What Popular Songs Can I Play on The Violin? - Updated!
Once you learn rudimentary violin techniques – positioning, posture, bowing, fingering, etc. – odds are you’ll put those skills to use playing basic classical pieces, and some familiar nursery rhyme-style tunes. While it’s always a good feeling to hear a song come to life from underneath your fingertips, it’s more inspiring to play popular songs that you know and love.
The following are a list of popular, mostly-contemporary, music favorites that are within your reach – even as a beginner.
In most cases, the song titles we’ve linked to are intentionally arranged for beginners, meaning they may not “have as many notes” or flourishes as the original melody lines. However, sheet music provides a solid foundation from which you can branch out as you improve your ear training and improvisation skills.
Movies, Show Tunes, and Disney
Many of the songs used for movie soundtracks, show tunes, and Disney movies have beginner versions. For example:
- Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Harold Arlen). This one spreads across two categories - movie and pop - since famous Ukelele player, IZ, re-popularized it. When you click on the link provided, you’ll find variations for Hawaiin style, solo, or to practice with a string quartet.
- A Whole New World (from Aladdin). With Disney’s latest launch of the movie form of its popular 90s cartoon, the music from Aladdin is back in style. It’s signature song, A Whole New World, is one of those.
- Game of Thrones Theme (Ramin Djawadi). The Game of Thrones epic TV series has become a household addiction worldwide, and its theme is hauntingly beautiful. Here is a video tutorial, and we also recommend watching this video by the hit duo, 2Cellos.
Country, Bluegrass, and Fiddling Favorites
While some children and young adults spend their lives at very formal, classical music competitions, others travel around competing in Bluegrass/folk-style fiddling contests. There, you’ll see very young and incredibly talented string musicians of all types as they perform country and fiddling favorites that have become part of our culture’s standards.
- Cripple Creek. We like this online tutorial for learning Cripple Creek because it emphasizes the importance of practicing scales in the key signature for the piece to warm up and orient your fingers before jumping into a song.
- Anne’s Reel. On this video, the instructor shows the difference between Bluegrass and Irish-style fiddling, helping her hear the variation in how violins/fiddles are played. Don’t be put off by the speed of play. Start at a slow, even tempo and take it measure-by-measure. The repetitive nature of folk tunes means you learn a few phrases, perfect them, and then learn to speed them up.
- Where the Green Grass Grows (Tim McGraw). The violin solo in Where the Green Grass Grows is a sweet one because it’s not too fast, but sounds great along with the track. In the version we linked to above, the piano part mimics the violin on the original release.
Pop and Hip Hop for Beginner Violinists
Looking for current radio hits to get you inspired?
- Firework (Katy Perry). You can watch a free video tutorial Here. YouTube is a vast resource of free tutorials for musicians of all kinds. It’s an excellent go-to place whenever you’re looking for some tips on how to play particular songs.
- Believer (Imagine Dragons). Here’s a video tutorial to help you listen and learn. And here’s another version of Believer, performed by the violin/cello/bass trio, Simply Three.
- Life in Technicolor (Coldplay). Plenty of Coldplay songs have violin parts in them, and this is one of them.
Learning to play songs you enjoy listening to feeds the fire of inspiration when music instructors or orchestra class has you playing songs you don’t know – or don’t like. Ready to learn more? Click Here for a list of more popular, beginning violin favorites.
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