If you’ve just picked up the violin for the first time, you’re probably eager to get started with some easy songs to play! This list will give you a balanced mix of pieces from different genres and styles.
Some of them are great for if you’re literally playing your first few notes and some are for when you’re ready to take on a bit more of a challenge!
How I chose the songs for this list?
These songs have been chosen because they are widely known to most people. It’s important to start learning on songs that you know the tune to, as you can use your ears to determine if your notes are sounding correct! Unless you have a private teacher, you will need to be able to critique yourself by listening.
All of these suggested songs can be played in first position, have minimal string crossings, simple rhythms and are relatively short in length. Prepare to be quickly rewarded with a completely playable song!
Starting with some basic nursery rhymes to get a feel for the instrument, we have “Hot Cross Buns”, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, and “Twinkle Twinkle”. Note that any open strings (no fingers) are marked with a zero.
I’ve also included a brief snapshot of the violin neck and the relevant finger positions as a simple guide for you to work through the following tunes with.
These are the best violin songs for beginners that are easy to learn and play:
- Hot Cross Buns
- Mary Had a Little Lamb
- Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
- Coldplay – Viva La Vida
- Ludovico Einaudi – Experience
- John Legend – All of Me
- Antonin Dvorak – Largo (New World Symphony)
- Ludwig van Beethoven – Ode to Joy
- Johann Pachelbel – Canon in D
- Jingle Bells
Hot Cross Buns
Probably the easiest song you can learn on the violin that involves only one string and two fingers! You can use your string of choice for this one and simply play 2-1-0, 2-1-0, 0-0-0-0, 1-1-1-1, 2-1-0. The below example is shown on the A string.
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Slightly longer, this song also only requires one string and two fingers! With more frequent finger changes, this is a great next step. Pick a string and play 2-1-0-1, 2-2-2, 1-1-1, 2-2-2, 2-1-0-1, 2-2-2-2, 1-1-2-1, 0.
This version uses the A string but the melody can be completed with the same finger pattern on any string.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Have you ever noticed the tune for singing the alphabet is the same as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?” With a few extra string crossings thrown in, and the addition of the third finger, this is the perfect song to start rounding out your playing with.
I recommend playing this song starting with the open A string, then the open E string (A-A-E-E), as the upper strings suit the sweet nature of this piece.
Let’s move onto some more popular tunes that are sure to go down a treat when you’re looking to show off your new talent with friends and family.
Coldplay – Viva La Vida
Coldplay’s hit song which had everyone falling for its stellar violin riff is easier to play than you think! Using only four notes you can impress your friends and delight your ears with this dazzling riff.
The repeated tones you’ll need for this one are D, E, A, and F#. You should know the rhythm already but if you’re struggling with the timing I recommend listening to the song before you play.
Ludovico Einaudi – Experience
Contemporary and minimalist composer of our time, Ludovico Einaudi has created an effortlessly stunning melody which you’ve probably become familiar with through epic films or advertisements.
Simply repeat 2-2-3-2 three times, and round off with 2-1-2-3 on any string and you have a masterpiece!
John Legend – All of Me
With plenty of repeated tones, and undeniably familiar, this song is a really fun beginner piece. We’re also going to be introducing a new finger position here called Low 2 (L2), which can be played by keeping the second finger right next to the first, rather than extending higher.
To execute the intro simply play on the D string: 1-1-1, L2-L2-L2, 1-1-1, 0-0-0. The verse and chorus only use first position as well making it very doable although slightly longer if you wanted to play the whole song.
Checking out some classical favorites for the traditionalists among us, we have “Largo,” “Ode to Joy” and Canon in D!
Antonin Dvorak – Largo (New World Symphony)
Simple, classic, and only using two fingers. This timeless Dvorak melody can bring tears to the eyes of enchanted listeners.
With a few string crossings thrown in, this piece is a slight step up, but its slow pace compensates generously for these challenges. Listening to this piece before playing will definitely help!
Ludwig van Beethoven – Ode to Joy
A classical treat. I would be remiss not to include, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. Although a longer piece, it is fairly repetitive as Line 1 and 2 are the same except for the final bar.
I’ve included green markings to show which notes should be played on the D string and blue for the A string.
Johann Pachelbel – Canon in D
Pachelbel’s “Canon” is a wonderfully rewarding piece to learn as it has such an elegant soaring melody which you could repeat a hundred times over and not get bored of.
Here we will be beginning on the E string (marked in yellow) and moving onto the A string (marked in blue).
To wrap up with a fun and spirited little melody, we have “Jingle Bells!”
Typically performed in December, this high-spirited tune can be practised during any time of the year. The trickiest part for this one will be the string crossing in bar 3 where the third finger will hop from the A string to the D string one note after another.
I recommend practising moving the third finger back and forth between the strings without the bow so you can focus solely on the left hand’s transition before playing the whole piece with the bow.
Hopefully this list has given you a taste for some of the violin’s magnificent potential and a repertoire of pieces to have under your belt for when a performance arises.
As you advance in your playing you can even return to these short songs as warmups or for enjoyment.