How can I clean up the bow sound on the violin?

A student named Shauna asked me this during office hours.

You can clean up the sound of the bow by adding little pauses in between the notes. This is especially good for string crossing (I call the practice “stop n’ rock” when adding pauses to string crossing).

Stop n’ Rock

You may notice some sloppiness when doing the actual change because you may not be completely stopping the bow before you move it to the next string. A great exercise to practice this is called “Stop n’ Rock”.

  1. Do a single, quick downbow on the D string.
  2. Completely stop the bow.
  3. Allow for a little pause as you SLOWLY rock the bow to the A string
  4. Do a single upbow on the A string.
  5. Completely stop the bow.
  6. Allow for a little pause as you SLOWLY rock the bow back to the D string. Start over.

We are carefully training the right arm on how to do this motion. Though you understand it mentally, your arm needs more time to learn it.

Stop n’ Rock D to A, single bows

Once you get the idea with this simple exercise, try to practice it on more complex patterns like perididdle:


Then try to do add little pauses on phrases from tunes:

Kerry Polka, first quarter: A1-D0-1-0-A1-D0-1-0

Further learning

A Little Pause

Fun With String Crossing

Fingering and String Crossing Exercises II

Fingering and String Crossing Exercises III

This video is an excerpt from an office hours webinar I gave on January 28, 2020. View the entire livestream with indexed questions here.

Do you have a fiddle or violin question? The office hours livestream happens on the last Tuesday of the month. Sign up for my email list and I’ll let you know when the next one happens:


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