May 19, 2016 at 10:15 pm #15524
I am finding that I am having trouble maintaining a straight bow. Watching myself on video I am appalled at how crooked my bowing is! This has come up since I had to take a two year break in playing, and I’m having a terrible time trying to get back in the habit of nice, straight bows. Any suggestions on how I can fix this?
Thanks!May 28, 2016 at 2:37 am #15556
I am a beginner but my teacher has told me to practice in the mirror before practicing with my book. You can see if your bow is straight. You cant see it by looking at your bow while you play. Every time I think it is straight by turning my head to look, sure enough I move over the mirror and it is not. Give it a try.May 28, 2016 at 10:08 pm #15573
Welcome back to the playing fold! Bowing is definitely a difficult thing to get back in check after a break – I found the same thing when I returned to playing. The suggestion above is the same thing I tell my students. The mirror is your best (and worst) friend when working on straight bows.
Another tip I’d add is to play long bows on each of the open strings. The bridge angle contributes some toward bow direction depending on how high or low your elbow is while playing. Keep a metronome ticking along while playing whole, half, quarter, and eighth notes. Especially on the longer durations, think: push away from your body on down-bows, and bring it ever so slightly back toward the body when coming back up.May 28, 2016 at 11:08 pm #15574
Thanks to both of you. Yes, I know about using the mirror, and I am fortunate because the spare bedroom I use as my office and practice room has full length, mirrored, sliding closet doors, which are ideal for watching myself play. I’ve been using them, but as soon as I stop, I’m back to where I was before. So frustrating! I’ll go back to using the mirror, and I’ll stick with it until I relearn to do it right. And composersdg,(soli deo gloria?) thanks for the tips about long bows on the open strings using the metronome.May 31, 2016 at 4:13 am #15577
Glad to offer some suggestions. And yes, most people don’t catch that (or at least mention it) – soli deo gloriaJune 22, 2016 at 4:14 pm #15776
When playing up-bow at the frog, does it help to have the wrist bend to achieve bow straightness? How much of a bend should it be? I’ve only been playing for a few months, and I have been playing more of the middle to the tip.
I also noticed that while I can generally play straight bow in front of a mirror, when I play a piece, it wobbles back and forth so much :(. Any tips on that?June 22, 2016 at 4:25 pm #15778
Don’t worry about staying in the upper half. That’s completely natural for a beginning player because it’s much easier to feel “in control” of where the bow is going.
All of your concerns are addressed with the same type of work – wrist control. You are right on track with your idea of flexing the wrist! As the bow moves up toward the frog, the wrist should arch upward. This allows for more control, as well as the lifting of pressure as you move toward the heavier end of the bow. That is not only the heaviest wood because of the frog, but your entire hand/arm weight live there too. Conversely, as you are bowing down the wrist should straighten back out, then turn upward as you approach the tip.
An unflexing (tense) wrist will cause your bow direction to follow your arm direction and create what I like to call the “banana bow” effect that you’re seeing in the mirror. When you’re moving up and down, think of your arm and wrist and flexing then straightening instead of moving up and down. Give that a shot when you’re looking in the mirror.
Also, go to YouTube and find your way to the Violin Tutor Pro channel there. Michael has some good quick tutorials there so you can visually see what I’m talking about.Good luck!June 22, 2016 at 4:37 pm #15779
I should clarity that, as you bow downward, your wrist should straighten back out, then your *knuckles* should turn upward as the wrist continues to arch in the opposite direction. Think: up-bow = wrist pointing toward the ceiling / down-bow = wrist arching downward/pointing toward the groundJune 27, 2016 at 5:26 pm #15916
After observing my bowing, I have decided that my problem at this point is not maintaining a straight bow as much as it is the weakness in my wrist making it impossible for me to maintain the correct amount of weight on the string. So until the Botox begins to wear off I will not be able to produce the best sound. If I’m lucky then what happened in the past will happen again: the current round of Botox injections (necessary to control the tremors in my fingers and wrist, will gradually wear off in about three months (by mid August) and the tremors will not reappear for up to one year obviating the need for further injections at that time. The last time this happened I had hoped they wouldn’t come back at all, but that wasn’t to be. I just hope that I get extended relief from the tremors again this time!June 27, 2016 at 5:54 pm #15919
Yes bending the wrist as you move toward the frog is absolutely essential, and it will facilitate using the whole bow, which as Scott Adams notes, is a problem for beginners because of difficulty in controlling the bow at the frog, especially at the bow change. Bending the wrist helps to keep the bow straight as well as improving control of the bow at the bow change.