Tired of running out of bow? Me too! Over the years I’ve even developed a notational symbol to remind me to start a note with slower bow speed (a double edged triangle, symbolizing caution). And still, it’s often too late by the time I realize what I’ve done.
In the intermediate to advanced studio, in fact, much time is devoted to working on bow speed, and by extension of course bow weight and contact point. All of this in the name of perfect phrasing. Half of the difficulty in changing bow speed is remembering to do so ahead of time, but some of the challenge I believe is actually physical. The solution? Start to get in the new bow speed mode before you need to - i.e. on the previous bow. If everything else about your change of direction is pretty much in order, this can be the cherry on top that makes it all feel and sound more fluid.
Here is a video I made for my studio demonstrating this little practice hack. It’s part of a bow distribution series I’m slowly working on. Try it out and let me know what you think. Find a few places of your repertoire and see if it helps your bow arm (and brain) get in the groove of mixing different bow speeds. Does it work for you?
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