Even though the violin does not have visible frets, it is still set up as a grid.  To the naked eye it is just one black fingerboard but to an experienced violinist it is home to a beautiful systematic web of pitches.

Positions on the violin is a system of knowing where you are on the instrument. First position is the position that is learned first and is where the first finger is closest to the scroll (except for half position but this is learned later in the violin journey and is really a position of convenience.)

Third position is typically the next position to learn and is found by putting the first finger on the third finger’s home.

In the video, below I describe the positions and how to find them on the instrument.



Violin position knowledge and playing experience allows for more effortless playing of difficult pieces. It allows violinists the freedom of expression and exploring different colors and moods of pitches; for example, an “F#” on the E string is very bright and the same “F#” on the A string in third position is much more mellow.

The same goes for an “F#” on the D String in first position sounds nice but the same pitch on the G string played by the third finger in fourth position has a much richer sound.

Position knowledge is an absolute necessity for orchestral playing and upper position knowledge is a MUST for playing first violin section of orchestras.


While learning positions it is absolutely imperative that you know where your thumb lives. The thumb has a home in first, second third, fourth and fifth. After fifth it is only very small adjustments but no more moving. After this it is more of a stretching between the thumb and index finger.

Make sure while playing pieces and moving around in your positions that your thumb is truly in its home. Intonation is completely thrown out the window if you are in third position but your thumb is in second. You are basically setting yourself up for some pretty sour notes if your thumb is not in it’s position home.

Typically a violinist learns first position first, then third and fifth positions and finally second, fourth, sixth and seventh positions.

Enjoy getting to know your positions. When studying positions….make sure to get comfy cozy in the position home. Once you feel like you are curled up in a comfy chair with a hot cup of tea in a specific position- then you know the position home.

I would love to hear from you! What is your favorite position and why? What is the next position on your list to learn?

Happy Magical Practices,


Seven Position Study on the violin in Eight Weeks with violinist, Heather Broadbent.

LIVE accelerated programme August 1- September 30, 2017.

Traditionally it can take 3 – 5 years to learn what is taught in this programme in 8 weeks.

Program pre-requsitie: Playing knowledge of one position outside of first position.

Discover more here.

Program Pre-requisite: Solid playing knowledge in Third position.

Heather is a classically trained concert violinist performing with the Gabrovo Chamber Orchestra in Bulgaria. She received her BM violin performance degree from CU -Boulder, studied with top teachers including Rachel Barton Pine. Ms. Broadbent has held leadership positions with multiple orchestras in the Greater Chicago-Milwaukee area. She has instructed thousands of violinists globally via youtube videos, online Academy, E-Courses, group coaching and one on one intensives. Heather’s students have won multiple awards, concerto competitions, held concertmaster positions in orchestras and even performed in Carnegie Hall. Heather is an advocate of a holistic violin lifestyle – putting one’s mind, body and spirit as a violin journey priority.

Heather Broadbent


4 replies
  1. Marikoli
    Marikoli says:

    Thanks for this article! I’m learning to shift now, so this is of course interesting for me. 🙂 For now, I think I like 2nd position most. It seems to ring the most. I especially like playing on the A and E string in 2nd position.
    As for the next position I will be learning, it will be 4th position. I’ve been focusing on 3rd, 2nd and 5th so I will soon start focusing on 4th position.
    For learning 3rd and 5th position I used your Position Mastery Books which are amazing! I feel pretty confident in those positions even after playing the violin for less than 2 years! Thanks to your books and videos 🙂

    • Heather Broadbent
      Heather Broadbent says:

      Awesome Marikoli! So great to hear. Fourth position is the next position book I will be writing. The book writing process takes so much time. The Master Second Position with Finger Patterns two volume series took way longer than expected to write because of the two volumes. It is completely time consuming. When I am in the book writing process everything else goes on the back burner and there just isn’t time for anything else.

      You may notice, I even disappear off of social media and the not so present in the study group. Even with a virtual assistant helping out it is a lot of work. So, I can’t even guesstimate when the Master Fourth Position with Finger Patterns will be available. I am still recovering from writing Master Second Position:)

      I suspect that Master Fourth Position may not take as long of a book writing process as Master Second Position but I am always surprised at what “pops” up. I do have a shifting book in rough draft mode as well. I just need 10 of me 🙂

      You are doing a great job. It is so much fun to see your progress. xoxo


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