William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

10 Rules for Violinists

Learn the ten basic rules to bring your violin playing to the next level.

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick gives you ten rules to follow that will help you achieve long-term, masterful violin playing.

Released on May 3, 2017

Post a Comment   |   Video problems? Contact Us!
DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

So, in my efforts to be clear, I've been thinking a lot when I talk with my students. I've been thinking a lot about what I consider to be basic ideas, basic principles needed to learn how to play the violin. So here, let me share with you these thoughts, which I've announced to my students as my 10 rules for violinists. Oh yes, I'm sure that I've gone over these things in previous videos, so I won't go in great depth with my description of them. It will just be a little superficial taster.

Rule Number 1

Never press, be tight, or squeeze. All right? Now, with this rule, I am sure you understand, in the left hand it means no pushing up on the neck with the thumb or pressing with the thumb, squeezing, okay? That squeezing could cause this to be very tight, and that wouldn't be a very good place to start. What about the right hand? Well, with the right hand, we don't want to squeeze either. You know how you can squeeze with the thumb against the fingers? Because what that does, is it causes a sound...it doesn't make us feel very good when we hear that. As opposed to when I don't squeeze. To be sure, squeeze...the string doesn't oscillate as much. Not squeeze.

Rule Number 2

Always create movement from your elbow, in either arm. For example, if I want to shift, it's coming from my elbow. I'm shifting this way, or with my right hand. I'm moving this way, it's coming from my elbow.

Rule Number 3

Always leave at least two fingers on the string. Now pay attention, because I don't mean that we're engaging two fingers on the string, I mean one finger is there and the other is touching the string. Again, if we were to engage both fingers, or three fingers, it would break rule number 1. But what do you say about chords? But we're going to play at three-note chord, yeah, yeah, I'd have to put all of the three fingers down. Right? But again, I don't want to break rule number 1.

Rule Number 4

Stretch from the fourth finger back, and not the first finger to the fourth. I mean, have a look. Much easier to go from here to here, then from here to here. Here to here. So if I'm playing tenths, I always want to come from my fourth finger back.

Rule Number 5

Never move the same finger diagonally from one string to another. Suppose you were playing Accolay. And this part, use the third finger for the F-sharp. Otherwise, it's diagonal. All right?

Rule Number 6

Always vibrate in the direction of the scroll. I want to vibrate this way, towards the scroll. Not towards me. I want it to go back. Not...

Rule Number 7

Only vibrate notes that are long enough to vibrate. What about Sinding? I vibrated the first note. Why? Because it's a dotted A. Thirty-second notes, they go too quick, can't vibrate. The E is a quarter note tied to an eighth. Well, then I can vibrate it.

Rule Number 8

Never draw your bow in a straight line. You remember we talked about figure eights. We don't want to draw our bow straight. It's this way, that way, that way, but never straight. You know, it might look that way when you see someone play who's really good, but trust me. Here, let me pull away. You see? It wasn't straight.

Rule Number 9

Notes either go to another note, or from another note. In other words, if you go to another note, it's a crescendo. Or from another note. Recommended. You might say it's an organic way of playing. We don't want things to become to straight or bionic.

Rule Number 10

Finally, rule number 10, it's my personal favorite. When in doubt, always refer back to rule number 1.

So, my hope with exposing these basic rules, these thoughts, is that it will provoke in you the desire to take a deeper look into why we do the things we do. And with that, my name is William Fitzpatrick, and I am the Temianka Professor of Violin at the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music, which is located on the campus of Chapman University, in Orange California. I am as well, the Artistic Director of the MusiShare Young Artist Program, which is located in Costa Mesa, California.
Post a comment, question or special request:
You may: Login  or  
Otherwise, fill the form below to post your comment:
Add your name below:

Add your email below: (to receive replies, will not be displayed or shared)

For verification purposes, please enter the word MUSIC in the field below

Comments, Questions, Requests:

William on September 28, 2020 @2:19 pm PST
Hello. I’m a 74 year old Intermediate Level player (Bach Double) and my question relates to Rule #1: I still struggle with tension in my Left Thumb, especially sore at the base joint. I’m not “squeezing” as much as before but there still is tension which, of course, causes thumb issues, sound issues, and overall unhappiness. I’d appreciate your help. From one William to another William. All thumbs in ColoradošŸŽ»
William - host, on October 3, 2020 @10:14 am PST
Hi and sorry for your tension issue. There is quite a lot to say on this ... perhaps have a look at the video "Where to place the left hand on our violin".
Cheryl * VSM MEMBER * on October 4, 2017 @7:47 pm PST
Rule Number 11, (for ensemble playing) the Celli/Bass rules!
William - host, on October 5, 2017 @11:23 am PST
HaHaHa! Poor violists!
Questions? Problems? Contact Us.