• Elisabeth Hope

Strategies for practicing quick runs

Slipping and sliding through those scales, arpeggios, and other quick runs? Make them easier with these #practicetips!


  • Separate the bowing: Especially helpful as you begin to learn the run and want to check your notes and intonation accuracy

  • ABC: start at the beginning and add one note or unit at a time

  • XYZ: start at the end and work backwards, adding one note or unit at a time.

  • Detached slurs: helpful to check the accuracy of each note and plan out your bow distribution and string crossings, especially if your fingers tend to rush or move unevenly during the slur

  • Units by string: play all the notes on each string as a unit. This is especially useful to organize your bow arm if the string crossings are tricky!

  • Rhythmic units: try chocolate-chickens as described in my “Fast Sections that Tie Your Fingers in Knots” post, or split the run into the units that make sense for the rhythm of the run (often triplet or 4-note units).

  • Forward-backward practice: play the run forward, then backward. This strategy is particularly useful to organize your finger patterns

  • Finger patterns on each string: form the necessary finger pattern for each string (you can play the pattern as a unit, pausing between strings to organize the next pattern, or just silently set the whole pattern on the string!)

  • Finger patterns in each position: if there are lots of shifts, play each position as a unit, including the shift to the new position as the new unit. Form the necessary finger pattern for each position (you can play as a unit, pausing to set your patterns in each new position, or just silently set the whole pattern on the string!)

  • Jello Hand: playing with a normal bow, begin with the fingers barely tickling the string at harmonic weight, then go up to 25%, 50%, 75%, and finally 100% finger weight. You may find that your 100% is less than it was before, or that what feels like 75% is plenty of finger weight to get a good tone in the section! Often we press much harder than necessary with the fingers.

  • Looking for more ideas? Try adapting some of the ideas from “Fast Sections that Tie Your Fingers in Knots”

  • Have you found other strategies that work well for you as you work on quick runs? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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