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Bow Bounce or Shake
My remedy for the bouncing or shaking bow
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pchoppin
Utah
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September 13, 2018 - 10:28 am
Member Since: March 25, 2018
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I am now in my 6th month of playing and one thing that has plagued me, and the solution has eluded me, is bow bounce or shake. 

This is when playing, often longer notes or when beginning to play a note on a string, the bow may have a tendency to slightly bounce, rather than play a smooth, clear note as intended, and usually happens on the down bow.  This is very different from the spiccato bowing technique where a light, controlled spring bounce is desirable.  

After weeks of work, practicing with my bow hold, trying to control my down bow, trying to prevent it from happening, I have finally found a solution which, at least almost every time, prevents this from happening.  It is relaxing my grip on the bow hold.  Once I learned to really let go of all the tension in my bow hold, the bouncing completely stopped.  

There are, of course, other possible causes depending on posture, bow control, full arm tension... each player has to learn their own playing and body and how they individually approach playing the instrument, but for me, relaxing the bow hold seems to be a major factor, and it is a part of playing that I need to master anyway. 

I just thought I’d share this and perhaps it may offer some answers for someone else who may be struggling with this problem.  

- Pete -

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mookje
The Netherlands
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September 13, 2018 - 11:12 am
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Thanks for sharing! Lot of people, especially beginners, struggle with the bow.. It’s very useful to share experiences, we can learn a lot from each other. Sometimes it can be very frustrating if you can’t control something. Happy for you that you find a solution 😃 

 Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about dancing in the rain!!

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
September 13, 2018 - 11:35 am
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Very good point @pchoppin.

It also serves to TRY to avoid other stressful situations - like when learning a new piece ( you don't quite "own it" yet and you are heavily multi-tasking on other things as well as bowing - possibly reading from sheet, mapping that finger placement - was it a G on the D or a G# , is it a conscious struggle with the 4th finger stretch, did you REALLY want that down-bow or direction change just THERE ? and so on and so on...)  The more of that sort of thing that's going on can very very easily not only disrupt the flow, but generally tense you up.

It's also quite true that most of us starters have played better in practice than when that little red record-light is on, on the camera.  Possibly partly nerves, but also, you SO WANT to do your best - not to show-off - just to record your best progress - and that often tenses people up.

Glad you have got the "relax the hold on the bow" sorted.   A similar issue can be the "death-grip" on the neck - although that's usually overcome pretty quickly I think.

Well done on your progress - it's always so satisfying when issues are resolved, thanks for sharing that ! thumbs-up

EDIT : Oh of course - there are other standard technical/physical issues - you'll find the bounce will vary depending on the playing lane, the tension on the bow, and the angle of the bow-hair to the string - all of which are constant variables ( well, THAT'S a contradiction in terms - I probably meant constantly varying LOL 🙂 !! ) - i.e. you will often choose to use different sounding-points depending on what you are doing e.g. close to the bridge, or up to the edge of the neck or even slightly over it.  I find bow tension - even a fractional adjustment - can make a huge difference depending on what I'm playing - although having said that, a more accomplished player would have better control over the weight, speed and pressure on the bow anyway...   I really don't use my pinkie on the bow as counter-balance at all and leave it flying in the air (it was broken some time back and apart from still being painful at times, doesn't have the easy joint flexibility needed)

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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damfino
my own little world
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September 13, 2018 - 11:48 am
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It's amazing how a little tension really can effect your playing. There are some bows that just have the jitters, but they usually jitter in all situations. There was one I tested from a local shop that made my teacher and I laugh at how much it shook, it was kind of ridiculous. 

A nice loose bow hold will not only help your bowing, but also help avoid injury down the road. 

☆•*¨*•¸¸¸.•*¨*•☆•*¨*•¸¸¸.•*¨*•☆•*¨*•.¸¸¸.•*¨*•☆
On a journey to learn the fiddle since July 24, 2015
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JamesRSmithJr
New Jersey, USA
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September 13, 2018 - 12:31 pm
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"relaxing my grip on the bow hold"

Kind of counter intuitive, got to control bow, got to grip tighter...

 

I start all my sessions with long slow bows, using FiddleHeds throw away bow stroke. When I can land back at the frog smoothly, I know my right hand is relaxed.

Multi tasking...   As usual BillyG is right.  When I am trying to learn a new piece, I concentrate very hard on each and every note (my teacher says to a fault, he says to more feel the flow of the measure/phrase then each individual note, those will come with time).   But no, I need to play each note correctly and then my right hand tenses, bow goes crosswise, left hand grips, scroll rises and all semblance of tone is lost...  When I let things flow, make music not play notes, it is much better.  It takes time, but you will get there, enjoy the journey along the way...

 

The further I get into this journey, the more I understand what Beethoven was saying in my tag line...

To play a wrong note is insignificant;  To play without passion is inexcusable.  - Ludwig van Beethoven 

 My journey began on Aug 3 2017

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
September 13, 2018 - 12:40 pm
Member Since: March 22, 2014
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@JamesRSmithJr - aha sir - you say - 

The further I get into this journey, the more I understand what Beethoven was saying in my tag line...

To play a wrong note is insignificant;  To play without passion is inexcusable.  - Ludwig van Beethoven 
 
  In my early days, I had an A4 poster-print of that, with a wild-haired Beethoven - just to remind me NOT to stop when I fluffed things up...  carry on, like it was intended, and bring as much feeling etc into the piece.   It applies not only to classical music, it applies equally to old-time, Irish, genre just doesn't matter - bring as much passion into what you are doing as you possibly can... hang on...
 
Yeah - found it again - this is the one that faced me head on every time I played in my first few months... 🙂 lvb.JPG
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I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Ripton
Vermont, Massachusetts or somewhere in between
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September 13, 2018 - 3:02 pm
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As I have always been told, yet still working at mastering .arm/ wrist tension .Thanks for posting .Helps confirm .

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JamesRSmithJr
New Jersey, USA
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September 13, 2018 - 3:40 pm
Member Since: July 20, 2017
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@billyG "just to remind me NOT to stop when I fluffed things up...  carry on, like it was intended"

 

I still remember what I overheard my teacher tell the student before me, "90+% of the audience will not know you made a mistake and those that do, will commiserate with you (as in been there done that)".   I still am a perfectionist, getting better, but we still celebrate if I get to the end without stopping during a lesson 🙁  Stopping and fixing right NOW is a tough habit to break....

To play a wrong note is insignificant;  To play without passion is inexcusable.  - Ludwig van Beethoven 

 My journey began on Aug 3 2017

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 14, 2018 - 12:18 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 13619

@JamesRSmith,Jr - True story. LOL
Of course, it depends on how obvious, or how bad the error is.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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TheRedOne
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October 16, 2018 - 3:10 am
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Thanks @pchoppin! This is really helpful. I have a small problem with bow bouncing, and I've wondered how to fix it. I also know my bow arm is way too tense, so this fits the pieces of the puzzle together for me.clap

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