Upbow staccato & bouncing

Edited: January 12, 2020, 5:46 PM · I will certainly ask my teacher at my next lesson, but I'm trying to polish Minuet in G (with the Trio - end of Suzuki 2 - Beethoven) as much as I can for my next lesson. The only real problem I have with this little piece are those up-bow staccatos. My bow starts bouncing and I can't seem to keep the bow on the string - and it's only the up-bow staccato.

Any tips on how I can address this? I've tweaked my bow hair tension, bow angle, and bow pressure. A little better, but not much.

Edit- all of a sudden it's improving and I've no idea what's different. I record challenging phrases like this so I can better hear what I'm actually playing. Still an issue though, and I've read that up-bow staccato is challenging at first.

Replies (8)

Edited: January 12, 2020, 8:37 PM · You're going to find that a lot of bowing techniques are like that -- you work on them steadily and then there is some breakthrough that you can't really ascribe to any particular tweak. Sautille is like that too. There's usually a balance between making it happen and letting it happen.

It's like those pictures that they sell at the mall -- it looks like carpet, but you stare at it for 15 minutes, and eventually some kind of stereopsis kicks in, and suddenly you're looking at a picture of Elvis Presley sitting in a Cadillac.

January 13, 2020, 12:55 AM · My suggestion, its, at your level, and finding out that i also have started with Suzuki, is to practice the Minuet bow pattern found in the 1, and 2 from Bach in the 1st Book; very steadily, the 1, 2-3 where is like: Down-Up-Up. Keep repeating this pattern, without tension, and later, go adding 1 more note so instead of Down-Up-Up, go Down-Up-Up-Up, further spliting the bow in equal parts, always with the same speed, like at quarter note 80bpm.
Try adding like 5, or 6 until you are comfortable with it and then try the beethoven minuet with the same aproach, it will be much easier. Also, the other big difficulty of the piece are the string crossings, try these as well because they might be limiting you from fully focus on the staccato. You can practice those 2 things as well in open strings if you want, to not focus in the notes, but if it bores you try with the notes. Hope i get a point, wish you luck!
January 13, 2020, 1:01 AM · Also, i know many violinists will say that the staccato must be done stiffening the arm, that's what a lot of people told me when i did my own post here last year, but in the end, it depends of the people, the amount of notes to be played and the speed required. Hence, it's best to first learn tensionless, and if needed later, learn the stiff approach, because i'm 100% sure you know how to stress the arm, but you may not know how to relax your arm; if you can relax you can stress but viceversa its more hard, and in the end it's more easy for you.
Edited: January 13, 2020, 1:56 AM · "Stiffening the arm" only applies to very fast staccato!

In this minuet, the arm motion is more like a series of gentle "scoops", with a light "pinch" of thumb and index at the start of each note.

If your wrist is supple, it can take charge of the scooping.

Oh, and avoid playing this near the heel of the bow!

(My usual up-bow staccato is like a long up-bow stroke with a kind of hand vibrato, but I've developed it over half a century!)

Edited: January 13, 2020, 6:13 PM · Thank you Paul and Santiago! I do think relaxing has something to do with this.

Adrian, interesting description of the arm and thumb/index finger action, I will keep that in mind. My wrist is not locked, but I don't know that I would call it supple.

Now, if I can just play it for my teacher like I did last night. Not perfect, but much better.

January 14, 2020, 12:06 PM · No comments on my up-bow staccato, somehow I managed to avoid the dreaded shaking bow. Not that there weren't other things to discuss but it went well enough to move onto the last piece in the book :)

Thanks again for the comments, they were helpful.

January 15, 2020, 11:15 AM ·
Up-bow staccato is one of only 3 bowing techniques where I have a firm hold instead of a light hold on the bow. The other two are ricochet and down-bow staccato (which I still can't do fast). Actually only half of the hand is firm; thumb, first and second fingers. The third and fourth fingers are very light or completely off the stick. Do not stiffen the rest of the arm or shoulder. Stay in the upper half, above the balance point. You can work up to this by starting with an etude (Kreutzer, Wohlfahrt) with the more gentle version of portato-stroke. Add small accents to the first note of triplets or groups of four.
January 15, 2020, 4:08 PM · Thanks Joel and I will experiment with that. I did notice that I had more problem with the up-bow staccato when I started relatively close to the frog.

There are also quite a few slurs in this little piece. I do not have any problems with those, on the contrary, if there are neighboring slurs I want to get them all into one bow whether I am supposed to or not. I think this is from paying far more attention to what my left hand is doing than my right. My "go to" seems to be that when in doubt, slur...

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