How to Practice the Stroke

  • Staccato generated from tensing muscles.
  • Staccato generated from tremolo.
  • Staccato generated from bite and release.
  • Release the thumb, which loosens the bow grip, between attacks.
  • Both down bow and up bow staccato need a quick index finger bite generated from an explosive motion in the wrist and fingers.
  • If your wrist is locked, you are squeezing too hard.
  • Practice on all 4 strings using many tempi and dynamics.
  • When combined, the following components should enable bite and release:
    1. the whole arm pulls/pushes the bow;
    2. a short explosive wrist flick with a ‘biting index finger interspersed with instantaneous releases of the thumb;
    3. this instantaneous release of the thumb grip allows the wrist to rebound from the bite action.
  • In up bow staccato, use a higher wrist (in a more forward position than normal) . This position enables an up-flick of the wrist. When beginning to learn up bow staccato, use lots of wrist and finger action.
  • In down bow staccato use a lower, flatter than normal wrist, perhaps even indented in. This position allows you to throw the fingers downward and let them rebound up. When beginning to learn down bow staccato, use lots of wrist and finger action.
  • Let the sound breathe for an instant between attacks.
  • Do not ‘kill the sound’ by stopping the ring or resonance between attacks.


Over-squeezing the thumb will block needed flexibility of the wrist and fingers. Paul Katz

How to use Lessons How to Turn On Subtitles View All CelloWisdoms Download .pdf