What Are Different Bow Strikes on the Violin?

Learn about different bow strikes from musician Julie Artzt Becker in this Howcast video.


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Want to learn how to play the violin but don't have the time or money to take violin lessons? Then check out these online video lessons and learn on your own time, at your own pace, in the privacy of your own home. Violinist Julie Artzt Becker will have you playing in no time.



There's lots of different bow strokes when you play the violin. There's legato, there's staccato, there's sautille, there's martele ; I'll explain some of them. Here's legato strokes. I'll do it in a scale so you can really see. That's just really smooth bow changes. You're going from a down bow to an up bow with no real stop. You can do the same thing but with detache strokes, it's called. That's smooth bows with a slight separation. That's what detache is. There's also martele stokes. You catch the string and then you release it. Then there is staccato. Here's sautille. It's faster and it's not as controlled. The way that you play a staccato stroke, you're controlling your bow arm like this. You're sort of keeping your arm in the air and the rest of the weight of your hand goes does down and up, down and up, and you're using your fingers and your wrist to control it. Now, sautille is about...it's around the same stroke but it's going so much faster that you're not really controlling it. You set it up, the arm, and then the hand just does it really fast by itself. Those are some of the strokes you could actually see in a simple song, some of these strokes. That was a combination of staccato and martele. Listen again. Here's the staccato part. Here's the martele part. Because I caught the string. Catch, release. Catch, release. Catch, release. Now here comes legato. All the varying strokes is what makes playing the violin so versatile and beautiful, and you have to perfect each one. That is an introduction to different kinds of bow strokes on the violin.


  • Julie Artzt Becker

    Julie Artzt Becker is currently on the violin faculty at the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Division where she has been teaching for 15 years. Ms. Becker is also a founding member of the MOTYL Chamber Ensemble with whom she performs regularly. In 2009, Ms. Becker was the assistant violin teacher to Itzhak Perlman at the Perlman Music Program Winter Residency in Sarasota, Florida.