In this Amazing Grace violin tutorial you won’t only learn how to play the song Amazing Grace, but you will also learn some concepts about upbeats and anchor fingers that you can use for almost any song you will be playing later on!
I personally think that Amazing Grace is one of the perfect beginner songs for violin. It is quite challenging but not impossible for beginner violinists and it’s a beautiful song. If you learn the concepts behind this song, it will be really beneficial for any beginning violinist. Especially anchor fingering won’t be easy, but once you have got it, you will grow so much in your playing!
Firstly, I you can download the sheet music to use when you are watching or reading the Amazing Grace violin tutorial and after that I will give you a few tips on how to study this song.
Amazing Grace Violin Sheet Music
Before you start watching or reading the tutorial, make sure to download the sheet music first. You can find the sheet music and the explanation on how to read the notes in the Violinspiration Songbook. (You don’t have to actually be able to read notes to read my simplified sheet music).
Now, let’s get started with the Amazing Grace violin tutorial
Amazing Grace Violin Tutorial
You will see that the music starts with a kind of “lost note’ in the beginning. This is called an upbeat. An upbeat is defined an unaccented beat preceding an accented beat. For this song, it means that we don’t want to have the accent on the first note (the open a string), but on the second (the 3th finger on the a string). We can do this by consciously choosing our bow direction.
A down-bow is bowing with your hand down towards the floor. An up-bow is bowing up towards the ceiling. When we are playing a downbow, accented or stronger beats naturally occur. In this song we want to start with an upbow, so we will play a downbow on the stronger beat (3th finger on the a string).
You can apply this explanation about upbeats in almost all songs that have an upbeat. So the next time that you will see any song that starts with an upbeat, make sure to start with an upbow.
In the first passage, make sure to leave the 3th finger on the A string and the first finger on the E string down on the string, after you have played these notes the first time.
It will make playing the part much easier, because the only thing you should focus on is changing strings. This concept of keeping fingers down is called anchor fingering. Anchor fingering helps to improve intonation and reduce excess finger motion.
I see many of my students not keeping their fingers on the string, which results in not being able to play as fast and in tune as they would like to have the song sound.
Maybe it will feel a little bit awkward to leave your fingers down right now, but in the future it will help you with so many violin pieces. If you want to play faster in more advanced songs, it becomes really important to ‘prepare’ a passage by already putting your fingers in the right place.
I would encourage you to start practicing this right now!
A problem you might encounter, is that you will get a squeaky sound.
You will HAVE to have a very good left hand position to be able to use these anchor fingers. If you aren’t playing at the tip of your fingers or your hand isn’t raised enough, you will sound squeaky.
If this happens to you, make sure raise your hand a little and really make sure to play on the tips of your fingers. If you have long nails, you will have to cut your nails because otherwise it will be impossible for you to get your fingers into the right position.
Another place in this piece where we encounter anchor fingering is the 8th bar. There you will see a passage where you are alternating between the first and the 3th finger. The first finger should be left on the string like an anchor finger again. In this way it will be easier to play in tune.
The loooong note
The fourth untill the 8th bar are almost exactly the same as the first few bars, but in the end the passage ends with a very long note (the A/third finger on the E string).
Make sure bow too quickly, because when you do you won’t have enough bow left over to play the full length of the note. Bow as slow as possible, without losing tone quality. If your playing starts to sound scratchy, you might be playing too slow.
In contrast, the note after the very long note, should be played with a lot of bow. In this way you will make sure to end at the frog (beginning of the bow) again. Try to use a lot of bow, but not emphasize the note too much. Try to play as light as a feather on your way back.
The fermata on the last note
On the last note of the song, you will see a symbol. This symbol is called a fermata. This means that the note is sustained longer than its customary value. You can hold the note for as long as you desire. So see what feels good for you!
I hope you enjoyed this Amazing Grace violin tutorial! I wish you all very good luck learning this fun and challenging song!