How to play in third position on the violin

Once you feel more confident in playing violin in the first position and know all the notes, you are ready to move on and learn a new position.
Third position is the next important position you should learn when advancing from beginner to intermediate. Position refers to where you place your hand relative to the neck of the instrument. The third position is one of the easiest positions to learn and understand because it’s the most natural one.

How to find third position

Third position is very easy to find by moving your left hand till it touches the violin’s body. Move your left hand slowly up the neck until the outer edge of your palm slightly touches the violin’s body.

As long as your hand stays in the same shape and your wrist is straight or a little bent, you can be sure that you’ve reached the right place. The pitch might be slightly lower or higher based on the shape of your hand. 

Third position: playing in tune

To find if you are playing in tune, put your 3rd finger in the first position playing note D on A string, then move your hand into the third position, substituting the third finger with the first, so the pitch stays the same. If it is not the same, listen and adjust accordingly.

Another option to find out if you are playing in tune or need to adjust the pitch is to compare the note which you play with the first finger to the next lower open string. The first finger plays an octave above the next lower string. 

When you have finally found the right pitch, look at your left hand and remember its shape. Anytime you want to shift into the third position, put your left hand in the same shape to sound in tune.

How to find third position

The wrist slightly touches the violin’s body

Playing in third position on A string

To find 3rd position, place your third finger on D note and then substitute it with your first finger by moving your hand up along the neck. The notes in 3rd position will be D, E, F, and G.

Playing in third position on G string

  1. To find the 3rd position on the G string, place your third finger in the 1st position playing C note.
  2. Substitute the same C note with the first finger by moving your hand up along the neck.  
  3. The notes in 3rd position are C ( first finger), D ( second finger), E ( third finger), and F ( fourth finger).
  4. Make sure you have the correct left hand angle while playing on the G string ( move the left-hand elbow to the right ensuring your fingers stay round when playing on the G string)

Books that I recommend to learn and study third position on the violin

This book will help you to understand and learn third position on the violin through specific exercises and relevant short exercises that are designed to teach specific concepts.

For each exercise, there is a short piece that will help you to strengthen the skill you’ve just learned in the most practical way possible. After you have mastered your skill, it will be much easier to use it in different songs and music repertoire.