know to play the D note on the G string or the D note on the A string?

If that makes sense? From what i'm gathering the sheet music will tell you what finger you'll be playing and therefore with no notes repeating on the one finger, you will know what note to play on what string?

But i have seen sheet music with no numbers in reference to 1st, 2nd finger etc. so that's confusing me.

just want confirmation if I'm close or if I'm totally off!

  • 1
    Surely the string instruments as violin are among those, where a teacher is essential. There is so much to get wrong (concerning posture) and it is horrendous effort to unlearn that later.
    – guidot
    Oct 19 '18 at 8:43
  • Are you experimenting with positions or are you speaking of 1st position? In 1st position there is nor ambiguity. The D on the G string is not the same pitch as the D on the A string. So in this case the answer is: google for a fingering chart. The only ambiguity is 4th or empty string in 1st position.
    – DrSvanHay
    Dec 16 '18 at 19:07

The answer is: don't. Please don't. If you fail to take lessons from a qualified teacher, even if you do manage to place your fingers in the correct locations, you are at grave risk of developing incorrect mechanics (fingers, wrists, elbows) which will be very difficult to fix later on, not to mention risking tendinitis or other injury.

The choice of which string to use for a given pitch depends on the tone you wish to produce, the feasibility of reaching the desired finger position from the previous and following notes, etc. Again, without a teacher available you risk learning bad fingering patterns.


Basically, when you read a book of starting level, it would usually show you the fingerings, so you will know which string to play the note. It is not uncommon to include the name of the string as well.

After you've played quite a few novice exercises, you'll have figured out on which string to play what note, according to the passage. There are some exercises/songs that might require the D note to be played on the G string because the next notes are close by, or similarly to have the D note played on the A string.

If there are no fingerings and you still don't know which string to use, just try out the possibilities. Play the note on both strings and see which one fits better for that exercise. This is also a good way to learn your way around the violin (see where the notes are on different strings).


Certainly at beginner level, you play the note, which may have two alternative places, at the place closest to where the previous and next notes will be. That makes sense, as being a beginner, you won't want to move far from where you know is safe. It's bad enough fingering exactly the right pitch with a finger, given that another finger is anchored already, so moving as little as possible - be that up, down or to another string, seems to be the best option.

Later, you'll want to experiment moving further, but keep it safe for now!

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