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Drew Lecher

“GPS” –– 3.2 Right Forearm

February 20, 2008 at 3:34 PM

How do you think of, view and order the movement?

Plan actions > Accuracy, Fluidity > MASTERY

This is a continuation in the series of blogs dealing with:

1. Left Hand
2. Shifting
3. Right Arm
4. Right Hand
5. Bow

They will be kept under the heading of ”GPS” for those who wish to follow the articles. I hope they are of benefit to you.

Intonation is one of the primary areas of focus in all we do. This applies to the intervallic measurements set about for the left hand fingers and also the contact variables of the Bow Hair to the string — the 1) point of contact, 2) speed of bow, 3) weight of bow, 4) amount of hair, 5) string selected and 6) vibrating length of string/position number are brought together in order to accomplish the desired dynamics and character of the music.

Your Global Positioning Satellite / Mental Positioning Satellite is all-important in all of the above.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the numerous variables — they will free you to maneuver, easily flowing into and out of the various settings/posturings for the bow arm, enabling one to accomplish the passage.

Some of the points below deal with other aspects of the bow arm, hand, thumb and fingers.

Everything affects everything.


Pull (Draw)/Push (tirez/poussez), Raise/Lower/Modify — subtly adjust as needed and when needed, programming all the moves’ actions and feelings into your GPS/MPS.


9. Arm

a. The Forearm rotates clockwise (out)/counter clockwise (in). [Supination–palm up/Pronation–palm down]

1) It is the “Secondary Motor” to the overall bow stroke, whether large or small.

2) Very important in directing and pulsing the bow changes.

3) Its rolling action combined with the wing movement of the upper arm (see 9. c. 2) is subtly used to assist string crossings.

REMEMBER THAT THE JOINTS — SHOULDER, ELBOW AND WRIST — ARE NOT THE BOW STROKE. We do not move them; we move the upper arm, forearm and hand. The joints are well-lubricated hinges.


The forearm actively participates in all moves of the right arm. It is the all-important joining of the upper arm motions to the hand-bow combination — the right hand and bow being thought of as a complementary pairing. In essence, like the center section of a tri-fold door (upper arm, forearm, hand) with the track, very slightly curved, being the bow’s path. Some may prefer to think of the bow arm as a bi-fold door. The upper arm based and hinged at the shoulder, from which it moves freely, the forearm freely hinged at the elbow and the hand gliding the track/path with the wrist a totally free-flowing hinge.

The most fluid and tonally resonant path for the bow and arm is the Crescent Bow path — flowing laterally along the plane of the given string(s). It automatically requires and develops a supple, fluid action in the wrist, elbow and shoulder. Tonally, the Crescent Bow is working in concert with the natural resistance of the string created by the bridge — the nearer to the bridge, the greater the resistance. The Crescent path is a very slight orbital path around your left hand or scroll — even when quite exaggerated it will not distort the tone.


Use the complete bow arm as a constant flowing, never-ending motion. For change of direction, simply return the way you came, as in a movie played backwards. The joints/hinges are constantly on the move — hinging. The difficulty is in the simplicity. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Make sure you really do follow through with the full length of hair.

If the arm stops short of the desired length for up-bow, and the hand tries to continue beyond its range, the bow will hook around the player’s head. Similarly, if the arm stops short of the desired length for a down-bow, and the hand continues beyond its range, the bow path will hook around the player’s torso.

Another common problem is that of the upper arm stopping short of the necessary length of motion with the forearm continuing, thereby changing the line/path of the bow.

The above errors result in distortion of the bow’s path, such as, circling the head/body of the player when, in fact, a bit of the opposite is preferred and is a far more fluid action producing a greater resonance of tone. Also, the above errors commonly cause an undesired, and frequently unnoticed (by the player:-), roll of the bow thereby changing the quantity of hair and the character/texture of sound.


The action of the forearm must be kept free at all times. The elbow and wrist are to be used as free-flowing hinges enabling the forearm to add the required speed and/or nuances to the stroke.

In faster strokes maintain the desired quantity of hair. Begin with the short stroke slowly and observe the action. Draw small little commas. This slight orbital action prevents tensing, particularly in the joints. As you speed up take care that there is no increase of tension or gripping in the arm and joints.

Triplets are very good for developing evenness and control with ease of action.


Think of Down and Up Bows as drawing the right hand out and in, right and left, along the plane of the string(s). The back of the right hand is to keep its line/angle to the bow. The joints of the right shoulder, elbow and wrist are fluid and totally without tension.

The quantity of hair, flat or side, is to be maintained unless modifying for musically tonal reasons.

ACCENTS, etc.:

During the following do not tense through the arm and never through the joints. Also, do not allow the right elbow to be twisted or forced up toward the ceiling.

In various bowokes, the additional use of rotation can be added in the forearm (Supination/Pronation). Take care to maintain the complete flow of the bow stroke or this can cause a most undesired affect to the bow’s path — a problem that is usually magnified by the hindrance of the follow-through action necessary in the hand and arm.

The weighting of the upper bow arm applies directly through the forearm, hand and into the bow. When adding an accent via the sudden rotating, weighting and speeding of the bow arm, do not allow the elbow to react in a tightening ascending action. Keep the back of the hand unified with the bow path and plane and not much can go wrong — fail to do this and virtually everything is twisted and distorted.

Rhythm: ALL actions require a rhythmic control — whether a long sustained tone or a short crisp note.

Hope this helps —

Author of
Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master…
Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master…

Technique is the tool by which we accomplish the artistic.

From Ray Randall
Posted on February 22, 2008 at 4:33 PM
As always, thank you for sharing parts of your book. We appreciate it.
From Drew Lecher
Posted on February 24, 2008 at 8:19 AM
You and all interested are most welcome.
Thank you—

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