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How do you really improve your bowing?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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antreidez
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February 23, 2015 - 7:28 pm
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I notice that my bowing is not that good. When I arrive at the tip it bounces and when its at the middle it has this not good sound of whistling?

 

How do you improve bowing like petting a cat?

 
 
 
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augustoad
Ponta Grossa, Paraná - Brazil
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February 23, 2015 - 8:12 pm
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Hey antreidez, a few simple tips:

*first of all, you should check your bowhold.

*If your hand isn't quite right, it's possible that's what causing you the problems. Make sure your pinky stays on top of the bow, as it helps you gain balance.

*Check to see if you're bowing in the right place. I used to bow way too close to the fingerboard, and as a result the sound I produced was "grainy".Try bowing somewhere between the bridge and the tip of the fingerboard.

*Check if you're bowing straight. The sound resonates better if you're bowing perpendicular to the strings.

*Check the amount of rosin in your bow. If it has too much, the sound will become too screechy; If there's not so much, it'll sound like you're not applying enough pressure.

Here's a video as well:

Hope it helps. :)

Skype: augustoad Email: augustoaguieiras@hotmail.com Phone number/whatsapp: +55 42 9861-4084. I'd be happy to talk anything fiddle-related to anyone! :)

 

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carly
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March 4, 2015 - 4:38 pm
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I agree with most of Augustoads comments, though I've been taught to keep the little finger bent on the stick and keep the balance between the first finger and the pinkie. It takes a while to build up some strength in those little fingers. I don't know many trad fiddle players who hold their bows with this sort of finesse at all though, as they aren't looking for tone so much as speed. If speed's what you want practice with very short rhythmic bows, if you use a metronome you can speed up gradually.

I'd add that if what you want is good bow tone then you want to really relax your arm and shoulder and then let the arm weight drop into the stick. You could practice with that on open strings, moving between strings with the weight dropping in before you play each string.

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Uzi
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March 4, 2015 - 5:59 pm
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I hope I don't sound like I'm qualified to give bowing advice, although I am something of an expert in what one can do wrong, because I have that mastered. As a result, I've learned some rules, and I struggle with them daily. 

1. Any tension, anywhere, is bad for tone.

2. If it looks ugly, it's wrong.

3. If anything feels uncomfortable, that leads to tension.  Refer to rule #1.

4. Without a proper, consistent, relaxed and flexible bow hold perfect tone can't be achieved.

5. Learn the significance of each finger in the bow hold, each has a unique job to perform and unless each does its job, tone will suffer.

6. Developing a Galamian bow arm is difficult, but a perfectly square stroke, at the perfect speed, with the perfect amount of bow hair and with the perfect pressure on the perfect contact point is the only thing that will result in the best achievable tone.

7. Develop a practice routine that focuses only on bowing.

With regard to your specific issues.  If I had to guess, the bounce is caused by either insufficient index finger pressure when near the tip, or too abrupt a change in direction between up bow and down bow, finger inflexibility during bow change or both.  With regard to the whistling  sound my guess would be insufficient pressure for the bow speed at that particular contact point and/or not enough rosin on the bow hair.

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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Christine (moonlitday)
PEI, Canada
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March 4, 2015 - 6:32 pm
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I'll add my 2 cents. I've been taking some lessons and Megan's been having me do a lot of LONG SLOW bows. I do a two octave G sale in first position only so I get a feel for moving between each string. I start with a metronome set to about 60 and each single bow per note is two beats. I do the scale slowly like this a few times and then move to a single bow per note per beat. 

I am very uncomfortable playing at the frog so I also do scales and finger exercises in the lower third of the bow. You can repeat this for the middle third and top third as well (which is surprisingly hard to do, a third of the bow really isn't that much room!). 

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coolpinkone
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March 5, 2015 - 3:21 pm
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@Uzi

Nice list of pointers.

Thank you.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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antreidez
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March 13, 2015 - 8:56 pm
Member Since: December 20, 2014
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augustoad said
Hey antreidez, a few simple tips:

*first of all, you should check your bowhold.

*If your hand isn't quite right, it's possible that's what causing you the problems. Make sure your pinky stays on top of the bow, as it helps you gain balance.

*Check to see if you're bowing in the right place. I used to bow way too close to the fingerboard, and as a result the sound I produced was "grainy".Try bowing somewhere between the bridge and the tip of the fingerboard.

*Check if you're bowing straight. The sound resonates better if you're bowing perpendicular to the strings.

*Check the amount of rosin in your bow. If it has too much, the sound will become too screechy; If there's not so much, it'll sound like you're not applying enough pressure.

Here's a video as well:

Hope it helps. :)

Thank you augustoad for sharing this :-D very useful

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antreidez
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March 13, 2015 - 8:58 pm
Member Since: December 20, 2014
Forum Posts: 59
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carly said
I agree with most of Augustoads comments, though I've been taught to keep the little finger bent on the stick and keep the balance between the first finger and the pinkie. It takes a while to build up some strength in those little fingers. I don't know many trad fiddle players who hold their bows with this sort of finesse at all though, as they aren't looking for tone so much as speed. If speed's what you want practice with very short rhythmic bows, if you use a metronome you can speed up gradually.

I'd add that if what you want is good bow tone then you want to really relax your arm and shoulder and then let the arm weight drop into the stick. You could practice with that on open strings, moving between strings with the weight dropping in before you play each string.

Thank you much carly for your comment and sharin the knowlege :-D

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antreidez
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March 13, 2015 - 8:58 pm
Member Since: December 20, 2014
Forum Posts: 59
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Uzi said
I hope I don't sound like I'm qualified to give bowing advice, although I am something of an expert in what one can do wrong, because I have that mastered. As a result, I've learned some rules, and I struggle with them daily. 

1. Any tension, anywhere, is bad for tone.

2. If it looks ugly, it's wrong.

3. If anything feels uncomfortable, that leads to tension.  Refer to rule #1.

4. Without a proper, consistent, relaxed and flexible bow hold perfect tone can't be achieved.

5. Learn the significance of each finger in the bow hold, each has a unique job to perform and unless each does its job, tone will suffer.

6. Developing a Galamian bow arm is difficult, but a perfectly square stroke, at the perfect speed, with the perfect amount of bow hair and with the perfect pressure on the perfect contact point is the only thing that will result in the best achievable tone.

7. Develop a practice routine that focuses only on bowing.

With regard to your specific issues.  If I had to guess, the bounce is caused by either insufficient index finger pressure when near the tip, or too abrupt a change in direction between up bow and down bow, finger inflexibility during bow change or both.  With regard to the whistling  sound my guess would be insufficient pressure for the bow speed at that particular contact point and/or not enough rosin on the bow hair.

Wow this is so helpful also. Thank you very much ^^ everything you said is true and has helped me alot.

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antreidez
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March 13, 2015 - 9:00 pm
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Christine (moonlitday) said
I'll add my 2 cents. I've been taking some lessons and Megan's been having me do a lot of LONG SLOW bows. I do a two octave G sale in first position only so I get a feel for moving between each string. I start with a metronome set to about 60 and each single bow per note is two beats. I do the scale slowly like this a few times and then move to a single bow per note per beat. 

I am very uncomfortable playing at the frog so I also do scales and finger exercises in the lower third of the bow. You can repeat this for the middle third and top third as well (which is surprisingly hard to do, a third of the bow really isn't that much room!). 

Thanks much Christine, this is a big help for me. O have the same as you, i dont feel right when playin near the frog. Gonna try this practice :-D

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DanielB
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March 14, 2015 - 9:57 am
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Best thing I have found for playing near the frog, is to try and do whole songs or scales near the frog.  I don't usually play closer than an inch from the frog, because I'm a klutz and I tend to nick the strings with the metal ferule on the frog when I do.  But make a game of playing simple melodies or scales in just the 6 inches of bow hair nearest the frog.  And still try to make it sound good.

Close to the frog playing is where your pinky has a job to do, weighing down on the bow to control/lighten the string pressure.

When you can play stuff in that 6 inches, try cutting it to 4.  Then 2.  

If you do it mostly with just finger movement and a some wrist, but no forearm, it seems good for developing finger control and flexibility.

Then do the same routine from the tip end.  For the tip, your first finger has to weigh in to work, rather than the pinky/4th finger.

 

You can also play around with "how slow can you go?" for strokes using the whole bow.  Start with doing one beat at 60 bpm on a metronome for the whole bow, and then 2 beats, 3, 4 and etc.  You'll need the tricks you learn from working near the tip and frog to keep a note that is strong and good at the tip, and doesn't "break" into rasp/scratch at the frog end.   With some work, I've gotten to where I can manage 16 beats/seconds to a bow stroke, and still get a reasonable sound.  But I'm pretty sure I never actually bow that slow when playing songs.  LOL

When you get bored with that one, Then see how fast you can go, how many full length bow strokes you can fit into a single beat.second.  Without the bow going out of control so far as angle/contact point and without going into making shrieking sounds.

 

Experimenting with these sorts of things, finding your limits and then working to push them to get just one more beat/second at a time is the sort of stuff I do in practice to work on bow control.  "Dancing on the edge" of what we can do in practice, and trying for just that little bit more, is how we get better.  I think that those sorts of challenges help to make practice feel more like an interesting game, so it doesn't feel "boring".

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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