ASK THE PROS | Philippe Quint – ‘The Perfect Up Bow Staccato’

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The Violin Channel member Vlad Bourceanu, from London, was keen to know: ‘What is the secret to perfect up bow staccato?’

VC threw Vlad’s plea over to Russian-American virtuoso Philippe Quint:

‘Hi Vlad,

Thanks for your question.

Staccato is one of those bow strokes that some people believe must come naturally, others feel it is better not to perform works that incorporate it, and the rest may just replace it with spiccato or come up with any other viable solution.

But I am a firm believer that staccato can be developed like any other bowing or stroke, as it is not in your hand – but in your brain. Once the brain figures out the proper movement the hand will follow.

For me, the quick strategy guide, would look something like this:

1. Press with the index finger to create an accent
2. Relax
3. Don’t use too much bow, as at fast speed you won’t be, and each bow responds differently so finding the right sounding point is important
4. Concentrate on the clarity of the sound
5. Experiment with the tilt of the bow
6. Start from no more then 3- 4 notes per bow and then slowly add more
7. Metronome practice with different speeds

A tiny bit of tension will of course be necessary in order to create the initial accent but it’s imperative the hand and arm must remain relaxed between the notes – as any sort of tension will be counterproductive.

If properly developed in slow-fast speeds the reflex will be developed in your brain and you should be able to even vary what staccato you want to use i.e. flying, on the string relaxed, up and down bow, etc.

And, keep in mind – life without staccato is just as good. Music making is not about this funky stroke : )

Hope this helps, Vlad?

Take care, Philippe.’

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