Starting on up bow - bow bounces

December 22, 2017, 2:34 PM · Hello

I find it difficult to start a phrase on an up bow, especially near/at the very tip. The bow bounces a couple millimeters before settling, and it is very obvious, both visually and audibly.

Any suggestions would be deeply appreciated :)

(And please excuse my awkward English :p)

Replies (16)

December 22, 2017, 3:38 PM · Do you have a teacher? The way my teacher cured the dreaded bow bounce at the start of the note was to practice holding the tip end (for example) of the bow stationary for a few seconds in contact with the string by the weight of the relaxed bowing arm. "Relaxed" is very important, because any stiffness in the bowing arm will translate into a bounce. Gently wriggle the bow into the string so that you can feel the "bite", then start moving the bow with the relaxed arm. You should get a tone with no bow bounce.

The next stage is to practice this in different parts of the bow and reduce the time from a few seconds down to one second. The final stage is to reduce that one second to practically nothing so that there is an relaxed bite of the bow on the string at the instant you move it - and no bounce.

Perhaps not the easiest of concepts to describe in words, but it becomes very obvious when the teacher is there to demonstrate it.

December 22, 2017, 4:16 PM · What Trevor said.

Or as I have heard coaches state it: "Set the bow," even if in "attack mode" think "SET THE BOW."

Although it certainly seems like some people can just slam that thing down on the strings and GO!

December 22, 2017, 4:32 PM · If the note is short, start closer to the frog. Only start at the tip if you must use the whole bow for the note due to length. Also, make sure your arm isn't too high or low. I agree with the others.
December 22, 2017, 5:10 PM · We can't see what you're doing, or not doing, but one other thing to watch is how taut your bow hairs are. If you over-tighten the bow, or if the hairs become too taut on their own during a session, this can contribute to unwanted bow-bounce.

I sometimes run into this problem as summer heat and humidity start to wane, and I've sometimes had to slacken the bow hairs more than once during a practice session because of it.

Edited: December 22, 2017, 7:17 PM · Well, your English is ok, but I’m afraid to say that you’re not telling what your exact problem is. You’d better have written a specific example.

I think your question is about the point just before starting a passage with an extreme upbow. These are my suggestions: First, just don’t start at that point till you get used to it. Secondly, I think your pinkie is weak, so try to enhance its power to get good bow control. I’d recommend reading Clara Fuhrman’s recent article “Holiday Practising”.

December 23, 2017, 1:20 AM · Yes, I have a teacher. She corrected my bow hold that my previous teacher didn’t bother to fix and also showed me bow exercises to do daily (windshield wiper, writing something in the air).

I will try your suggestions, thanks everybody!

December 23, 2017, 2:17 AM · Do you put the bow on the string before playing, or do you start the stroke ‘from the air’?
Before drawing the bow, you should make sure your bow is on the string, and has ‘grabbed’ the string, meaning there’s good contact with the string.

This article describes an exercise that could potentially be helpful to you!

December 23, 2017, 11:23 AM · When I started violin lessons my teacher deliberately referred to my bowing as "aeroplane landing". A 'plane when it lands often bounces a bit - so there's the connection. Then she started a series of lessons on how to start a note from a stationary bow engaging the string, the aim being to progress to the stage where the "stop" of the bow on the string is almost infinitesimal, but is still there. When that art has been mastered then the player will have the bowing control to be able to start a stroke "in the air", if the music demands it, without incurring a bouncing disaster.
December 23, 2017, 4:50 PM · hi Lillian, perhaps it can be as simple as starting from the string, not above the string?
December 23, 2017, 11:53 PM · Jean, thanks for your suggestion, but the problem is that the bow bounces even when I start from the string. It’s the action when I put the bow down that makes it bounce.

Maybe I should let the bow move more horizontally than vertically before I start on an up bow. Hope that you understand what I mean.

December 24, 2017, 12:03 AM · Make sure that you have enough weight into the string before the bow starts moving. It sounds to me like you have tension in your bow hand where the force is wasted squeezing inward on the frog and stick instead of natural relaxed weight laying into the string. That results in the hair gliding on the surface of the string rather than pressing into the string. This can result in the bouncing you are describing. At the tip of the bow, you need more weight than anywhere else to fully engage the string, so make sure to lean into your first finger a bit for the "bite" at the beginning of the note.
December 24, 2017, 12:10 AM · ‘It’s the action when I put the bow down that makes it bounce.’

That means you must learn to control the bow more with your right hand. If you ‘throw’ the bow on the string, then it will of course bounce. But if you learn to delicately put in on the string, the problem should go away.

December 24, 2017, 12:44 AM · “the problem is that the bow bounces even when I start from the string”

The following was of help for me.
Doing scales slowly and controlling that the bow is straight, that I am not pressing while still getting weight on the string and last but not least observing if I get tension in my right shoulder. Once in a while I have to kind of “drop” the shoulder because it rises minimal (from tension) but enough to have undesired effects.
Little bounces in the bowing were an up bow problem rather than a down bow problem. I guess because down bow gave my shoulder the impulse to relax, up bow made it obvious if my shoulder started to be tense.
All very minimal and probably not even observable from the outside.

December 24, 2017, 4:25 AM · This problem is an opportunity. I think that with your teacher or another teacher . You would benefit from a complete review of your bowing and the realisation that maintenance and development of bowing is an ongoing activity .
There is a huge amount of literature on this subject plus hundreds of videos on YouTube and else where .
Often information can be contradictory and confusing , but if you experiment you will gain useful experience and spend many exciting hours practicing .
December 24, 2017, 3:12 PM · you're probably not pronated enough. Put the bow on the string at the tip. Then remove your little finger and ring finger from the bow. When you do this there will be plenty of pressure. Do this a few times and then recreate the feeling with all fingers on the bow. practicing like this can also correct the problem of the release of pressure while doing the detach´bow stroke.
December 27, 2017, 9:07 AM · thank you Bruce, it is always great to have your expert contributions, very to the point, to technical discussions on this forum! Lillian: Roman tells you to learn to place the bow gently, but I think it is also at the same time important to learn to catch the string with the bow. catching means place the bow on the string so that you can move it a fraction of a millimeter left and right without slipping.

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