4 Tips To Improve Your Bowing Precision

Are your string crossings sloppy? Do you unintentionally hit other strings as you play? Are the fingered notes a bit mushy?

If so, you’re not alone. These are common bowing pitfalls. In this lesson I’ll give you strategies to practice precision. This will also help you with fingering precision. 👌🏼


4 tips to improve your bowing precision.


Play with the bow angle

You can get better at bowing without even making a sound. Silently rock from string to string. This angle determines what strings are played. Enjoy the feeling of your arm easily moving.

For double stops, find the perfect angle which allows you to play both strings at once. When you

Double stops control

  • We can combine the bow angle practice with little pauses to practice
  • D0-A0-D0-A0
  • D0A0-D0A0-D0A0-D0A0

Little pauses

You can improve your precision if you leave little spaces between note changes. Deliberately stop the bow, then shift positions in the gap. This gives your fingers and arms time to adjust to the new position.

If you sincerely do this you WILL improve your precision. It will help with string crossing and fingering.

At first this sounds and feels awkward. You are purposely not doing it with flow. Be patient. That will come later.

I teach a simple exercise called Stop n’ rock to improve the precision of string crossing. In its extreme form, this is the staccato bowing (sharp bow stops).

D0-{stop n’rock to A string}-A0-{stop n’rock to D string}

Let the movement from string to string be super-slow.

Add variation: volume, rhythms, fingering, Peri-diddle

Stop n’ finger

We can use the same “little pause” strategy, except now instead of string crossing we’ll do it with fingering. I call this “Stop n’ finger”.

D0-{place finger}-1-{lift finger}

Leave a little gap after each fingered note. This gives you time to place or remove the finger.

Combine this with Stop n’ rock to practice pedal patterns:

D0-A0-D1-A0

The more you practice this, the faster you’ll get. Eventually you’ll be able to play with precision as well as flow. This simple practice becomes a superpower if used consistently.

With one simple exercise, you can create an infinite number of exercises that are handmade for you. Make up exercises to practice exactly what you need to practice on your fiddle journey right now.

{Make up an exercise clip in video}


Start in free time, then add a beat

Practice precision in free time (without following a beat). Allow yourself to shift tempos as needed as you work out bowing.

Once you’ve worked out the mechanics, add a beat: a metronome or a play-along track.

This tests your ability. You’ll improve through the process of testing and challenging yourself. Gradually speed up with a metronome Track your tempos each day. Then you can incrementally speed things up.

This allows you to test your skill in a measurable way. When you practice like this you are working at your edge.


Make bowing your Top-level practice

The most important thing any student needs to remember is simply to play every day. We can go further with this idea…

If you are trying to improve a specific tune or technique, work on that thing every day. I invite you to make bowing your top-level practice for the next two weeks. Maybe pick one aspect of your bowing to improve, like precision.

See bowing as an umbrella that contains everything else you do during a session.

Make gradual but measurable progress every time you play:

  • Learn two bars of a tune every day
  • Speed up a tune by 5 bpm a day
  • Improve your sound by 10% a day

Do this and you’ll earn compound interest on your practice time. At a certain point, it will be productive to let go of that focus point. Just be sure to review it at some point in the future. You may even want to put this in your calendar. I set reminders to myself to review things in the future.


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