Third Position On The Violin - Basic Exercises

January 24, 2018, 5:33 PM · The third position on the violin is for every violinist a big step forward. I will give you together with the video a full instruction on how to play your first notes in the third position on the violin.

First let me list you the benefits and requirements of the third position on the violin:


  1. Two new higher notes on the E string, the C and the D on the G, D and A strings you gain also two higher notes, which sound the same as the first and second finger on the string above
  2. More possibilities for fingerings to help the melodic line
  3. More choices of tone color for the same notes
  4. Ways to improve fast passages or legato with smart fingerings


  1. Relative pitch hearing and at least a short term memory for pitches
  2. Proper left hand posture to not get stuck with the thumb or hit the body of the violin with the wrist
  3. Knowledge of the note system and accidentals
  4. Control over the finger spacings
  5. Vertical fingertip positions to enable smaller spacings

While the requirements seem to be high for learning the third position, learning to play the third position will also increase your abilities in many regards. Also there are several ways to work yourself around problems and in the end the good news is: it is not rocket science! ;)

First Step:

Chose a string and find the third finger in the first position. I recommend you to begin on the A- or D-String.
The notes for the third finger in the first position on the different strings are: C on the G-String, G on the D-String, D on the A-String and A on the E-String.
Play the note and compare it to the open string below to check if you hit the note precisely (doesn't work, if you play on the G-String). Play the note with a good sound and keep the pitch of the note in your ear as good as possible. In doubt use an electric tuner to make sure the note is in tune.

Second Step:

Replace the third finger that you just played with the first finger. Therefore shift your whole wrist up the fingerboard! Don't forget to bring the thumb in the new position. Keep in mind, that you don't want to touch the ribs of the violin in the third position just yet. Remind yourself to keep the wrist in line with the forearm.

Third Step:

Play the first finger in the third position and listen to the pitch. Compare the pitch of the note with your sound memory if you can and compare it again to the lower string. In the beginning use a electric tuner to be sure that your pitch is correct. The notes are the same as the third finger in the first position, so: C on the G-String, G on the D-String, D on the A-String and A on the E-String.

Congratulations! You arrived in the third position! :)

Now play a scale in the third position with the other fingers. The easiest will be, if you play a scale on the D and A string in G-Major. Always compare the notes to neighboring strings if possible. I show you in the video how exactly to practice the scale.

Have fun practicing!
For more educational content from me go to:


January 26, 2018 at 06:36 PM · Thank you -- it was good to review this material. Your article and video held my interest and attention throughout -- even though I'm no longer new to 3rd position. My first teacher felt I was ready to start learning it as a kid after about 3 months of lessons. She was right. I adapted quite readily to position playing and have enjoyed reviewing it ever since.

Side note: 3rd position is my starting point for every practice session. I first do basic warm-up exercises in 3rd -- about 5 minutes -- before shifting down to 1st to open up the left hand still more.

January 28, 2018 at 03:13 AM · Thank you Jim! 3 months of lessons in violin playing and already going for 3rd position is indeed quite bold. But I think it is good to not introduce position playing too late.

January 28, 2018 at 08:40 AM · Most helpful article. I have started playing the violin again after a 40 plus year gap. I was never taught the third position, but now inspired to give it a try. Thank you

January 31, 2018 at 02:50 AM · Thank you! I am glad it helped! I'll post more and try to improve the presentation!

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