Printer-friendly version
Heather Broadbent

How to Cleanly Execute Double Downs, Lifts, Circles, and/or Retakes :)

April 4, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Nov_17_2012_020 1

Circles, Lifts, Retakes, Double Downs are different words for the same action. In music you know when to do this when you see two down bows one after the other – usually with a rest in between or you also will see  two up bows one right after the other again with a rest in the middle. If the two up bows are without a rest then they are a usually a different technique with the bow and are more of a hook but that is another topic for another day. In this post I focus on bow circles.

I will start with explaining down bow lifts, circles or retakes and from this point I will refer to them as circles. When you first learn down bow circles the easiest way is to put a small sticker on your bow just below the middle of the bow. Play a down bow starting at the sticker and after you pull your down bow reset your bow back at the sticker.

The secret to successful retakes............yes there is a secret:)

The secret is to set the bow first and then pull the bow. When you set the bow you eliminate what I call crash landings – when the bow lands and bounces out of control. Start in slow motion – pull a down bow starting at the sticker reset in the exact same place and be sure to set the bow and then pull.

When one first learns double downs it is very difficult, at first, to produce a very clean attack on the second down. Many times these "crash landings" occur because the bow is flying way too far from the string. Also, be careful of where you start the bow strokes. If you try to do double downs or double ups in the middle part of the bow, close to the balance point, you may have a bouncy bow because this is where the bow likes to bounce. So for your double downs stay below the middle of the bow.

No matter if you are doing up bow circles or down bow circles the secret is the same.

If you are using the sticker method, the technique for up bow circles is the same. Start at the sticker and play an upbow, reset the bow at the sticker and play another upbow.

Enjoy the video and Happy Practicing your bow lifts :)

In this video, I discuss and demonstrate the very important secret to a clean double down, circle, retake or lift. The double ups discussed are slow double ups - fast double ups are a different technique and will be discussed in another video :)

This video is a great supplemental teaching video for "Song of the Wind" and "Oh Come Little Children" in Suzuki Book 1
or for the folk songs in Solos for Young Violinists Book 1.

Heather Broadbent

Subscribe to my newsletter for playing and teaching tips

and to my youtube channel

From Patrick Tinney
Posted on April 4, 2013 at 6:08 PM
Thank you.

Recently I had been encountering more places where I needed to do lifts and was getting crash landings, both up and down.

Last week my teacher and I decided I needed to add this practice to my open string exercises.

The timing of this video is perfect. Nice reinforcement and always good to see others doing what you need to do.

Thank you.

From Heather Broadbent
Posted on April 4, 2013 at 6:56 PM
So glad you found this to be helpful and that you caught it at the right time you needed it. Also thanks for mentioning the open strings. Many times when we are playing complicated sections for the left hand along with the lifts it is good practice to divide your body in half and practice the left and then the right. So if the lifts being practiced are with complicated chords - practice only the chords and lifts with the bow on open strings and then apply the left hand:) A future video topic......... :)
From John Berger
Posted on April 9, 2013 at 3:28 AM
Hi Heather,
Thanks for the great video about circles. I think your demo of the "secret" is absolutely spot on! How do you teach parallel motion of the bow during the circle? Also, what are your thoughts about focusing power in the tip of the bow as you place it on the string?

Cheers, John Berger

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