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Drew Lecher

VIOLIN TECHNIQUE/VIOLA TECHNIQUE: Bow Legato Right Arm Hand Soft Gentle Sweet Delicate Side of Hair

February 26, 2009 at 6:38 PM

“Any thoughts on playing extremely light for sweet-sweet sound on angled hair?”  Thanks Drew...

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

  1. Left Hand
  2. Shifting
  3. Right Arm
  4. Right Hand
  5. Bow — soft and sweet

They will be kept under the heading of VIOLIN TECHNIQUE/VIOLA TECHNIQUE for those who wish to follow the articles. I hope they are of benefit to you.

Contact variables of the bow hair on the string:

1)   Point of contact

2)   Speed of bow

3)   Weight of bow

4)   Amount of hair

5)   String selected

6)   Vibrating length of string

Everything is to be brought together in order to accomplish the desired intonation, dynamics and character of the music.


“Any thoughts on playing extremely light for sweet-sweet sound on angled hair?”  Thanks Drew...

Yes, use the side of the hair maintaining clarity and focus of tone and pitch. Do not allow the stick of the bow to be pushed into the string. Have a sense of gently and actively holding the bow rather then letting it hang limply from the hand.

Use Crescent Bows…even a bit extreme at first. Crescent Bows are very forgiving, but you will eventually need to modify the drawn curve to a very subtle line.

The wrist, elbow and shoulder joints must hinge and flow smoothly along the required plane of the bow stroke. Concentrate primarily on the flow of motion along the plane of the bow’s path. Anticipate string crossings by moving toward the next string via the upper arm.

A good way to practice the above is to flow into and out of a double-stop of the two neighboring notes. When needing greater clarity in this action, use a more articulated string crossing, practicing with varied rhythms. This contrast of approach will blend into a fluid combination and enable a clear and clean legato connection of the notes across the strings.

Before and during playing:

  1. Breathe slow and deep. 
  2. Put yourself in slow motion mode. 
  3. Start out stronger then you may want—a gentle mf perhaps.
  4. Use an elegant, smooth and liquid bow stroke. The Crescent Bow naturally develops this technique.
  5. Keep breathing…
  1. When settled and achieving the calm flow, gradually lighten the touch.
  2. At the end when using a down-bow, consider rolling the hair to the inside—it is far more relaxed for the right arm through the wrist and fingers of the bow hand. (near the tip of the bow)
  3. Release the string in character of the ending.

If edgy or tight in the muscles and nerves, do not soften—the smooth pace will give the character you want.

Hope this helps —


Author of

Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master… 

Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master…




From Ray Randall
Posted on February 27, 2009 at 1:28 AM

Yes it does help. Thank you, Drew.

From Elinor Estepa
Posted on February 27, 2009 at 3:23 AM



From Yixi Zhang
Posted on February 28, 2009 at 6:33 AM

Thanks Drew! It 's very helpful I'm printing it out and post on the wall.

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