Efficiently Practicing Intonation

How to improve intonation on the Violin


Like in many things in life, there is no other variable, which is as strong as this one! Regularity will not only make you feel the process of getting better in a smooth linear matter, but it will also improve your overall ability to deliver on demand. We should look at practicing intonation like a marathon, not a sprint. Small doses regularly are x-times better than big intonation practice chunks placed irregularly on your practice schedule!


Playing scales for example is one of the best exercises on the violin to practice many aspects of the violin technique, but without the focus on ONE thing at the time, they can be a waste of time entirely. If we practice intonation, we want the focus to be right there, where we need it. Therefore we must get rid of factors, who interfere with our focus!

  1. Play as slow as needed to hear the perfect intonation, too slow is better than too fast, because the fast tempo will draw your focus to other difficulties.
  2. Don’t vibrate as long as you focus on intonation. This way your ears or your chromatic tuning device can recognize the correct pitch without any distraction.
  3. Have a good posture and prepare your bow arm, so that you don’t have to focus on constantly correcting the bow.

Quick Tip:

Bow exercises need a lot of attention and focus, that is why I do them at the start of a practice session, before I practice other things, like intonation


Our goal as violinists is that we want to be in control of our intonation, usually in the pure temperament, with our ears as the only guidance. But as long, as we can’t hear perfectly in tune in any temperament, it will not hurt to practice the circulating temperament, which most electronic tuning devices are calibrated to. When practicing with an electric tuning device, we have to make micro-adjustments with our fingers of the left hand. This trains our finger muscles to be able to act and react in a precise matter that we also need, when we use our own ears as guidance.


Be aware of the harmonies in the music you are practicing. You don’t have to name them, but know how they sound! Playing a note on the violin without the harmony in mind, can lead to improper intonation. Playing with a pianist is one of the best and if done proper one of the most pleasing practices any violinist can do. When you hear the harmonies from a well tuned instrument, you can follow the overtones and place your beautiful violin sound on top of that!

In the video I dive into some exercises, which can improve your intonation on the violin!

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