Orchestra Bowing Styles

Orchestra Bowing Styles

Nicole Huie
[email protected]
Parkland School District

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:







Finale 2004 on iMac


30 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Students have been playing violin for approximately four months as fourth graders. They have learned pizzicato and detache bowing through their lesson books. They also will have played recorders in general music during third grade and may have seen staccato notated before. They can also play the D Major scale from memory.

NAfME standard of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME standard of 1994: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

NAfME 2014: Performing 

NAfME standard of 1994: Reading and notating music.

NAfME 2014: Creating

NAfME standard of 1994: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.
NAfME standard of 1994: Evaluating music and music performances.

NAfME 2014: Responding 


1. “Elementary Orchestra Bowings” worksheet, created in Finale.
2. Finale notated files of orchestral excerpts demonstrating each of the different beginner orchestra bowings, i.e.
-Gargoyles by Doug Spata (Alfred Publications) (spiccato)
-Pizzicato Parade by D. Shaffer (FJH Music Company) (pizzicato)
-The Charming Snake by C. Gruselle, arr. by Highland (Alfred Publicatinos) (left hand pizzicato)
-Don’t Get Around Much Anymore by Ellington, arr. by Ford (Warner Bros.) (slurs, staccato, and pizzicato)
3. Students’ lesson book-Essential Elements 2000 for strings-published by Hal Leonard.


1. Fourth grade violinists in January of their first year will be able to play the D Major Scale with the bowins defined on the Finale created worksheet–pizzicato, detache, slurring, staccato and spiccato.
2. The students will use the worksheet as a source to define the styles of notation of the different bowings.
3. The students will listen to examples of the different styles of bowing and be able to identify what syles are being used.
4. The studens will be able to listen to a piece of music and determine what style of bowing will fit best in the piece (i.e., spiccato in a fast section, slurring for a slow, legato piece.)


-Students will review the D Major scale from memory and be able to perform it with different rhythms. (5 min)
-Teacher hands out “Elementary Orchestra Bowings” worksheet.
-Teacher goes over each style’s definition and demonstrates each style of bowing to the students. Students will perform the D Major scale with each of the bowings with teacher’s corrections and further explanation of proper technique. (10 min)
-Teacher will play excerpted examples of each style of bowing (listed in materials section, though any other examples showing the bowing styles would be a fine substitution). Students can watch the music on the computer screen so the sound they are hearing translates in their minds to the notation they see on the screen. (Finale’s scrolling feature while playing should be used.) (10 min)
-Teacher will hand out orchestra concert music to the students and have them briefly look through to find examples of staccato, pizzicato (left and right hand), detache, slurs and possible spiccato sections. (5 min)
-Teacher assigns students exercises in book to practice with each of the different styles of bowing. Students should memorize the notation for each style.


1. The students will successfully perform the styles of bowing while playing the D Major scale.
2. Students will be able to identify the notated styles of bowing in other pieces of music.
3. Students will correctly identify the different bowing techniques while listening to a piece of music.

Follow Up:

-Take the Finale graphic examples of bowing from the definition worksheet and take away the definitions, creating a quiz for the students to fill in the styles.
-Create a more advanced sheet with more bowing styles.
-Have students play exercises in their lesson book with all different bowing styles.

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