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Technique tutorial: perfecting the violin

Sophomore Aaron Zhang spends hours practicing his violin with the school orchestra and by himself. “Most of my practice time goes into learning the intonation of the piece, since a clean intonation goes a long way in improving the quality of your sound” said Zhang.

Orchestra combines a variety of sounds to create sophisticated melodies. The various instruments all have their own particular routine and require an abundance of skill to play. 

Perhaps the most recognizable of the instruments found in orchestra is the violin. The violin is played with the instrument itself and a bow.

Most people in orchestra begin playing in middle school or high school. To play the violin it is important to know the instrument without the bow. This means plucking the strings, getting to know the names of each string, and knowing what notes are associated with each string. Having good posture sets up violinists for improvement as they progress to more advanced levels of the instrument. 

“The easiest beginner scale to start with when playing the violin is the D-major scale,” Ledesma said. “Typically, this is where beginners start in terms of actually playing musical notes and after that they’ll usually learn C-major scale. Those two are the foundation of scales.”

Once you know how to pluck the strings and know scales, you can start playing with a bow. 

“When it comes to technique, there are a lot of advanced things that you can do with it to improve the sound and alternate it in different ways that can bring out the kind of sound that you want,” senior Erika Ledesma said. “The kind of techniques people use when they play the violin could be the simplest things such as how they’re holding the bow or the angle of the bow. All those things contribute to a different type of sound.”

Another important aspect of playing violin in orchestra is making sure you are playing well as a group. 

“In an orchestra concert you’re not only performing by yourself,” Ledesma said. “You’re with other people and you’re working with other people to put on the performance that you play a part of.”

To make sure that you are at the same pace as the other members, it is important to have sheet music memorized. Since players must watch the conductor while playing sheet music, being able to multitask is crucial. 

By Bhalpriya Sandhu, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Aaron Zhang