connecting notes through bow changes
I play viola, so I realize that right-hand technique isn't quite the same as for violinists. Still, I would be interested in hearing if anyone else has had this problem, and how they went about fixing it:
I am currently studying a very slow, lyrical piece. I record my lessons, and listening back recently I noticed that although in my head I was connecting notes through bow changes, in reality there were some noticeable holes in the melodic line, particularly at the transition from up-bow to down-bow. It's also much more noticeable on an ascending line (putting fingers down rather than picking them up). My teacher also pointed out to me that I let my vibrato die away at the heel and bring it back only after I change the bow direction. When I compare my sound on the recording to my teacher's, it's pretty obvious that I am not playing the way I think I am.
Obviously I have a problem at the heel :-) I think if I can fix the continuous-sound problem at the bow change, the vibrato thing might take care of itself. I already do a lot of slow open-string practice, but maybe adding actual notes would help? Are there any drills or exercises specifically for this problem?
Make sure that your bow hold is flexible and that your bow hold changes just before the bow change.
What shape are you moving your hand in at the direction change?
An inaudiable bow change at the heel is probably one of the most difficult things to do. One way to improve it is to practice doing the bowchange only using your fingers. Use only a few inches of bow right at the heel. Curl your fingers on the upbow and straighten them on the downbow. Do this very slowly making sure your speed of bow doesn't increase anywhere. You will get a lot more control after practicing that a while.
Hey Vivien welcome to violinist.com, it is always great to have professional violinists active on this forum, not that you are the only one, far from that, but anyway, welcome and thanks for your interesting contributions on this forum!
Vivien, thanks for those suggestions. I will definitely give them a try.
I learned that the fingers are involved significantly in the bow direction change at the heel, in the manner that Vivien described. I also was taught that "carrying your bow" into the change will facilitate this movement. Probably even more important for viola where the bow is heavier.
The reality is that when the bow changes direction it must stop for a very short time. There will be a very short gap in the sound or a very slight noise. We cover this gap as best we can with flexible fingers and wrist acting like shock absorbers, and not stopping the vibrato, too difficult to describe in prose. Hint; at the tip, don't release the leverage when switching directions; power through the change. In a hall, the reverb time will cover the change, and the white noise does not carry very far. jq
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