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Sarah Chang Gives Advice on Running Passage Articulation

"When playing rapid, slurring semiquavers, why do the notes sometimes seem fluffy or squashed, even when you're being conscious of a non-sluggish left hand and mindful of smooth string crossing?" We threw the question over to Korean-American virtuoso Sarah Chang.

Finding clarity in running passages can be tricky for string players. Time after time, we find ourselves frustrated in the practice room repeatedly drilling the passage, only to stay with the same sloppy mess. Whether it's the left hand or a combination of both, running passages feel like tongue twisters that could use an efficient solution. VC reader Hannah wanted to know how to bring clarity to these kinds of passages.

What are your thoughts on articulation concerning running passages? How do you practice for clarity in this type of situation? Please leave a comment below, we are keen to know your thoughts.


Sarah Chang violinist

Photo credit: Cliff Watt

Sarah Chang Discusses Articulation in Running Passages

Hi Hannah,

Articulation in the left hand is vital.

Not only is it important you land each finger down on the fingerboard accurately, but it's also just as important to lift that same finger quickly and decisively to make way for the next.

Another point that might help is to get the curve of your fingerboard and your bridge checked out. I personally like a high bridge. It requires more work for the fingers but I find it gives the sound more clarity.

And, also make sure your strings are fresh. New strings help make the notes sparkle and your sound multiply in volume with no added bow pressure.

Good luck Hannah. Keep your practice up and you'll get there!



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Recognized as one of the world's greatest violinists, Korean-American violinist Sarah Chang made her debut with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 8 and since then has performed with the greatest orchestras, conductors, and pianists internationally in a career spanning more than two decades. 

She was honored as one of the 20 Top Women in Newsweek Magazine's "Women and Leadership, 20 Powerful Women Take Charge" issue. In March 2008, Ms. Chang was honored as a Young Global Leader for 2008 by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for her professional achievements, commitment to society, and potential in shaping the future of the world. Yale University dedicated a chair in Sprague Hall in Sarah Chang's name, and Harvard University gave her the 'Distinguished Leadership in the Arts Award." 

For the June 2004 Olympic games, she was given the honor of running with the Olympic Torch in New York, and that same month, became the youngest person ever to receive the Hollywood Bowl's Hall of Fame award. 

A US Embassy's Artistic Ambassador, Sarah Chang is also the past recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, Gramophone's "Young Artist of the Year" award, Germany's "Echo" Schallplattenpreis, "Newcomer of the Year" honors at the International Classical Music Awards in London, and Korea's "Nan Pa" award. 

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