Violin fingering, notes and finger placement on A string

Violin fingering

The violin has four strings: G, D, A, and E, from lowest to highest. We tune them in perfect fifths. Thus, if we are on the G string, the fifth note, played with the fourth finger on the G string(4th string), is note D, equal to open string D( third string). The fifth note on the D string is A, identical to the open A. And finally, the fifth note on the A string is E, corresponding to the E string.

In the beginning of your violin journey, you probably wonder what is violin fingering and where to place your fingers on the fingerboard. First of all, we will have to understand that there are three basic left-hand positions on the violin. In the beginning, we usually learn how to play in the first position. It is the position where the left hand is close to the scroll or the nut. Each specific location of the left hand is called a position, which allows us to play the violin in tune by finding exact pitches related to this position.

How can I find first position on the violin?

First position is the most fundamental position for all violinists. It is the first hand position which we learn in the beginning of our violin journey. We call it the first position because it is the first stop on the fingerboard where we place our first finger. If we are on A string, the first stop on the fingerboard after open A is B, this is where we put our first finger. 

violin fingerboard with notes

Violin does not have frets, practice intonation instead.

If you play guitar, you will quickly realize that the violin is a bit more complicated instrument. It doesn’t have frets or marks like a guitar does. So it is more challenging to play in tune from the very beginning. In violin fingering we have to rely on our ears. Therefore, many beginners use a fingering chart, or they place sticky finger tapes on the fingerboard, which show where to place your fingers. The second way to play in tune is to pay closer attention to intonation. However, this will only work if you can hear the right pitch. If you do, you can continue training your ear, and then playing in tune will become much easier for you because your intonation will improve. Consequently, your fingers will develop muscle memory, so they will know where to fall on the fingerboard.

Let's summarize

Let’s briefly summarize what you know. In violin fingering, the first position is where you place the first finger to produce the next successive note after any open string such as G, D, A, and E. As you can guess, every next finger you put on the fingerboard will ring the next consecutive note.

Accidentals: sharps, flats, naturals

Let’s go to the A string and find out what notes we can play in the first position. Here is a violin fingering chart for the A string and a photo of the left hand with fingers placed on the fingerboard. The first finger placed on the string A will sound note B, the second finger- note C or C# ( C sharp), the third one will produce note D, and the last one, the pinkie, – note E. If you are not yet familiar with the (♯) symbol, it means that this symbol raises the pitch to a half step higher, and you still playing it with the same finger moving it half step further. The (♭) flat symbol, is similar but the opposite one. It lowers the pitch by a half step so you would move your finger in the opposite direction. Any sharps or flats we usually play with the same finger which we move in different directions: half-step lower for flats (♭) or half-step higher for sharps #. By the way, any sharps # or flats ♭ are called accidentals in the music world. There is one more accidental which you might find when playing music, and it is (♮) – natural. It doesn’t raise or lower the pitch. Instead, it returns the previously altered note to its original or natural pitch within the same measure.

violin fingerboard with notes
All fingers on A string

Playing B note on A string

Look at this image on the right. A violinist is playing a B note on A string. All his fingers are rounded and relaxed. The thumb is rounded too and slightly touches the neck of the violin. The wrist is slightly bent and relaxed. The hand is close to the scroll when your hand is in the first position.

Playing B note on A string

C# on A string with the second finger

Playing C# on A string. The distance between B note and C# is a whole tone, therefore we have to place 2nd finger slightly further. The first finger stays on the string even if you are not using it. We want to make sure that if you go back to B note, the finger will still be there. 

playing C# on A string

D note on A string

D note on A string. As you can see, the distance between second and third fingers are shorter than between first and second fingers. This is because the D note is only a half step higher. Second and third fingers are placed very close and touch each other.

D note on A string

Playing note E on A string

Playing E note on A string. You will have to move closer your pinkie finger knuckle if you have shorter hand so pinkie remains rounded and close to the fingerboard. Avoid tension and don’t panic. The pinkie finger is the weakest finger and requires a little bit of practice.

Playing E note on A string
violin lessons online