Terms and Definitions

I will use many musical terms in lessons that may not yet be part of your vocabulary. Frequently, they'll turn up on your practice charts as well. In case you've forgotten what they mean, here's a handy list of the ones that people tend to forget most often, with the simplest definitions I can think of.

  • Articulation - refers to how you play a note or notes. Is it legato or staccato, hooked or slurred, accented, martelé, portato? Etc.
  • Contact point - the place on the string that your bow hits while playing. Frequently used with "consistent", as in "If you don't keep a consistent contact point, your sound will suffer."
  • Interval - the distance between notes. To measure, count your starting and ending notes and all the letter names in between. For example, from G to C = G, A, B, C = a fourth.
  • Intonation - refers to how well in tune the notes are.
  • Legato - very smooth bowing
  • Portato - halfway between a hook and a slur; the bow keeps moving, but the second (or subsequent) note(s) are rearticulated.
  • Staccato - a short bowstroke where the bow is stopped at both ends of the note.
  • Subdivide - counting out the shorter note values inside longer ones to make sure you're holding it the right length, e.g. four eighths in a half note or three sixteenths in a dotted eighth.

To be updated as needed...