Up Bow Staccato
I have been practising up and down bow staccato for 2 years, and I just can’t make it fast. How did Heifetz do it? I push down with my index finger and release, making a martele stroke, and I can only do it at 80 bpm.
How do violinists do this technique sooooooo fast?? Do you seriously have to stiffen up the whole arm? Do really need talent like many violinists say?
I will not replace it with spiccato because it then throws away the whole point of pieces that employ staccato.
Honestly, it could be your bow.
Yes, Honestly you have to tense your arm. To see the physical reason make a tight fist with your right arm (with no bow) You will notice that your arm trembles.To control it practice playing a single note note and accent the first of every group of 4 notes using as much pressure as possible and as small amount of bow as possible.
I don't believe that up-bow staccato is simply a matter of tensing the arm. That may work for the fastest passage, but it is very difficult to control. There must be an element of relaxation in the stroke as well.
Interestingly enough, I've heard a few anecdotes about great teachers, all of which featured up-bow staccato. The first time was someone asking Zimbalist about the teaching ability of Leopold Auer, with whom he studied in St Petersburg.
To Erik Williams:
To Bruce Berg:
My teacher when I was a high schooler said: Tilt the bow towards you, with solid weight on the string, and pull (down-bow) or push (up-bow). Worked for me.
I teach my students two approaches, depending on the repertoire they have to play. Saint-Saens is a different situation than Paganini of course.
"No way! My bow is 6 months old and it is pernambuco"
Ah forget that pronation thing. I can’t even play Kreutzer No.4 with that! Neither can I play any scale with it!
You may also want to set your standards lower. You're not going to match Heifetz or anything like that.
If you are trying to learn a relaxed staccato, then you need to start with a single stroke, and make sure that you have the right amount of bite and release. If you can get one, then you start on two, which is the basis for the actual staccato. You start slow, play one note and then COMPLETELY RELEASE, and take as much time as you need to completely relax, before starting the next note. Once you can get two notes together, you should be able to add more, and start to speed it up, but you can only speed it up so much as you have that complete release in between notes. Then you can really start working on it.
Some things learn themselves slowly and staccato is I think one of those things. Doing it slowly is not terribly difficult. Christian describes it very nicely. Speed up is a different proposition as everybody agrees.
Upbow staccato is one of those things that some people just learn instantly. When I was about 12-13 and starting K4 my teacher demonstrated it for me, and then I tried it, and I was kind of wondering why everyone made such a big deal out of it. It seemed pretty easy. Now for some reason RE learning it is harder.
I find Eyal Kless' tutorial super helpful and a lot of my students do too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9m7cugr9nE
To Susanna Klein
Ray Chen has a tutorial on youtube for this
There must be something fundamentally wrong in the approach...but it will be hard to figure out what it is without taking a lesson with someone just on that in particular. Common issues: not starting with enough grit or pressure (the pressure that is in the string before the stroke starts), too much bow (or uneven bow length). My up-bow staccato is not great, so I'm not one to talk...but when I go through a bout of practicing this skill I usually do the following:
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the Ysaye method.
Can you do two martelés in quick succession without using your arm? The first note or two of a staccato (and the last ones) are very important.
That fast staccato you're looking for may be a stiff-arm stroke. It's difficult to control, but it is certainly fast.
"I can’t do tremolo. My hand is too slow for that... for now....?"
How do I even do a fast tremolo?
As stated in your tremolo thread: use hand and wrist motion only. If you "tried" using "only" your forearm recently, does this mean you've been trying to play tremolo with your entire arm up until now?
No. That is ACTUALLY how my teacher taught me.
Is that the end? I STILL can’t do staccato.
Alright you know what, I give up.
When I asked my teacher how to do it he just told me use your nose. At first I was like what in the world does that mean? It means sniff your own way. What he meant by this is that up bow or down bow staccato is something you have to find out how to do yourself. The way Heifetz did may not be the way you can do it. Same thing for Christian Li or Ray Chen. You have to just try different positions and such with your arm, wrist, what have you in order to get it. My advice would be instead of looking up tutorials, try just watching videos of people playing pieces that have staccato in them. And when you do this pay attention to how that person is doing it. The way I sort of got it was by copying what a man named Antal Zalai while he was playing Paganini Caprice no 15 (the piece I was trying to learn staccato for). He tilts his bow away from him and lifted his pinky off the bow while also tilting his hand to the right. It's easier to see if you watch the video but while weird it works really well for him.
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