6 Ways To Get A Better Sound With The Bow

Do you struggle with getting a good sound on the fiddle? Are you unsure of how much pressure to use? Do you want a smoother bow sound?

If so, take heart. You’re not the only one. In this lesson I’ll show you some ways to improve your sound on a daily basis. If you do this, over long periods of time, you’ll see huge gains your sound. You earn compound interest on your practice when you do it every day.

This month’s learning theme is bowing. All these lessons will wind up in my course as part of the bowing central section. This lesson is for beginners and intermediate students.

6 Ways To Get A Better Sound With The Bow

Breathe with the bow

Coordinate breath and bowing. Breathe in on an up bow, out on a down bow. Enjoy the feeling of doing this.

Next, try to maintain this easeful breath as you practice bowing rhythms on open strings. Add progressively more complex things (fingerings, melodies). See how long you can keep your awareness on the breath.

Throw-away bow

This is a powerful tone-building practice which you can use for the rest of your fiddle journey

Throw-away bow helps you find the right amount of pressure. You can progressively add notes to a phrase, always ending on a throw-away bow. This will improve the sound of the whole tune. Here’s a lesson on the process: Tone-building On Tunes

Practice throw-away bow with STEP™ (Simple To Elaborate Process): single notes, intervals, scales, tune phrases and whole tunes. If you get stuck on more complex steps, then return to simpler steps.

{cut to diagram in video}

Use different parts of the bow

Divide the bow into thirds. Practice in the lower, middle and upper third. Do this with single notes, intervals, rhythms, scales, tunes.

How does it feel different in each part of the bow? Take note of this.

Practicing in different parts of the bow paves the way for playing whole bows.

Play at different volumes

Increase the volume by increasing the pressure and the speed of the bow. Play with this until you find a balance.

Practice things at a medium, quiet and loud volume This will help you to find the correct amount of bow pressure and bow length.

Add slurs to make the sound smoother

Separate bows tend to have a choppy feel, slurred bows have a smoother feel. Experiment with adding slurs. Alternate between slurs and separate bows. Use a pencil to map out where you want to slur in a tune.

Return to simple bowing on open strings

During a session, periodically take breaks from playing and return to playing simple open strings. Relax into the good sound. This gives you confidence moving forward.

Like anything else, you can improve this with practice. {You can practice anything video clip}

I’ll be doing another lesson on precision.

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Further learning

{backlink this lesson on these pages}

{backlink: 1.6 > bonus lessons}

{backlink: Questions About Fiddling > bowing}

Return to Bowing Central >>

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3 responses to “6 Ways To Get A Better Sound With The Bow

  1. Thanks Jason! Your “Don’t Give Up!” Newsletter arrived at JUST the right time. I was beginning to despair of ever getting my string crossings to sound better, and “6 Ways of getting a Better Sound with the Bow” took me right back to basics and calmed me down. I followed that up with “How can I clean up the bow sound on the violin” and 30 minutes of nice simple exercises.
    After that I felt MUCH more optimistic about getting these simple things right. I’m already looking forward to tomorrow’s practice session . . .