20 Easy Pop Songs to Learn on the Violin

When learning the violin, you might feel like you spend all of your time learning technique and “academic” music – scales, etudes, and formal pieces. While these are absolutely essential building blocks to your foundation as a violinist, it is important to also throw in a few fun extras that give you permission to be playful and lighthearted.

Adding a few of your favorite pop songs to your practice routine is a great way to keep motivation and entertain your friends and family with something everyone can recognize and even sing along with!

Ranging from radio hits, to inspiring film scores, to timeless classics – here are 20 Easy Pop Songs to Learn on the Violin.

Radio Hits

Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars

Put your dancing shoes on for this one! It’s impossible to listen to Uptown Funk without dancing – “Don’t believe me, just watch!” For this song, the rests are really important to feel and “hear,” this is part of what makes this song so recognizable. To keep the rhythm crisp and the rests clear, keep the notes surrounded by rests short and crisp by using a shorter bow.

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Shape of You – Ed Sheeran

A cool song that everyone will recognize, Shape of You may even have people singing along with you! For the repetitive notes, it can be easy to get lost. A good way to keep track of your place with repetition is to sing the words (out loud or in your head!) so that you play the right number of repeated notes.

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Despacito – Luis Fonsi

This Puerto Rican hit took the world by storm after its release in 2017. Even if you don’t know Spanish, Despacito is instantly recognizable and people love to dance to it! Really internalize the way it sounds and play with your ear rather than getting caught up in the written rhythms.

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Hallelujah – Rufus Wainwright

Hallelujah gained notoriety after being featured in Disney’s film, Shrek. Since then, it has become an iconic song of hope and solace. Grab the tissues – there may not be a dry eye in the house when you play this one. This song is perfect for showing off your beautiful legato bow technique.

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Viva la Vida – Coldplay

Grab a friend for this duet arrangement of Coldplay’s hit, Viva la Vida.  A good tip for learning this one is to remember that most of the rhythms are in unison, or exactly the same, for both violin parts.

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Firework – Katy Perry

Firework is an uplifting and empowering song that inspires you to see your great, unique qualities. This is the perfect song to pair with your practice routine as a reminder of your gifts as a violinist and to never give up!

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What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction

What Makes You Beautiful is upbeat and catchy and will likely get toes tapping and charm the socks off of anyone you play it for. Keep the lyrics going in your head to keep track of yourself when playing repeated notes, like in the first eight measures.

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I’m Yours – Jason Mraz

I’m Yours has a soft spot in most hearts – it’s endearing and so easy to sing along to. Enjoy learning this cool hit! The trick with this one is to avoid getting too caught up in the way the sixteenth-note rhythms look on the page – it’s more about the feel. In the tempo marking, it even says, “Reggae feel.” Play it how it sounds – not how it looks.

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Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5

Moves Like Jagger is another crowd-pleaser that will inevitably get people singing and dancing, maybe even whistling along! With the octave jumps from G to G, there are two possible approaches. You could play using a string crossing, but it may be hard to achieve a clean sounding string crossing. An alternative approach is to play the octave jumps in third position so you’re only playing between the D and A strings.

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Happy – Pharrell Williams

How could you not smile when listening to Happy? It’s impossible to listen to this song and not smile! With the tied notes, don’t worry about keeping them to full value length. A little space between the tied notes is going to be important to keep the rhythm and hear each note articulated.

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Blank Space – Taylor Swift 

No pop music list is not complete without at least one Taylor Swift hit, right? Blank Space is another instantly recognizable hit. The key with this one is to keep the sixteenth notes pairs short and crisp – “play” the rests because they are important to the melody. This is another one that is best to play with the lyrics in mind and play how it sounds, not how it looks.

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Film Music

Harry Potter: Hedwig’s Theme

Nothing sparks the imagination quite like Harry Potter. Don’t get tripped up by the A-sharps – if they are confusing you, think of them as B-flats! Also, ½ position will be your friend for those A-sharps!

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Titanic: My Heart Will Go On

This classic will make people chuckle but at the same time, they will secretly swoon in nostalgia for one of the most heartbreaking songs ever. My Heart Will Go On is a great way to practice long and sustained bows, as well as dramatic dynamic contrasts!

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Game of Thrones: Theme Music

Even though the theme song for Game of Thrones is originally written for viola, that doesn’t mean violins can’t also have fun with it, too! The cool part about this song is that there are no lyrics, so it will be instantly recognizable to your adoring fans. Use nice long bows for the longer held notes.

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Frozen: Let it Go

People may laugh, but secretly they adore this uplifting and empowering song. Enjoy! It may be easy to get tripped up by the rhythms for this one, but…just Let it Go. Play it like you hear it – it helps to sing along while you play it so that you match the lyrics to the rhythms. It also helps if you dress up like Elsa while you play it, too. Just saying.

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Star Wars: Main Theme

Another iconic blockbuster theme song that pleases young and old alike. Be sure to keep the triplets short and to use nice long, legato bows for the theme at measure 12! May the force be with you.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Main Theme

Here’s a pirate joke for you: “Q: Why does it take pirates so long to learn the alphabet? A: Because they can spend years at C!” 

Anybody? No? 

OK. If pirate jokes aren’t your forte (pun intended – not sorry), try learning the theme music from Pirates of the Caribvean instead. Don’t get tripped up by the occasional time signature change – the eighth-note pulse stays the same throughout!

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Timeless Classics

Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles 

Everyone knows the Beatles! In fact, it’s hard to choose just one song from all their iconic hits. Here Comes the Sun is bound to bring a smile to your face and get your friends and family singing along!

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Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland (Wizard of Oz):

A timeless classic, Somewhere Over the Rainbow will even get Grandmom and Grandpop singing along. This is a great song to practice your smooth legato technique!

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Lean On Me – Bill Withers

Another iconic song that unites people in community and brotherhood. A nice thing about this song is that it’s not too fast, so it’s great for practicing longer, smooth bows.

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Have fun!

Enjoy these 20 easy pop songs to learn alongside your other violin music! Each pop song has something special to help you apply the techniques you’re learning in your lessons. Learning pop songs is also a great way to develop your ear when learning music, getting you off the page and into the music. Impress your friends and family and have fun!

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