Learning to play a string instrument like the violin takes a lot of practice. During the first year of training in particular, beginner violin students can find it a challenge to cope with all of the new ideas. Not only must you learn new physical skills, if you’ve never studied music before, there are a number of new musical concepts to grasp, such as notation and intonation. These skills take time to develop.
Fortunately, technology can make your path a little easier. Although the violin is centuries old, there are a number of new ways to learn its fundamentals. Since new mobile apps and online sites for violinists are being developed every year, we decided it was time for an update on ways to use technology to advance your music theory and violin skills. Apps like these give violin students a fun way to enhance training and master new concepts faster for accelerated development.
We’ve marked the new additions to our list below and updated the awesome apps that still make the cut. There’s valuable information regardless of whether this is your first time through the post.
USE WITH YOUR VIOLIN
MYONGAKU – VIOLIN VOLUME 1
This is an iPhone app designed to help beginner violin students get the most from their practice sessions. Designed with the Suzuki method and developed by a number of teachers and performers, this free app has over 500 video lessons that complement the Suzuki School, Volume 1 sheet music. It includes note-by-note annotations and emphasizes fundamental concepts of correct rhythm, fingering, posture, and bowing techniques.
Update: This app still rocks – with a 4.9-star rating from the App Store. Since we first looked at it, it’s improved user’s ability to download.
SYNCSCORE: CLASSICAL MUSIC + SCORE
Another free iPhone, iPod app, Syncscore has tons of free classical compositions that enable you to listen and read notation as the music is played. It includes a play-along option and auto-scrolling for all of the full-length tracks included.
Update: The developers have improved the sound quality and expanded their amazing library, which now includes Bach cello suites and Mozart’s piano variations.
This android app is perfect for beginner violin students. Although it was designed for pianists, it helps students learn their scales and the notes. It includes a repetition options that makes it easy to develop your ear. You can customize the tempo of the scales so that you can play along as you view the notes. Get it at the play store for free or download the plus version that includes more scales and arpeggios.
Update: While originally designed for pianists, you can now change the sound it plays in, so you can hear the scales on strings.
MUSIC LIFEBOAT PRESENTS PLAY LIKE A PRODIGY: LEARN VIOLIN
This free iPhone app helps benefit the Harmony Project, a charitable organization whose goal is to bring free, exceptional “music education to the world.” Receive video instructions from Virtuoso Musician Vijay Gupta, who plays with the LA Philharmonic. The lessons cover fundamental tasks like bowing position and how to expand your left hand as well as playing advanced techniques.
Update: This app remains a rich learning source for beginning violinists, although it’s not been updated since 2016. That doesn’t mean the content is still valuable, just worth keeping in mind. Another option is to check out Udemy’s Beginner Violin Court – Violin Mastery from the Beginning, which is 13 hours of on-demand video instruction available on mobile or online. The “official” list price is $199.99, but it always seems to be on sale for less than $20 (it was selling for $11.99 when this was written).
NEW CHROMATIC TUNER APP SUGGESTION!
CLEARTUNE – CHROMATIC TUNER
is the $3.99 app used by professional musicians from all genres. One reason for its popularity with professionals is the unmatched accuracy of its pitch. Its pitch accuracy is also the first reason why beginners will love it. The app also includes features useful for beginners, such as pitch pipe feature that can play any note the student wants, to transposition that helps them change the key of their violin. It’s available for both Apple and Android devices.
USE WITHOUT YOUR VIOLIN
INTERVAL RECOGNITION-EAR TRAIN
This Android app offer excellent training for detecting intervals, clusters (harmonic), phrases, modes / scales, tuning and perfect pitch. With intuitive questions that challenge beginner violin students and allow you to choose the focus of your quizzes according to specific notes or intervals, this free app is a great way to help build your ear recognition, and your intonation.
Update: This app remains highly rated at 4.4 stars with nearly 800 reviews. It’s also added some new Perfect Pitch exercises. This app only plays piano and MIDI sounds. If you want to try an ear training app designed specifically for violinists, check out Violin Ear Training by Short Neck Giraffe. The app (iOS only) has a game format where you respond to questions by playing your violin. It has beginner and advanced levels.
NEW APP SUGGESTION FOR LEARNING TO READ SHEET MUSIC!
Actually, we just put together a new list of five fun, effective apps that help anyone learn to or improve their sheet music reading ability. The range includes free options to those with a monthly subscription fee. Here’s the full list of the Best Apps and Games for Learning to Sight Read Music.
NEW APP SUGGESTION!
Want to learn music theory or test your knowledge? Music Theory Helper both instructs and provides exercises to help you improve your understanding of topics from the cycle of fifths to articulation. It has a 4.4-star rating with nearly 5000 reviews and it’s now entirely free.
THE STRAD MAGAZINE – ESSENTIAL READING FOR THE STRING MUSIC WORLD
Filled with wonderful articles about violinists around the world, this free iPhone app can fill your leisure time with professional advice and keep you up-to-date on the latest string music industry happenings. It features tons of videos, interactive links, and full color photos. Perfect for any string musician, the 30-day trial is free, and afterwards, requires a subscription.
Update: First published in 1890, Strad remains a rich font of all matters string-related. You can get the digital version for any platform, including Kindle, as well as Android and iOS.
We want to know what your favorite music theory and string apps are. What app do you love that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know so we can include it in our next round up.