[How to Practice] Jenkinson – Elves Dance

About E. Jenkinson

Ezra Jenkinson (1872-1947) is an English composer and violinist, mostly known as the composer of “Elves Dance,” which can be found in Solos for Young Violinists, Vol. 1. If you are a beginning student, it can be learned with detache stroke, but sautille can be introduced with this piece as well.

Elves Dance is the second piece of Six lyric Pieces in First to Third Position for violin and piano (1894) by Ezra Jenkinson as you can see below.

Six Lyric Pieces for violin and piano

  1. Lullaby; Berceuse
  2. Elves’ Dance
  3. Melodie
  4. Mazurka
  5. Barcarolle
  6. Scherzo

What does Elves mean??

Elves is the plural for elf. According to the Oxford Languages, it says “a supernatural creature of folk tales, typically represented as a small, elusive figure in human form with pointed ears, magical powers, and a capricious nature.”

Modern elves are the helpers for Santa Clause, as you can see in the picture.

Let’s learn Jenkinson – Elves Dance slowly

No matter what, even if you will try learning sautille stroke with this piece or not, you need to learn all the notes correctly in tune. The timing of left fingers and bow motion have to be well coordinated. Also, the dynamics contrast has to be expressed eventually.

Learning all the notes with slow tempo is very important when you learn a new pieces or etudes. For Jenkinson – Elves Dance, learning the notes as if it is printed with eighth notes can be very effective as I show in the below audio video.

Speeding up, playing well

Once you are getting used to playing this piece, take a challenge of speeding up. You cannot just speed up, but you need to paying attention to some things like:

  1. Can you hear and concious about each 16th note ?
  2. Is each note played clearly and cleanly keeping up the timing of left fingers and the bow stroke coordination?
  3. Is your sound nice?
  4. Can you play through without getting tired?
  5. Do you know when you play which string? etc

You need to keep up your quality of your playing even when you play fast. If somethings start to be wrong, get back to the tempo in which you can play well.

By repeating this process, how much can you speed up?

In order to play fast, you need to be phisically comfprtable as well without much tension.


Sautille is a stroke in which you keep your bow hair constantly on the string, but the bow stick moves up and down, creating bouncy sound. In order to play sautille, you need at least a certain tempo.

My slowest sautille can be played with 16th notes in the tempo of quarter note = 95 or so. Actually, with this tempo, both sautille and spiccato are possible. At the beginning, it may be difficult to play sautille at this tempo, so you can always consult your own teacher and find your best comfortable tempo for your first sautille.

Find the balancing point of your bow and repeat short detache strokes, which takes rather horizontal (right-left) motion. Gradually, relax your right wrist and fingers and add up down motion. I wrote “up and down” but actually, it does not mean up and down, but 45 degree angle toward the floor.

At the beginning, it is very scary to relax and loosen your right wrist and fingers, since you feel the bow may drop on the floor !!, but onece you get the feel of it, the bow stick will naturally bounce, since the bow is made that way, and you can enjoy sautille with this type of piece.

I recorded my sautille stroke at quarter note = 140 with Jenkinson Elves Dance, in order for you to be able to hear the difference between detache and sautille. Listen carefully, do you hear the sound the bow stick bouncing? This video includes the piano accompaniment of akompiano. Thank you, akompiano !!

Contents of Solos for Young Violinists, vol.1

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