Blues Violin for Beginners: 5 Simple Steps
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 5 min read


  1. Choose the right violin
  2. Learn basic violin hold and posture
  3. Practise fundamental violin techniques
  4. Study blues scales and rhythms
  5. Play your first blues song

Ever found yourself tapping your feet to the rhythm of the blues and thinking, "How can I play violin for blues?" Well, you're in the right place. This five-step guide is here to help you do just that, starting from scratch. Let's get started, shall we?

Choose the right violin

First things first, let's talk about your instrument. The violin you choose can have a significant impact on your blues journey. Don't worry; there's no need to break the bank. It's all about understanding what to look for.

Consider the Size

Violins come in different sizes. While a full-sized violin (4/4) is ideal for most adults, you might prefer a smaller one (3/4) if you have smaller hands or a shorter arm span. It's all about what feels comfortable for you.

Check the Sound Quality

The violin's sound is its voice, and in blues, you want an instrument that can sing. Try out different violins, listen to their tones, and choose one that resonates with you—remember, you're looking for a rich, warm sound that can express those bluesy emotions.

Don’t Forget the Bow

The bow is just as important as the violin itself. Like violins, bows come in various materials, such as Pernambuco wood or carbon fiber. While the choice largely depends on your budget, a well-balanced, comfortable-to-hold bow can make your blues violin journey smoother.

Remember, choosing the right violin is your first step in learning how to play violin for blues. It's a personal choice, and what works for one person might not work for another. Take your time, explore your options, and you'll find the perfect fit.

Learn basic violin hold and posture

Now that you've picked your violin, it's time to get a grip—literally. The way you hold your violin and bow, and your overall posture, can make a world of difference in how you play. Let's dive into some key points.

Master the Violin Hold

Hold the violin with your left hand, resting it on your left shoulder. Your chin should comfortably sit on the chin rest, securing the violin in place. No slouching—keep your back straight. Also, remember to keep your left wrist straight and avoid gripping the neck of the violin too tightly.

Get a Grip on the Bow

You hold the bow with your right hand. Here's a quick rundown: Rest your thumb on the frog (the part of the bow closest to your hand), curve your fingers around the bow, and make sure your pinky finger is slightly bent. It's all about balance, not force.

Adopt the Right Posture

Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, and slightly bend your knees. When you play, your body should be relaxed but upright. Remember, good posture isn't just about looking professional—it can actually help you play better and prevent injuries.

Getting the basic violin hold and posture right is an integral part of learning how to play violin for blues. It might feel a bit strange at first, but with practice, it'll soon feel as natural as breathing. So, keep at it!

Practise fundamental violin techniques

Alright, you've got the hold and the posture down. Now let's move on to some basic techniques that are essential when figuring out how to play violin for blues. These techniques form the foundation of your blues sound, and they'll help you hit those soulful notes with precision and feeling.

Perfect Your Bowing

Bowing is where the magic happens in violin playing. Start by practicing long, smooth bow strokes on open strings. Focus on keeping the pressure and speed consistent throughout. This will help you produce a steady, even sound—perfect for those slow, bluesy tunes.

Conquer Finger Placement

Next up is nailing the finger placement. The notes on a violin are produced by placing your fingers on different parts of the fingerboard. Start by learning where to place your fingers for the basic notes. Remember, small changes can make a big difference in pitch, so precision is key here.

Explore Vibrato

Vibrato is a technique where you rapidly move your finger back and forth on the string to create a warm, rich sound. It can add that extra touch of soul to your blues performance. To practice, start by doing slow oscillations and gradually speed up as you get more comfortable.

These techniques are the building blocks of playing blues on the violin. Think of them as tools in your musician's toolkit—you'll be using them all the time as you play. So, take your time, practice regularly, and keep refining these skills. You're on your way to becoming a blues violin maestro!

Study blues scales and rhythms

Having mastered the basic violin techniques, let's shift gears and dive into the world of blues scales and rhythms. This is where you'll start to see how to play violin for blues really take shape.

Get Familiar with the Blues Scale

The blues scale is a modified version of the minor pentatonic scale, with an added "blue" note for that distinct bluesy feel. Start by learning the G blues scale, which is a popular choice among blues musicians. The notes are G, Bflat, C, Csharp, D, and F. Practice this scale until it becomes second nature.

Master the 12-Bar Blues Progression

The 12-bar blues progression is a common chord progression found in many blues songs. It's a sequence of chords that repeats every 12 bars, giving the blues its characteristic cyclical feel. Familiarizing yourself with this progression will give you a solid framework for improvisation when you start jamming on your violin.

Grasp the Swing Rhythm

Blues isn't just about the notes—it's also about the rhythm. Swing rhythm, with its long-short pattern, is a staple in blues music. To get the feel of it, try clapping or tapping your foot to a blues track. Notice how the rhythm isn't strictly even—it swings!

Studying blues scales and rhythms is a lot like learning a new language. It might seem a little daunting at first, but with practice, it will become second nature. And once you've got the language of blues under your belt, you'll be able to express yourself in ways you never imagined. So keep at it, blues scholar!

Play your first blues song

Now that you understand the blues scale, the 12-bar blues progression and the swing rhythm, you're ready to play your first blues song on the violin. Exciting, isn't it? Here's how you can go about it.

Choose a Simple Blues Song

As a beginner, pick a simple blues song to start with — one with a straightforward melody and a slow tempo. A classic like "Stormy Monday" by T-Bone Walker could be a good choice. This song is slow, melodic and is based on the 12-bar blues progression. Perfect for a beginner!

Break Down the Song

Split the song into manageable sections. Focus on one section at a time and practice it until you can play it comfortably. Start with the main melody before moving on to the more complex parts of the song. Remember, patience is key here. It's more productive to take your time and get it right than to rush and make mistakes.

Put it All Together

Once you're comfortable with all the sections, it's time to put the puzzle pieces together. Play the song from start to finish, slowly at first. Don't worry if you make mistakes. It's all part of the learning process. The more you practice, the better you'll get.

Playing your first blues song on the violin is a big step. It's the culmination of all your hard work and practice. So take a moment to savor the experience. You're no longer just a violin student — you're a blues musician. And that's something to be proud of. So go ahead, pick up your violin and play the blues!

If you're excited to dive deeper into the world of blues violin, don't miss the opportunity to check out the workshop 'How to Get Better at What You Do - Go from Good to Great!' by Debbie Knox-Hewson. This workshop will help you improve your skills as a musician and take your blues violin playing from good to great!