By Neige DeAngelis

I play the violin and have played for most of my life. I play the solo violin, but I’ve also played in a lot of youth orchestras. Sometimes playing in an orchestra, whether it’s a youth orchestra or school orchestra, can be difficult, so I’ve come up with a list of a few violin “hacks” to help you out! Some of these can be used for people who play other instruments, too, but some are specifically for violin. (Sorry other instruments!!)

  1. Fold the page corner. If you have a quick page turn where it’s hard to turn the page fast enough, fold the corner of the page you are going to turn. Fold the corner up, so it sticks out. This makes it easier to grab the page and turn it quickly. Always check that the page is folded before you start playing the piece because sometimes the music will get flattened again!
  1. Keep your bow hold for fast pizz transitions. If you have a section of pizzicato that goes quickly into a section of arco and you can’t switch your bow grip fast enough, just play the whole pizz section with your arco bow grip. You can do this by holding the bow like you’re about to play arco, but stick your index finger out and pluck the strings with it.
  1. Count rests with your fingers. If you have a long section of rests, count the measures using your fingers. You can do this discreetly by keeping your hand in your lap and just putting up a finger for each measure. This is helpful because if you count in your head, you can forget what number you’re on, but if you use your fingers, you can’t lose the number.
  1. Number your measures. If you have a series of measures that are exactly the same thing repeating over and over again, you might lose count of what measure you’re on. To prevent this, write a number over each of the measures so you can count along as you play and keep track of what measure you’re on.
  1. Keep your pencil out of the way. Keep your pencil inside of your music folder/binder during rehearsal instead of leaving it out on your stand. If you leave it on the stand, it could end up in front of the page you’re trying to turn and mess up your page turn.
  1. Don’t put your bow on the stand. Some people like to set their bow down on the music stand during rests. It’s okay to do that during rehearsal, but don’t do that during a concert! It will make an embarrassingly loud clanking noise!
  1. Test a note with pizz. If you have an entrance after a bunch of rests, and you are scared that you will come in out of tune, put your left-hand finger on the string like you are about to play the note. Then, test if it is in tune by plucking the string SUPER QUIETLY! Make sure this is during a section when the other instruments are loud so nobody will hear you!