Playing staccato notes adds a flare to a musical piece in ways that other techniques might not be able to. The violin staccato is one of the most dramatic effects produced by an instrument. Once you have mastered the bow stroke, you need to use it to achieve this technique, and your playing will gradually improve and move to the next level. We will guide you on how to play staccato on violin one bow stroke at a time. But first, let us learn what staccato is.
What is Staccato in Music?
Music has terminologies that may sound harder than they sound. Once you hear a sound, you will know you have heard it before, but when you hear the name of the sound, you will almost find it humorous. Staccato means notes with spaces in between them. Each note is sharply disconnected from the other to give a dramatic effect on the listener. The term staccato is easier to remember, and the next time you hear a piece with the technique included, you will almost hear the name in the notes.
How to Play Staccato on the Violin
If you love classical or the Baroque music, you will appreciate the beauty of strings and what they can achieve. Stringed instruments allow for techniques that make music beautiful and enjoyable to listen to. One of those techniques is the staccato, and we will show you how to play it with ease using the following steps;
a) Be Aware of the Bow
You need to know that the springiness of the bow is almost everything you are going to depend on whenever you play staccato. Getting the right bow strokes will make a huge difference in your playing, and getting the timing right is key. Staccato bowing is more about technique and control. Knowing how to manipulate the bow stick and using your bowing arm correctly is vital. The bow hair and the strings need to have the right tension to achieve the springiness you need.
How do you increase your awareness of the springiness of the bow? The first thing you to do is place the bow in contact with the strings at its middle point. Next, pronate your hand so that the index finger gently presses the bow onto the string. When you release the pressure created by the fingers, you will get the staccato note. You do not have to move the bow when starting. All you need to get right is getting the note as the bow stays put.
The next step is to do the same thing as you did initially, but move the bow stroke a little bit after suddenly releasing the pressure. When you repeat this process, you will end up with detached notes, making up the staccato. Know how to manipulate your first finger to your whole arm. It only makes sense that you are in full control. Soon enough, you will achieve speed.
b) Martelé Bow Stroke
Okay, never mind the name because, in music, you will get a lot of those. This stroke might be one of your favorite strokes when using the violin. This technique aims to create two notes using the motion of the bow upward and downward. Here is how to do it;
Place the bow on the string about a quarter way down from the tip. Create some pressure and release as you make a down bow. Just like that, you have achieved Martele bowing. Bite the string again and make an up bow. This up and down movement will give you a staccato stroke. With more exercise, you will end up playing with different emotions in mind—practice, practice, practice.
c) Up Bow and Down Bow Staccato
In this technique, you will need to squeeze your thumb and middle finger together to create tighter sounds than you did initially. Again, the bow will need to start at the point of bow and string. By the time you are done with the up-bow staccato, you will have a bunch of Martele strokes.
The down-bow staccato on the violin will be the same thing but will require more squeezing on the thumb and middle finger.
Yes, another lovely terminology. Please check out other terminologies including staccato on the violin, legato, crescendo, fortissimo, morendo, and more. You will be amazed. Now back to spiccato. The technique is as impressive as the name. The bow strokes, in this case, leave the string. The down bow or up-bow staccato will see the bow stroke go into the air after the note.
Regardless of the bow direction, there needs to be a jump in the air. This technique will involve using the elbow and the shoulders to get the right down bow and up-bow movement.
What is the Flying Staccato
Whether you are going down on the bow or in the opposite direction, the effect of applying the flying spiccato is very similar to the flying staccato. The point is to make all the notes staccato by ensuring they are in one direction and are short notes to create a unique rhythm. You can rest your wrist and let the first to the fourth finger get the job done. Your forearm, elbow, and shoulder will do the movement.
The flying staccato style ensures the bow strokes completely bounce off the violin. Therefore, your right hand, or right arm, has to control the intensity of the staccato on the violin by ensuring a good landing on the bow back on the violin.
What is the Hora Staccato
Hora staccato is a virtuoso piece that requires a high level of mastery. The piece is played in the Romanian Hora style and is quite prominent among violinists. The piece can be a real struggle to learn by beginners. If you are a beginner, focus more on the technique, and you will get to the point where you learn how to play the Hora staccato.
First, get the up-bow staccato down, and be good at the down-bow staccato. Know what bow hair tension is good for staccato, and every short note will be clearer and neater. Know when to make a light stop, and respect every dot you see. Soon enough, you will be playing the Hora staccato.
Before you nail the down bow staccato and other necessary techniques to take you to the next level, you need to know in what order you should learn the techniques. Otherwise, you will be all over the place, and it will take you longer to get on stage. Techniques build on each other, and you should be patient enough to respect the process. Once you have gotten the basics right, the intermediate techniques will come to you more easily. Then, when you become a pro-level player, you will not notice it; you will be told.
You have everything it takes to be a great violinist. Play the staccato a million times until you get it right. Remember, get the right violin and bow because it will make a huge difference in your learning curve.