By: Ben Fraser

The violin is a four-stringed instrument made primarily of wood. Its hollow body produces sound when the bow is drawn across any of the four strings, G, D, A or E. The left-hand fingers can press the strings against the fingerboard to change the pitch of the string. This is how other notes are produced such as F, B, C or any sharps or flats in between! The instrument can also be played by plucking the strings. This is called pizzicato and is usually done with the pointer finger.

Although many similar string instruments preceded the violin, the violin was invented in the beginning of the 16th century. Prestigious violin makers of the time resided in three distinct areas of northern Italy: The schools of Brescia, Cremona, and Venice. Within these schools, the finest violins in history were created. The late 1600s to the early 1700s are considered the Golden Age of violin making. Luthiers such as Stradivari and Montagnana constructed some incredible instruments during this time.

Learning to play the violin is a complicated but rewarding process. First, you must pick the correct size instrument. This is achieved by holding the violin under the chin and reaching the left hand to the scroll on the end. If your hand can grasp the scroll, it is the correct size. Next, it must be tuned so the pitches of the four strings are G, D, A and E. Then, the bow is pulled across the strings, while the left-hand fingers produce different pitches. Important concepts to consider while playing are posture, dynamics, vibrato, and musicality.