Step-by-Step Guide: Pop Songs on Violin for Beginners
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Choose the right violin
  2. Get familiar with the violin
  3. Learn the violin basics
  4. Read violin sheet music
  5. Pick a pop song
  6. Practice the song on violin
  7. Play along with the song
  8. Record your performance
  9. Evaluate and improve
  10. Explore more songs

Playing pop songs on a violin is a delightful experience that combines the charm of classical instruments with the energy of contemporary music. If you're wondering how to play violin for pop, this step-by-step guide is just what you need. It's never too late to pick up a new skill, and playing pop songs on a violin is a fun and rewarding one to learn. Let's dive in!

Choose the right violin

Choosing the right violin is your first step on the path to playing pop songs. Just like every pop song has its unique vibe, every violin has its distinct sound. Here's a simple breakdown of what you should consider:

  • Size: Violins come in different sizes. Your size selection should align with your comfort and ease of playing. For most adults, a full-size violin (4/4) is the right fit. However, for younger learners, smaller sizes like 1/2 or 3/4 might be more suitable.
  • Type: There are two main types of violins — acoustic and electric. Acoustic violins project sound naturally and are perfect for beginners. Electric violins, on the other hand, need amplification but offer a wider range of sound effects — a feature that might come in handy when you're playing pop.
  • Quality: You don't need a Stradivarius to start learning how to play violin for pop. However, it's important not to compromise on quality. Look for a violin that is well-constructed, has a good finish, and produces a clear, warm tone.
  • Budget: Violins can range from $100 to several thousand dollars. Determine your budget and try to find the best violin within that range. Remember, expensive doesn't always mean better, especially for beginners.

With the right violin in your hands, you're ready to embark on your journey of learning how to play violin for pop. It's a thrilling ride to merge the worlds of classical and contemporary music. So, let's move on to the next step!

Get familiar with the violin

Now that you've chosen your violin, it's time to get to know your new companion. Learning how to play violin for pop begins with understanding the basics of the instrument itself. Here's what you need to know:

  • Parts of the Violin: The violin is made up of various parts such as the scroll, pegs, neck, fingerboard, strings, bridge, tailpiece, and chin rest. Each part has a unique role in producing the sound and helping you play the instrument. For example, the strings vibrate to produce sound, while the chin rest provides comfort as you play.
  • Proper Handling: Ensure you handle the violin with care. Always lift it by the neck, and avoid touching the bow hair as oils from your fingers can affect the sound quality.
  • Playing Position: The violin is usually played by resting it on the left shoulder and using the left hand to press the strings on the fingerboard. The bow, held in the right hand, is drawn across the strings to produce sound.
  • Tuning: Tuning is essential for getting the right sound out of your violin. The violin has four strings — G, D, A, E — which need to be tuned to the correct pitch. You can use a tuner to help with this.

Getting familiar with your violin is like getting to know a new friend. As you spend more time together, you'll understand each other better. And remember, the best friendships, like the best music, take time to develop.

Learn the violin basics

Once you're comfortable with your violin, it's time to dive into learning the basics. The first steps of knowing how to play violin for pop involve mastering these core skills:

  • Bow Hold: How you hold your bow can greatly influence the sound you produce. Your hand should be relaxed with your fingers curving naturally over the bow. The thumb provides support but shouldn't squeeze the bow.
  • Left Hand Position: The position of your left hand on the violin is vital. Your fingers should be curved, and your thumb should be opposite your middle finger. This position will allow flexibility and control as you play.
  • Basic Bowing Technique: Bowing is more than just moving the bow across the strings. It's about controlling the pressure, speed, and area of the bow that contacts the strings. Consistent practice will help you develop a good bowing technique.
  • Scales and Finger Placement: Playing scales is a great way to learn finger placement. Start with simple scales like G major or D major. Remember, each finger needs to hit the right spot on the fingerboard to produce the correct pitch.

Always remember, learning to play the violin is a journey. There will be days when it seems tough, but don't get discouraged. Keep practicing, stay patient, and before you know it, you'll be ready to play some pop melodies!

Read violin sheet music

So now you've mastered the basics of how to hold and play the violin. The next step on your journey to play violin for pop music is to understand sheet music. It might seem scary at first, but let's break it down:

  • Notes and Rests: Notes are the symbols that tell you which pitch to play and how long to play it. Rests, on the other hand, signal silence or pauses in the music. Each note and rest has a specific duration. For instance, a quarter note lasts one beat, while a whole note lasts four beats.
  • Clef: The clef tells you what notes are represented by the lines and spaces of the staff. As a violinist, you'll mainly be dealing with the treble clef.
  • Key Signature: This tells you what key the song is in. It is usually represented by sharp or flat symbols at the beginning of the staff.
  • Time Signature: This indicates how many beats are in each measure. The top number tells you the number of beats per measure, and the bottom number tells you what kind of note gets one beat.

Sheet music is essentially a map guiding you through the song. Once you can read this map, you can navigate any piece of music, from Beethoven to Bieber. So, take your time to understand these concepts, because this knowledge will be your key to exploring the world of pop music on your violin.

Pick a pop song

Alright, now comes the fun part in your journey of learning how to play violin for pop music—choosing a song. There are thousands of pop songs out there, and it might seem overwhelming to pick just one. Here are some tips to help you make the best choice:

  • Start Simple: If you're just beginning, it's best to start with a song that has a simple melody and rhythm. Songs with a lot of fast notes, complex rhythms, or high notes can be quite challenging when you're just starting out. Think of "Let it Be" by The Beatles or "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen.
  • Choose What You Love: The best way to stay motivated is to play a song you genuinely enjoy. If you love the song, you'll have a blast practicing it. So, if you're a Swiftie, go for a Taylor Swift song. If you're into old school pop, maybe something by Michael Jackson or Madonna would be a good fit.
  • Consider the Key: Some songs might be easier to play in certain keys. If you're just starting out, it might be best to choose a song in a key that's comfortable for you. For instance, songs in the key of G or D can be easier for beginners since these keys use open strings on the violin.

Remember, the goal here is to enjoy the process. So pick a song that you love, that feels doable for your skill level, and that makes you excited to pick up your violin every day. Don't rush this process—after all, this is the tune that will get you started on your pop violin journey.

Practice the song on violin

Once you've chosen your pop song, it's time to get down to the nuts and bolts of learning how to play it on your violin. This is where the real magic happens! Here are some practical steps to help you practice effectively:

  1. Break it Down: Start by breaking the song down into smaller parts. You can divide the song into sections such as the intro, verse, chorus, and bridge. This makes the song less overwhelming and allows you to focus on one section at a time.
  2. Slow and Steady: Remember the saying, "slow and steady wins the race"? That's also true when you're learning how to play violin for pop music. Start by playing the song slowly, focusing on getting the notes and rhythms right. Speed will come with time and practice.
  3. Use a Metronome: A metronome can be a great tool to help you keep time and play the song at the correct tempo. You can start at a slower tempo and gradually increase the speed as you get more comfortable with the song.
  4. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: Repetition is key when learning a new song. Don't be disheartened if you don't get it right the first time. Keep practicing the same section until you can play it perfectly, then move on to the next part.

Practicing a song on the violin can be a bit like solving a puzzle: it might be challenging at first, but once you start figuring out the pieces, it becomes a lot of fun. And remember, every pop violinist started exactly where you are now. So keep practicing, stay patient, and you'll be playing your favorite pop songs on the violin in no time!

Play along with the song

Now that you've broken down, practiced, and mastered each section of your chosen pop song, it's time for the exciting part—playing along with the track! This step is all about syncing your violin playing with the rhythm, melody and dynamics of the song itself.

  1. Listen First: Before you start playing along, listen to the song carefully. Pay attention to the rhythm, tempo, and the dynamics of the song. This will help you understand how your violin part fits into the overall musical arrangement.
  2. Start Slow: Don't rush into playing the song at its original speed. Begin by playing along at a slower tempo. You can use apps or software that can slow down the speed of the song without changing its pitch.
  3. Feel the Beat: Playing along with the song is not just about hitting the right notes at the right time. It's also about feeling the groove and rhythm of the song. Try to internalize the beat and let it guide your bowing and fingering.
  4. Gradually Increase Speed: As you get more comfortable, gradually increase the speed until you can play along with the song at its original tempo. Remember, it's not a race. The goal is to enjoy the process of learning how to play violin for pop music.

Playing along with the song is like adding the final pieces to the puzzle. It brings together all the elements you've been working on and allows you to see the big picture. It's a rewarding and fun experience that brings you one step closer to becoming a pop violinist!

Record your performance

So, you've selected a pop song, learned and practiced it, and managed to play along with the original track. Guess what? It's showtime! Now, let's get your performance recorded. Here's how to do it:

  1. Set up your recording equipment: You don't need a professional studio to record your violin playing. A smartphone or a computer with a decent microphone will do just fine. Place the microphone at a distance where it can capture the sound of your violin clearly without any distortion.
  2. Check your surroundings: Make sure you're in a quiet room without any background noise. You want the focus to be solely on your violin playing.
  3. Take a deep breath and start recording: It's natural to feel a bit nervous when the red recording light is on. Take a deep breath, relax, and start playing. Remember, it's not a live performance. You can always stop and restart if you're not happy with your take.
  4. Listen to your recording: Once you've finished recording, listen to it carefully. This will give you an idea of how well you're doing and where you need to improve.

Recording your performance is a great way to keep track of your progress. It can also be a fun way to share your new skills with friends and family. Plus, who knows? Maybe your recording will be the next viral sensation in the world of pop violin!

Evaluate and improve

So, you've successfully recorded your performance. That's a significant milestone on your journey of learning how to play pop on the violin. But the work doesn't stop there. It's now time to evaluate your performance and see where you can improve.

  1. Listen critically: Put on your headphones and listen to your recording. Try to identify any notes that were off or any parts of the song where you struggled. Don't be hard on yourself — it's all part of the learning process.
  2. Ask for feedback: Share your recording with others, whether it's a violin teacher, a fellow musician, or even a friend or family member. They might spot something you missed or offer a fresh perspective on your performance.
  3. Plan your next steps: Based on your self-evaluation and the feedback you receive, come up with a plan to improve. This could involve practicing certain parts of the song more, working on your timing, or getting to grips with a tricky technique.
  4. Practice, practice, practice: The old saying "practice makes perfect" holds true when learning to play pop on the violin. The more you practice, the more confident you'll become, and the better your performance will get.

Remember, learning to play pop on the violin is a journey, not a race. It's all about gradual improvement and enjoying the process. So, keep practicing, keep improving, and above all, keep playing!

Explore more songs

Now that you've mastered one pop song on the violin, don't stop there. The world of pop music is vast and diverse, offering a treasure trove of songs that are waiting for your violin's strings to bring them to life. Here's how you can continue your journey of learning how to play violin for pop:

  1. Expand your repertoire: Seek out new songs to learn. Variety is the spice of life, and it's also the key to becoming a versatile violinist. Don't limit yourself to one genre or artist. The more varied your musical diet, the more well-rounded your skills will become.
  2. Experiment with different styles: Pop music encompasses a wide range of styles. From the catchy melodies of Taylor Swift to the soulful tunes of Adele, each artist brings something unique to the table. Try your hand at different styles to discover what you enjoy playing the most.
  3. Challenge yourself: As you gain confidence and skill, pick more complex songs. This will not only keep you engaged but also help you grow as a musician.
  4. Enjoy the process: Remember, the goal is not just to learn how to play pop on the violin, but also to enjoy the journey. So, choose songs that you love and have fun playing them.

By consistently exploring new songs, you'll continue to refine your skills, broaden your musical horizons, and deepen your love for playing pop on the violin. So, what's the next pop song on your list?

If you enjoyed this step-by-step guide to playing pop songs on the violin for beginners and want to improve your skills even further, we recommend checking out Debbie Knox-Hewson's workshop, 'How to Get Better at What You Do - Go from Good to Great!' This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and techniques to help you master your violin skills and become an even better musician.