up bow, down bow
Parts of the bow are the tip (or point), stick (wood of the bow),
frog (lower portion where you hold the bow) and screw (where you
tighten and loosen the bow.)
A bow that begins in a downward motion is called a "downbow"
(notated in music with this symbol: ""),
and the opposite is called an "upbow" (notated in music
as a "".)
Common places to begin in the bow are at the tip or point, in the
middle of the bow (about half way down) and at the frog (near your
hand.) Also, sometimes we'll say begin in the upper half or lower
bow pressure & speed
Experiment with bow pressure and speed, combinations of these two
things can create all sorts of different sound, heavy, light, scratchy,
glassy: the more length and speed you use will create a glassy sound,
if you apply more pressure, the sound becomes richer. With less
length and speed the sound develops a rougher texture (especially
if there is heavy pressure), in general, if you're getting a squeaky
sound, try using more bow length and vary the pressure until you
have something you like.
some bow exercises
Practice re-making the bow hold over and over. Emphasize good placement
of the fingers, stop and shake out the right hand and start again.
Do this several times until the action becomes almost second nature.
Then remember the feel of the bow hold. Close your eyes
and try to construct the bow hold from touch (while you hold the
stick of the bow.) Open eyes and review:
Was the thumb tip on the stick between the leather and the stock?
Some spacing of the fingers, not bunched up?
First finger on stick between 1st & 2nd joints?
Can you imagine an egg cupped in your hand (from the roundness
of the hand)?
Ready...Go! Now for the speed round. Try forming the bow
hold from touch with eyes closed as quickly as possible, when done,
you may open eyes. Let the memorization happen with self review.
Windshield Wipers: make a bow hold and then make back and forth
large arcs with the tip of the bow. Try to resist the impulse to
do this fast. Smooth and steady. Feel the weight of the bow in each
of the fingers as it moves from one side to the other.
Elevators: in this exercise, the bow is kept flat from the low
bottom floor, to the very top floor. Pretend there are people on
the bow and they mustnt fall off. Again, move slowly in a
relaxed fashion. If nerves make the tip boggle, stop, shake out
the hand and try lifting the bow while breathing in, and exhaling
while the bow descends.
Space Needles: pointing the tip of the bow straight up, move the
bow slowly up in a straight line. As with the elevator, this exercise
requires that the wrist be flexible. Begin from the lowest point
possible (without bending legs) and raise bow to highest point,
always keeping the bow straight up and down.
In beginning violin & viola, the thumb is placed at the frog
just outside and resting next to the curl in the hair holder, opposite
the 2nd & 3rd fingers and diagonal to the stock. The index finger
touches the stick between the 1st & 2nd joints. The little finger
rests somewhere on the stick of the bow on the pinky tip. Notice
the curved nature of the hand in relation to the bow, all fingers
work together to hold the bow with as little stress to individual
fingers as possible. The pinkie should be curved, not straight.
As students become more familiar with the bow hold, a helper may
be able to lightly pick up any finger (except the thumb) without
one loosing the bowso integrated is the nature of fingers
Center of bow hold, thumb & middle finger
Forward slant of the fingers
Bent thumb, first (pointing) finger between first and second joints
Pinky curled, round, cupped (or shell) shape of the hand, as if
you could hold an egg
"Hole" made by roundness of the hand
Bow at the frog, slight upward bend of the wrist to keep the bow
Bow at the tip, wrist downward to keep bow straight