How can I keep the bow from bouncing when I play the violin?
A student named Shigeki asked me during office hours, “How can I keep the bow from bouncing when I play the violin??”
Have faith that if you continue to practice regularly, your arm will naturally get the feel of how to bow without bouncing.
That said, there are some practices which can help you overcome this more quickly.
- Relax the right shoulder
- Lower the right elbow
- Feel the weight of the arm
- You need a solid hold with your chin on the chin rest
- Use a good shoulder rest
Probably the best thing you can practice to overcome bow bouncing is throw-away bow. Imagine your arm is weighted down. Feel it as being pulled by gravity rather than making an effort. Try it on open D:
This is an amazing practice which you can apply to anything: difficult fingerings, intervals, scales, and tune phrases.
For example, we can practice throw-away bow by progressively adding notes to a phrase. Play the first note with throw-away bow, then just the second note with throw-away bow. Then play the first two notes and end with a throw-away bow. Keep building the phrase, note by note, ending on with throw-away bow.
Let’s try it with the first two bars of Oh Susannah. In addition to reducing bow bouncing, this will add more body to your sound.
Respond to the play along track, ending each little phrase with throw-away bow.
D0 / D1 / D0-D1 / D2 / D0-D1-D2 / A0 / A1 / D0-1-2-A0-0-1-0 / D2 / A0-D2 / A0-D2-A0 / D0-1-2-A0-0-1-0-D2-0
You can practice Saw Bow to lessen bow bouncing. Play short strokes (eighth notes) with a lot of weight in the middle of the bow.
One last tip for reducing bow bouncing is to fiddle with volume and bow length.
Now we’ll practice volume control. Start by playing short quiet “paintbrush” strokes. Gradually increase the length and pressure until you’re playing loud “saw” strokes. When you hit the peak, gradually get quieter. Start over on the same string, and then try it on the other strings.
Soft-loud-soft on D string
Please practice this!
…And then let me know in a comment below if it helped a little. It may take a few days to notice a difference.
This micro-lesson is an excerpt from an office hours webinar I gave on January 28, 2020. View the entire live-stream with indexed questions here.
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