Bow Arm Movement
Technique and Practicing: I'm a beginner and I'm really confused about these opposite techniques.
From Priscila Becker
Posted July 7, 2004 at 04:34 AM
I've been studying Sevcik op.1 ex.11 (for the right hand)and my teacher told me I should move my arm as a whole keeping the wrist still. But, I studied with another teacher a few months ago, who told me that in these cases I should move ONLY my wrist, keeping the arm still. I'm a beginner and I'm really confused about these opposite techniques. I wish some of you could help me...
Yes,and I would disagree with both sets of advice.I don't want to confuse you further but try to draw small clockwise circles with your hand.Keep your arm and your hand completely relaxed and study the natural movements.You will note that there is both arm movement and wrist movement.If you play this rotary movement on the violin with a relaxed arm the movements will be very similar.
I've recently had the same experiance and I was really confused as well, but then my teacher told me that the wrist and arm all have their purpose. You keep the wrist still when using long bows so that you can get the full length of the bow. In order to go all the way to the frog your wrist needs to be still and in straight alignment with your forearm and the fingers do the work of pushing the bow the rest of the way up to the frog. Same thing when going to the tip, the wrist should always be straight letting the fingers do the work. Now you use the wrist when doing short strokes. So maybe you have a fast pieces that requires short strokes, well your not going to use the whole bow for one 16th note are you? No. When doing fast pieces you place the bow on the violin, use the middle of the bow. And then you only move your wrist keeping your arm straight and still, because if you move your arm then you'll use more bow then what is needed for the particular bowing. So the wrist is kept still when using a whole bow and the wrist moves when doing short bows.
I hope that helps.
From Rowell Jao
Posted on July 7, 2004 at 09:09 PM
I guess each teacher has different teachings. Keeping the wrist and arm still gets them tensed. Wrist and arm should feel natural. For example the wrist will naturally go down as you take a full down bow.
Each violinist has there own way of bowing so if something feels right for you go ahead and do it. You don't always need to listen to your teacher unless your teacher is Hilary Hahn, Joshua Bell, Rachel Barton or someone like that, then maybe you would want to listen because obviously its working for them. (Ha HA HA) But if your teacher is pointing out that a type of bowing your doing could cause health risk then listen but otherwise in this situation there is no right or wrong way.
If you are playing a whole bow slur of two alternating strings (for example: E string, A string, E string, A string, E string, A string all in one slur) you'll find that the least effortful way to do it is to use mainly wrist while at the frog, and mainly whole arm in one piece while you're at the tip. The idea is to make a gradual change of movement: As you move from frog to tip the main origin of the movement moves up your arm (from wrist to shoulder). You can verify this by trying it. I use the words "mainly" and "main" because I believe that all movements in both hands (to make a rather sweeping generality) should integrate all the joints, however subtly, (even though one particular joint may be doing *most* of the work. An analogous idea in the left arm is: when you do a so-called "arm vibrato" the arm (elbow joint) might be doing the most obvious and largest flexing, but the shoulder, wrist and fingers should not be frozen, they should subtly integrate into the whole movement. You can verify this by observing how you do any everyday, graceful movement. For example, when you reach to pick up a pencil from a table at which you're sitting - the *main* part of the movement might be an opening of your elbow joint, but you'll observe that leaning toward the pencil from your waist, and moving your shoulder, wrist and finger joints are all gracefully integrated into the movement.
The last post said:
If you are playing a whole bow slur of two alternating strings (for example: E string, A string, E string, A string, E string, A string all in one slur) you'll find that the least effortful way to do it is to use mainly wrist while at the frog, and mainly whole arm in one piece while you're at the tip.
er...duh...hmmmm...I must have got this wrong all my life...er...don't you mean the other way round???
I mean what I wrote. You can give it a good try, if you are so inclined. Then, if using the technique I described makes the string changing easier and more controlled for you, you'll want to do it. If it doesn't, you shouldn't do it. Bear in mind that when you change strings at the frog the vertical distance that the bow arm (or part thereof) moves is smallest, at the tip the distance is largest. A small movement (such as writing with a pen) is most easily done *mainly* with the hand and fingers. A large movement (such as throwing a baseball) is most easily done *mainly* with the whole body and whole arm. (However, any good pitcher gracefully integrates some flex of all the joints in the arm, hand and fingers into the throw.)
Oliver, ok, reading your posts together, I think I really understand now what you are saying.
But forgive me, I think you may not be saying what you mean. I think that what you mean is what is called forearm rotation. That is what you use at the frog and low in the bow. But the hand movement you are talking about is for the upper half only.
I understand well what Oliver says and think he is absolutely right.
can't go wrong listening to oliver
btw it makes perfect logical sense if you think about it, it requires more movement to change strings at the tip so it makes sense to use a large part of the arm to accomplish this and vice versa.
There seems to be a communications problem here. What you say I am saying has nothing to do with what I wrote above.
Tim are you sure you are not mixing forearm rotation with forearm prono-supination ie the movement used to opene-close the door knob?
Oliver's method is quite logical and clear but I feel you have a wrong representation of what he says. cheers
"Tim are you sure you are not mixing forearm rotation with forearm prono-supination ie the movement used to opene-close the door knob?"
I thought they were the same. That's a good way of putting it for forearm rotation, that it is same as open-close door knob. That's the one I mean by forearm rotation.
Oh man, I'm going to go back to studying the left knee joints of grasshoppers - it's far easier than playing the violin.
That's a great advice Oliver! Now if only the students would listen...