Laurie's Violin School: Fingers first, then bow.

December 22, 2014, 6:54 PM · Does your bow hand ever get out of sync with your fingers?

One reason could be this: your left hand and right hand work in a series of sequences, not exactly perfectly in time with each other. The lefthand finger has to be in place before the bow moves, or we hear a little bit of the note that came before. Likewise, for string crossings, the crossing takes place after one note and before the next; it doesn't take place at the same time as the next note. If we send the command, "Do it at the same time!" to both hands at once, the results are likely to be very mixed. Instead, the command needs to be: "Fingers, then bow."

fingers-bow

Of course, these finger placements and string crossings take place in a matter of microseconds between notes, so one has to be very coordinated to make this happen. But how can you practice that coordination, when there's so little time between notes? The answer: put it in super-slow motion. The passage might be easy; it might be something you feel you can and should be able to play fast. But the reason for the slow motion is simply to practice the sequence: finger first, then bow. String crossing first, then bow. If you've been telling your fingers "same time!" you may actually find this little exercise to be a challenge! But once the sequence is well-ingrained, you will find, when you speed it up, that your passage is very clean!

Here is a little demonstration for you. Happy practicing!

Replies

December 23, 2014 at 07:24 PM · You r absolutely right! :-)

December 24, 2014 at 01:36 AM · I have been practicing as you describe for several months with very positive results. This immediately exposed my weak bow control which needed similar attention. The net gain has been surprising.

December 24, 2014 at 02:04 AM · See "Basics" by Simon Fischer, the section marked "Coordination."

December 24, 2014 at 02:10 PM · I applaud your ability to be able to play 'wrong' on purpose!

When I do it...I'm actually still just wrong...lol!

December 26, 2014 at 03:54 AM · I tell students to synchronize the impact of the finger on the fingerboard with the motion of the bow, and let some other part of the brain work out when to get the finger moving so it arrives on time.

December 26, 2014 at 08:24 PM · In an ideal world, "synchronize your fingers and bow" would be a great command. If only it always worked!

In the event that hoping the brain figures it out for itself does not work, then it's nice to take the mystery out of things and give a student a simple path to improvement. :)

December 27, 2014 at 07:22 PM · Thank you. I am off lessons for the Christmas break but NOT off practice. I will try this.

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