How, When and Why to Tilt Your Violin Bow | Violin & Viola TV #215

January 12, 2016, 2:58 AM · In this episode of Violin & Viola TV I answer a question from one of our viewers Taran. He writes:

Hi Zlata! I've been watching your videos on youtube and have found them very helpful.

I've searched around on several sites and video tutorials and never saw this addressed. Does the angle at which you hold the bow matter? I noticed when I see other people play that they typically have the hair of the bow pointing towards the bridge, whereas when I play, I have it angled with the hair pointed more towards the neck. I've tried rotating the bow to play on the other side of the hairs and noticed no change in my tone. I have included pictures to show my position and bow hold.

Kindest Regards,

Taran J Hook

In the video I show you what Taran means and answer his question.

Your teacher might tell you that you should bow with all the hair and have your bow straight above the hair. This is great for the beginning. To bow with all the hair, a good sound and with a whole bow is your basic way of bowing. It teaches you fundamental bowing technique. It also teaches you to control the bow and not have it swob around over the string.

How to tilt your bow?

If you learned some basic bowing technique, you can start varying with the amount of hair you use when bowing. To use less hair, you can tilt the bow a bit away from the bridge in the direction of the scroll of your violin. You might lift your wrist a bit doing this.

For the bow itself it doesn't matter in which direction you tilt your bow. The bow hair doesn't sound differently on each side.

However... for your bowing technique and things like spiccato it does matter. When you tilt your bow the wrong way (so in the direction of the bridge and away from the scroll) you lock your hand, strain your wrist and block your movement. You can bow better when you tilt the bow in the right direction.

Why and when to tilt your bow?

You probably see players tilt their bow. They do this to:

In the video I demonstrate how to get a regular sound and smooth bow change at the frog by tilting the bow just at the frog.

Don't tilt your bow all the time. It might be easier to get a smooth sound in the beginning, but you should also be able to bow smoothly with all the hair. Tilting your bow should be an effect that you execute consciously. It depends on the music you play and the sound you want to make.

I hope I have clarified some things around tilting your bow with this video. Thanks for watching!

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin & Viola TV episode to answering your question!

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