7 Fun & Unusual Songs for the String Section

Over the last month or so we’ve been exploring fun and popular songs for different sections of the orchestra to practice with. We started this exploration with arguably the easiest instrument to find fun songs to practice with: the guitar.

From there we turned our attention to the vocalists, and gave them a few fun songs to practice their range and rhythm.

After the singers, we started a stroll through the orchestra, beginning with the woodwinds; saxophone, clarinet, and flute, and some popular music that features their unique sound.

Finally, last week we turned out attention to the brass section.

This week we’re going to be taking a look at another section, and some of the best songs for them to practice with in the genres of rock, pop, country, and more. This week, we’re visiting with the violin, viola, and cello of the string section!
As with the rest of the band, practicing is a critical part of any string musician’s life. And, in fact, this may be more true of the string section, thanks to the many complex techniques and skills needed to truly become a master. As most musicians can admit, sometimes finding the motivation to practice can be difficult, especially when you’re stuck practicing the same thing over and over again.

Rather than bore yourself to death, or worse, bore yourself out of practicing, try switching up your practice routine by adding different styles of music to your set, like rock, pop, or country.

And just like with the rest of the orchestra we have talked about, learning to play different songs and genres for the strings will help keep things interesting, while also teaching you new techniques, and making you a much more well rounded musician.

So let’s get to the fun!

Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”

Coming off her second studio album 21, “Rolling in the Deep” was a smash hit for British singer Adele. The song won her three Grammys and propelled her to stardom. Though the original version is more about the drums, piano, and Adele’s incredible vocals, with hardly a string to be heard, it’s actually these elements that make it perfect for the string section.

The bass line is great for the bass or cello, and Adele’s amazing voice can be approximated with the sweet sound of the violin.

Idina Menzel – “Let it Go”

Yes, that “Let it Go.” The one that you couldn’t escape for more than a year after Disney’s Frozen came out. It’s a fairly easy song that’s also catchy and a lot of fun to play! For those very simple reasons it has been tried and covered by instruments from all over the orchestra. The vocal part of this power ballad is ideal for the violin, and will help you channel your inner Disney Princess.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Free Bird”

It doesn’t matter what kind of concert performance you’re at; it could be a philharmonic orchestra, but if requests are being taken, some joker will inevitably call out “Free Bird!” And why not? This power ballad by American rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd has an incredible solo that has earned it the title of most request song, ever!

And don’t let that solo intimidate you. Most of the song has a nice, slow and steady tempo, making it easy to learn and perfect for practice. And when you do get to that solo, just take it slow, and you’ll work it out in no time!

AC/DC – “Thunderstruck”

When thinking about songs for the string section, British rock band AC/DC would not be the first group to come to mind. I would argue that’s just because you’ve never thought about it before! Just look at 2CELLOS’ insane cover of this timeless rock hit; they put the “classical” in classic rock!

Using this to practice your cello will give you the opportunity to try a few different techniques (including picking!). And like many rock songs of the era, it’s fast an intense, so take it slow when you’re learning, but bring that intensity to other songs once you’ve got a feel for it.

Kansas – “Point of Know Return”

When American rock band Kansas first formed, it included one Robby Steinhardt as an integral member of the band. He wasn’t the lead singer, nor did he play one of the more obvious instruments, like the guitar, bass, or drums. Instead, Kansas was formed, intentionally, with Robby playing the violin. To say nothing else about this choice, it certainly gave the band its signature sound, and set them well apart from other rock bands of the time.

Robby’s talents were always on display with the band, but “Point of Know Return” really shows off his talent throughout the song, including a bridge and solo section that is ripe for practicing!

Charlie Daniels Band – The Devil Went Down to Georgia”

No list of songs for the string section would be compete without Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The notes arrive in a frenzy of speed, but don’t let that fool you; the song itself is deceptively simple, using a lot of open strings, no difficult shifting, and is made up mostly of scales and simple patterns.

Start slow and build up your speed as you learn.

Lindsey Stirling – “Crystallize”

I’d like to end this week’s entry with an artist, rather than a particular song. I have chosen to link to the video for “Crystallize,” but I encourage you to explore all of Lindsey Stirling’s music (the video for “Roundtable Rival” is a personal fav). Miss Stirling is at the forefront, and is quickly becoming the face of, a new genre of music: dubstep violin. This new genre is the marriage of centuries old techniques with modern computer-generated music, and it’s unlike anything you’ve every heard before.

Stirling’s technique and attention to detail is obvious in every single recording, as she blends classic standards with new techniques.

And her star is still rising! She’s even collaborated with groups and artists like Pentatonix, Evanescence, and John Legend.