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First of all, Hello to all the old timers who I used to chat to when I was on the forums a couple years ago,and hello to all who have joined since, my name is Kiara, I live down under in Australia, lovely to meet you
So, I was trying to think of a topic I could post on. Now, it may not be the most exciting thing but I thought - bow control.
I've been playing the violin for quite sometime and as I haven't had lessons for many of those years I have developed some bad habits. One thing I struggle with is bow control, mainly keeping my bow parallel to the bridge and between the bridge and finger board, rather than over the finger board... (if that makes sense)
I also thought that this might be something that other's struggle with. So, what I was wondering is, if anyone has any tips/things that they do to work on bow control - not just relating to what I particularly have trouble with, but anything really, if you could just let us know. 🙂
My two cents worth:
slow scales using long, full bows, going fast and slow while watching the bow to make sure it is parallel to the bridge and not going all over the place, one thing you can do is find a large mirror and sort of look in it side-ways to see the bow better...
while doing this you can also listen for good tone and work on that area too. And work on smooth transitions for up bow to down, and down to up.
Looking forward to hearing people's thoughts!
Hi @Kiara. I agree with using a mirror - I have a big one hanging on the wall in the kitchen (which is where I practice) and it's invaluable (not just for bowing, but for posture, watching my vibrato motion etc etc).
I set a metronome away at 60 or 72 and do whole bows, 'half' bows at different points (tip, middle, frog) starting with one bow per tick and doubling up until I can't go any faster, all the time watching to make sure I stay straight and at the same sounding point.
Here's what helped me with keeping a straight bow the best I could.
(1) If the bow is straight, it will appear to only move up and down, if you draw a crooked bow, then the bow will also move, left, right and all over the place. If you use a mirror, do remember the angle the bow appears on the bridge if you were to look at it while holding it, BTW, since the bow angle might appear "deceiving" from where you're holding it.
(2) If you are not playing the violin, then hold a pencil like you would a violin bow. Find a straight edge, and then start moving your hand in a "bowing" motion, parallel to the straight edge. Try not to make the "logo" of the pencil rotate as you move your hand along the straight edge in a bowing motion.
(3) One thing I learned from one guy who apparently claimed to know "Paganini's secret", is that the middle finger does help with drawing a straight bow. If you were to hold the bow with just the middle finger and thumb, it is really hard to draw a crooked bow (if you try it, keep it in mind that it might sound horrible, or weak because your other fingers are not helping to hold the bow). Then, when you add the other fingers, sort of picture, that it's your middle finger and thumb that's really holding and controlling the bow's movement, and that the bow moves with the middle finger and thumb.
As for other bow control tips, here's what's helped me.
The first finger and pinky and the ring finger do have their own functions as well (I also learned this from the guy who claimed to know Paganini's secret).
(1) The first finger is meant to add "weight" or pressure to the bow. It should feel like your hand is sort of hanging off the bow on your first finger. Releasing and adding pressure can help with bow control, not to mention dynamics, especially if used with the pinky.
(2) The pinky is meant to "subtract" weight even while the first finger remains "heavy". When you sort of add more weight to the pinky (or press down with it), the weight on the bow changes making it a little "lighter". This is especially helpful when playing with a soft dynamic, such as pianissimo, as if you subtract too much weight without using the pinky, a horrid sound could be produced.
-Side note based on adding "weight" or subtracting "weight" from the bow. In contrasting with dynamics, I've found that sometimes, it is not exactly pressing down with the bow harder, that determines dynamics, but more or less how much "weight" is on the first finger.
(3) The ring finger does help with stabilizing the bow.
As for "bow bounce" which can be annoying, all I'll have to say is: don't place the bow on the strings as if you're "dropping" or "banging" place the bow more careful.
So, yeah, I know this post is long, but this is pretty much everything I've learned that helped me with bow control.
Good tips to read through 😀
I've never used a mirror, but have used making videos of myself practicing to see what my bowing was looking like. If I feel I need to correct how straight I'm *not* bowing, lol, I do long slow bows either on open strings or while doing basic scales. Sometimes when I play on StreetJelly I'll glance at the computer to get a quick look at what my bowing arm is looking like, wrist, etc, lol.
For where I'm bowing between the fingerboard and bridge, I will watch that spot when I bow, or wipe off my strings and then check after I play where my rosin has ended up, lol.
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