Thank you for all the videos on youtube - they have been very helpful. I have a question that I was hoping you could help me with.
I've recently been struggling with my bow hand in a very specific situation: when playing softly in a performance. For example, when I'm playing p / pp / ppp in orchestra, I get a lot of tension in my bow hand, to the point where I am afraid that I'll drop my bow. The tension gets so bad that my bow sometimes starts bouncing on the string. However, once the piece goes to mf / f / ff, I finally feel that my bow hand can relax again, and I regain my bow control. Do you have any ideas what the root problem could be? I have a feeling it's my thumb or maybe even upper arm tension, but I haven't figured it out.
Thank you! ~Stephen
Fear of dropping the bow is a problem Kato Havas describes in her book Stage Fright. Sometimes it's only between your ears and not between your hand and your bow, as the chance that you drop your bow isn't that big.
An exercise to get rid of your fear of dropping your bow is to stand beside your bed, so the bow can have a soft land when it falls. You hold your bow like you are used to. Now release the tension in your bow hand bit by bit, so you release the bow very slowly. Relax your hand more and more until the bow falls on your bed.
If you're afraid to use your bow for this exercise, do the same thing with a pencil or a stick.
Doing this exercise you'll discover that the bow won't just drop out of your hand. It takes quite a while to relax your hand to the point the bow falls. Certainly when your hand is tensed up, your bow doesn't get the chance to suddenly fall out of your hand.
If you don't relax your thumb, your bowing won't be as smooth and you'll get bow shakes quickly. Also the ball of your thumb tenses up when you lock your thumb, causing cramps while playing.
Certainly under the pressure of a performance and while playing soft (so you can't use a lot of weight in your bow), it can be hard to relax your body.
In an orchestra you'll hear your instrument, which is right under your ear, louder than other people hear your instrument. This is important to realize. Sometimes it can seem like your playing too loud, while other people can hardly hear you.
Now I'd like to hear from you! Which tip from the above was most useful to you? What was the cause of your bow shakes and how have you solved it thanks to this video? Leave a comment below!
PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to email@example.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!Tweet
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