How to play the erhu instrument correctly?

Easy phrase to formulate, easy to think but then, when we really want to receive notions that someone who knows in the exact place where you live, things seem a bit complicated . That was the case until the birth of … Come not only to give you the erhu that best suits your budget, but also the most accurate and detailed information possible so that you can learn to run it from today.

In this section we are going to nourish ourselves with a video in particular, which is one of the most visited videos on YouTube about the basic notions of how to play the Chinese violin . It is very well explained and it will be very easy for you to understand from the beginning. We are one of those who see a yes, however tiny, when it comes to learning anything

That is the spirit that we want you to have from today on: we give you the main thing you need to know, and you, with practice, little by little enhance your erhu strumming skills. Many people fail in the attempt, and not because they are useless, but because they start with thoughts of “I can’t”, “this is difficult”, “it’s just that I’m not good at it” , and so on. That’s what we don’t want you to do. Now, let a long and fun adventure begin towards a path with the aroma of “artist”, with the aroma of “erhuista” !

The importance of your left hand and your right hand when playing the erhu

When it comes to playing the erhu, both arms will play a different role. The right hand, the one in charge of holding the bow and making the violin strings vibrate, will be responsible for emitting the sound , while the left arm, with the help of the fingers, will create higher, lower and different tones. types of rhythms typical of oriental music

At 3:21 , you can see how he produces a melody in a long tone with the bow. This consists of traveling a large part of the bow on the violin strings in a prolonged way. There are also the short melodies that, as their name suggests, will be the complete opposite of what you have just seen: the strumming will be minimal and very direct, in which it will barely travel along the arc, exchanging movements to the left and the right

At minute 3:35 , you can see in detail how he produces the tones of the musical scale with his right hand . As you move the bow, you will have to use more than one finger if you are going to play in one key or another, or you will move the same finger a greater or lesser number of times to produce different types of melodies . Based on this, we can interpret different types of techniques:

How to play the erhu slide style?

To do this , you do a first fast strum to the right (right hand) and just at the end, said strum has to be slower, exchanging movements of the index finger down and up continuously . Split the video at minute 3:50 to see in detail this way of strumming the erhu

You can also mix it up by moving your finger higher and lower to give it tonal disparity when playing the erhu in slide mode. Give it a try and please don’t get carried away by perfection. It doesn’t have to be how the person in the video plays it, the idea has to be caught. With practice, you will see that each time you do it better

How to play the erhu in the vibrato style?

From the first moment, you have to move your finger up and down, not only at the end of the strum as you saw above, and that the sound of the bow has a continuous average speed at all times , nothing to start quickly and then go slower, and vice versa. In other words, you have to apply the same tempo for both the strumming and the movement of the fingertips.

Strum speed left and right doesn’t have to be too fast or too slow – in between . Think about what way to play the erhu, what we want to highlight is the wiggle of the end of the index or middle finger, whatever finger you are going to use to vary the musical tone

For you to play a typical Chinese music melody, you are going to proceed to play the same song that the person plays in the video. We will tell you exactly what to do:

How to play the melody “Kit Chan” with the erhu?

First, you are going to place different fingers along the string, while doing left and right movements . When it’s time to vibrato, strum left and right make it a little more leisurely. The wobble of the finger do it higher up the string, that is, the part closest to the headstock of the instrument, and in the lower part, closer to the soundboard

The movements up and down do it a couple of times three at the most , although at least do it twice to go little by little into the dynamics. To make it easier, before playing make subtle movements with the little finger, ring finger and middle finger, respectively . The rest of the song you can see how it develops from minute 4:35 to minute 5:30

PS: Sink your finger over the strings about 1 inch , so as not to risk splitting and that the sound of the erhu is adequate. If you don’t know how much an inch is, change it to centimeters by going to

This video could not be missing on our site, because in addition to giving you basic notions about how to type the erhu, all the teaching is done in a cheerful way, the result of not having a clue, which is something similar to what will happen to you . And as a moral to this we will tell you: what better than to laugh at yourself!

Humor aside, the video details small details such as how to sit when interpreting the erhu. Your right or left leg (depending on whether you are left or right), you are going to put it slightly forward . This will allow you to have the erhu somewhat lower than normal, making it easier for you to play with it.

Before touching it, make sure that the arrangement of the fingers is slightly apart, not too much, and the thumb is located at the back and pointing upwards . From minute 1:22 this is explained in detail. The way to put each of the fingers would be similar to the way the fingers would adopt when grabbing an egg

Other things you have to know is that the trunk is in a more horizontal than vertical arrangement, that is, it is not oriented outwards but more inwards, looking at both arms . It is also explained from minute 1:30 . Orienting it towards your arms, you will be able to make the movements of the bow to the right and left with more precision.

When you proceed to touch the strings of the erhu, always keep this in mind: to get the sound out, make a pressure that is neither too severe nor too loose . In addition, always do the strumming by supporting part of the string on the instrument’s resonance box (minute 1:50)

If you don’t press either finger on the strings , the note you will play is the DO. If you press only once , you will emit the RE . And so on. The lower you strum your fingers on the ropes of the erhu, without deviating too much from the center of it, you will emit the musical scale DA (Re, Mi, Fa, Sol and La), which is the one that comes by default in many erhus that are sell in the market

The following shows how to play a famous song from China called “Racehorse” . The peculiarity here is that so far you have learned to play in D (D Major), and this song has to be played in F (F Major) . That said, to start playing it you have to make left and right movements, and that your ring finger does not stop swinging

Between swinging and strumming to the right and left of the bow, you have to place your index finger on top of the erhu twine (first wiggle) for a second . For a few seconds you do this and, later, you go first posing your index finger, then your middle finger and finally the ring finger. Said movement has to be done quickly (second shake), as can be seen at minute 5:00

Without stopping moving the bow left and right, you pose and quickly remove your index finger from the string (third wiggle). Bottom line: first you do a long bow wiggle, not too fast and not too slow . Afterwards, the second wiggle does not have to be very long, but slower than the first wiggle and, finally , the third wiggle you will have will be just as short, but this time alternating left and right very fast

Next, you have to alternate the positioning of the index, ring and middle fingers successively, with a click of the arc sometimes fast and other times slower (the video starts at minute 5:06 so that you can see this strum in detail)

The rest of the melody is as we have just explained beforehand: After this chime, which we can call the fourth and last wiggle, you are going to make the second wiggle and, later, the first wiggle. Then again the second wiggle and, shortly after, the first wiggle

After this, comes the most difficult part: first, a first strum to the right and only supporting the thumb. Then you rest your middle finger and, seconds later, you swing all your fingers at the same time, holding all on the middle finger

You let go again and leave the rope free of fingers and you return to pose, you do the finger swing. In short: you exchange bow swings without placing fingers on the string, with the index finger resting and wagging the fingers . From minute 5:21 to minute 5:37 you can see in detail this specific form of strumming

We could continue but we are going to stop, for now … Well, more explanations are coming in the future and direct collaborations from erhuistas with their own YouTube channels that also have their own skills and strumming styles. This is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg. We only ask you to be attentive to the next few months

We propose you something! We want you to send us a piece of how you play the erhu ropes, such as the WhatsApp audio file, to our email , or some photos where you can be seen playing the instrument. That as you want. You can also use our contact form

It does not matter that the strumming you do becomes a bit blurred, as happens to our two laughing colleagues with a sense of humor in the video. In the territory of Don Erhuistas and Doña Erhuistas, anything goes, because by daring to touch it, no matter how better or worse it is given to you, you will be giving that first 50% you need to learn to be what we put in double italics above 😉