Technique: Teaching collé


Marcos Santos, teacher at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, on how to work on this short, articulated bow stroke to improve students’ overall bow control and sound

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Collé is a short bow stroke with a ‘sticky’ beginning (the French word ‘collé’ means ‘stuck’), described by the great violin pedagogue Ivan Galamian as a pizzicato with the bow. Working on this stroke with young students can lead to a real breakthrough in the quality of their sound, as they learn to move their fingers in a way that produces a clear, articulated quality somewhere between a martelé and a staccato. To do this, they have to listen to the violin and respond to what it is telling them: do they need to change their contact point, the amount of bow hair, arm weight and finger pressure they are using, the part of the bow they are in, the bow speed? By thinking in this way they will learn how to address anything in their sound that they do not want, so that they can improve their overall bow control not only in collé but in all types of bow stroke.  


To begin work on collé, the first exercises that I give my students are designed to free up a stiff right hand:

  • Hold the bow or a pencil in the right hand
  • Extend the fingers and thumb (figure 1)
  • Now curl the fingers and thumb (figure 2)
  • Move between the two positions smoothly several times, keeping the hand as relaxed as possible

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