Using a Scale and Variations to Build Violin Technique

In this post, we will use a C major scale to work on violin third position and different bowing techniques. Take your technical prowess to the next level by using exercises in your practice! Technical studies give you the most efficient way to improve in the shortest amount of time. And finally, variations are the way to keep things interesting!

The Violin Third Position Method Books

The scale itself is a wonderful way to use third position. Our students learn third position with this book:

Third Position for the Violin, Book One
Third Position for the Violin, Book One

For work on playing across strings in violin third position, students can use this book:

Third Position Study Book for the Violin
Third Position Study Book for the Violin

Free Exercises to Go Along with the Third Position Method Books

This free violin sheet music will grow your technique and can help make practicing or teaching more interesting. Click on each image to view a larger version. A PDF version is avaiable at the bottom of the page for download or printing.

Be sure to check out our page of free violin music and the rest of the blog posts for more music that will help you improve!

Violin Scale Study No. 1: Let’s Learn the Scale!

In a two-octave C major scale on violin, there are no sharps or flats in the key signature. You will shift into third position on the A string. Stay in third position until the scale starts to come back down and then shift back to first position on the A string.

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 01

Violin Scale Study No. 2: Smooth, Detached Bows

Play this variation using the smoothest bows you can. Relax your fingers on the bow to help create bow changes that an audience wouldn’t notice. Pay attention to any tension in the rest of your body that might be finding its way into your bow arm. 

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 02

Violin Scale Study No. 3: Bow Rhythms

This exercise is a good warm-up for both hands. Your brain will kick into a higher gear as the rhythms change, which can help develop sight-reading skills. 

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 03

Violin Scale Study No. 4: Double Stops for Intonation

To play double stops well, make sure both fingers are in tune. Stop each string completely with the (curved!) finger that is on it. Play this exercise at an mp dynamic level so that you can hear the notes better. 

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 04

Violin Scale Study No. 5: Slow Up-Bows

This exercise teaches you to slow down on up-bows. Very often, violinists play slow down-bows and quick up-bows, which can result in incorrect rhythms. Having control over your up-bow speed is an essential violin technique!

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 05

Violin Scale Study No. 6: Slurs Across Strings

Keep your bow moving as you cross strings to make a continuous sound. Balance your arm across the two strings that you are crossing. Make sure your arm motion is not too large; use flexible fingers and wrist to help cross the strings.

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 06

Triplets

Triplets are typically indicated by a 3 in italics. Because of this, the triplet marking can get mixed up with finger numbers. 

In Scale Study No. 8, each triplet is notated with a 3, giving you opportunities to be mindful and aware when you read each one. 

Remind yourself that the mark is for a triplet and not a finger number. 

Triplet examples for violin

Violin Scale Study No. 7: Slurs on the Shifts

Next, we tackle shifting during a slur. Keeping your fingers curved while shifting to help you make the cleanest shifts.  

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 07

Violin Scale Study No. 8: Triplets

This exercise has a lot of triplets marked! Now, you can practice reading triplet markings. Be careful; they’re not finger numbers!

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 08

Violin Scale Study No. 9: Bow Speed Study

Bow speed often needs to change for longer or shorter notes. However, it can be difficult to regulate the actual speed of the bow. In this exercise, be mindful of the way your bow slows down for the measures that follow the eighth notes. Then, feel the difference in speed when the eighth notes happen again. 

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 09

Violin Scale Study No. 10: Bow Distribution

This study continues to work on the right hand with a focus on where you are playing on the bow. A long bow take you to the tip, where you will stay to play a measure. Then, another long bow takes you back to the frog, where you will again stay to play a measure. This type of exercise builds great bow control!

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 10

Violin Scale Study No. 11: More Bow Distribution

Similar to the last exercise, this study adds string crossing for more complex bow training. 

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 11

Violin Scale Study No. 12: Staccato

Staccato helps you develop the bow skill of articulation. In addition, staccato is the absolute best method for working on string crossing!

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 12

Violin Scale Study No. 13: Spiccato

Spiccato is a bouncing bow movement where the bow leaves the string (ever so slightly.) Stay close to the string and keep your wrist and fingers relaxed for the best spiccato.

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 13

Violin Scale Study No. 14: Rhythmic Bowing

Finally, we end with a study on speed and rhythmic bowing. The quarter notes allow your brain to rest in between the sixteenth note speed sections. 

C Major Third Position Scale Variations for Violin Page 14

Sign Up to Get Your Free PDF of These Exercises!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Name