Printer-friendly version
Drew Lecher

Weighty Subject II

November 9, 2008 at 7:07 AM


(a follow-up as Al raised a very good question)

From al ku


Posted via on November 8, 2008 at 3:15 PM

"drew, great and thoughtful blog as usual.  simpletons like me need to read about 5 times to get some of it, and still not sure how much out of it:)

here is my question:  when you talk about bowing here do you consider the difference in upbow and downbow  or even with regard to the influence from gravity...

for instance,  with what you have described in this blog, personally i feel it is tremendously revealing when i apply it to upbow motion where an elbow too high or too low  allows me to experience very different tracking of the bow with string.  with me, i feel that an elbow "a little higher"--may be it is close to your table elbow elevation description--allow me to bow with more sustained control and power, whereas with downbow, to get the similar feeling, my elbow tends to track lower. 

so from a distance, with both up and downbow, the tip of my elbow does not track on one line, but follows an oval, with the upbow motion taking the upper half and downbow the lower half.

prof, say it ain't so! :)"

Hi Al,

You tell me, ha:-) Read the following 5-10 times…

It does sound as though you are doing a more circular pattern in your described stroke. If I am correct, you are thereby running 2 planes—higher for the up and lower for the down. If fact, they would not truly be planes if you are actually curving the line as described.

Try doing 2 open strings and note if it is difficult to maintain the plane. You want to develop a true line to your stroke. This is necessary in double-stops and of tremendous help in drawing a stable and elegantly refined tone, ppp to fff.

It is also required to vary the line into curves, i.e., anticipating and moving toward a new string which is constantly done, but when the plane is held as desired for a given note or phrase it is that kind of control and artistry we hear in the greatest players.

Excepting the moment into and out of string crossings, the plane of the bow is also extremely important in faster détaché strokes—preventing our collision and sideswiping of the other strings.

Ultimately, I do not want to know whether I am hearing an up-bow or a down-bow—just the right artistic expression. Gravity is our best tool, or our worst enemy. Using it makes all we do far easier and being used by it defeats or slowly wears down all we do.

The tabletop rise is not to turn up the elbow, but rather to easily show us how to generally transfer the arms weight through the wrist, into the hand and onto the bow in a most efficient manner. In the last couple days I have used it with 6-8 students that have been inconsistent with the quality and quantity of their tone. We did it twice at my desk and they instantly caught on to the degree that if their sound wavered, a simple reminder put them right on track.

In teaching this, I also emphasized the fluidity, ease and lightness felt in the arm even when playing fortissimo. It goes without saying, that they are all doing Crescent Bows and are constantly refreshed mentally as to the advantage of doing so. :-)

Another aside—it sounded that you might also be rolling to different quantities of hair. This is also good—when desired.

Hope this helps—


P.S. Ovals are necessary and very good; Crescent Bows with phenomenal planes are to be mastered at all costs—AND CB’s are far easier and flow in the plane…go figure:-)

Author of

Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master… 

Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master… 

From al ku
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 2:18 PM

i think i know what you are saying, prof!   but, as often is the case on,,,what are they  really saying? :)

anyway,  instead of me trying to explain myself in another 1000 words, i did a clip showing the type of oval bowing i was talking about.  (for beginners, it is like looking at the eclipse,,,look at your own risk !:) 

 the first part is the rather "normal" bowing and the second one the oval part where i feel that  if i want to play a forte on an upbow, it gives me more of a "push".  obviously, as you can see, i have to engage my shoulder more to do the oval.  i do wonder if those violinists with rotator cuff issues develop them with this push move...but i digress...

now i am lying on the table, all preped, barely moving, waiting for prof lecher to come in with his large scalpel...

From Drew Lecher
Posted via on November 9, 2008 at 6:02 PM

lard to be trimmed by prof drew lecher's scalpel:)


I misplaced my scalpel and will try to deftly maneuver with a butter knife sterilized in hot green tea with honey—it sweetens the bite:-)

Great and totally clear picture and sound!

Notice how the bow stroke is smoother and with a far more consistent tone in the 1st example (“normal”). As you mentioned in your earlier comment about the tone change when you do the oval, it is clearly evident. The sound is better with the lower arm (which is normal and not at all extreme) and unsteady with the higher arm. The higher can be improved with various rhythms, such as 2-8ths and 1-half, making sure that the bow changes and tonal consistency match perfectly at each end. Also, long minute-bows. Again, you don’t want to know—or your listener to know—which end of the bow you are at because they sound equally beautiful and refined.

The “push” (example 2), with raising of the arm for the up-bow, will actually shrink your tonal range as you are rolling more to the side of the hair and working the ‘lifting’ muscles for the upper right arm and shoulder.

“i do wonder if those violinists with rotator cuff issues develop them with this push move...but i digress...” Yes, given the right, or wrong, circumstances this could contribute to a lot of problems down the line.

Additionally, (though you didn’t ask, but you are on the operating table so we might as well do all we can to carve up the victim……I mean, assist the well-being of the patient:-) in your last up-bow of each example you come off the string with excellent flow and continuation of motion. Bravo! Use this ‘beyond the string’ flow every day. Then surprise yourself and the bow hand and just return into the down-bow without the drop of the hand wrist. The motion you do is good, but mistimed. It should not happen with the new stroke, but rather finishes the old. Look up the “Bow Changes” (no.8) and “Throw/Catch” (8d) motion, both on pg. XI of the Terms & Tips section of the book. Also note in the section regarding Bow Strokes both Collé (pg. XII) and Thumb- fingers Stroke (pg. XV).

Golden rule of down-bows: NEVER GO DOWN—just draw the plane.

If you add a bit of Crescent Bow Stroke, especially through the changes, your joints will flow easier and the sound will smooth out fully. (It is like giving prunes to your bow arm:-)

Keep the arm light and maneuver the weight into the hand via the wrist and onto the bow.

Piece of cake:-)

Hope this helps—


From al ku
Posted via on November 10, 2008 at 1:56 PM

"It should not happen with the new stroke, but rather finishes the old."  good piece of cake... i will eat it now and have it for life.  thanks drew!

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Check out our selection of Celtic music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Thomastik-Infeld's Dynamo Strings
Thomastik-Infeld's Dynamo Strings

National Symphony Orchestra
National Symphony Orchestra

Violins of Hope
Violins of Hope Summer Music Programs Directory
Find a Summer Music Program Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

ARIA International Summer Academy

Borromeo Music Festival

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine