Double trills? NEED HELP QUICKLY!

November 22, 2009 at 08:09 PM ·

I have a cadenza for a Mozart concerto, and I'm having trouble with the ending. It has a double stop - fingers 1 and 3 - and trills with fingers 2 and 4. Has anyone got tips on double trills? Nothing I'm doing seems to be working. I have tried doing it starting slowly and then get faster but that doesn't work. I have tried doing the single double stop and one trill and then two trills in the next bow etc.

Has anyone else got ideas of how to practice them?

Replies (13)

November 22, 2009 at 09:58 PM ·

Try practicing with a dotted rhythm...dotted eighth then sixteen starting with the 1-3 going to 2-4. (this activates the lifting motion of the fingers.) Then practice the same rhythm starting with 2-4 going to 1-3. (this keeps the fingers close to the string.)

Then alternate the two ways with the rhythm: dotted eighth-sixteenth-eighth (like a 3/8 measure). 1-3,2-4,1-3; 2-4,1-3, 2-4.


November 22, 2009 at 10:54 PM ·


as Dr Berg say,  the rythm method is the most efficacious.  Long repe or slow parctice of trills is not getting to the heart of the matter.   Its basically just a quick flutter of the fingers.

Make sure your hand setting is at its most relaxed. Since its a double stop thrird start by getting the fourth finger comfortable and balanced along with te second.  Retain this feeling  and place 1 and three as though they were stretched back from 2 and 4.   Its nothing too physically obvious,  but if you are setting one and three with the hand balanced on them then the feeling of stretch for 2 and 4 will inhibit the flutter action.  Alos quite posisble you have tension in the base of your firts finger joint so pause betwween all the rythmic varioations suggested and consciously relax that area of your hand.

Oddly enough,  mentla vizualization can also help in this case.



November 22, 2009 at 11:03 PM ·

 Hi Claire,

There's an excellent exercise from a book by Heiner Reitz, The Technique of Violin Practicing (I think it’s out of print). If you can get your hands on it, it's a great find. It systematically trains left hand technique.
In general, to develop finger action you should use rhythmic exercises and it's no different with double stops, but the Reitz exercise helps build up to the rhythmic training.
When practicing thirds, remember to keep the perfect fourth in tune, which is formed between the 2nd and 3rd fingers - e.g. 1,3:B,G to 2,4:C,A - keep 3:G to 2:C in tune.
The Exercise:
In 4/4 time, play 1:B (B with first finger) for two beats; at the same time play 3:G alternating with 4:A in sixteenth notes; then play 2:C for two beats; at the same time play G and A as before; keep the perfect fourth in tune.
Next play 1:B for one beat; at the same time play 3:G alternating with 4:A in sixteenth notes; play 2:C for one beat; at the same time play G and A as before. Repeat to complete one measure (or more if you need to).
Next play 1:B for 1/2 beat; at the same time play 3:G alternating with 4:A in sixteenth notes; play 2:C for 1/2 beat; at the same time play G and A as before. Repeat to complete the measure.
Next play thirds in sixteenth notes.
Now switch the active finger.  Play 3:G for two beats; at the same time play 1:B alternating with 2:C in sixteenth notes; keep the perfect fourth in tune.  Next play 4:A for two beats; at the same time play B and C as before.  Reduce the number of beats of the slow changing finger as before.
Once you're comfortable with this exercise you can start to play thirds in dotted rhythms in the manner of Dounis' Fundamental Trill Studies (which should be practiced until you achieve facility).
As you get faster, you might get tight in the hand; remember to keep the lower fingers as light as possible.  In Mozart, particularly at cadences and most definitely on the final cadence of the cadenza, it's customary to start the trill slightly slower and accelerate (i.e. start with a long appoggiatura followed by slow to faster trill) which will make it a bit easier to execute (and sound good too).
Hope this helps,

November 23, 2009 at 12:52 AM ·

Actually, what it comes down to is eliminate the double trill at your accomplishment level, unless you really want to do it. Stylistically, double trills and that type of frivolous technique are not required for a Mozart cadenza. Spend more time practicing on basic technique like scales and etudes!

Sorry I didn't say this before.

November 24, 2009 at 01:06 PM ·

Do you have a short pinky?  Also, what are the notes, and in what position?

Double trills are essentially thirds.  So do practice up on your thirds.  For me the most useful advice I had on thirds and double trills is to collapse my wrist - that's the only way thirds fit my hand.  David Nadien said so.

November 24, 2009 at 03:46 PM ·

 To extend  Buces first idea ,you can practice single ,double then triple taps with a rest between each

for example, do a single tap with both fingers(triplet time-1-3,2-4,1-3),then a short 8th rest -repeat 3 to 4 times.Then to a double tap -repeat  ,then a triple tap ....etc..

pratice a little reach day over a period  of time.

if your having trouble ,practice first without the bow 

November 24, 2009 at 10:05 PM ·

It is very important that your hand is perfectly placed.  If you have to move your hand back and forth for the pinky or your hand is tense you will never get speed.  You could practice trilling with your pinky with your other fingers held down first because quite a few people can't do a good clean trill with their fourth finger alone, much less both the fourth and second fingers.  I think Fiorillo has some excellent exercises for double trills and trills with the fourth finger (I think the second or third one in the book already covers this).  Once you can do it in a relaxed way, the rhythm exercise is the way to go. 

Incidentally, did Franko have an amazing trill or something?  All of his cadenzas seem to involve double trills something along those lines. 

November 24, 2009 at 11:18 PM ·


I think he was just nervous...



November 26, 2009 at 01:12 PM ·


if I did not miss anything you did not say whether the 1-3 is a 7th or a 3rd. I presume it is a 3rd. All the above mentioned ideas are great.

One more thing I may add which helps to relax the left fingers: move the left elbow more to the right which helps the fingers to come more from the top.

Another handicap is in most time the pinky which is just per nature the weakest finger. I recommend fingering the 1-3, adding the 2nd finger and practice the trill with the 4th finger alone while having all other 3 fingers on the string. Find a comfortable position for the elbow which allows the 4th finger to move freely. The muscles of the 4th finger have to be trained which takes time. Do slow trills one minute long every day with getting faster as you feel comfortable.

Don't mean to discourage you, but with daily training it might take between 3 to 6 weeks, for some people may be longer.

But, on the other hand, what are 6 weeks compared to the rest of your life where you can play it now? :-) A good investment.

November 26, 2009 at 03:17 PM ·

This applies to single trills too, but in a book by Dounis he states that lowering the finger should be the passive movement, and raising them should be the active movement. He goes as far as saying that the finger should almost be able to push the string down with its own weight. I've tried this and trills definitely seem much easier.

Of course you should not lift the fingers too high as well. 

November 26, 2009 at 06:11 PM ·

 Double trills are tricky but not as daunting as they first appear. Generally the biggest culprit is left hand tension as one tries to bang out both trills. What happens is people instinctively clamp down on the neck with the thumb which cuts off the blood supply to the very area you are trying to control. My advice is don't try to think of both trills as equal. With your example the 4th finger need not to press all the way down to the fingerboard to sound like it is trilling. The 2nd, due to its greater length and leverage will be more solid and give the impression that both are trilling equally. 

So, practice both slowly and RELAXED without worrying about evenness for now. Try to make sure you are relaxed with the left hand and then practice both trills in rhythms, but consciously press less hard with the fourth finger. Do not go faster immediately, it will destroy muscle memory and confidence. Five points on the metronome is plenty when you feel like you are in control. If done with utmost concentration I would estimate positive results in two days.

November 26, 2009 at 11:20 PM ·

All these exercises - paralysis by analysis:)

Watch Shlomo Mintz playing Paganini Caprice no.3 for a demo of double trills.

That's the way to do it!

PS I also think violin double trills sound silly in a Mozart concerto cadenza and especially right before the tutti resumes. Not necessary. Even better write your own cadenzas.

November 26, 2009 at 11:32 PM ·


>ll these exercises - paralysis by analysis:)Watch Shlomo Mintz playing Paganini Caprice no.3 for a demo of double trills.

Unfortunately if we take your argument to its logical conclusion one would only have to watch enough videos of Heifetz to be a good player.  In fact,  what you are offering is simply anotehr analysis of the situation.  But the point does have some validity.   In some cases it can be connected to learner styles.  I have studnets who can absorb by watching (preferably DVDs of great violinists,  rather than me).  This is the same kind of thing Auer was talking about when he described studying with Joachim. Unfortunatley,  as he notes, those who could not get below the surface of things remained in ignorance of the significant factors and failed to elarn very much.   In the same way,  one needs a clear (global ) image (c Gallowey the Inner Gamer of Tennis-  and the technical means to achive those goals.  Unfortunately there are no short cuts on exercises.  Simply good ones and bad ones.



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