Best Violin Shoulder Rest in 2023: Complete Buying Guide

The BEST violin shoulder rest for you is very personal

It depends on your playing style, your violin hold, the length of your neck and the shape of your shoulder.

As a violin teacher I present the best violin shoulder rest for each body type and each problem below

There’s no cookie cutter solution that works for everyone, but from teaching hundreds of students and hearing the opinions of my colleague professional violinists and teachers there are definitely some of the best violin shoulder rests for particular demands.

Instead of just pointing out the most popular rests you can buy today, I will present:

  • best all round violin shoulder rest
  • most popular violin shoulder rest amongst professionals
  • best priced violin shoulder rest
  • best violin shoulder rest for children
  • best violin shoulder rest for if your violin slips off your shoulder all the time
  • best violin shoulder rest if you have a short neck
  • best violin shoulder rest if you have long neck
  • most expensive violin shoulder rest
  • best sounding violin shoulder rest
  • carbon fiber violin shoulder rest
  • NO violin shoulder rest (and the advantages of playing without)

Best all round violin shoulder rest

Wolf Forte Secundo

Weight: 68 grams (average), Price: $ 31

This shoulder rest is most recommended by violin teachers world wide. It’s around for quite a while, but it’s definitely still the violin shoulder rest to look at first. Here’s why:

  • It extremely durable: some use it for decades
  • Your can bend and tilt the metal base and shape it to fit your collar bone
  • It doesn’t fall off the violin easily, because the feet grab the edge of the violin nicely and you can adjust the rubber if necessary
  • You can adjust it in width and height. If you have a long neck you can even use the extra tubes on the feet screws to make it even higher.
  • For children it’s available in all fractional sizes and in attractive colors (amongst which sparkly pink)

There is a small con to this violin shoulder rest, which is that because it’s so adjustable, it might also take some time to really fit it well. A violin teacher can definitely help with that as they most of the times have a lot of experience with this particular rest. If you’re self-learning, definitely take some time to try out different set ups of this rest until you’re absolutely comfortable.

Violin shoulder rest used most by professionals

Kun Collapsable

Weight: 68 grams (average), Price: $ 29

Kun is the go-to brand of violin shoulder rests used by professionals and the Kun Collapsable is the most popular type.

The Kun Collapsable can… (you guessed it) collapse, so you can easily fit it in your violin case. At the same time it’s very sturdy. You adjust the width not with a system that slides, but by screwing the feet in another whole. In this way it keeps it set up very well. For example the Wolf shoulder rest above needs to be adjusted from time to time.

The Kun is also adjustable in height. If you have a long neck, you can buy feet with extra long screws, so you can adjust it even higher than it normally goes.

The pad of the shoulder rest is not adjustable like the Wolf, but for most people the shape is very comfortable and fitting.

For the young fiddlers this model is available in fractional sizes and different colors.

Best priced violin shoulder rest

Fiddlerman Wood

Weight: 58 grams, Price: $ 20

If you’re on a small budget, get the Fiddlerman Wood shoulder rest. It’s about the best bang for your buck.

Usually cheap violin shoulder rests, that are not from the major brands, are not as comfortable and don’t last as long. They can even damage your violin as they fall apart. Here’s the exception!

Just as the Kun the Fiddlerman Wood shoulder rest has collapsible feet, is adjustable in height and width and has comfortable foam padding. The base of the shoulder rest is made out of wood, which gives a warm resonance.

Best violin shoulder rest for your child


Weight depends on size, Price: $ 18

As a mom of five I know all about that on one side you want the absolute best for your child, but you also don’t want to break the bank as violin lessons are expensive enough as they are, aren’t they? It must also be sturdy, because kids… Oh, and is your daughter as obsessed about pink as mine is? Well…

Here comes the Everest shoulder rest. It’s sturdy and durable. It’s adjustable in width and height, it has a comfortable shaped pad and it comes in 10 (!) colors. Plus: as it costs just $ 18 as I’m writing this article it absolutely doesn’t break the bank.

Side note: for very small children’s sizes like 1/8 and 1/16 Kun still makes the best rests. Get an Original or Collapsable mini. For these small sizes all the brands make rests, but often they are a bit too chunky for those short necks. For very young fiddlers, a simple cushion or cloth wrapped around the violin is sometimes most comfortable.

Best violin shoulder rest for if your violin slips off your shoulder all the time


Weight: 136 grams (relatively heavy), $ 60

This is definitely not the cheapest shoulder rest, but it’s advantage is that it has a ‘hook’ that goes over your shoulder. This is THE solution if your violin slips off your shoulder all the time. If you have a long neck and a slim body type, this might be the best violin shoulder rest for you.

The con of the BonMusica is that the shoulder rest is quite large in it’s construction (because of that handy hook), so it doesn’t fit in most violin cases. However you might have a sheet music bag anyway, in which you can carry this rest.

Best violin shoulder rest if you have a short neck

Playonair Deluxe

Weight: 68 grams, Price: $ 33

Do you feel that shoulder rests don’t fit between your chin and collar bone? Do you wish you could make your shoulder rest lower?

Consider a comfortable cushion like this inflatable Playonair. This is lower that regular shoulder rests at their lowest. Also you can inflate it a bit more or let some air out to adjust it. You are also very flexible in how you position it on your violin.

Why do I recommend the Deluxe version and not the Crescent? The last covers only a part of the violin, so for a lot of players they then have the hard violin right on their collar bone. The Deluxe covers a bit more of the violin, so is comfortable for more players.

Best shoulder rest if you have a long neck

Consider this: the higher you make your shoulder rest, the higher your violin will be positioned. This means that you have to lift your arms more, which can cause you to be uncomfortable or worse: injure yourself.

Yes, for the Wolf en Kun rests you can get accessories to make the feet higher (for the Wolf these are tubes and for the Kun you can buy new feet with longer screws). Note that for the Wolf the tubes are most of the times included when you buy your rest. Just experiment with them! This can help, but it’s best to…

Get a higher chinrest! (or an adjustable one)

If you have a higher chinrest, you have a fitting set up for a long neck and at the same time your violin can be on a comfortable height (which is ON your collar bone).

Lots of common chinrest models can be bought in different heights, like this extra tall Guarneri chinrest. To get to the right size, adjust the shoulder rest so that the violin (almost) rests on your collar bone and then measure the distance from the violin to your chin.

An alternative is a fully adjustable chinrest like the Kreddle, which you can adjust in height.



Most expensive violin shoulder rest

Pirastro Korfker

Weight: 32 grams (very light), Price: $ 384

Would you buy a shoulder rest of over $ 300? And over $ 1,000? Well, if it’s truly a difference in how you sound and how comfortable you are while playing the violin and the violin is very important in your life (as a professional or amateur)… it might just be worth it.

The advantages of this rest are that it’s made out of bendable tone wood and gets your violin a great resonance (some shoulder rests mute the sound with the feet and other parts). It is extremely light (38 grams). You can bend it and very precisely adjust the height, width, position and tilt.

The Cradle variant is over $ 1,000 and is said to get an even better sound.

Best sounding violin shoulder rest

(Pirastro Korfker alternative)

VLM Augustin Diamond

Price: $ 60

I personally use and recommend this rest as a professional violinist

A cheaper alternative to the Pirastro Korfker rest is the VLM Augustin Diamond. The base is made out of maple (used for violin making) and the feet barely touch the violin. Although the rest doesn’t slip off, it still leaves enough space for the violin to resonate. It’s adjustable in width and height. Also this rest is light weight. The feet are collapsible to facilitate storage, and it’s patented 360 degree circular lateral adjustment gives you some extra possibility to adjust it to your body. It looks different than the Korfker rest, so I wouldn’t say that it’s similar. Also you can’t bend the base.

I use this rest myself for quite some years and highly recommend it!

Carbon fiber violin shoulder rest

Fiddlerman light carbon fiber

Weight: 59 grams, Price: $ 12

Just as we have carbon fiber violin bows, also shoulder rests are sometimes made out of carbon fiber. The advantages for shoulder rests are that they are light, durable and let the violin resonate well. Compared to good quality wood, carbon fiber can be cheaper.

This is why the Fiddlerman light carbon fiber violin shoulder rest is such a great deal. You can choose for a hip carbon fiber look, but it’s also available with a more traditional wood look. Note that this rest is affordable, because it’s made out of carbon/polymer composite and the carbon fiber pattern is just a look.

I’ve tested this shoulder rest in this video against the more expensive carbon fiber Kun Voce, which seems to be discontinued.

Playing the violin without a shoulder rest

This is a HOT discussion in the violin world, so I hope not to burn my fingers here. Thing is: the shoulder rest isn’t that old. The violin exists almost 500 years and the shoulder rest just came in the last (about) 50 years.

For centuries violinists have played without a shoulder rest

Sometimes pro-shoulder-rest-fanatics (is that a thing?) say ‘yeah, but that was before we started shifting so much’. Well… Paganini played without a shoulder rest. He let the violin rest in his left hand. Most virtuoso violin pieces we play today have been composed and performed in a time when there were no shoulder rests. Still today, amazing virtuoso players like Anne-Sophie Mutter play without a shoulder rest. They can definitely shift and do vibrato!

The advantages of playing without a shoulder rest are:
  • Your violin can resonate fully
  • You are forced to have good contact between the left hand and the violin, often resulting in a stable intonation and less strain on the neck
  • You are forced to find a good balance and not depend on the shoulder rest
  • Your shoulder rest can’t fall off during a performance (nightmare!)

This doesn’t mean that you should ditch your shoulder rest! It just means that you should find a solution that is most comfortable for you and with which you can play the best.

Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.

We don’t all wear the same type and size of shoes (or go barefoot), so we don’t all use the some (or no) shoulder rest on the violin

I hope I’ve pointed out which violin shoulder rest is best to buy when, so you can start your quest to your ideal shoulder rest.

Still it will always be a very personal choice. Don’t let people tell you that you should use this or that rest simply because they are comfortable with it themselves.

It might cost some time before you’re truly happy with your violin shoulder rest and it can change after a while.

Go for what works best for you!

Now I’m curious…

What do you think is the best violin shoulder rest?

Leave a comment! I’d love to read your experiences, tips and opinions.

Can you learn to play violin by yourself?

“I would LOVE to learn to play the violin!! But… can I do that on my own?”

Music enthusiasts of all ages have asked themselves this question. Sometimes they have just inherited a violin from a relative and want to put it to use. Others have a strong desire to learn such a beautiful instrument but don’t have an available group class or the ability to take private lessons. Then there are cases where a parent decides to let their child try violin on their own before getting a teacher “to see if he’ll like it”. Because the question of needing a teacher or not arises in so many different situations, it is impossible to give one single answer. Instead, I will break down some of the reasons you may want a teacher, ways you can learn on your own, and resources for getting started on the right foot.

Child vs. Adult Violin Learners

The player’s age is a big factor in determining if to learn on one’s own. Take for example the parent who hands his six-year-old son a violin and says, “See how you like it first, then we’ll get a teacher”. Obviously, the child has no idea where to start and no structure, so how can he enjoy it? Children need clear hands-on guidance from the beginning. However, an older teen or adult who has some previous experience with reading music and playing other instruments can teach themselves several things with perseverance and the right resources.

What are your Goals with the Violin?

Based on your goals, you will require different levels of proficiency. Are you interested in picking up an extra hobby to enjoy in your free time? Do you want to play for your friends? In your local community orchestra? Or would you eventually like to teach or earn paid gigs someday? If you have professional aspirations such as teaching or playing in paid ensembles, it is very important to get a quality teacher as soon as possible. You will want to learn quickly and efficiently and make sure you are not misleading yourself. However, if you simply want violin to be a relaxing, fun extra hobby, you can have a lot of fun with it on your own before deciding to take further steps.

Previous Knowledge

Have you played an instrument before? What do you remember? Can you read music, rhythms, or figure out fingering charts? Many musicians with experience in other instruments are able to pick up violin on the side because they already understand how to practice and problem-solve. If you have no previous musical experience, it would be a good idea to consult with a teacher on how to consistently improve and develop a good routine, because the wealth of information out there can be overwhelming.

Having a Good Violin Set-Up

What is the biggest challenge facing beginner violinists? Notes? Rhythms? Finding pieces they want to play? No, it’s actually just having a good instrument and being able to hold it. The number one reason aspiring violinists quit is because they buy instruments that are poor quality, so no matter how hard they try they can’t produce a good sound. Either that, or holding the instrument is so awkward and uncomfortable that practicing is more pain than joy. This is the biggest thing a teacher can help with. Professional teachers understand the dangers of low-quality instruments, and can advise on where to buy or rent suitable violins. They also can teach a free and relaxed violin hold that doesn’t cause pain. Your teacher will explain to you how different body parts interact to support the instrument, and can also help find specific chin rests or sponges that fit your body better and help you play freely. I cannot overestimate how important this is, so even if you’d rather learn on your own long-term, consider meeting a few times with a teacher at first to double-check your instrument and set-up.

Choosing Pieces and Exercises for the Violin

There is an overwhelming amount of material for beginner violinists. Method books, scales systems, fingering charts, and simplified arrangements abound. If you are doing it on your own it is very difficult to know where to start, and even more difficult to know how to proceed. Yes, you could just try playing your way through Suzuki book 1, but you will miss some of the finer points of technique that a teacher would bring up. If you want to learn supplemental material, it is difficult to know without pedagogical background what pieces fit where. This is a source of great frustration. Good teachers provide guidance on what their students are ready for, what techniques they have comfortably learned and what will healthily stretch their abilities. A teacher will provide clear guidance on where you should look next, rather than trying to sift through countless options on your own.

Practicing the Violin

Okay, this is the biggest challenge we ALL face… It also ties in to what I mentioned above. Having someone to whom you are accountable and who is regularly critiquing your work provides motivation to be consistent. Without a teacher, it is easy to put that difficult technique off a day, a few days, next month… You may feel guilty because you know exactly what you need to work on to improve, but have no real motivation to tackle that thing. Teachers provide the encouragement and accountability needed to stay on track in those difficult areas. They also help create a practice schedule so you can work efficiently and not waste precious time and energy.

Challenging Yourself

Almost everyone falls into one of two extremes: always preferring the easy way out, or pushing yourself so hard that you get discouraged. In any type of self-study these are very dangerous. In the first scenario, you will never discover your true potential because you go in circles, repeating easy habits instead of taking the next step. Others will impatiently jump to something very difficult they are not prepared for and lose heart. It is possible to find a middle ground on your own if you’re someone who is good at finding balance. You should always be practicing something familiar you find satisfying and also new things that make you think a little harder. There is so much material out there that you will always find something new. Again, teachers understand the learning curves in violin and know when it’s time to introduce something new.

Join my FREE beginner violin course

I take you from scratch step by step to your first violin concerto including 40 videos, sheet music and violin tabs.

Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.

Resources for Learning the Violin

Let’s say you would rather work on your own at the moment, but you want to do it in the best way possible. Where should you start? My website contains lots of fantastic resources for self-taught beginner or intermediate violinists. Also they are great to check out in between lessons if you have a private violin teacher.

Once you have an instrument and set-up you’re happy with, check out my FREE 10 lesson beginner course. We’ll start from the very beginning of how to hold the instrument, and learn fun, famous tunes for which you won’t have to read music. I include basic, important information such as tuning, fingering charts, first scales and songs, etc.

After that I have hundreds of video tutorials sorted by level for learning new pieces, special techniques, and even concertos! As a bowing coach, many of my videos focus on how to get a gorgeous sound from the start by actually focusing on the bow rather than the left hand. Having a firm understanding of bow technique from the very beginning will make your violin journey so much easier, I can tell you that! All these videos are completely free for you to use and learn from, as are my online tuner, metronome, and fingering charts. If you’re still stuck on something, I may have many blog articles that go into detail on specific pieces and techniques. With some time and determination, you will find something among these resources to inspire you and spark your curiosity.

In Conclusion

While having a teacher is always preferable given everything discussed above, it is perfectly understandable that it is not possible in all circumstances. If finding an in-person or online teacher is not currently an option, it is worth also considering group classes because they are typically less expensive but still provide valuable help. If you hope to be able to have a teacher in the future, using the free resources available to you now will keep your motivation up until that time comes.

A Major Violin Scale with Pics, Notes and Sound Samples

Learn the A Major scale on the violin with free sheet music, finger charts and audio samples

The first scale on the violin you should learn is the A Major scale. The easiest version is 1 octave and you can expand them to 2 octaves, 3 octaves and even 4 octaves. Read, listen and learn all about them in this article, so you’re set up for success to play them yourself.

A Major Violin Scale

This is the first scale almost all violinists learn and a very comfortable key to play in. It has three sharps, F#, C#, and G#.

Easy A Major scale on the violin for beginners (1 octave)

(Sensational Scales p. 2-4)

Start on open A. The fingering pattern is easy here because you just have to follow the tapes if you have them. If you don’t have tapes, make sure your high second finger always touches third finger. For the E, you can choose whether to play four on the A string or open E string.

Sensational Scales includes exercises in broken triads. These are the exact same notes and fingerings, just in a different order. Start on A, skip up to C#, come back down one step to B, skip up again, etc.

A major scale violin 2 octaves

Once you’ve learned the high third finger, you can add a lower octave to your A major scale. This is still all in first position.

(Sensational Scales p. 16-17)

Here we add the lower octave on the G and D strings. Start on 1st finger G string. The fingering is pretty simple, just make sure to play high 3’s on the G and D strings. Everything else is the same, no shifting is necessary. Also try the bowing variations given in the book.

A major scale violin 3 octaves (intermediate)

(Sensational Scales p. 58,71)

This advanced scale requires shifting up to third, fifth, and seventh position. For most accurate results, always slide the shift carefully, never jump or jerk. The book gives two different options for fingerings. The Carl Flesch fingering is the most common. Experiment with both to become a flexible player. The arpeggios here cycle through both A major and A minor (scroll down to learn all about the arpeggios).

A major scale violin 4 octaves (advanced)

(Sensational Scales p. 79)

A Major is one of the few scales that violinists can actually play in four octaves. That last A is one of the highest notes on the violin. Four octave scales don’t come up in sheet music very often, but examples in A major are the opening of Paganini Caprice No. 5 and the last few lines of Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. If you hope to play this repertoire someday, brushing up on your four-octave scales would be a good idea.

Fingering-wise, once you get to third position A on the E string, just keep going up 1-2-1-2 until you get to the D in 13th position. Play the last five notes 1-2-3-4-extended 4 for the last A. Bring the four back to G. After that, it’s just 3-2-1 shifts all the way down the E string.

What are the A Major arpeggios on the violin?

Arpeggios are chords of which you play the notes one by one. I explain all about them in this article.

In scales you play the notes of a key like A major one by one. To also learn jumps of various intervals and different finger patterns in a scale, you should practice arpeggios.

Here are the arpeggios of the one octave A major scale:

ALL A Major Arpeggios on the violin over 3 octaves

From the arpeggios above, we can make the 3 octave arpeggios that are very effective to study. These are from the Carl Flesch scale book.

Why practice violin scales?

Practicing scales on the violin is very important to:

Actually there’s nothing you can NOT learn with scales. You get to know the violin fingerboard, where all the notes are and in general scales are a laboratory to improve all aspects of your violin playing.

If you start each practicing with scales, you’ll notice that your overall violin technique improves and you can learn all the piece you love to play faster and better.

Download my free violin scale book Sensational Scales to get started right away!

5 Easy Violin Scales for Beginners with Sheet Music and Violin Tabs

Violin scales with free sheet music, finger charts and audio samples

Not sure where to start practicing scales on the violin?

Learn exactly which scales you should practice as a beginner and how in this article!

Practicing scales on the violin is very important to:

  • learn to play in tune (improve intonation)
  • practice different bowing techniques
  • improve your rhythm skills
  • finger speed, flexibility and strength

Actually there’s nothing you can NOT learn with scales. You get to know the violin fingerboard, where all the notes are and in general scales are a laboratory to improve all aspects of your violin playing.

If you start each practicing with scales, you’ll notice that your overall violin technique improves and you can learn all the piece you love to play faster and better.

I’ll dive right into the most commonly used violin scales with sheet music, violin tabs and audio samples. After that I’ll give you some music theory around what a scale is and after that I will give you some tips to practice scales to set you up for success. Scroll down and start with what you’d like to learn first.

First finger frame on the violin

The following scales are the first ones you should learn on the violin. They have the same positions of the fingers: first and second finger apart, second and third close together and third and fourth apart.

A Major Violin Scale

This is the first scale almost all violinists learn and a very comfortable key to play in. It has three sharps, F#, C#, and G#.

Beginner A Major One Octave Violin Scale

(Sensational Scales p. 2-4)

Start on open A. The fingering pattern is easy here because you just have to follow the tapes if you have them. If you don’t have tapes, make sure your high second finger always touches third finger. For the E, you can choose whether to play four on the A string or open E string.

Sensational Scales includes exercises in broken triads. These are the exact same notes and fingerings, just in a different order. Start on A, skip up to C#, come back down one step to B, skip up again, etc.

D Major Violin Scale

D major has two sharps, F# and C#, and is the next easiest scale for beginners.

Beginner D Major One Octave Violin Scale

(Sensational Scales p. 2-4)

This is the exact same fingering pattern as A major and G major, just starting on the open D string.

G Major Violin Scale

G major has one sharp, F#. It is the second key most violinists learn to use.

Beginner G Major One Octave Violin Scale

(Sensational Scales p. 2-4)

This scale starts on open G, the lowest note on the violin, and goes up to 3rd finger D string. Play high 2’s on both strings. You may notice this fingering is exactly the same as A major one octave, just starting on a lower string.

Violin scale with the low second finger

In C major you learn the low second finger on the violin. This means that you place the second and first finger close together. You’ll learn more low second finger scales in my free scale book Sensational Scales.

C Major Violin Scale

C major is the major key with no sharps or flats. On the piano you play this key easilly with just the white keys. As the violin is tuned in fifths however, we have different finger frames in this scale and it’s not the easiest scale even thought the key seems easy.

Beginner C Major One Octave Violin Scale

(Sensational Scales p. 5-7)

For this scale, you will need to use low 2nd finger, so make sure your 2nd finger touches your first finger when you put it down. Begin with 3rd finger on the G string, up to low 2nd finger on the A string. This is a really great scale to practice with drones.

Violin scale with the low first finger

F major is the first scale you learn with the low first finger. This means that although we’re playing low second fingers, the first and second fingers are still apart. This is because the first finger is also lowered. You’ll learn more low first finger scales in my free scale book Sensational Scales.

F Major Violin Scale

This is the only scale on this list that has a flat in the key signature, B♭. This scale is excellent for practicing low 1’s.

Beginner F Major One Octave Violin Scale

(Sensational Scales p. 12-14)

This scale might seem a bit more challenging at first, but just take it slow. This scale has B and F♮, so all the 1st fingers should be low. Place your finger behind the first-finger tape just a tiny bit above the nut. Use a drone if you have trouble playing those notes in tune.

All the sheet music you see in this article came from my book Sensational Scales. It’s a 85 page violin scale book that goes from simple beginner scales all the way to all three octave scales and arpeggios.

The beginner scales go together with finger charts, so even if you’re not that comfortable with reading notes, you can follow along.

Unique about this book is that it’s not ordered per key, but per finger frame and level of difficulty. It will take you through all the scales step by step. You know exactly what to do in your violin scale practice.

And the price? It’s FREE!

What is a violin scale?

A musical scale is any set of notes arranged in ascending or descending order. For example, if you want to start a scale on the note C, all the other notes must be played going up or down from C. There is no jumping around or changing directions.

Complete scales, as they are written in exercise books, typically begin and end on the same letter name, but if you look at any sheet music, you will often see little runs of anything from four to twenty-four notes. Although these passages can look intimidating, they are usually based on some sort of scale, so practice scales diligently in order to play these runs with ease.

So if a scale is a set of notes arranged in a particular order, how do we know how close together to put the notes? All western music is built on steps. There are just two kinds, half-steps and whole-steps. If you were to start at the bottom of a piano keyboard and go up playing every single key, you would be playing half-steps. If you count the half-steps between middle C and the C one octave higher, there are 12. (Note: in music we ALWAYS count the first note we play as step 1.) A whole-step is two half-steps put together.

Most scales are a specific combination of half-steps and whole-steps. Although there are many different types of scales, in this article we will only mention the two most common, major and natural minor. The steps of a major scale are WWHWWWH. The steps of a minor scale are WHWWHWW. For example: for the C major scale, start on a C, go up one whole-step to a D, another whole-step to an E, etc. For a C minor scale, go up one whole-step to a D, one half-step to an E♭, one whole-step to an F, and so on. So even though there are twelve steps in an octave, most scales will only use eight of those steps. Let’s look at the steps of the major scale, as that’s the first scale you’ll learn on the violin:

How to Practice Scales on the Violin

As a beginner violinist you might not be sure how to incorporate scale practice in your practice routine, so here are some tips to get you started.

First play the scale very very slowly and listen carefully for each individual note. Keep playing the same note until it’s absolutely in tune. To check yourself you could use my free online violin tuner right here.

When you’re warmed up you can add rhythm to the mix and practice the scales with a metronome (for example my free online metronome right here). Start with a low tempo, for example 60 BPM.

If you have time left and everything is going well, you can add in different rhythms and bowing techniques. Take the rhythms and bowing techniques from the etudes and pieces you play. In that way the scale prepares you well and will save you time.

When to practice scales?

First of all start your practice routine with scales, so you’re warmed up to play your etudes and pieces better in tune.

How long to practice scales?

About a third of your practice time should be devoted to scales. Say you practice an hour a day, then practice scales for twenty minutes. Even if you have just fifteen minutes, make sure to do a short five minute scale warm up.

Which scale to play first?

Pick the scale that corresponds with the key(s) the piece you are going to practice is in. This warms you up to play the piece in tune.


Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.

Congratulations on learning the five most useful major scales on violin!

No matter how long you’ve been playing or what level you’re at, improving your scales is the best step to improving your overall violin skills. After learning these five, check out Sensational Scales for comprehensive exercises and explanations of all violin scales.

What’s the best violin scale book?

To practice violin scales, you need a good violin scale book. There are different ones on different levels and with pros and cons.

In this article I describe seven violin scale books, so you can decide what’s the best scale book for you!

Martelé violin bow stroke explained

Martelé is an extremely important and useful bowing technique. It is another form of articulation that is different from staccato. Learning the different articulated bow strokes will not only teach you many things about technique, but also make your playing more musical.

What is Martelé bowing on the violin?

Martelé means “hammered” in French and refers to the specific technique of catching the string and creating a strong accent at the beginning of each note. People often think of it as a type of staccato, but it is really more similar to detaché. The strokes are long with a strong accent at the beginning. The bow is stopped after each note just long enough to prepare the next articulation.

Martelé sheet music notation

violin bowing techniques - martelé, accented detaché or grand detachéIn sheet music, martelé is notated with some sort of accent, usually the triangular wedge or a sforzando (sfz) marking. It is not only a dramatic articulation that adds excitement in pieces, but it is also a wonderful technical exercise that teaches sound production, bow division, relaxation, and control.

How to Play and Practice Martelé on the Violin

Martelé is always started from the string, with firm, flat bow hair. The goal is to catch and release the hair, creating a strong and slightly percussive start to the note. It is very important not to press the entire time, but to release after the initial impulse and let the bow do the work, otherwise the sound will be strangled. It is aso important to hold the bow with rounded, relaxed fingers, because the pressure comes from the thumb and middle fingers. These fingers should be free to add and release pressure as needed. These fingers press slightly to initiate the impulse, then release as soon as the first “click” sounds so the rest of the note comes out smoothly.

The most difficult part of learning martelé is getting that initial contact to start the note. Put the bow firmly on the string at the frog, and use it to wiggle the string back and forth without actually making sound. Try this in all parts of the bow, experimenting with how much pressure is necessary to hold the string.

Now we will use martelé to play actually notes. Go back to the frog and wiggle the string again. Now, release the pressure and move the bow very quickly to the middle. (Martelé must be played with a fast bow stroke, but remember this does not mean a lot of pressure. “Poof” is a good word to describe martelé because the pressure is only at the beginning of the sound.) Use a mirror to be sure your bow hair stays straight and flat.

Practice martelé using scales (or, to think of it differently, practice scales using martelé). This helps incredibly with proper bow division (how much bow you use per note) intonation, and coordination. Pick a scale you are comfortable with in as many octaves as you can do. Start with two martelés per bow, dividing the bow evenly per note. Move up to three, then four, six, eight, and twelve, adjusting the length of each stroke. The trick here is keeping the bow strokes fast, but allowing space between the notes. The bow must stop completely between notes. Allow plenty of time at first to relax the right hand fingers throughout.

Martelé vs Staccato

It may be easy to confuse martelé and staccato. Martelé uses more bow and stronger accents than staccato does. The first movement of Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in A Minor uses both martele and staccato. Can you tell the difference? Listen closely to the ending of the phrase at 0:25. In the Suzuki edition, the first two eighths are marked with a martele accent, and the second two with staccato dots. Making those articulations intentionally different creates variety and style.

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