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violinsRus

Bowing in upper third, parallel to bridge

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Hi folks,

After some concentration on bowing (violin) for the last several years I'm still having challenges keeping parallel to the bridge when bowing in the upper third.  I find that the bow wants to move up the board, and I start to lose the sounding point.  Of course the problem is that my arm is not pull the bow straight, rather pulling it in an arc (like a beginner might!).  ^_^   If I really concentrate it works fine.  If I start to concentrate on other details the bow begins to wander.  

Are there some specific tips, exercises, youtubes that might offer a few more helpful clues to get me over this hump?   I know this is a common issue, so there must be some good tips out there.

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To keep the bow straight it’s necessary to make a C shaped motion throughout the bow stroke.  As your wrist nears the violin on the up bow, it should feel as though the frog is moving toward you (not just in one plane), and on the down bow it should feel like it’s moving out and away.

It will feel forced and unnatural for a while but will become second nature with practice. The affect on tone should be observable right away. The goal is to pull a “straight” and even tone with each stroke. Accomplishing that will take your playing to a completely different level. 

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A combination of adjusting your wrist as "Violin Beautiful" suggests and changing the direction the scroll is pointing might also be helpful, but might be problematic if you use a rigid shoulder rest.

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Get the "Kreisler Highway" locked into muscle memory before you start the other stuff.  Don't give up, but now you'll have to go back and do that. :)

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Practice in front of a mirror, and just experiment around. There is some adjustment at the extremities of the bow that you need, using fingers, wrist, and elbow... There is no silver bullet way to fix it, sorry. Simply doing a C shape doesn't make your bow straight. Galamian's advice is good though, full hair at tip, less than full hair at frog. That helps the wrist do its job. I would venture towards the side of too much moving, like those people who move their arms in a figure 8 sort of motion? Paramount to changing your habit is more flexibility, so you have to practice being loosey goosey. If you can move all those parts of your arm, then you can start to work on moving efficiently (not in figure 8 motion).

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Thanks for the helpful replies.  I was quite fortunate to sit next to a good player in a trio a few years back who told me that my high frozen wrist needed attention.  Since that time I've been working on flexibility, so I'm hoping that with concentration it shouldn't be too difficult to get the motion I need in the upper third.  It definitely has helped to move the instrument towards the center where the bow arm can reach it easier.  And the C shape makes sense.   It's inspiring to watch the fluid bow arms of really fine players!  Lots of inspiration there.  :)

 

 

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Yes, thanks for pointing that out Bill.  Will keep working on it!  This is one inspiration for finger and wrist flexibility that I've enjoyed.  I notice that in videos of his early playing his bow arm/hand was not this fluid.  

 

 

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i like him because of his left pinky...  if you email him he'll email you back, or at least he did to me once.  his finger action on bow changes is unusual too, that much of it. 

practicing colle' bowing is great for getting the wrist and fingers working.  playing kreutzer #3 that way is good.

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57 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

his finger action on bow changes is unusual too, that much of it. 

If you look at this arm, he's almost jerking it on every bow change. I bet it gives him great consistent articulations, but that's why his fingers have to move so much- they are shock absorbers, and that is a lot of shock to absorb. I would not encourage students to do that, though it is always enlightening to take a particular motion to excess, and see what happens. Usually we can do more of a lot of things. Rare to have to tell people to do less, and even rarer is saying so actually productive.

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Another thing that might cause a bow to slide towards the fingerboard, in my experience, is a droopy violin, often the case with shoulder rests. If that is the case with you, try raising it so that the strings are parallel to the floor and suddenly gravity will work for you and not against you.

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On 10/19/2019 at 6:42 PM, Bill Merkel said:

you're aware you have to apply index finger pressure up there?

Bill, this turned out to be a great tip.  Increasing the index finger pressure does help keep the bow closer to the bridge.  I found I was relying too much on arm weight to keep sound production up there, and the finger helps a lot with bow tracking.  Thanks!

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One thing I try to teach my students is that from the 2/3 point of the bow (in either direction of the bow stoke), their upper arm should actually be moving inwards in conjunction with the bend of their wrists.  I find that the extra motion of the upper arm moving slightly inwards on both down bow and up bow provide more control and power.  I also tell them to imagine a line from the frog of the bow running perpendicular with their belly button.  This seems to keep bows running straighter.  

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57 minutes ago, violinnewb said:

One thing I try to teach my students is that from the 2/3 point of the bow (in either direction of the bow stoke), their upper arm should actually be moving inwards in conjunction with the bend of their wrists.  I find that the extra motion of the upper arm moving slightly inwards on both down bow and up bow provide more control and power.  I also tell them to imagine a line from the frog of the bow running perpendicular with their belly button.  This seems to keep bows running straighter.  

The Russian "square".

At the point where your elbow is at a right angle, on an upbow, towards the frog, the upper arm is moving in conjunction with the forearm/wrist/fingers.  You'll known you've done it right if, when you're at the frog, your wrist is unbent.

At the point where your elbow is at a right angle, on a downbow, towards the tip, the forearm is moving in conjunction with the wrist and fingers.  I push "out" with my wrist to keep the bow running straight to the tip.

 

Lots of good stuff in this thread.  I just thought that I'd mention that there is some disagreement on this issue among teachers I respect, so if you're seeing contradictory advice, that's okay.  More than one way to skin a cat.

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