Let’s Play A!(Arco and Pizzicato)


This is going to be a simple guide to playing the A string on your violin. I want you to experiment with both methods of sound production: pizzicato and arco. Make sure you are familiar with the proper technique and form for this, because we’re about to put it to use!

Now that you’ve learned how to bow on the A string, let’s go ahead and try it. We want to move the bow very slowly to start off. There is no rush here. As you feel more confident, you can up the speed.

Use all the tips, tricks, and strategies that we’ve discussed in previous articles. Start out slowly with the penny bow game. As you get better, remove the penny and try the bow stroke on the A string with some speed. I don’t want you to change strings just yet. Very shortly, we will approach that.

Make it real

Watch this video and play along with me. Inside there are a number of exercises you can use to help you become proficient with bowing. Here’s a summary of what you will find inside:

  • Mississippi Hot Dog
  • Ha-ppy—Dance
  • Cheeseburger
  • I-love-my-vi-o-lin
  • Su-per-cal-la-fra-gil-lis-tic
  • Play—-it-of—ten

These are word associations I use to help my students remember the rhythms that we will be playing on the open strings. In these different exercises, you will play long bows and short bows in varying combinations to give you some useful experience on your instrument. Remember, the more you practice the better you’ll be at it. Also, make sure you match me note for note on every exercise.


Next, practice pizzicato. This is not something that’s going to be extravagant. In fact, it doesn’t need to be. First, I want you to pizzicato without the bow in your hand. Next, you want to pick up your bow and try it with it in hand. It’s important to be able to do both. This is about the practical application of your skills.

Final thoughts

Just to be clear, I want you to use these exercises for both Arco and Pizzicato. We want to play with purpose. Remember to practice these techniques every day. Go ahead and once you’ve practice both for 5 to 10 minutes, head on over to the next lesson for some more fun learning!

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