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Arts & Entertainment

Advanced Bowing and Left-Hand Techniques

Itzhak Perlman

Lesson time 17:36 min

Building on bowing fundamentals, Mr. Perlman moves into advanced bow strokes and playing techniques, such as double-stops, harmonics, and higher positions.

Itzhak Perlman
Teaches Violin
In his first-ever online class, virtuoso violin player Itzhak Perlman breaks down his techniques for improved practice and powerful performances.
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[VIOLIN PLAYING] TEACHER: Detache, spiccato, legato, and martele are some of the strokes that I use. And they're very, very helpful. [VIOLIN PLAYING] Legato is you connect two notes together. And then if you have the-- you have-- that's all separate. If you want to do it legato, you go-- So that's legato. That's one that has two notes as a slur. If you want three notes as a slur, you go-- So that's a legato, you know. And of course, legato, if you play certain pieces of music, it's all written out for you, you know, as a phrase marking. So you know, I get back to my favorite example of the second movement of the Mendelssohn Concerto. So if you were to play it without legato, the beginning, it will sound like this. But if you play the legato, so the second, and third, and fourth notes, you slur. It goes-- You can go-- you can play two notes into one bow and so on. I always feel that legato is good for phrasing, but sometimes, you know, you've got too many notes per bow. I feel that you should feel free to divide it, so that if you have four notes per bow, playing two and two as opposed to all four, because then you may run out of bow. So anyway, so legato basically is a slur of-- you know, you take several notes, and you play them all into one bow. So-- It's legato as opposed to detache, which means that separate bow on the string. That's a detache. So now comes one of my favorite, you know, bowings, which is the spiccato. The spiccato is you bounce your bow off the string. Now spiccato is an interesting stroke. It's a pain in the neck kind of a stroke. Why is it a pain in the neck? Because it's a question of how do you do it, and what part of your bow do you use? So here it is. I remember when I was talk-- when I was reminding you about making sure that your wrist is not stiff so that it doesn't look like the wrist has, you know, like a cast over it, all right? So if you go with spiccato, you want to spiccato with your wrist-- and slightly with your fingers. And just think about if you want to say-- you want to wave goodbye. If you wave goodbye like this, you know, that's the kind of spiccato-- so that so if you want to play it faster-- but always feel that there is a kind of an action going up and down, up and down. So another thing about to spiccato is make sure it does not come from the shoulder. So you go-- the minute you go, there's always a tendency, some people, to go like that. That's bad, because it only makes you tired. And it doesn't really give you a bounce. So what you have to do is relax your shoulder. You know, just relax. So you see. You notice-- notice in my wrist how my wrist is working, as well as my fingers. And I'm not really giving a lot of effort, you know. Also, make sure that the bow is in the nice point of contact, you know. Make sure that it's right kind of in the middle, that it's not here, and that it's not there, sort of in the middle. Another thing that I can tell you abou...

Play with passion

The world’s reigning virtuoso violin player, Itzhak Perlman performs for presidents, royals, and classical music lovers around the world. Now the beloved Juilliard instructor and 15-time Grammy Award winner brings his passion for teaching to a wide audience for the first time. Learn fundamental techniques, practice strategies, and how to add richness and depth to your sound. Give your most dynamic performance yet.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I loved every second and I do not like classical music and I cannot play an instrument. The way he plays the fiddle brings tears to my eyes. Just brilliant!!!!

A great course! I do think there are a few bits that could have been covered in more depth but as a whole its a great course!

I've learned soo much about expression and I really loved this class!

Love to learn from Mr. Perlman. I will definitely try some of the exercises.


Adam M.

I loved it so much! I can't believe I get to have a masterclass from Itzhak Perlman!!!

A fellow student

I watched all of the videos. Itzhak Perlman is fantastic and there is no doubt on that. But if you are looking for a documentary about playing violin go ahead and purchase this class. All the material mentioned in this class can be found online in youtube with more details. Remember, you are paying to watch a documentary about playing violin with Perlman narrating the documentary, not a learning series of lessons. You wanna learn how to use bow and divide bow correctly when you play each piece and each Technic. In this masterclass you may learn what is violin and where those sounds come from. You will never learn how to produce those sounds or play a single simple piece e.g. Minuet 2 Bach from Suzuki Vol. 1.

Helanie T.

while he was explaining the spiccato, all I could think of was the word "SPARK"


I think it's hilarious that he described himself as being a "fiddle player"! ;-)


The caption says that Mr. Perlman is playing the second movement of the Bruch at the beginning, but he is actually playing the first movement.

Susie K.

I love ricochet. I see now when I first tried it, it was forced and tried a lot but as soon as I just let the bow do the work, it felt amazing especially when I caught it on the third bounce to go up bow. Then away it goes again, down-down and then up and before I new it a succession! :)

Hyun L.

Wrong movement in the beginning listed for Bruch - it should be 1st (allegro moderato), not 2nd (adagio)

Patricia S.

Wonderful! So explicit....just what I needed. Now to perfect it...a whole lot of repetition; lovely.

Gil M.

Love it very much so! How well explained each of the technics with examples.

A fellow student

Double stop harmonics? Wow! Happy to hear Mr. Perlman needs to practice those...I didn't even know they existed.