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Drew Lecher


November 27, 2008 at 4:26 PM

Sculpt the sound—shape the music.

Hi A,

Good to hear from you, as always.

"leaning/further feeding the weight towards the thumb side of the bow"

We do this, but need to be careful that there is no accompanying twist causing the elbow to rise. The weights are to be absorbed and directed for total ease and fluidity of action. A good 'rule of thumb'—the thumb is the fulcrum and, as such, the weight added to the bow rests on the thumb and the string(s). The thumb should not push up into the bow.

"bringing the wrist up at the heel"

This is dependent upon the amount of hair, therefore the tilt of the bow and the accompanying height of the right arm. You will feel this action most when going from the flat hair to the side as you complete the up-bow and when changing from the flat hair finishing the up-bow to side hair beginning the down-bow.

In general keep the plane of the bow through the bow changes. Maintain the flow of line in the bow arm, hand and fingers using the joints as hinges.

• When using the flat hair for the fullest of tones the wrist will not rise as if rolling over the bow—it will simply continue it motion with the trajectory of the bow.

• When playing with a tilt where the stick is on the far side of the hair, the hand, wrist and arm are higher relative to the floor. 

BUT, relative to the imaginary line coming perpendicular off the side of the bow and projecting over and beyond the upper right arm, the arm is lower when higher—a dichotomy, of sorts. With the flat hair this perpendicular line barely clears over the arm. 

In some techniques this projected perpendicular line off the side of the bow will pass through the arm and in still others this line will pass below the arm. 

The last (a too high right arm) can easily become extreme and leads to many other malfunctions that must be regularly dealt with. The two greatest malfunctions are (1) the arm's weight lifting away from the bow and actually shrinking the tonal palette combined with (2) extra stress in holding the arm’s altitude higher then needed.

The opposite of this is too low, (1) dramatically shrinking the resonance as the shoulder holds too much of the arms weight and (2) hindering the quickness and agility of the arm especially when going to the lower strings.

Whether extremely high or extremely low, the player is forced to force—needing muscular tension to press down from too high or hang down from too low—with the sound giving the illusion of big to the player, but really squeezed and restricted to the audience. The fluidity of stroke and ease of action are all tremendously hindered and restricted, as balance and proportion are not present.

To summarize, when I play on the far side of the hair my right arm is higher then when using the flat hair, but relative to the above mentioned perpendicular line off the side of the bow it is not extreme and retains ease and balance at all times.

Hope this helps —


Author of

Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master… 

Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master…

From Ray Randall
Posted via on November 29, 2008 at 8:06 PM

   Thank you for your insight on technique. We appreciate your words of wisdom.

    My good friend, Adam Han-Gorsky, a former concert violinist and CM of the Minneapolis Symphony told me recently that he demonstrates big sound production to his students in an unusual way. Adam holds the bow with just two fingers on the screw behind the frog. Using just those two fingers behind the frog he demonstrates a huge sound, almost all you could ever want illustrating that using force to get more sounds is highly counterproductive. I tried that and it's amazing how much power you can produce that way.

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