Help with fast up-bow staccato

June 14, 2006 at 03:24 AM · I'm having trouble with the long up-bow staccato runs in the Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso. I've watched the video on and practiced Kreutzer No. 4 until I can play it in my sleep, but the speed just isn't coming.

One unhelpful thing I was doing was trying to make the articulation "vertically", i.e. pushing down with my index finger or coming off the string. My teacher suggested I think "horizontally" by practicing a fast tremolo, then doing the run with primarily an arm motion, using only enough finger and wrist to keep the bow moving straight. I can do this if I put a fair amount of weight on the bow and keep it near the bridge, but as soon as I try to speed it up and/or play it piano, I either lose the articulation or end up with this jerky thing where the bow moves in the down-bow direction a little after each note.

Any other suggestions? I'm sick of looking at that little kid 1/4 my age who makes it look so easy. >:)

Replies (100)

June 14, 2006 at 04:34 AM · Greetings,

you had good advice. It may cone with time. If not, do a Milstein and just play it spiccato. Or Francescatti who use dan elegant flying spiccato.



Another way of thinking about is to stiffen the whole arm and just GO!!!!! Sadly, it really helps to be obese if you wnat to play the stroke this way...

June 14, 2006 at 02:01 PM · Keep notes closer together-try to do as much of the staccato as possible in the upper half.

Simon Fischer's staccato:

Up-bow-Play on outer edge of hair; higher elbow;angle the point of the bow slightly towards the fingerboard; lean the hand slightly towards the fourth finger.

Realize, too (as I'm sure you do), that each staccato is a little 'dip' into the string (also from Simon Fischer), not a straight on the surface stroke. So practicing each note as an eighth note followed by an eighth rest, and as a double-stop with the bottom string as a drone, can be useful (this is also from Simon Fischer). And make sure your string crossings aren't late.

It might be a good idea in general to own Simon's two books, Practice and Basics. Personally, I like Practice better, but that is just me.

Finally, watching my video of Hora Staccato ( and making a really nice comment will be sure to give you positive karma, luck, good fortune, etc.! lol

June 14, 2006 at 03:44 PM · Very well played William!

Thanks for sharing!

June 14, 2006 at 05:47 PM · Here, this will whip you into shape

Click here for a good time

June 14, 2006 at 06:20 PM · my opinion, flying staccato is more elegant and appropriate for the style of the piece, like Buri said.

June 14, 2006 at 07:52 PM · Thanks for the comment, Mattais.

And thank you Jonathan for the snippet. It'll give me something to work on for a little while...

June 14, 2006 at 07:47 PM · That's from a piece I got from the violinist Holger Fry, it is Emile Saurets 12th Grand Caprice Artistique from the op.38. This caprice is 20 pages long!

June 14, 2006 at 07:51 PM · Only 20 pages? lol

June 14, 2006 at 07:54 PM · hehe, indeed, it's the longest virtuoso study I've run across thus far ;-)

Also William can you send me a fresh sample of your playing?

June 14, 2006 at 07:59 PM · At this link, Jon:

There is (all live from an April 30th, 2006 recital) three pieces:

Hora Staccato, Ave Maria (Wilhelmj) and Banjo and Fiddle...

plus Franck 3rd mov't. from a rehearsal

June 14, 2006 at 08:03 PM · All great music. I will listen this evening then I'd like to talk to you about a possible project that I hope you might be interested in.

June 14, 2006 at 09:10 PM · Mr Wolcott,

Watched your Hora Stacatto. You've got such a nice, even stroke and play very beautifully. Thanks for posting this...

One question, why do you stand that far away from the piano? I'd imagine that it'd be very difficult for the pianist... a while back I was sitting in the back row of an audience listening to a pretty brilliant young violinist tear through Tzigane quite impressively, but he was pretty far away and detached from the chamber aspect... after all, it isn't so much an accompanist as a duet. A big famous accompanist was standing behind me and I heard him talking about how shocked he was that the pianist put up with it. At the intermission he went into it a lot further and was pretty upset about it.

I'm only asking because I don't know. You're a wonderful player and I think that you share some of Mr. Fodor's virtuosic flair. I hope that you'll post more of your playing soon.

June 14, 2006 at 09:19 PM · Thanks, Pieter.

You're absolutely correct. I should've stood much closer. Live and learn, I guess. My only excuse is that it was my first recital in about 2 years (I'm a father now). That and I get nervous as @#$% when I play, so I'm not quite sure how that happened.

I actually learned a lot from video taping the recital so closely. I didn't acknowedge the audience in the way I wanted, I didn't always stand the way I wanted, etc. This list goes on and on.....

Live and learn, right?

June 14, 2006 at 09:25 PM · Mr. Wolcott,

I wish I could get that "nervous" when I play. If that's what nervous up bow stacatto sounds like then I'm selling my violin and becoming a psychiatrist.

June 14, 2006 at 09:42 PM · Please, you can call me William or Bill. I feel way too old when called Mr. Wolcott. Just don't call me Willy. lol

I played that piece last on the program for a reason. :)

June 14, 2006 at 10:01 PM · Nice. I was going to mention it too.

I don't think he's as far from the piano as it looks. I think he's using a wide-angle lens, which accentuates it. A telephoto lens has the opposite effect, compressing foreground and bg.

June 14, 2006 at 10:03 PM · I couldn't get enough volume on that, William, but the stroke looked great and it sounded very clean, if faint. I've always done it by cocking the wrist into an Auer grip and twitching the fingers, it's the next step on from what Buri says about tensing your upper arm. But since I've been practising it methodically with the exercises on, I find I can get it controlled like you do up to (semiquavers at) 110mm, then the cocked wrist takes over but the controlled stuff is shafted after that if I want to slow it down again. So I'd like to be able to do it all with the Galamian-style wrist like you do.

I agree about flying staccato being preferable though - listen to Massimo Quarta's Paganini 21 on his website, it's so incredibly elegant and versatile. But not flying staccato a la Perlman - which sounds like a man using a pneumatic drill to break into his wife's chastity belt after he's lost the key.

June 14, 2006 at 10:04 PM · Thanks for the suggestions, everyone.

Is "flying spiccato" the same as "flying staccato"? And does it just mean playing short notes all on one bow, coming slightly off the string between each one? I think this is what I was trying not to do, although on further reflection I agree it might be more appropriate. (I still want to be able to do the firm staccato.)

Buri: when I try to take the advice of my teacher and use primarily an arm motion, I find that trying to immobilize my fingers and wrist causes me to become extremely tense, "stiffening" as you say...surely this is a bad thing?

Bill: Thank you for the Simon Fischer advice, I will try it when I am reunited with my instrument. The double-stop exercise sounds interesting and promising. And let me add my compliments on your performance of the Hora Staccato---you have a fine stage presence, engaging but not distracting!

Jonathan, I have half a mind to whip YOU for posting that monstrosity. :)

June 14, 2006 at 10:44 PM · Greetings,

Karin, the stiuffening you describe can be very detrimental to your palying if done in large doses. If you wnat to do it that way then you need to spent a lot of time relaxing and getting it -out- of your system. Ultimately it is just a special effect.

There is a lot of confusion about the differnet usages of flying spiccati versus flying staccato blah blah blah.

The definition I have used is as follows:

staccato is shortened notes played up then down .

Flying staccato is a long run of staccato notes on the string as implied in Wieniawski.

Flying spiccato is where a numbe rof short notes are played in one bow but the bow is bounging off the string.

There are other defintions. It doesn`t matter as long as you can do all of them...;)



Incidentally, Mr. Zuckerman had a lot of trouble (relative to him) with this bow stroke in his younger days.

June 14, 2006 at 10:56 PM · Buri-

I was under the impression that flying staccato is what you described as flying 'spiccato.'

I also was under the impression that what you described as flying staccato was actually just a, as Karin described, firm staccato.

I found when playing this piece (not necessarily this performance), sometimes my on the string staccato would start to come off the string in a controlled manner. It just sort of happened naturally.

I've never heard of flying spiccato being a group of notes in one bow stroke. I always called that flying staccato.

I assumed flying 'spiccato' was basically a sautille. I guess it's really just terminology.

Incidentally, I tend to like the on the string sound for Saint-Seans, but that's just me. Today, anyway. Ask me tomorrow, I'll probably like the other way. Such is life....

June 14, 2006 at 11:33 PM · As long as we're confusing ourselves with terminology, what is the difference between spiccato and sautille? I heard once that they were the same thing, just different languages, but I've also heard it claimed that they're different.

I've got 3-4 recordings of the Saint-Saëns and will do a quick survey as to what bow stroke is employed by each violinist. Will report on my findings here...

EDIT: okay, did some more research. Sautille is faster and done with a wrist motion, hmm?

June 14, 2006 at 11:32 PM · There is definitely a difference between spiccato and sautille. For starters, spiccato starts off the string and is generally slower. Sautille generally starts from the string and is generally much faster.

Have to run, others will clarify further....

June 14, 2006 at 11:39 PM · I just went back to and watched the "Definition" part of the staccato lesson, where Mr. Sassmannshaus discusses the three types of motion that one may use. I was encouraged, until he concluded by saying, "Three minutes of patient staccato practice every day for about two years will enable anyone to develop a nice up-bow staccato."

Two years?? :cry:

June 15, 2006 at 12:04 AM · Greetings,

William, that is where the confusion arises. here is an explanation fromthe Ronkins` `Technical Fuundamentals of the Soviet Masters.

`Staccato, (italian:detached) is a highly virtuostic bowing that is used by violinist to highlight their technical mastery. ...put on the map by Spohr and Paginin. The so called `spohr staccato is primarily applicable in moderate tempos. This kind of staccato is trow of martele notes playe din one direction. The rule of economy applicable to martele is applie dhere. The wrist, turned inward, perfroms forward up bow movemnets. In the down bow the driving force is the elbow and the stick is turned towards the bridgee. The down has speed limitations cf Sibelius last movement.One soon relaizes the Sspohr stacctao is not fast enough therefore we use @flying staccato or stiff staccato made famous by Wieniaswki who performed this bowing with a ver\y stiff arm In flying staccato (French: staccato volant) the uppermost part of the bow is not used. Instead the action happens closer to the middle. This bowing is about elegance and is not a device for powerful sound although Kogan used flying staccatoattaining fantastically fast tempos.

Staccato volant may be used in moderate tempo by playing with an active wrist.


Always happy to muddy the water,



Gor to fly...

June 15, 2006 at 12:21 AM · I still don't see what the difference is between staccato and stiff staccato. And the given definition of flying staccato, which in given def. is used interchangeably with stiff arm staccato...?

edit: read the post again, the def's aren't used interchangeably after all, but still confused...

I still think flying staccato is off the string. I guess I'll stick with my own definition.


. .


June 15, 2006 at 12:27 AM · Oh, and in this book, where is the definition for flying spicatto (of which I have never heard)?

This is intriguing....

June 15, 2006 at 01:41 AM · Has everyone mastered the study I posted earlier? Are we ready to discuss results?

June 15, 2006 at 02:04 AM · Now for both your downbow and upbow practice I submit the following!

Click here for more fun

June 15, 2006 at 03:25 AM · Greetings,

William having introduce dmore new terms for the same thing it comes a sno surprise thta evrone is completely confused....

Maybe :

Staccato, slowish, on the string: Spohr staccato/staccato.

Staccato, rapid, on the string: stiff arm staccato, Wieniawski staccato, ouch staccato, flying staccato (sometimes).

Staccato , off the string, many notes in bow: flying spicatto, spcatto volante,

Forget it. I@m off for lunch.



June 15, 2006 at 03:31 AM · It's just that 'flying spiccato' seems redundant because spicatto is already an off the string stroke; whereas flying staccato seems to make more sense-at least to me. I'm just weird like that, I guess...

June 15, 2006 at 03:43 AM · William you forgot to comment on my latest study!

June 15, 2006 at 03:47 AM · Oh. Looks like fun. Something to play on a rainy day.

June 15, 2006 at 03:48 AM · Any guess at who wrote that piece?

And how appropriate is that dedication!? Wieniawski bowing indeed!

June 15, 2006 at 03:50 AM · ?

June 15, 2006 at 03:51 AM · One of Delphin Alard's greatest students, Joseph White

June 15, 2006 at 03:52 AM · How did you learn all of this stuff, Jonathan?

June 15, 2006 at 03:54 AM · Lots of love, research, and time ;-) I love the 19th century and its violinists :-)

As well one of my best friends is an expert on the period, I can't get enough of his stories!

June 17, 2006 at 09:00 PM · > Flying spiccato is where a numbe rof short notes are

> played in one bow but the bow is bounging off the string.

I can do that.... in fact, how do you stop doing it? =)

June 17, 2006 at 09:06 PM · Isn't that just kind of a controlled ricochet?

June 17, 2006 at 11:09 PM · A fast on-the-string staccato would have to involve some sort of trembling motion in the stiffened arm wouldn't it? Or does the arm stay fairly much at rest and just the bow wobbles (or something)?

June 18, 2006 at 06:11 AM · Does anybody know how on earth Rabin did his staccato, for example in his hora staccato performance with the Hollywood Bowl is easily the fastest and most impressive I've heard. Just sounds like an impossible speed though!

June 18, 2006 at 09:54 AM · I've heard more than one person say that you're usually born with good upbow stacatto... I don't know if that's true. But there are some people who have a real knack for it.

One of my favourite violinists, Yi-Jia Hou, has the best I've ever seen... like a snare drum (if she so wishes it).

June 18, 2006 at 01:40 PM · I've heard that too Peter. I think it has to do with your reflexes and how fast and controlled it is.

June 19, 2006 at 02:05 PM · Peter, You have to listen to Spivakov's two recordings of the Witches Dance...I heard him live during the 80's doing at an incredeble speed and clarity the up-bow staccato cadenza (four octaves A major scale)in the first variation...Jaw -dropping...


June 19, 2006 at 02:47 PM · Wm. Wolcott said:That and I get nervous as @#$% when I play,

It doesn't show--you look very comfortable--BRAVO!


June 19, 2006 at 04:30 PM · try lifting heavy weights for a few days. (avoid muscular hurting)

amazing results

June 19, 2006 at 05:25 PM · Reclaiming my thread here....

Okay, so I went back to and tried what Prof. Sassmannshaus describes as the three types of motion:

1) Rotating the forearm

2) Using the wrist in a tremolo-type motion.

3) Pinching the bow between the index finger and thumb.

I really can't get the hang of (1) and (3). I understand the principles behind them, but when I try to apply them, I end up mostly pushing my bow in weird directions that have a component of the correct motion but mostly feel strange.

So that leaves me with (2). I get the tremolo motion, and I get how moving the arm upward will cancel the down-bow part, effecting an up-bow staccato. Pretty cool. But when I do this, of course, the speed goes down by half; e.g. if I can do sixteenth notes at MM=130 using both down and up bow, then I can only do eighth notes at that speed with up bow only. And surprisingly enough, there is a limit to how fast I can tremolo that corresponds to how fast I can do the up-bow staccato.

Therefore, an obvious next step is to work on the speed of my tremolo, then turn that into the pure up-bow staccato. Does this make sense? Any other suggestions?

June 19, 2006 at 05:41 PM · like Wieniawski, try to dream about it, then maybe it will work !

June 19, 2006 at 05:49 PM · I sent this to you privately, but maybe it will help someone else, too:

In my opinion, #3 is not such a great way for a fast staccato.

Take what Sorin said about lifting weights, just for an example of what I want to help you with here. And, believe it or not, weightlifting can help (but I'm not so sure about heavy lifting-not arguing, just my opinion).

Have you ever lifted weights? If so, do you know how to do a curl?

If yes, then get a small weight, do a curl, but freeze after you lift only an inch or so. On the inside of your forearm where your elbow is, is what needs to be flexed for an up bow staccato. And it is flexed when your doing the curl.

When you apply this to an up bow staccato, stay in the upper half, starting near the point. Next, articulate the staccato as a series of 'catch and release' mini-martele's, so to speak. Are you familiar with 'catch and release'? If not, let me know.

Keep the 'catch and release' strokes close together (like I told you previously), initiated from the very part that 'flexes' when doing a curl.

Try it. Let me know.

EDIT: In my opinion, #2 is also not so good.

#1 is good, as the forearm/hand is pronated. In other words, raise/turn your elbow in such a way that your bow hold is more 'slanted' towards the index finger. This should help, but it is difficult without seeing you.

June 19, 2006 at 05:43 PM · Seriously, try a finger-stoke between the thumb and your middle finger(longest) of your right-hand. The motion must come from the wrist and should be repetitive, like the left-hand not get stiff from the arm or your shoulder.That is were the trouble comes from, trust me...

June 19, 2006 at 05:54 PM · Keeping your wrist loose, relaxed, is quite necessary. I also keep my upper arm relaxed. However, for me, the stroke is initiated from exactly where I described.

With a finger stroke and wrist only, it will be slow, slow, slow. Well, at least for me.

Everybody is different, though.

June 19, 2006 at 05:58 PM · It's got to be better to be able to do a medium-speed controlled stroke than a fast uncontrolled one though. Eg I couldn't do Paganini 10 properly for years, until I started using for practice tips. It's very valuable for bowing in general, not just staccato, you have to keep your wrist low and bring the arm in at the right angle.

June 19, 2006 at 06:00 PM · William, I forgot to mention that the arm must be kept still, but not stiff... That is the Yankelevith way, quite different from Galamian...It gives a very elegant staccato, and fast to...

June 19, 2006 at 06:10 PM · "It's got to be better to be able to do a medium-speed controlled stroke than a fast uncontrolled one though. Eg I couldn't do Paganini 10 properly for years, until I started using for practice tips. It's very valuable for bowing in general, not just staccato, you have to keep your wrist low and bring the arm in at the right angle."

I agree that is great for all kinds of tips. I just, for me, anyway, happen to disagree with #2 and #3 in this particular case.

And, of course it's better to do it slower and more controlled, rather than fast and out of control.

June 19, 2006 at 06:12 PM · "William, I forgot to mention that the arm must be kept still, but not stiff... That is the Yankelevith way, quite different from Galamian...It gives a very elegant staccato, and fast to..."

Well, I'm not here to deal in absolutes when it comes to staccato.

June 19, 2006 at 06:23 PM · When it comes to staccato, no violinist is perfect anyways, even Kogan and Heifetz!You have a nice one William, I like It!

June 19, 2006 at 06:27 PM · William, thanks for your email and additional comments. Why do you think #2 and #3 are not so good?

As for #1, I think the prof meant that the forearm should be rotated back and forth during the up bow, which causes pressure on and off the index finger. However, you seem to be suggesting that the entire stroke be done with a pronated forearm (good description, btw, I understand what you mean about "slanting toward the index finger). Am I understanding you correctly?

Also, which part of your body would you say makes most of the motion (finger, wrist, arm)? That seems to be the primary difference between the possible choices.

And Jim, I don't think anyone's advocating a fast uncontrolled motion (that would go under some other category of bowing, I'm sure). I've got the medium controlled stroke down, but I really don't want to slow down the entire piece for these two little passages. :)

June 19, 2006 at 07:05 PM · Karin, look at the index of Oistrach in a video...He uses it only four balance, no pressure at all...That is the big difference between the russian way and the Galamian-Delay teaching...Most of the russian violinists use the index and the small finger for balance...The longest,(middle)gives you the control of every stroke you can imagine with a free wrist...Finger stroke is also used often in the russian school...

June 19, 2006 at 07:22 PM · Karin, to answer your question. And, again, it's just me, so take what works for you and dump the rest.

Remember the 'dip' I talked about in the first response? This would be the #1 that the professor was talking about. Or, the 'catch and release' mini-martle's that I wrote about in the second response.

As far as what part of the body makes the most motion, well....for me, it's that 'dipping' motion, what you described as:

"As for #1, I think the prof meant that the forearm should be rotated back and forth during the up bow, which causes pressure on and off the index finge"

But I think that is 'powered' so-to-speak by the 'inside the forearm' thing.

Make sure your 'dips' (forearm rotation, pressure and release, catch and release-written descriptions are no fun at all without demonstration)... catch the string and are close together in the upper half of the bow.

I'm sure #2 and #3 are great, but they just aren't for me. If they work for you, though, by all means, do it.

I did have a teacher that did the staccato in a similar way to Marc's description. He had an elegant, but slow staccato. However, I'm sure there are plenty of violinists, including Marc, that have a very fast staccato controlled mostly with the fingers.

June 19, 2006 at 07:38 PM · Marc does not practice staccato anymore on the violin...he is an attorney right now and sometimes ,he writes music.

June 19, 2006 at 09:20 PM · Karin, try this. Without a bow, rotate your forearm back and forth in a movement like you're making very light alternating upbows and downbows.

The time between the beginning of each upbow there will be the time between the beginning of each note in your upbow stacatto.

While maintaining that motion, move the elbow (and/or shoulder) in an upbow motion, such that the velocity of that motion is equivalent to the angular velocity of the original (first) motion. Thus the bow doesn't move in the downbow portion of the first motion, even though the second motion is continuous. This is what separates the notes. The second velocity is combined with the first when the first is making it's upbow motion (also in the downbow portion but the sum is zero). It becomes a matter of just using the angular velocity of the first motion to determine tempo, and the critical thing - adjusting the velocity of the second motion so that it matches the velocity of the first motion, so that the bow doesn't move during the CCW portion of the first motion.

Here's where the "rigidity" people are talking about comes in: Do the first motion alone again but very fast. You can do it fastest if you tense the arm and the movement becomes spasmotic, as if you pretending to be cold. No matter what the speed of the first motion, just match the two velocities. Try it!

June 19, 2006 at 09:15 PM · CCW?

June 19, 2006 at 09:31 PM · Counter-clockwise, meaning the downbow portion of the first motion.

Notice the faster the tempo, the faster the bow has to move upward. Neat, huh?

June 19, 2006 at 09:55 PM · Jim and William, I greatly appreciate your efforts to describe in text that which is clearly not meant to be described in text. :)

I'm stuck at this point: "Karin, try this. Without a bow, rotate your forearm back and forth in a movement like you're making very light alternating upbows and downbows."

If I just rotate my forearm, I get a "rocking motion" where my index and pinky are like the ends of a seesaw with the fulcrum between my middle and ring fingers. If I were doing light, short bows, I would either keep my forearm essentially still and move only my wrist, as I do in tremolo. The rotation of the forearm just causes me to place and release pressure on my index finger (I assume this is the source of the "dip" William refers to) but does not move the bow horizontally unless I also move the forearm (by changing the angle at my elbow).

BTW, William, I am familiar with "catch-and-release" but only at a very slow tempo; my teacher actually has me do it as a precursor to ricochet (which I'll bug you guys about later!). I'll try it on up-bow tonight.

June 19, 2006 at 10:03 PM · Karin, you can make the first motion any way that works for you, rotational, side to side, whatever. You might try the rotating motion, but loosening the bow hold so that everything between your wrist and the bow is a lever with a free pivot at the bow itself. I think the basic important thing will be matching the two velocities. I should say matching the second velocity to the first.

June 19, 2006 at 10:00 PM · hi karin,

i always thought i had a decent up-bow staccato, although it was a bit 'stiff sounding'..

and then my teacher explained it to me this way:

bring the upper arm up, as if you were going to do an up bow on the string below it (i.e. if you're going to play the e string, get your upper arm in to a string position). bow up as you would normally, thinking of doing a down bow with the index finger, and up bow with the ring finger. the crisper the sound you want, the stronger the 'down bow' sensation, the looser, faster you want, the lighter. he explained it a lot better than i just did.. i found it so much easier to think of this way. besides, i don't like to think of pinching my bow.. i don't think the bow would appreciate it.

apparantly, down bow staccato works the same way- except exactly the opposite, except i find it harder to control....

June 19, 2006 at 11:30 PM · I like your description of sensing the down bow part. As for raising the arm, I think the bow makes a small arc between each note, opposite the direction it does for string crossing, and that might keep the bow away from the adjacent lower string. As best as I can remember. It's been a few years since I actually did this.

Karin, I just noticed this:

"If I were doing light, short bows, I would either keep my forearm essentially still and move only my wrist, as I do in tremolo."

Tremelo-type motion is what I meant. It comes from rotating the forearm, although we call it wrist, right?

June 20, 2006 at 01:30 AM · Could you explain what a curl is? For an adult what weight would be good for developing the bow arm? Please forgive my naivety.

June 20, 2006 at 01:25 AM · Greetings,

a curl is the action the arm perfomrs that raises a dumbell from hanging by your side to roughly in front of your collar bone. It is primarily used to develop biceps. The bicep perfroms two functions during the action: 1) closing the elbow joint (so the hand is raied) and 2) rotating the foraaerm.. Thus in a regualr curl one begins with the dumbell heads at front and back. By the time theyreach chest height they are pointing fornm left to right. The elbow is held tightly against the side of the body to @prevent supporting action by the shoulder or back. It is designed ot -isolte- the bicep as far as is posisble. There is no fixed strating point for this kind of exercise but you might start with ten pounds. If the weigth is too heavy you won`t be able to curl it up without involving the deltoids or back in some way. It is better to have only a strict bicep movvement. Advanced trainers use very heavy weights and use the back to help flip the weight up. This is refrred to as -cheating- and is not a reocmmeded technique for beginners. Incidentally, It is very important to lower the weight at a much slower speed than raising it.



June 20, 2006 at 01:30 PM · Stephen,

I do heavy weight-lifting and compete since my teens (I was an olympic wrestler for many years)...Believe me, It does not match with violin or piano playing...Not at all!!! and I could play Sibelius at 15! I had to made a choice...Swimming and diving are good sports for musician and very light weight lifting should not cause injury, depending how it is done...

June 20, 2006 at 04:39 PM · ok...

i didn`t mean "lifting"... i meant exercising in general for the muscular and articulation tonus. ALL KINDS. Curls too..(:

but i think everything for triceps will be a lot helpful... because they are the weakest. The fact that the biceps are used more than the triceps doesn`t affect the daily life. But this disbalance i think it affects the stacato.

I know very well that there is no relation between body building and violin... but anyway, especially for skiny arms (like mine) it can be very helpful.


June 20, 2006 at 06:30 PM · Heifetz seems to pronate the wrist on upbow staccato. On downbow staccato he turns the hair towards the scroll and angles the bow 30 degrees or more from the bridge as he approaches the tip.

June 20, 2006 at 06:54 PM · I have more than one kind of continuous staccato depending on the song I play.

When I'm playing Hora Staccato, I flatten my right wrist, raise my right elbow, and hinge my elbow closed in a ratchet-style fashion.

When I'm playing Kreutzer #4, I use a wrist and finger staccato for the shorter runs. On the long scalar runs, I'll go up or down bow depending on which way the scale is going. That's in order to take advantage of the angle of the bridge.

In the Saint Saens Intro and Rondo Capriccioso, I'll totally shake up that bowing and do it a variety of ways depending on who I'm playing with. Sometimes it's straight staccato, sometimes it's sautille, sometimes it's a combination, sometimes it's even slurred notes with staccato interspersed.

June 20, 2006 at 11:22 PM · Greetings,

Marc, I agree compeltely. I also trained in Olympic lifting in my late teens and sporadically did weight lifting all my life. It is one heck of a drug. Incidentally, I belive the extra protein intake necessray overloads the liver and kidneys which has a detrimental effetc on the health of the tendons. A real no no for violnists.

Light work with dumbelss. Sure. Anything else I stay well away. Now yoga, that`s really tough one.



June 21, 2006 at 06:30 PM · DUMBELLS. that`s the word.

this is what i meant. But when i wrote firstly i didn`t have time to find the best words for what i wanted to say. my poor english...

of course not "heavy weights". By "heavy" I meant dumbells of 5 , 6 or 7 kg. To not lose the time with 1 or 2 kg.


June 22, 2006 at 06:33 AM · I can't see how weightlifting would bee any good. I have seen girls 7-9 years old play La Capricieuse an Hora Staccato quite easily. But they would have trouble lifting a weight of 6-7 kg.

The thing about staccato is not the tension, it is the relaxation, and the very short time between them.

June 22, 2006 at 12:48 PM · The tendons, muscles and articulations of the arms of those litle girls are surely balanced and healthy.

I consider that the incapacity of playing staccato is of course the result of not practicing it, BUT for some people, even practicing a lot, it remaines the result of the disbalance of the tendons and muscles inside the arm as a whole. JUST for that case i would recomand those dumbells, to bring some more tonus and vitality for tendons and muscles.

Maybe another kind of disbalance (the good one) is when someone has fast staccato but never practiced for it. (i know some cases)


June 22, 2006 at 01:15 PM · Anyway, I am curious what Karin Lin has to say about the matter with the dumbels... Was it helpful?

I really felt the difference after i started using them... but I suppose my case it wouldn`t be enough...

June 22, 2006 at 07:17 PM · I should've mentioned this before: check your instrument and bow.

Naturally, a bow has to be properly cambered and rehaired for staccato to work best. What no teacher ever told me was that the violin has to be properly calibrated too. If a person's violin isn't properly adjusted, one's great right hand staccato will sound like mush.

And just because a person has an "expensive" instrument doesn't mean that the staccato will come out either. One has to find the right instrument that allows a staccato to come out cleanly and clearly.

June 22, 2006 at 07:33 PM · Oh, yippee, Kevin, you mean maybe I can blame my instrument? ;)

I didn't realize that the violin played a role as well. Maybe I'll try the staccato on another instrument and see if it makes a difference. And you can be sure that when I start evaluating my next violin purchase, within the next year, I'm going to try up-bow staccato on all the instruments I consider. :)

BTW, I've been ill the last few days and haven't had a chance to try the most recent suggestions made by everyone, but do appreciate them and hope to do some practicing tonight. (Sorin: I will try the weightlifting, but I would not imagine to see results after only a few days)

June 22, 2006 at 10:11 PM · I uploaded Ginette Neveu playing the HS as she does play it so nicely, you wouldn't think it was a difficult technical feat at all:

needs RealPlayer

June 26, 2006 at 03:34 PM · Jim,

Neveu is simply one of the best...I made previous comments about her interpretation of that piece in another bloc of discussion...I like also her central episode where her violin sings so nicely...


June 27, 2006 at 10:57 PM · Greetings,

forgor if it has been mentioned but you ioght try lifting the middle and little fingers of the stick. This can be very helpful.



June 27, 2006 at 11:14 PM · I am having good luck with Sharon's suggestion of lifting the arm as if playing the string below (thank you!) and Jim's point about matching the upward motion of the arm to cancel the down bow. I can now do up-bow staccato at half the speed of my tremolo, which makes sense (since I'm effectively damping every other stroke), but I don't know how to push the speed beyond that. :(

Will try lifting the middle/ring fingers and see how that feels. Thanks, Buri.

June 28, 2006 at 03:37 PM · Gah! It works!

P.S. Speed up your tremolo. Make it the speed of shivering.

June 28, 2006 at 06:44 PM · dumbells... :)

June 28, 2006 at 06:47 PM · Stephen, it is funny but for me it suits better when I straight foward the index and lift the short one from the stick doing all the staccato with the balance of the middle finger and the wrist, keeping the entire arm still and relax...and it is very fast, up and down bow... The angle of the stick is toward the bridge while doing the up-bow motion and flat, more or less in the direction of the finger-board when doing the down-bow motion...I do not practice anymore, but still, the motion is there...Strange...


June 28, 2006 at 11:05 PM · Greetings,

that`s interesting.

Let`s get practicing...Cheers,


June 29, 2006 at 08:47 AM · Spinach and Oyster salad- and lots of it- There is no other proven way to develop the staccatto

June 29, 2006 at 05:14 PM · Odin, I'm willing to try a lot of things (Sorin, I'll get to the dumbbells, I promise :) ) but if you're going to ask me to put an oyster in my mouth, you'd better give me some hard proof that it works!

June 30, 2006 at 02:30 AM · Greetings,

given the well documented priapismic effect of eating oysters `hard proof` was an unfortunate turn of phrase,



July 12, 2006 at 04:09 PM · Marc wrote: "Neveu is simply one of the best...I made previous comments about her interpretation of that piece in another bloc of discussion...I like also her central episode where her violin sings so nicely..."

I just read your post on the "Encore Piece" thread - great post, very well put.

July 12, 2006 at 06:46 PM · Karin,

I believe that up bow staccato is a forearm initiated stroke that remains on the string. It is really a series of Martele strokes in one direction. The fact is we all have a top limit on automatic motions (i.e. trills, vibrato, etc). Milsteins solution, which I think sounds great, was to play a series of broken arpeggios through that passage. If you enjoy Kreutzer, as I do, come check my new DVD course at: http://www.violinmastery,com

August 14, 2006 at 07:45 AM · Greetings all,

someone suggested lifting weights, which sounds good if you have access to some, but perhaps an even better (and cheaper) alternative would be isometric exercises where you tense the muscles for brief periods. You can practice these anywhere since you carry your muscles with you wherever you go, and since it most mimics the tightening effect of the so-called stiff arm staccato. Of course these should never cause strain and only be done according to your fitness level.

August 14, 2006 at 08:38 AM · Karin,

I was as dissapointed as you after seing the Definition video on, two years?!...and as patience isn't exacly my first quality, I thought at something: 3 minutes per day, two years,that would mean in about 10 days, of 4 hours a day only these, we will have staccato like Ivry Gitlis :))did you see his one in La Capricieuse? amazing!) ..

And William, great performance, I like Banjo and Fiddle very much.


August 15, 2006 at 10:20 PM · To all the people who gave tips on the flying spiccato,

I was wondering if they find that they can control the tempo of it...and if so, is it useful to practice slowly and build up the tempo, or just jump into a fast-tempo version.

Heifetz mentioned the term "flying" when teaching someone Hora Staccato but used it in a negative way, saying that most violinists who can do it, can only do it at certain speeds, and best on an upbow. (whereas he could play it at any speed, and both up and down with ease).

A student of Heifetz played HS lightning fast to the delight and amazement of the masterclass, but Heifetz just said he should have played something else. Then he asked the student to play it again, but at a slower tempo, and the student couldn't! this technique has eluded me for a while, so i'm always trying to find info on it.

thanks for all the posts!

and to "jim hoyle": very clever name :p

August 16, 2006 at 06:37 AM · William,

Thank you for posting those wonderful video clips, which I found to be very helpful. You strike me as an excellent teacher.


August 16, 2006 at 12:34 PM · It's my pleasure to help. I'm glad you got something from it! Thanks.

October 8, 2006 at 04:17 PM · I had same problem in this passage of saint saens... and i found the problem was in my case(maybe could be yours also) the changing of strings was not smooth and also the articulation of the fsharp(first 16st of the stacatto pasagge)this note is very importaant because there is the impulse of all the bowing... so i dare to recomend you to practice with stactto bow each note twice and changing elbow possition before changing string... do not agree of changing bow and playing spicatto or flying spicatto, remember saint-saens said that his music was written in a perfect way and the person who would change something was already playing bad the piece. hope i could help you

January 13, 2007 at 06:09 PM · Ok. This is archived. I'll start another thread.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

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