Allegro, staccato, and hitting more than one string

David Ford said: Aug 12, 2018
 6 posts

I’m a beginning adult on Suzuki 1 book. I’ve played self-taught for years, and it shows I was self-taught, and limited. I have a teacher now.

Anyway, trying Allegro, and I’m having a hard time not hitting either the E or D string when I’m trying to do staccato on the A string. I sometimes have this problem anyway as my teacher has corrected several things in my bow hold and holding the violin with the neck, keeping wrist straight, etc. Everything is new, and kinda difficult for the time being.

I’m assuming the biggest problem is putting too much pressure on the bow to where the other strings are closer to the bow hair now, but I’m not getting that squawking sound as I would if that was all I was doing was putting way too much pressure.

Any pointers? Thanks.

I see at the bottom here I have to be a teacher or parent. Since I’m neither, is this the best place for me to be asking questions?

Jennifer Visick said: Aug 17, 2018
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1069 posts
  1. It might just be the changes in posture that your teacher is making are throwing you off. It’ll take a little while to get used to a new playing stance—just keep making little changes till you get it right… then practice till it’s comfortable!

  2. It might be that your bridge is too flat. Or, rather: your bridge might not be “too” flat, but you may still find that it’s easier to play a single string at a time if you get a violinmaker (luthier) to carve you a new bridge that has a steeper curvature.

  3. It might be that you’re letting the bow slide too close to the fingerboard. The farther your bow is from the bridge, the less wiggle room your bow has before it hits a neighboring string.

Ensure that your scroll isn’t drooping a lot (i.e. make sure your strings aren’t sloping drastically downhill from the bridge towards the scroll), angle the bow so that the stick is slightly farther away from the bridge than the bow hair is, and aim the bowstrokes in a direction that keeps the bow hair parallel to the bridge. These three things will help keep the bow hair tracking in one “lane” or one contact point on the string.

  1. It might be that when you play staccato, you’re pulling the bow too fast for you to control it’s angle (yet).

In a slower bow stroke, you may have time to make small course corrections if you start out aiming the bow towards a place that will eventually cause you to hit another string. In a faster bow stroke, you need more precise “aim” before you start the bow stroke, because there isn’t as much time to make corrections.

Try using less bow on the staccato notes.

Try playing the first Twinkle Rhythm on the A string several times. Do you have the same issue with the two staccato notes at the end of this rhythm? If not, play it a few times and then play it backwards (taka taka stop stop, taka taka stop stop, then try stop stop taka taka…)

  1. It might be that your bow stick is warped or otherwise inferior, thus making it more difficult to control it.

I just had a student in a lesson who couldn’t execute a clear, clean sound even after getting a more efficient bow hold, angling the bow, aiming it properly,relaxing and not pushing too hard into the string, etc.

I handed the student a spare bow—a $50 shar fusion bow that happened to be in my case, and voila: immediately the problem went away.

If you suspect an inferior bow is the culprit, or if you suspect that your bridge might be too flat for beginner’s comfort levels, ask your teacher and/or find a local violin shop where you can try out a few better quality bows before you buy one.

David Ford said: Aug 17, 2018
 6 posts

THANK YOU for that comprehensive response. Much appreciated.

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