Pluck it up
Next in our journey we are going to learn how to pizzicato. This one is pretty simple, so this article won’t be long. Remember that Pizzicato is when you pluck the violin strings with your bow hand instead of using the bow.
In practical applications, most songs you will play will not have a lot of pizzicato, so we will use our first finger on the bow hand to do most of our pizzicato. In this case, we would be able to quickly switch back and forth between arco and pizzicato (bowing and plucking the violin strings).
Where to pluck the violin strings
It’s best to pluck the strings just beyond the end of the fingerboard. This will be relatively close to your face. We never pluck the strings between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge because this is where we bow, and this is where rosin accumulates on the violin strings. If we pizzicato on top of the rosin, we will get our fingers sticky, but more importantly, it will produce an odd sound. Additionally, the best sound is produced about an inch past and on top of the end of the fingerboard.
How to pizzicato without the bow in hand
Simply put the bow on your violin stand or on top of your lap in order to pizzicato this way. It’s generally very straight forward. However, sometimes there are songs that are entirely, or nearly entirely, pizzicato. For these songs, we will put the bow down and place our thumb on the side of the fingerboard near the E string just above the end of the fingerboard. This will make it easier for us to perform continuous pizzicato.
How to pizzicato with the bow in hand
As we’ve already mentioned, you’re going to use your first finger on your bow hand for your pizzicato, but you will very often do this while the bow is still in your hand. To make this work, simply hold the bow as you normally would, but pull the bow stick past the middle knuckle of the first finger, towards the hand.
Now that you’ve got more finger length to your finger, you will be better suited to pluck the violin strings. You can use this technique to go back and forth from bowing (arco) to plucking (pizzicato) very effectively.
Now that we’ve seen how to pluck the strings, let’s go to the next lesson and perform some of these techniques. Remember, once you’ve learned something, it’s always good to put it to work. In other words, practice it a bit before you put your violin away and you’ll be less likely to forget it!