Playing in Tune

February 14, 2018, 2:38 AM · Playing in tune is one of the most difficult challenges facing any violinist or violist.

The fingerboard has no frets and finding the right place for your finger can seem like a hopeless task sometimes. Fret not; you're not the only string player who feels like this. Playing in-tune is a learned skill but with practice, patience and some brilliant techniques you can play in tune too.

Obviously, your instrument needs to be in tune first of all. Putting tape on the fingerboard to mark the basic finger positions can be very helpful for beginners too but you need to go beyond that.

Developing good intonation involves two key (excuse the pun) areas: the physical feel of each note and training your listening skills.
Training your ability to hear when notes are in-tune requires you to slow down. You can't listen for precision accuracy if you only ever play your pieces at performance speed.

Pay special attention to:
" Developing a good hand shape-e.g. is your 4th finger always over-extended?
" Clear, ringing notes, especially when fingering versions of the open strings (5ths, 8ves)
" Harmonic overtones when playing double stops, particularly 3rds, 4ths, and 5ths
" Notes either side of the note in question

Training your ear in this way will help make you more alive to the subtleties of pitch. Learn how it feels when you play in tune; focus on how the finger feels (muscle memory), and the sensations experienced when you get that centred ringing sound.

This Pro-Am Strings' free online violin and viola class is a golden opportunity for all beginner/intermediate violin and viola students to liberate their ability to play in tune.

Henriette de Vrijer, your online violin/viola teacher will share some brilliant tools and techniques for playing in tune with the friendly online violin/viola community. Register now for this free class or book a consultation lesson where you can really refine these new skills.

This post was written by Stylus writer, a former professional violinist/ violist who has taken his gift for phrasing and tone into the world of words. You can learn more about his work at

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