Polishing  with Staccato

As my tone production is evening out somewhat, I’m able to work on some of the finer points.  My current Gavotte from Mignon contrasts a main theme, reproduced throughout the piece, with two other sections.  The main theme is to be played staccato, and in yesterday’s lesson Teacher was helping me with it.  It’s not like this is the first time staccato has made an appearance; a good many of the notes in my Suzuki repertoire are marked with that little dot.  But I think Teacher noticed that I’m finally to the point where I can devote some attention to it and produce a much more pleasant sound.

The technique is best accomplished with a decisive bow stroke that tapers up quickly in the amount of pressure applied to the string with the bow, then tapers down just as quickly, a “scoop” of pressure, if you will, or perhaps a bell curve, depending on the way you want to conceive of it.  The whole thing happens quickly, so that the note’s full duration is only “heard” in a residual ringing of the note after I stop the bow.  All sorts of finer points like this add up to a good sounding violin, and it’s fun for me to start to drill down on some of them.  This technique is more broadly applicable as well; its beginning and ending soft-pressure-on-the-strings moments help with the start and stop scratchiness that can accompany the bow strokes of us beginners.

The piece is coming along – I’ve almost got it entirely memorized, and the section that has most challenged me, the bit that goes minor, is becoming more natural, though it’s still the part I struggle with the most.  I’m having more and more fun playing it.  Here in a week or so I might be ready to try it with accompaniment, and I suspect in the next lesson we’ll move on to the next Gavotte.

Thanks for reading.


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