How to Play Staccato | Herriman Violin Lessons

How to Play Staccato | Herriman Violin Lessons



One of the fun things about playing the violin is you can make many different types of sounds using only your bow. Staccato and legato are two of the bow strokes that beginners first learn to execute. Read on to learn more about how to play staccato.


What is staccato?

The musical term staccato translates to “detached” in Italian. The sound is characterized by short, crisp bow strokes. Staccato can be used to enhance the mood and interest of a piece.


How do I learn staccato?

My favorite way to teach staccato to beginners is by using the “wiggle the string” exercise.

  1. Place your bow at the frog on any open string. Add weight to the bow so the stick moves towards the bow hairs.
  2. Wiggle the string back and forth without making any sound. The bow should stay in the same spot, and you should be able to see the string moving a tiny bit. Doing this ensures that you have a good grip on the string.
  3. Pull your bow off the string into the air. It should make a short, crisp sound.

Try this exercise with both up and down strokes. After a few strokes, try doing the same exercise but keep your bow on the string. This is a great way to learn both staccato and accents.


Tips for playing staccato.

  • Staccato bow strokes both start and end quickly. Use small, fast bow strokes with an abrupt stop to achieve staccato.
  • Imagine you are in a tight alley between two walls. As you play staccato, imagine bumping into the imaginary walls. This can help you learn to stop the bow quickly and get that crisp staccato sound.
  • Practice scales, pieces, and etudes that use entirely staccato strokes. Some examples are Suzuki’s Perpetual Motion (for beginner players), Kreutzer’s 2nd Etude (for intermediate players).


Looking for more bowing tips? Read about creating a beautiful tone here.




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