Double stop exercises

August 30, 2005 at 03:53 AM · What are some good double stop exercises to help me with Mozart 3 franko cadenza, I'm having a ton of trouble with all the double stops and chords.

Replies (29)

August 30, 2005 at 11:19 AM · I think I'm going to start that piece next. Before, I've been playing La Folia with the Leonard cadenza. This cadenza has chords and double stops all over. What you can do is practice the top and bottom lines separately, and then do each chord/double stop individually. Harmonic chords are a little harder, but you just have to remember to press softly. For trilled chords, you just have to remember to stay on both strings (I had a little trouble with this in La Folia, but I improved within a few days because practicing). Good luck!

August 30, 2005 at 11:31 AM · A method which seems to work very often: keep your fingers down on both notes, but sound only one voice, so you can hear the line it makes clearly. But your left hand has to be in a properly set-up state for you to be able to play double stops reliably. Did you ask your teacher about this? about whether there's anything he/she wants to improve about your left hand positioning?

August 30, 2005 at 11:36 AM · Dont n°1 and Dont n°8. Have fun!

August 30, 2005 at 12:55 PM · Your scale book should have some appropriate ones. If not, you need a new scale book. I recommend Gammes Pratiques by Nadaud (be sure to get the Bozza edition) from

August 30, 2005 at 07:04 PM · Don't forget Practice and Basics by Fischer. They are immensely helpful.

August 30, 2005 at 07:15 PM · Trott.

August 30, 2005 at 07:25 PM · Anyone else out there from Alaska?

August 30, 2005 at 11:24 PM · I can't get my other fiddle friends to crawl out of their igloos yet.

September 8, 2005 at 10:35 AM · You can practice octaves.

September 9, 2005 at 04:46 AM · I'm second to Emil. Play the only one voice but place doubles as needed. Practice this way until you reach the perfect melodic line. Next- do the same with other voice.

If you have some intonation problems, try to combine 1st and 2nd intervals, repeating them many times like this: slured 1st and 2nd interval down bow; slured 2nd and 1st intervals up bow. Play them over and over... until you got them perfect. Next, practice the same with 2nd and 3rd intervals (or chords); next- 3rd and 4th... and so on.

September 9, 2005 at 05:36 AM · I seriously like the Trott books. The Accolay concerto and the Mlynarsky Mazurka have some tricky double stopps that should help with the Cadneza too.

September 9, 2005 at 06:04 AM · I've heard Sevcik is good (I think its Opus 1 part 3)

September 9, 2005 at 04:10 PM · Double stops in scales are the best. The Barbara Barber book has them all written out, although the fingerings aren't good.

September 10, 2005 at 08:06 PM · Sevcik Op. 1 part 4 is amazing for double stops. do a little of each kinds of double stops everyday and it will improve your fluency of double stops and chords in a couple of weeks, easily. it takes a lot of patience at first, but once one gets the hang of it, you'll never be able to do without it.

September 11, 2005 at 12:19 AM · play one note of the double stop. make sure it is in-tune with an electric tuner, and then play the other note of the double stop, making sure it is in tune. then, put them together, and notice the way it sounds.

Do this for all the double stops. Eventually, you can put them together.

September 11, 2005 at 02:41 AM · Might I suggest Hubay's op.64 solo studies? I believe these, like most of the hundreds of pieces in my collection, are in the public domain and I could make a pdf book for you if you'd like.

September 25, 2005 at 01:17 AM · My method is somewhat based in physics, but it leads to an almost exact intonation. Notes are sound waves, and when you play double stops, you are hearing two different sound waves. Here's the physics: constructive interference. This means that when you play a G on the D string and a B on the A string, you will hear a bass note resonating as well. This requires a lot of careful listening. I would have to disagree with Emil, though I highly respect your views. The violin is based on adjustable intonation. You would not play the same B on the A string with an open D as you would B on the A string with G on the D string. The word for that is slipping my mind right now, so I apologize. Another thing I do is when practicing scales, I make sure the first doublestop is in tune, then play it again as a slur into the next doublestop. If it is out of tune, I don't stop and fix that note - I go from the note before INTO that note. This way, my hand memorizes what the space feels like between different intervals. But, these are just my thoughts.

September 28, 2005 at 05:06 PM · sorry to rain on your parade George, but Emil is absolutely RIGHT!

Perhaps you misunderstood what he meant and why?

It is of paramount imprortance to figure out the correct hand position, and then it helps tremendously to practice each voice while ghosting the second without sounding (with bow) the second string. Excellent for learning the coordination. Afterwhich practicing the shifting becomes easier. There are many other variables involved in developing a correct attitude of good double stops. Following the Basics & Fundamentals of correct hand position(s) is the road to salvation (for good double-stops as well as other things)!

September 28, 2005 at 05:42 PM · Another double stop issue I have: When tuning the double stop, if, as it says in Basics, you tune to the correct third tone/pitch and get that nice, smooth vibration, then your interval is actually too small and the top note will sound slightly flat -- unless you're doing quartet playing and comprimising with three other players in creating a chord. When playing with others in a loud ensemble or sometimes even practicing alone, I listen for that closure of vibrations to tell me my double stops are in tune, particularly when using an e string that vibrates somewhat erratically when double stopping. Wider, Pythagorian tuning with double stops makes it hard to determine whether you're in tune to the audience unless your ear is cocked down to the body of the fiddle all the time, picking up those nuances...Am I making sense? What do you career soloists do with this issue?

September 28, 2005 at 09:19 PM · Gennady, what I was alluding to was Tartini's discovery of the "terzo suono". Tartini was widely known in his times for the purity of his intonation in doublestops, and he actually published a treatise on how he did it. An experiment you may want to try is to play an open D string and a B on the A. Make sure it is absolutely perfectly in tune. Then, without moving your finger, play an open E with that same B. I think you will find that the interval is not a perfect 4th. It's very close, but not exact. A violinist who really understood this phenomenon was Bronislaw Huberman - he even went so far as to alter his tuning for each key. I'm sure you've heard his recording of the Beethoven concerto, and his unaccompanied Bach - The doublestops are so amazingly in tune. If you haven't heard it, check them out.

Respectfully yours,


September 29, 2005 at 02:19 AM · George,

I know what you mean, but did you know what Emil and I meant? The point is, that without teaching the hand of how to address double stops and move the hand in a sequence of events which includes shifting etc. practicing slow intonation becomes fruitless. Time is of the essence, so if one has 5 years to practice on intonation of double stops, go right ahead and be our guest. The point I am making and I think Emil made, is of the most practical application to improve double stops in general. Your point is valid, and has historic value, but I think it is more useful after the hand knows the patterns and so forth.

You see what I mean????????????

and I do love Huberman's recordings and his sense of pitch.

One more word of advice.....since you are going to be a freshman, perhaps you should listen to the pearls of wisdom from some professionals who have "been there and done that"?! After all, if you succeed, these may be the people judging you in auditions and competitions, Nes Pas?

Good Luck.

September 29, 2005 at 03:35 AM · Gennady,

I very highly respect your opinions, and I do agree with Emil, but to a point. The trouble with double stops comes with putting the two voices together. But I do practice what Emil suggested, when I start a piece with doublestops (e.g. unaccompanied Bach). You are right, this is very helpful. But, what I suggest will allow you to set up your hand perfectly in the beginning. Tell me if I am understanding your idea properly: it is similar to Kreutzer's etude in octave scales. Is this a good analogy? I do vist this site to gain the advice of people who have been around much longer than me, and I will be the first to admit that I know little about violin. But sometimes, even the professionals have it somewhat backwards, I'm sure you can think of a few examples. I in no may meant to offend you or Emil, or challenge your view. All I was doing was suggesting an alternative. That's the beauty of this instrument - there are so many different approaches, and some will work easier with different people than others.

Respectfully yours,


September 29, 2005 at 03:53 PM · Glad you understood.

So as per the discussion, perhaps it was just a matter of which comes first "the chicken or the egg???""

There are also fantastic double stop excercises without the bow by Dounis, Carl Flesch and R. Ricci that will benefit anyone trying to improve the coordination, strength and ability of the left hand to learn double stops, afterwhich intonation in double stops may be easier to deal with as a result.

Here is a quick test for your left hand:

finger a Geminiani chord over the four strings ( A,F#,D# & C)

then reverse it to mirror the same chord but backwards starting from the E string F#, C#, G# & D#

This little test reveals the positions your hand will take for the two chords, which is completely different from one another.

Suppleness of the hand is our goal, which will undoubtedly give us speed and good intonation.

December 24, 2009 at 02:59 AM ·

wow!  some heated debates on this topic!  No matter how you slice it, double stops are HARD!  And you can drive yourself insane trying to get them perfect.. as I am doing today, which is what led me to this blog.  I dunno.. I think you have to be almost superhuman to always play double stops perfectly.  There are just so many variables, depending on what you are playing, with what instrumentation, if you're instrument happens to go out of tune, so on and so on and so on.  I personally have found that securing a solid hand shape, using overtones and having a damn good ear make the perfect recipe for playing double stops well.  In performance, I just aim to do my best and hope no one in the audience has perfect pitch.

Great ideas and info btw!

December 24, 2009 at 03:24 AM ·

Surely someone has said this but it is a famous trick to play them all separately. Each double stop as if it was a quarter note but in the tempo and bow area you are using when playing them as written on the sheet.   You can begin in a slower tempo and accelerate.  It really works but the sad thing in my case is that my body doesn't remember it after a while. It's always to be redone. I just took out again the Oistrakh cadenza and it's such a mess when I play. Although with the metronome and such tricks it starts to work a little better but still...  beautiful double stops are always very tough. But, maybe I run after my trouble with gut strings that always change pitch at every five minutes though. How can you learn to put your finger at the right place with these???  Poor little fingers...   Oistrakh, Heifetzh, Menuhin, Haendel etc were geniuses to play double stops in tune with unstable gut strings!!!

Good luck I know what you mean!!!


December 24, 2009 at 04:24 AM ·

 Check out the 30 Double Chord Studies by Polo - it's published by Ricordi.  They are all melodic and serve to exercise a certain aspect of double stop playing.  Also great but significantly easier is the book Melodious Double Stops by Josephine Trott.  These are best for younger students, as there is almost always an open string involved - great for solidifying the profile, but not terribly challenging.  Hope this helps!


December 24, 2009 at 05:00 AM ·

I'm assuming this is your first time at the Mozart. IMO, some fo these suggestiosn were way too difficult. The first time I went through Mozart 3 my teacher just had me skip that cadenza =). You'll get to a point sooner or later where you can more or less sight-read those double-stops anyway, so that's my suggestion. If it's giving you "a ton of trouble" I fear you may be losing yourself in tension and developing some unconsciousness

January 5, 2010 at 01:31 AM ·

Have a look at Schradieck Book 2 - it's available at

It's possibly the quickest way of teaching your fingers some of the contortions necessary!


January 5, 2010 at 02:45 AM ·


Malcolm,  I like that book too. I am a big fan of Schradieck. Never quite figured out why but it just seems superior to sevcik. Just a Buri quirk perhaps.

However, I think you have raised the key issue which is really the mental control of the fingers in whihc case any exercises really are possible and useful.   I think the material which contains truly massive amount of mental control is by Dounis.  It is a great shame thta his exercises for Independence of the fingers for example are so little used these days. I heard Herifetz actualy liked these but my medium has been unable to confirm one way or another.  There is a lovely exercise in the Daily Dozen which uses double stopping for developoing trills and finger independence which deserves ot be taken out and put on a pedestal.  Drew Lecher`s stuff is somewhat similar but less Machiavellian.



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