4 Ways to do PIZZICATO on the VIOLIN (+when to pluck how) | Violin Lounge TV #375

by | Jul 22, 2020 | Practice Tips, Start to Play | 4 comments

How to pluck the strings on the violin?

In this video I explain four ways to do pizzicato and which way of plucking you should do when:

When you’re playing in an orchestra, it’s very handy to know all the ways to pizz!

#1 Plucking the strings without the bow

Apply this way of pizzicato if you’re a beginner doing intonation exercises or preparing for bowing or if you’re in an orchestra and you have to pizz for a whole movement or have plenty of time to switch. An example is the Playful Pizzicato in the Simple Symphony by Benjamin Britten

In an orchestra you can put your bow on the music stand.

Place your thumb on the corner of the fingerboard and pizz with your index finger. Pluck the strings well above the fingerboard, not where you bow. Otherwise your strings will be greasy and your bow will slip.

In the video I show you exactly how to do pizzicato with a clear sound.

#2 Pizzicato with the bow in your hand

You can apply this way if you have to play pizzicato for a while and you have time to switch from and to arco (bowing).

This is the same as #1, but with the bow in your hand.

Practice switching back and forth for example in a scale.

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Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.

#3 Pizzicato in the bow hold

Use this way if you have to switch between pizzicato and arco quickly, like in the Debussy violin sonata.

You maintain your bow hold as much as possible, reach out to the strings with your index finger and pluck the strings in that way.

You can practice switching in a scale or in an etude with a lot of string crossings. In this way you get the switching up to speed, which can come in really handy in orchestra playing.

#4 Left hand pizzicato

The previous three ways were with the bow hand. You can also pluck with the left hand fingers. We see this a lot in Paganini’s work.

Place your fingers on the string firmly, hook your finger a bit besides the strings and move it sideways and upward at the same time as you release the string.

First practice this with all fingers on all strings. After that try leave your fingers on the string while plucking and practice left hand pizzicato in scales.

Even if you don’t see this in the repertoire you play, left hand pizzicato is a GREAT way to improve finger strength and flexibility and left hand posture.

Hope this was interesting! 

Leave a comment below which way you’re going to practice.


  1. Margje van der Ent

    Thanks so much. Am unable to attend lessons at the moment. I started on the violin but now play the viola. Take it that the exercises and tips on bowing etc work for the viola as well?

    P.s. chart is very helpful

    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Sure, you can apply most of it to the viola and might ask your viola teacher to point out the differences. At least you need more weight and larger movements.

  2. Yael

    How can I tell when to play pizzicato, on sheet music?


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