December 3, 2006 at 08:30 PM · My hand can't seem to understand what to do. or maybe i don't understand. I have watched violinmasterclass and now i want to know if any of you can give me some clues on how to do colle.

Replies (22)

December 3, 2006 at 09:38 PM · Greetings,

I oposted this a while back.

>The basis of Spiccato is  a martele of colle stroke and this exercise is usefully done before developing Spiccato.

The bow is put on the string four inches above the heel with the fingers curved. Straighten the fingers to make a two inch down bow. Now bend the finger to do a two inch up bow. Practice this exercise about an inch below the middle as well. Do it on three octave scales, four times on each note.. Also do it on open strings and on two stopped open strings. Use tempos starting from mm88 to the crotchet (quarter note) to mm120.

If you are having trouble then start with a pencil not the bow. Practice it everytime you have a spare minute, like in boring classes and so forth,



December 3, 2006 at 11:33 PM · Sarah, Buri covered it but I wanted to add, to make sure you put pressure on the hair, before effecting the quick martele like extension of the fingers--and the reverse motion for the up-colle.

I practice it sort of like Buri suggested, but I just play songs at the nut, in the middle, and at the tip alternating the bow region, and keeping the next hand motion in tact (pulling/pushing). This motion is in the more advanced VMC videos.

And when/if you catch yourself getting sloppy, go back to the frog and again do like Buri suggested until you get the form back in place--it doesn't do any good if you start doing it too fast and mess up the 'bite' or extensions.

I have good nights and bad nights with it, and when/if it gets sloppy I simply start practicing it again in one region rather than trying to get all three regions going.

Finally, as you move towards the middle or tip for the next note, ensure your bow moves gracefully as if you were pulling or pushing a detache for improving your overall bowing--or at least that's what I do--and when I get fast and awkward, force myself to slow back down.


December 3, 2006 at 11:55 PM · Talking about preassure, like in previous post... (actually I try to avoid this word when I teach), there should be also counterpressure in thumb at the same time.

Buri, your pencil exercise reminds me great Stolyarsky's method: he didn't rosin bows of just starters. He thought that this bad scratchy sound might become a habit. Also he thought probably about students' relatives who listen how students practice at home. I read it on russian sites.

December 4, 2006 at 01:26 AM · Greetings,

That`s interesitng Rita. I think the pencil thing is often assumed to be just for beginners but my teacher made me pracitce this way when I enetered college because this area was weak (one of many). It doe shave the advantage of being doable anywhere although if you are a first date I suggets you prioritize paying attention to your objet d`amour. Not sure if colle has even been cited as a trhird part in divorce proceedings.



December 4, 2006 at 02:14 AM · Having just watched a couple that lives with the wolves, I have to see colle as a thing like the lime green car commercial--a thing of beauty.

What was in that punch!


December 7, 2006 at 07:31 PM · This is the way I teach it:

Collé (pinched. Literally, glued)

1. Initially taught on the string in the middle of the bow , then in the lower part of the bow.

2. The finger motion in up bow is virtually identical to picking up a soft, pliable object (such as a piece of cloth). However, on the violin, the motion is made very quickly.

3. Before an up bow collé the fingers should be in up bow position (the fingers are extended). The instant the bow touches the string ”pick up” the bow (using the fingers only) from the string so the fingers go into down bow position.

4. Before a down bow collé the fingers should be in down bow position (fingers curved). The moment the bow touches the string, shoot out your fingers to up bow position, (like throwing away the piece of cloth in No. 2).

5. Because of the pressure exerted by the bow on the little finger, it is advisable to initially practice this bow stroke holding the bow at the balance point.

6. This bow stroke teaches up and down bow position.

December 8, 2006 at 11:18 AM · thanks Bruce.

I tried to practice yesterday, but i must be doing something wrong. the upbow motion went pretty well but my thumb gets in the way so i can't srech out the fingers to do a down bow stroke afterwards. my thumb goes under the bow stick so it locks the motion. i tried to put my thumb on the side of the frog but then i lost the grip. do you have any advice for me?

December 8, 2006 at 04:50 PM · Sarah,

My guess is that your thumb is not following the motion of the fingers. The thumb should bend and unbend.

August 8, 2012 at 12:33 PM · I wanted to revive this thread since I am utterly confused about colle upbow versus downbow. I searched the site and found this thread and decided to revive it. In the book Basics by Simon Fischer it is written exactly like Stephen wrote in his first reply. Then again Bruce states something similar, namely: in a downbow colle you go from curved fingers to straight, whereas in an upbow colle you go from straight fingers to curved. Somehow I find that very puzzling. In the book Basics, Galamian is quoted as calling colle a "pizzicato with the bow". I find that very telling. Indeed when I would pluck a string from the left to the right (as normal pizz) then I would place my finger to the left of the string relatively straight, then pluck the string by quickly curving the finger. When I would pluck a string from the right to the left (never done normally) then I would place my finger to the right of the string relatively curved, then pluck the string by quicly straightening it while brushing over the string (like flicking away a small object). When I play colle, I do very similar motions but then with all fingers and with the bow. So, downbow colle (left to right), fingers relatively straight, catch string with the bow from the left, then suddenly curve the fingers, "pluck" the string with the bow. And, upbow colle (right to left), fingers relatively curved, catch string with bow from the right, then suddenly "flick" away the string by straightening the fingers.

So, you see, I've got it exactly opposite to what Fischer, Stephen, Bruce write: to me it is natural that downbow colle goes from straight to curved, and upbow colle goes from curved to straight. Am I doing it totally wrong, or is there just some misunderstanding?

Confusedly yours,

August 8, 2012 at 03:47 PM · Jean,

Your question is very hard to answer without seeing and hearing you play. In playing around with some hand positions on the bow, the answer to your dilemma may lie in the shape of your hand grip on the bow. If you have a basic "beginning Suzuki" grip with straight fingers and thumbs holding the bow, you will go from straight to curved fingers in a down bow colle'. With a "Russian grip" where fingers and thumb are already curved to hold the bow, one would go from curved to extended/sort of straight in a down bow colle'.

Trust your ears. You want to hear a percussive 'pop' with colle', and you want that sound at all locations - frog, mid, tip. Work with a teacher.

August 8, 2012 at 05:33 PM · Jean, it seems to me like you do have it backwards. I think the confusion is a misunderstanding of the "pizzicato with the bow" metaphor.

It is not the action of the fingers that is similar to pizz, but the action of the bow hair against the string. In both pizz and colle a certain amount of kinetic energy is built up between the string and, in the case of pizz, the fleshy fingertip or, in the case of colle, the bow hair. This energy is released all at once in an energetic POP.

The action of the fingers could also be described as drawing the stick closer to one's palm (curling) and pushing the stick away from one's palm (straightening.)

Regardless of the specifics of one's bow grip, it can be assumed that the palm is more or less oriented to face the floor so, assuming that the hand is relatively stationary and only the fingers are moving, drawing the stick into the palm with a curling motion can ONLY result in an upbow and vice-versa.

August 8, 2012 at 06:32 PM · Can someone (good!) put up a ten second video of themselves doing colle with perhaps four seconds close up of the right hand ...?? (Seriously!)

August 9, 2012 at 09:18 AM · Peter - what is wrong with ALL the videos that already are out there?

See from the 1 minute mark

August 9, 2012 at 10:05 AM · I want to see someone good doing it not some kid with a dubious teacher ...

August 9, 2012 at 11:57 AM · thanks Randy, Mike, I think I've got it. I think you can do it both ways. you can downbow colle more or less like I described it, or you can start with more curved fingers and "push" the bow away to the right by straightening the fingers. vice versa for upbow. both approaches sound about the same with me. but more generally it is of course true that bowing with the fingers is straightening down, curling back up for up. the video that Mattias suggested reminded me of that, thanks!

August 9, 2012 at 03:40 PM · Peter - first, you are quite silly :)

Kurt is a well known and respected teacher. Not dubious. And the technique is correctly shown.

Would it be different if I showed you, and if it was, why???

Correct is correct, no matter who shows you.

August 9, 2012 at 04:37 PM · I think there's more than one way to achieve it. I'd caution anyone from over flexing and bending the fingers. This is a Galamian theory, which really none of the truly great players follow. The fingers are more natural when they are held together straight, as if you were to hang your hand down. You'd never see Heifetz bending his fingers like this. If you try bending and flexing the fingers, you'll feel the tendons and muscles in the forearm tighten. There's no need for this. After hours and hours of this repetitive motion for many years, you can develop hand problems.

I'd also like to say that the greatest violinists, in my opinion use this colle stroke (that was really popularized by Galamian) very sparingly as it produces what vocalists call a 'glottalized click' for players who don't quite have a sensitive touch. More often than not this stroke is overdone with too much emphasis on the consonant rather than the desired vowel sound you get from not starting with a scratch. A lot of people today start attacks from the string, using colle, and over emphasize the 'consonant' deadening the note. Attacks such as the first note of the Brahms concerto, should not start from the string in my opinion.

August 9, 2012 at 04:49 PM · Very interesting Nate, thanks for your reaction!

August 10, 2012 at 01:46 AM · I was a Galamian student for 8 years at Juilliard. This particular bow stroke is pretty much useless in practice, except for a few specific instances.

However, the reason Galamian taught this bow stroke was to promote flexibility and control over the action of the fingers in a change from up to down bow. Those students who did not understand this tend to do an active bow direction change which results in a what I call the Galamian "clunk."

The particular finger motion can be refined to be a passive, rather than an active motion which results in a seamless bow change at the frog.

August 11, 2012 at 11:29 PM · Yes, Bravo, Nate and Bruce! I was one who got stuck with a Galamian clunk and the glottalized click for a long time. I've since come to a better understanding not only of the colle stroke but also of the martele stroke which the Galamian school overdoes and gives undue importance to.

I think the colle can be a useful and attractive bow stroke if it is done with the participation of the forearm, plus perhaps a tiny bit of finger action -- always concentrating on an unforced, resonant tone after the initial articulation. The sound of the colle is indeed similar to the sound of a beautiful pizzicato if it is well done.

August 12, 2012 at 05:32 AM · hi Mattias;

its a nice youtube clip explaining at a basic level. but i think that there is missing instruction in the jump from the basic excercises done without the violin and the technique performed with the violin in that clip and that is a jump from exclusively up-down motion the knuckles and fingers to an incorporation of side-to-side sweep to allow the bow to move laterally relative to the violin strings. unless i have misunderstood...

August 12, 2012 at 12:05 PM · Here is ProfessorV's lesson

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