When you first pick up this great instrument, naturally, you want to be able to play some tunes. Of course, at first, it isn’t possible. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” might have been the first you attempted. But once you have mastered a few basic violin techniques, you might be ready to be a bit more adventurous.
So, the question is, “What popular songs can I play on the violin?” Well, you have to be realistic; you can’t expect the Bruch Violin concerto to be within your grasp just yet. Although, if you work hard one day, it will be.
Practice Makes Perfect?
That is a total fallacy, I am afraid. “Good” practice makes perfect; bad practice puts you back. So, when you learn these songs, concentrate on getting your technique right first and foremost.
The tendency can sometimes be to forget the technique and compromise to get it to sound better. That can be the case, especially if people are listening. But don’t fall into that trap. With the violin, the technique is everything.
From your posture to finger placement to your bowing technique, it all requires constant “good” practice. So, I will say again; your practice is only valuable if you’re doing it correctly.
Are You Ready to Take The First Steps?
Beginning to select some popular songs to learn and play on the violin is a bit like learning to walk. It will be a problem at first, but as you get better, it gets easier.
If you have progressed, you are ready to make your first choices for songs to play. This is always an exciting time for a young musician. But it can also be a little bit daunting.
There are so many songs to pick from, and no doubt you have your favorites. But you have to be a little realistic. As I said, Bruch comes a bit later. So, let’s see if we can’t find a few popular songs you can play on violin that fulfill the following:
- They need to be fun to play.
- They need to be easy.
- You need to like the songs.
- They need to test your skills a bit.
Okay then, have you applied Rosin to the hair on your bow? Is your Violin in tune? Time to Rock n Roll (well, almost).
Sheet music showing the basic melody is available, but rarely in Violin format. However, it is okay if you buy or read any music that will show the notes for the basic tune. Let’s start.
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
The Wizard of Oz
Today this is considered a pop song, even though it was written in 1939. It is certainly one of the most well-known and loved songs from musicals. It sounds great on the Violin. But it will test your bowing skills.
In the first measure, it travels across the D string to complete a low C to a high C octave. A good way to start to learn this skill is to try crossing the D on open strings. When you can do it comfortably, then add the fingering.
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
by The Beatles
Just about everyone knows this song unless you’ve been on Mars for the last 50 years. Maybe not the best Beatles song but certainly one of the most recognizable. This is one of those popular songs played on a Violin I have heard, and it sounds excellent.
Another one early on that will offer a challenge. Take care with the key change and the tempo change from 3/4 to 4/4. It might be a good idea to clap along with the timing at first before you start playing. That will help you get a feel for the song.
Stairway to Heaven
by Led Zeppelin
This is an interesting choice, and there are a couple of reasons I have included it. Firstly, apart from being well-known, it has a great melody line that suits a Violin.
Secondly, you have the voice of learning either the melody or one of John Paul Jones’ three recorder tracks. Yes, there are three to choose from – the bass, tenor, or soprano recorder parts. And all of them suit the Violin. Additionally, tempo changes at the end also add an extra challenge, which makes it a great track to get your teeth into.
Everything I Do (I Do It For You)
by Bryan Adams
Time to slow it down and give you something modern but easier. Just a great tune here. No tempo or key changes; you can learn to play it as it is. Bryan Adams was one of the co-writers for this song that was released on two albums simultaneously. First, on his album, “Waking up the Neighbours,” and also on the soundtrack of “Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.”
Let’s Try A Few Classical Pieces
The Violin makes a huge contribution to every genre of music. From Pop, Rock, Country through to Folk. But it is Classical music for which it was designed. And it is playing classical pieces that it is heard at its best. Therefore, to answer the question, “What Popular Songs Can I Play On The Violin?” we need a few examples from that genre.
Minuet Number 2
This has an impressive opening arpeggio that will allow you to show off a bit once you have mastered it. Practice very slowly at first, and don’t try to rush it. You can speed it up as you improve. This is a good song for practicing violin bow techniques and getting complete control of the bow.
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
Let’s stay with Bach for one more from one of music’s great masters. This hardly needs any introduction. It is commonly heard played by Violin and suits the instrument perfectly. Once again, not the easiest piece but one that will improve your skills as you begin to master it.
Ode To Joy
It would not be appropriate to exclude something from the German master. This part of his famous 9th Symphony is stirring and uplifting. Written in 1824 when he was stone deaf, the musical theories he embedded in the piece defies belief. A great song for the Violin that every player should know. And one that will impress wherever it is played.
My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
Viva La Vida – Coldplay
Perfect – Ed Sheeran
A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
Fix You – Coldplay
All of Me – John Legend
Say You Won’t Let Go – James Arthur
Firework – Katy Perry
Titanium – David Guetta ft. Sia
We Found Love – Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Rolling in the Deep – Adele
Someone Like You – Adele
The Prayer – Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion
You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
Lean on Me – Bill Withers
Stand By Me – Ben E. King
Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel
Yesterday – The Beatles
Let It Be – The Beatles
All You Need Is Love – The Beatles
Eleanor Rigby – The Beatles
Yesterday – The Beatles
Hey Jude – The Beatles
When I’m Sixty-Four – The Beatles
She Loves You – The Beatles
Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
Love Me Tender – Elvis Presley
Autumn Leaves – Joseph Kosma
La Vie en Rose – Edith Piaf
Fly Me to the Moon – Frank Sinatra
The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
My Funny Valentine – Rodgers & Hart
Misty – Erroll Garner
Take Five – Dave Brubeck
Blue Bossa – Kenny Dorham
The Girl from Ipanema – Antonio Carlos Jobim
Autumn in New York – Vernon Duke
I Got Rhythm – George Gershwin
Summertime – George Gershwin
Rhapsody in Blue – George Gershwin
Looking to Get Better at the Violin?
We can help you with that. Take a look at our helpful articles on Tips For Tuning Your Violin, How to Replace Your Violin Strings, A Guide to Choosing the Right Violin Strings, Easy Violin Songs for Beginners to Play, and How Can I Learn to Play the Violin on My Own for more useful information.
You may also want to check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Cremona Violins, the Best Violin Strings, the Best Electric Violins, the Best Student Violins, the Best Violin Rosins, the Best Violin Bows, or the Best Violin Cases you can buy in 2023.
What Popular Songs Can I Play On The Violin – Final Thoughts
That ought to keep you going for a while. I have resisted the urge to make suggestions for very simple songs to play. And there are a variety of pieces. You won’t find John Lennon rubbing shoulders with Bach and Beethoven in many places.
But they all will make you think and work hard and hopefully improve your technique. And remember, it is “good” practice that makes it perfect.
Until next time, let your music play.