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

Laurie Niles

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Published: December 23, 2014 at 1:54 AM [UTC]

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."


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!

Posted on December 23, 2014 at 7:24 PM
You r absolutely right! :-)
Posted on December 24, 2014 at 1:36 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.

From Paul Deck
Posted on December 24, 2014 at 2:04 AM
See "Basics" by Simon Fischer, the section marked "Coordination."
From N.A. Mohr
Posted on December 24, 2014 at 2:10 PM
I applaud your ability to be able to play 'wrong' on purpose!

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

Posted on December 26, 2014 at 3:54 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.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on December 26, 2014 at 8:24 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. :)

Posted on December 27, 2014 at 7:22 PM
Thank you. I am off lessons for the Christmas break but NOT off practice. I will try this.

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