The Most Common Violin Scales and How to Play Them

When you are learning how to play the violin, it’s important to understand scales. Learning scales will give you a solid foundation as you start to explore new and more challenging pieces of music.

What is a scale? A violin scale is a series of notes, ordered by their frequency or pitch, which span eight notes or an octave. Each scale on the violin is accompanied by a set of naturals, sharps, and flats which determine the type of scale. While there are many different types of scales, including major, natural minor, harmonic minor and more, as a beginner playing violin, you have to first focus on and master the major scales. 

Whether you are a beginning or advanced violinist, practicing scales helps to develop the correct finger and arm muscle memory which are essential factors to making progress in your playing. Set aside a specific amount of time during each of your practice sessions to focus on playing different scales on your violin. 

Don’t just mindlessly speed through your scales. Be deliberate in your practicing of scales; play them with an exaggerated slow tempo to work on improving the accuracy of your playing as well as improving your timing and rhythm. Repeated practice of your violin scales also helps to improve your ability to detect and then correct problems with your tone, articulation, and consistency.

And don’t forget about using your sheet music because focusing on each note that you play is critical to helping build your ability to read music. “Saying” the notes to yourself as you play them helps to improve intonation as well as sight reading skills.

Starting With a Major Scale

The five most common violin scales that are useful for any violinist to master are:

1. A Major

2. G Major

3. D Major

4. C Major

5. B-Flat Major

When you have mastered these five scales, you’ll be prepared for almost any piece of music that you would like to play.

Practice in Style

Practicing violin scales as part of a consistent routine is invaluable in developing and maintaining every facet of your playing technique. By mastering scales, your fingers will have the opportunity to “learn” the correct spacing in every position on the violin. 

Start at a very slow tempo, using a metronome, and focus on your sound, pitch, and tone. 

The Boss DB-90 Metronome, the flagship of the Dr. Beat Metronome line, lets you practice in style. The most advanced metronome available, the Boss DB-90 has an astounding number of functions and features packed into its compact, lightweight chassis. With a tempo range from 30-250 beats per minute, the Boss DB-90 Metronome will help you improve your timing and rhythm as you work on developing your own playing style.


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Silvija Kristapsons

Silvija is a violist and works in the marketing department at Johnson String Instrument.

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