So, here we are again, bow trouble!
I have noticed when playing on the A string, particularly in first finer I am starting to skid sideways with a jarring noise. My husband says my bow is not straight but does not sho on any other string as it does the A.
My main issue is I can't see the bow properly due to my sight. Looking in a mirror is also impossible.
At the moment I am doing a lot of slow open string work but any other suggestions would be most welcome.
Ok, I will try. I think what my cello teacher told me will also apply to violin because I have used it on my violin and viola.
First, I suspect you bowing arm is not moving quite right and changes its angle more when moving to the A string.
Here is what my instructor did with my cello. It looked straight from my perspective, but really was not. Weird.
When you are looking as you bow, your perspective is not quite accurate. See if your husband can watch as you slowly bow each string with a whole bow. Ask him to guide you by telling you when the bow is straight before you start bowing. Note how that looks from your prospective. You will be surprised. Note how the bow looks relative to the bridge behind it when the bow is straight. Note how the bow looks relative to the end of the fingerboard when the bow is straight. These are reference points that use your perspective. Use which is easiest for you to note, or both guide points. The bridge is easiest for me.
With you husband still watching, and while you are watching the bow and paying attention to what your arm is doing and your reference point(s) continue with the full bow to the end. Keep the bow so that it looks the same relative to the bridge or fingerboard end as it did when you were not moving the bow, and note the reference points and how your right arm is doing the up and down bow. If you go off course, back up, place your bow so it is straight, and ask you husband, or whomever is available, to check to make sure you are continuing with a straight bow. Do that string going up and down the full bow slowly a few times. Note your reference points and the direction your arm is going as you bow. Do this on each string.
You will probably have to ask your husband to assist periodically until you can correct yourself and you can feel the arm movement.
I agree with the mirror. Many can use it, I cannot. It messes me up more than I was before I tried to use it.
I hope this helps. When you are seeing a straight bow from your perspective, it might not be.
They call me, “Mellow Cello”
Another problem, which I have also been plagued with, is you may be moving your arm at your shoulder, bringing your elbow back during the down bow. This is a very common problem, sometimes referred to as "chicken wing".
Try standing against a wall and practice your bowing on the A string. When you bow down, make sure that your upper arm (between your shoulder and your elbow) is in contact with the wall as you bow. This means you will stand slightly at angle to the right, not flat against the wall (for right-handed playing).
This will prevent your arm from moving back as you bow, and should also encourage you to bend your wrist as you bring down the bow.
You should watch your bowing and make sure the bow remains perpendicular to the strings, at least for the first few days of this practice.
Do this for 5 minutes each day as part of your practice.
- Pete -
I once saw a video where the instructor took 2 drinking straws, inserted one partway into the other, bent it so it look kind of like a down bow symbol, cut the ends to a reasonable length, and stuck the end into the round part of the f holes to create a DIY bow guide.
Unfortunately I couldn't find it in order to supply the link, but a bow guide might help you feel where you are going wrong.
With my short stint with a violin instructor she did the bent straw. In theory, maybe. In reality, it was terrible. The straws are not solid in the F holes. They tend to move and it is more of a hindrance. That was my experience. I was going to purchase bow hold, which was was what the straws mimic, but I read too many comments about the bow rubbing against them and scratching the bow up. The straw attempt is a pretty easy and inexpensive try, you might want to try it, but did not work for me.
I keep trying to remember how the movement was described in a video or document I read. I mentioned it in a post somewhere in this forum. It just made it so much clearer. It really helps when bowing.
They call me, “Mellow Cello”
Thank you for all the suggestions.
I have been trying a few different bowing exercises to get my bowing straighter. Having my shoulder against a door makes a big difference. I have combinded that with lots of slow open string bowing.
The other thing I have realised is if I don't actually look at the violin when I am playing I seem to bow straighter. Ì think my dodgy eyesight makes the bow look crooked when it is actually straight!