Changing Bow Speed Beautifully (Video Blog)

May 6, 2019, 12:10 PM · 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?


May 8, 2019 at 06:03 AM · Nice simple advice that is relevant at both very low and very high levels of playing.

May 9, 2019 at 05:13 AM · Good illustrative examples. I have to think ahead or I run out of bow. Thank you.

May 9, 2019 at 05:56 PM · Thanks for this.

May 10, 2019 at 12:47 PM · Awesome suggestion. I always have this problem and your suggestion will surely help!!

May 10, 2019 at 12:49 PM · Open up p. 1 of Schradieck. How many people can play across a whole line without their tone sounding miserable or running out of bow? Any advice for improving that particular skill?

May 11, 2019 at 01:49 AM · Hi all - thank you, glad it's useful. Paul, in answer to your question, not very many people can :) I've got some other bow saving videos currently in post production that might help. I sometimes find it helpful to chop the bow up - play 4 notes at a time with as little as I can muster while still sounding good, then work on the next 4 notes with as little as I can etc. It will make more sense in a demo. Of course playing Schradieck as fast as possible helps too :)

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon 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 Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Coltman Competition

Metzler Violin Shop

Bein & Company

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

String Masters

Bobelock Cases

Things 4 Strings LLC



Sleepy Puppy Press

Jargar Strings

J.R. Judd Violins, LLC

Southwest Strings

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