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Lately I have been thinking more about my bow hold, and actually my bowing entirely as part of my playing.
This came actually to me early on when I was discussing the finer points of string playing with my best friend, a brilliant viola player.
We were discussing where I should put my focus and what is important. Keep in mind, this was early in my violin playing.. probably only 3 months of playing. She told me bowing is even more important than fingering to achieve good tone and a mature sound (by mature, I mean beyond the beginner sound of violin playing). Bowing is where you control dynamics, expression, and truly the beauty of the violin. You can, of course, decorate your sound with vibrato, glissando, trills, etc... but the bow controls the sound.
With that in mind, I have been thinking, studying, and trying to learn more about the bow hold.
I do have a good traditional bow hold. It does the job, meaning, I can hold the bow properly, control my pressure, and keep my bow in the right direction and position. This is what the bow hold should do as its basic function.
Now, I am wanting to bring it to the next level...
As I watch more seasoned players and talk to those players I know who have been playing a while and I consider to have excellent bowing skills, I notice they have a very natural hold. It is as though they have always held a bow in their hand and it comes to them without effort or thought. Whether playing a technically challenging piece or an expressive piece, they never seem clumsy or awkward at all with their bow hold. The bow is part of their hand, arm, shoulder. They are never at odds with their bow.
This is where I want to be. Not that I have an awkward, difficult hold, or feel at odds with my bow necessarily. But I want to have much more comfort and ease with it. I want the total relaxed feel and hold, along with the control.
I know it is a lot to ask, and it is really the goal of any player... but seriously... how do you achieve this?
Is there an exercise or a daily ritual I can perform? Is it meditation? Please... I really want to improve my bow hold.
Any advise is welcome... even if you don't have any idea. I'll take jokes, too.
- Pete -
Yes you are right about how long they have been playing! In fact, the ones I really watch are the world class musicians like Itzhak Perlman and Hilary Hahn... Clearly, they have been playing many years and of course I do not expect to have that level of playing for a while.
But I do expect to get there.
The analogy of pulling the music is really a great way to think of this.
I am also familiar with how the wrist should bend up coming up bow and bend back coming down bow. I do try to work on this.. Like you say, it takes concerted effort and focus to do this. But isn't this true for everything we do with these instruments??!! LOL!!
I have also noticed that I can play much more smoothly and more beautifully when I am relaxing overall. From bow hold on the right, to fingering on the left... when everything is relaxed, the music is much more beautiful.
Thank you, for your insights... You have a good way to describe things.
- Pete -