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Zlata Brouwer

How to Smoothly Switch between Strings with your Violin Bow?

July 20, 2013 at 8:36 AM

“Since I just found you yesterday, I don't know if you've covered this "problem" for me a beginner... 

My question is about bowing: When I practice scales or a song and I switch from G, D, A or E , I wind up with sounds I believe sound like a double stop. 

It happens most on the D and A string. 

How do I conquer this, aside from much practice...? 

Is there a way of holding my arm (elbow) when switching between strings? 

Thank you so much...”

Here is how to smoothly switch between strings with your violin bow...

First you need to know the basics about bowing and switching strings.

You bow with your lower arm. It's like opening a door. Remember... no fighting! ;)

You switch strings with your upper arm... chicken tonight! :D

You don't bow and switch at the same time, because you will hear double stops. It means that you bow on two strings at the same time and you will hear both strings at the same time.

The two movements (bowing and switching) are separate movements. Lots of beginners use their lower AND upper arm with bowing as well as string switching.

TIP: Separate these movements... not in a rigid stiff way, but in a relaxed fluent way.

TIP: Challenge yourself to make the string switch movement as small as possible and be surprised how small the motion can be. You don't need much motion to switch strings.

Why are A and D most difficult? They are between other strings. On the G and E string you have much more space to be sloppy ;).

Make your string switch as small as possible... you will be surprised how small the motion is!

TIP: Prepare with your bow to the direction of your string switch. This makes your string switch even smaller and more subtle.


You can't do something fast if you can't do it slow. Practice with stops at a string switch.

Bow... Stop... String switch... Stop... Bow etc

You can do this in a scale, in a song or in a free improvisation. You need to pick something easy, maybe just open strings. You need to be able to focus on the string switch and not be distracted be a difficult piece.

If it goes very well... try to make the stops smaller and smaller and smaller... until there is no hearable stop anymore.

Don't expect results in just one day... making your string switches smooth can take some time.

Please let me know if this helps you and share your experiences in the comments below.

Thank you for watching Violin Lounge TV!


Violinist and Skype violin teacher at Violin Lounge

PS: Do you have questions for me on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to

From jean dubuisson
Posted on July 22, 2013 at 1:01 PM
Zlata, thanks for the video, since you ask in the video to comment on the English terminology: in English it is commonly called string "crossing" instead of string "switching".
From Anne Wynn
Posted on July 22, 2013 at 9:36 PM
Hello Zlata,
Thank you for posting this video.
I also have a question about violin technique. When playing a scale like C major or B flat major, I have a hard time keeping my 2nd finger in the B flat/C/F/G natural position when crossing strings. Do you have any advice on how to keep my 2nd finger from moving/becoming too sharp when I cross strings? Thank you very much for your help,
Anne Wynn
From Zlata Brouwer
Posted on July 24, 2013 at 2:32 PM
Thanks, Jean, I will remember the correct term! :)
From Zlata Brouwer
Posted on July 24, 2013 at 2:33 PM
Thanks for your question, Anne, I will send you a private message to ask you for some more details. I will answer your question in a video Friday :).

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