Posts Tagged ‘Bow’

String Crossing Exercise

January 8, 2009

This one is for string crossings. Jeff Bradetich teaches this down in Texas. The more you use the finger and hand joints, the less you have to rely on slower big arm motion. Therefore, do this one FAST!



A Meditation on Tone

December 13, 2008

Pizz an open D string and let it ring. Listen. This is the sound of the bass in its naked state. The string is vibrating naturally – you aren’t imposing any stress on the system. Your body, too, is probably in a relaxed state – you are occupied with listening, no stress is needed.

Now, play the open D with the bow. Try to replicate the relaxed feeling and open tone that the plucked note had. It is interesting how little you have to work to get a good tone if the ear is in command. Tension gets in the way of good tone. You probably noticed that you didn’t have to push to get the string to move – just allow and listen.

Play a scale of long notes just like this. Pizz first, then arco the same note. You can alternate up and down strokes.


A quick warm-up

December 10, 2008

Here’s a quick warm-up that Lawrence Hurst taught me at Indiana. Its great for working the bow arm and getting you to feel comfortable at the extremities of the bow.

We’ll do a scale again. Put the bow on the string at the frog as though you are going to play the first note down-bow, but instead play up-bow. You’ll only have the space to play a very short note, and you won’t have to use anything except your fingers to engage the string. While the first note is still ringing, move the bow to the tip as though you are going to play the second note up-bow, but instead play down-bow. Again, it’ll be just a short pop from the fingers.


You are teaching yourself to gracefully move your arm between frog and tip, while also using the fingers to engage the note.

The Bow Speed Exercise

December 2, 2008

Here’s the bow speed counterpart to the Mozart tone exercise. Again, we are dividing the bow into two equal parts, but now we are going fast-slow. For the first half of the stroke, move as fast (and loud) as possible without leaving the string. At the mid-point, suddenly change to a slow (soft) speed for the remainder of the whole-note, thusly:

Fast bow for first half/Slow bow for second half

Fast bow for first half/Slow bow for second half

Doing this every day will give you amazing control over bow speed. It’ll also help you keep the bow straight and with good contact.

Tone Exercise

November 30, 2008

Here’s a great exercise for tone. Leopold Mozart (in A Treatise on the Fundimental Principles of Violin Playing) says you should do this every day. It will help you to feel in control of the sound at all dynamic levels. You’ll find yourself using a more straight bow and more consistent contact point, too.

Let’s use a C Major scale as an example. Play each note as whole notes at mm = 60 using consistent bow speed. Make the first two beats fortissimo and the second two beats subito pianissimo.

The Mozart Exercise

Then do it again, alternating between fortissimo and pianissimo every quarter-note, and again every eighth-note. I guarantee doing this daily will give you killer tone.