how to fix crooked bowing? tips for straight bowing please...

May 4, 2011 at 05:23 PM ·

I've been playing the violin for two years now but unfortunately I don't get to practice regularly. I really want to focus on my playing right now so I started practicing daily again...I'm currently in Suzuki 3. I play fairly well but I still have problems with bowing straight. when I focus on my dynamics or my expression, I tend to go crooked. It's the same as when I try applying vibrato. As soon as I focus on my left hand, my bow goes do I balance my concentration between my left and right hand?

I've tried practicing in front of the mirror. When I look at myself bowing in the mirror, I'm ok. But as soon as I start playing I hear "whooshing"/"airy" sounds every now and then...

Any tips on how I could work on my straight bowing? I would really appreciate your comments. Thanks!

Replies (37)

May 4, 2011 at 06:49 PM ·

This is a funny story but my first teacher gave me the little cardboard cylinder, that you find on the  inside of a toilet roll, to hold in my left hand and then I had to bow through it in a straight line. I had to hold this cylinder fairly near my neck to get the feeling of bowing a violin. I presume it helped me because I bow fairly straight. I also made two wire hoops attached to the violin with suckers and bowed between them.

The toilet roll episode was off cause hilarious fun to some irreverent members of the family but any other cardboard cylinder will do. 

May 4, 2011 at 06:54 PM ·

The mirror is good for correcting bad technique ,but doesn't teach you the feel of straight. Try this. On a open string bow four 1/4 notes, stay in the middle area of the bow parallel (I) with the bridge. Then move your arm towards you and play four 1/4 notes off angle with the bridge(/). Then move the bow back to center (parallel with the bridge) and do four bow strokes(I). Now move your arm away from you and play four 1/4 notes off angle to the bridge(\). Now move arm back to center (I)(parallel with the bridge) and bow four more 1/4 notes. Thats it . Practice this a few times watching your bowing ,then practice this with your eyes closed.  If you have someone watching you do this they will notice that you will have straighter bowing when going back to center with your eyes closed then open.


||:    4 strokes -  |        4 strokes -  /       4 strokes -  |       4 strokes- \        4 stroke - |     :||  

May 4, 2011 at 08:44 PM ·

Make sure your bow arm stays loose and flexible and that all the movement isn't coming from just your shoulder.  That will send the bow all over the place.

May 5, 2011 at 07:35 AM ·

@andre, lisa, charles...thanks for your advice.i'll do that as i practice. will keep you updated on my progress. thanks!

May 5, 2011 at 10:04 AM ·

I may be considered to be a blasphemer for some people now...

NEVER try bowing ABSOLUTELY straight. Especially short movements (detache) should always be executed by shoulder mainly. Particularly - in the upper half of the bow - if one try to bow absolutely straight, it causes unnatural movements and technique. Ther is a risk particulaty for players with shorter hands. Straight bowing has never be a priority.

Try to observe great violinists. One should care about (more or less) straight bowing with long strokes only. But even then there are some tricks, how even (slightly) curved bowing can improove tone quality.

May 5, 2011 at 11:37 AM ·

Galamian exercises above and below the 'square'? These & related matters are discussed in probably far too much detail in earlier threads here e.g.

May 5, 2011 at 12:40 PM ·

 @john: ok, i'll try to look into that. thanks for the link...

@bohdan: thanks for the advice...hmm...then do you have any tips for a "slipping" bow? i get this airy, screechy sound when i bow.

May 5, 2011 at 01:24 PM ·

 erica, i wonder if you can add something to playing in front of the mirror.  overall, i think it is a great idea but you may want to be more deliberate with it.

for instance, practice in front of the mirror and FEEL in your bowing limb WHEN/WHERE you need to guide the bow to keep it "straight".  my opinion is that there are 2 areas, namely,  going into the frog area and going into the tip area.  i hope you agree with that or understand that.  otherwise, the bow will track around you, behind you, not straight, and increasing the chance that the bow will lose traction on the string due to physics.

so, identify the 2 areas where you need to be extra careful and guide the bow accordingly.  the way i think of it is "pushing the bow outward".  you can have your own way of visualizing it.  when playing in front of the mirror, don't just passively follow the bow with your eyes, but proactively, smoothly guide the bow and pay attention to those 2 areas.  it is tedious in the beginning, but you are building a habit and doing some imprinting.

after that, try closing your eyes here and there and visualizing your bow position and alignment.  guess if the bow is "straight" at different random spots.  that is,close your eyes, bow, stop, guess how straight it is, open eyes and check.  if you do this repeatedly, you will gain awareness; if you get better with it, you will gain confidence.  

the other thing is slow bowing.  it is almost inconceivable that slow bowing can lead to bowing that is not parallel to the bridge if you have paid attention.  my suspicion is that you can use more slow bowing to get the correct feel and build from there.

if this problem happens with down bow, sometimes if you overdo the push outward, you can lose traction as well.

it is a no brainer since i can even do this part right, hahaha.

May 5, 2011 at 02:23 PM ·

That's only one of the reasons why daily practice is important.

Another thing, as an adult, is to understand how to use ALL the joints and muscles south of your shoulder to keep the bow straight. A tight grip on the bow is pretty much a guarantee that your bow will go at an angle.

How you hold (and point) the violin needs to be related to how you use your right arm and to the length of the arm - especially the forearm.

I can recall hearing "bow straight" from teachers for years - almost 70 years ago. It's one of the problems of learning while one is still growing - especially when you are growing fast (I gained 6" in height the summer after I was 10).

I think I bow straight these days - at least every time I look.


May 5, 2011 at 03:35 PM ·

Another thing to try is to relaxing the bow hold a bit more. I find that when the fingers are relaxed, when the sounding point is right and the traction produces a smooth tone, the bow almost wants to track straight on its own and all I'm doing is feeling it and making my hand follow it. I'm not sure I know how to describe it correctly...

May 5, 2011 at 03:55 PM ·


Say what!!??? I ve never heard of this way of playing. So bow like you did on your first lesson-- no forearm movement ,no wrist movement and no finger movement , just bow from the shoulder really quick like. Generally we see a lot of finger movement in fast bowing. So is finger movement considered wrong  to you in this fast bowing? In my experience bowing with just the arm causes a lot of tension , and  problems controlling centrifugal force. When we bow fast there should be a lot of finger movement. When we bow straight we are learning to follow the bow.We can change the angles ,but we still need  to learn to fallow the bow.

May 5, 2011 at 06:43 PM ·

To Charles:

You mentioned a finger movement. We have to distinguish active from passive movements of course (especially when we talk about fingers and wrist). I assume you mentioned passive finger movements, since one should avoid any active finger movements during the play. But even passive finger movements are not so important as they seems to be considered by many teachers and students.

If you are able to lead your bow in the perfect directions you almost don't need even any passive finger and wrist movements (maybe except of sautille). I know, wrist and fingers need to compensate the hudge change of the angle of the bow and forearm during the way form the frog to top. But  - as for the "visible" movements, the better job is done by shoulder and forearm, the less you need to utilize wrist and fingers. In the ideal case you do not need any. I could even dare to say, fingers serve as an imperfaction eliminator. Very similar to car construction. If you drived on absolutely even surface you would not need any springs in the chassis - theoretically  :-)

I have to agree, that the detache in the middle of the bow should contain 90% of forearm movement and maybe 10% shoulder movement. But even if the shoulder movement would be 5%, it ouht to be primary and the 95% of the forearm movement has to be secondary. The priority is crucial. If you switch the priorities, your sound turns from full-blown detache to a winder driven toy.

For me it is not easy to explain it in English, moreover by a few sentences here. I described it quite in detail in my book "The Natural way to play the violin" but the book was not transtated into English yet. It is not easy to find a musically educated native English speaker with good Slovak knowledge indeed.

Thus the natural (round) movements of the whole arm has to be a priority, any edges and sharp angles should be avoided. Even with slow bowing you can profit from non parallel bowing, when this tequnique can help you achieving the ideal touching point for the best achievable sound (under some curcumstances of course). But it is really not easy to explain without risking any misunderstanding here.




May 5, 2011 at 07:55 PM ·

Some people who play a full-size comfortably don't have the arm length to play a straight stroke all the way to the tip. You can test this by drawing a slow down bow on open A. Keep going till your arm is straight, elbow is straight but not pushing or locking back, & wrist is pushed towards floor. Try to hold on to your usual bow grip & don't move your violin left. If you're at the tip, then use the whole bow for full bows. If you're not quite, mark a "stop sign" spot on the stick. This will really help you not skid towards the fingerboard on long down bows. Sue     

May 5, 2011 at 08:10 PM ·

Erica, don't feel bad.  Pulling a straight bow is not an easy skill to acquire.  My son is a very quick learner; has been playing almost 2 years now, and this is the one thing that is giving him fits. 

I have him practice open strings, focusing on pulling a full sound with a solid core and keeping the bow straight -- not exciting, but it really helps.  I practice the same thing myself.  I also keep watch on his bow especially during scales and make sure his bow is straight.  If you have someone that can watch you for a few minutes a day, that might be helpful. 

When you practice other things, such as vibrato, or repertoire, you might want to cut yourself some slack as far as keeping the bow straight.  It is hard to focus on too many things at once.  If you at keep the bow straight with open strings and scales, you will gradually learn to incorporate that into your playing so it becomes second nature. 

May 6, 2011 at 12:33 AM ·

If the tendency for the bow arm is to 'track around' the body like this....), and the bow ends up like this.. / at the tip and like this ...\ at the frog. What if one would practise the opposite?

The opposite curve to the body.....(, so the bow ends up like this.....\ at the tip and like this..../ at the frog. 

May 7, 2011 at 08:53 AM ·

Thanks Henry for posting those graphics.

Bohdan  sorry for the the confusion, but you threw a wrench in there with the crescent bowing's (convex and concave) .Yes we can talk about the greats rarely playing parallel to the bridge, but if you watch them play fast 16 notes while crossing strings the bow will be parallel with the bridge.Violinist need to learn to follow the bow first, then learn to guide it second. When you guide the bow you still need to follow it.Learning the feel for straight bowing to a violinist is like a skater who needs to learn the figure 8.


May 7, 2011 at 12:04 PM ·

Charles, to be open I expected certain level of musunderstanding in this thread. If I had to amend the right arm technique of my stutents, I always needed several lessons for explaining, disscussing and practising. It is really not easy to disscuss the whole violin "know-how" here.

I mentioned and tried to highlight the importance of rounded motion, since I was not convinced this thread should be about 1/16 notes mainly or even solely. Such topic is just disscussed in another thread -  Even 1/6 notes is quite a broad term. You can play them really fast (sautille), but they could be also  be played like 1/8 detache notes sometimes, for example if an average 13 years student plays Kreutzer No. 2 etude.

If we play sautille, the motion comes form forearm and seems to be streight and pararel. (Maybe I should mention, that sautille motion seems to be done by wrist - i know - but it should be another topic). The way of the motion is so short that any disscusion about it's linearity seems to be useless.

If we play 1/4 notes or slower 1/8 notes, the motion comes form the shoulder - although as I already mentioned it depends form the "working area" or how to say in English. For example - in the middle of the bow the shoulder motion proportion may be 10% . The rest is dome by forearm and again - the motion seems to be still more or less straight. 

In my opinion, we have to distingush two terms. Streight versus convex from parallel versus trapezial (correct me if the English terms are not coorect please). If the motion of 1/4 or 1/8 notes in the middle of the bow is done by shoulder, the bow stroke CAN be parallel. In fact, they will be very tiny deviations both directions, thus they are parallel in average.  Some violinists play such notes even by almost 100% of shoulder motion and the deviation form the parallel direction are still negligible.

If we play 1/4 or 1/8 notes at the frog or in the upper half, the importance of the shoulder movement is even higher. I have to highlight, that especially in the upper half of the bow, the most important rule is using the shoulder IN THE RIGHT AND NATURAL WAY - the same way, as we use it in other parts of the bow AND NOT TE OTHER WAY AROUND.

In other words, if I need to move the shoulder to the right with down stroke and to the left with up stroke at the frog, I have do the same in the upper half of the bow too. Using the shoulder in inverse way at the tip is the most fatal mistake made by many teachers worldwide. This misteke is always made in sake for "straight bowing" principle.

I would like to highlight again that we are still not talking about "whole bow strokes" - or how to say it in English, ( it would be a topic to another thread) so please dont apply my verdicts to such cases.


May 7, 2011 at 01:07 PM ·

 look at menuhin's playing, i must question if his way of uplifting his bowing shoulder is a good way to emulate for the long term for most people.  it is a setup for rotator cuff problem down the line.  

perhaps it is one way or his way to derive certain type of sound production, but anatomically speaking, bad form.

specifically, his bowing shoulder is engaged in the length of the entire bow.   from the tip of the bow to the mid section, his shoulder already drives the bow.  i question that because doing so puts excessive load on the rotator cuff, particularly on the G and D string.

in fact, i have a question for serious violinists.  if playing certain way may allow you to achieve your desired sound production, or at least you think you have,  but at the same time increases the likelihood of injury down the line, how to do choose and manage?  glory and then go bust, or being lame and tame? :)

May 7, 2011 at 02:02 PM ·

Don't forget to check your violin angle. I've fixed many crooked bows by making sure the violin angle is 45 degrees. In other words 1/2 way between your shoulder and sternum.

May 7, 2011 at 02:33 PM ·

Mr. Ku,

don't worry :-). A static position is always much worse for any joint or muscular system than a motion.

My father did grow in a poor mining region. Pubs and bars were full of strong guys, they organized many duels, fistfight and they pushed they arms against each other on the tables. They teased musicians playing in the pub, since they were mostly not able to compete in such duels understandably.

Once a violin player challenged the strongest man to a duel. He put another violin and bow into his hands and arranged them in the worst position :-) at the tip on the G string. He said - since you don't play the violin, you will just hold it whilst I will play.

The guy had to give up in about 15 minutes, the violinist did play till daybreak.

The video with Menuhin is not ideal example. The resolution is not good, he is wearing a black tailcoat, firstly his black  arm bleds with his black body, secondly the stiff coat changes it's  shape at the top of Menuhin's shoulder.

Menuhin was never No. 1 for me, however I have to say his right arm is not doing any bad job, except of the fact, his shouldes seems to be steadilly a bit in a higher position than it needs to be.

There could be a plenty of examples. Although Pinchas Zukerman was never so famous than Menuhin, he is a great violinists for sure and his right arm technique is amazing.


May 7, 2011 at 04:00 PM ·

mr  warchal, 

of course we are not questioning their musicianship and tremendous talents and achievement, but i agree with you, if we look at the menuhin and zukerman clips, the latter has a much more relaxed and therefore more naturally powerful delivery and use of the shoulder joint.

you do seem to agree with me that menuhin's shoulder is a bit higher, which is exactly my point.

but i disagree with the static vs dynamic impact on the shoulder.  if the posture is not the most optimally from the physiological point of view, i think repeated use in a dynamic setting, aka, playing the violin, can cause grave damage to the inner workings of the joint.  this imo is what we are observing with some serious violinists.  

the story with the violinist vs "big" guy is interesting and i tend to agree with the outcome.  in fact, my kid here was demonstrating something to that effect.  strong people may not have strong rotator cuff strength and flexibility.   in the second part of this clip

May 7, 2011 at 04:39 PM ·

I have never heard of anyone playing really in a natural way having health problems.

Your shouder joint and muscles are the strongest form all your arm. Your elbow or even wrist is not so strong for sure. If there is someting able to make the bulk of the work, it is the shoulder for sure.

Many of my students even managed to get rid of various health problems by learning how to play naturally. The most important rule is always: The simpler the better. There is no reason to complicate any part of violin technique.

May 8, 2011 at 02:23 AM ·

 "natural way" sounds good to me, but i think it may not be specific enough.  the issue at hand is menuhin playing a higher bowing shoulder.   in my opinion, i do not find that to be "natural".  in contrast, zukerman looks more natural in that regard. 

in addition, if we do a survey of veteran violinists, i suspect that you will find that more have shoulder problems than elbow problems.  

the shoulder joint, by anatomical design, is THE most mobile joint in our body.  with mobility comes flexibility.  with flexibility comes instability.  this is THE fundamental reason why violinists tend to suffer from chronic shoulder injuries.  overuse coupled with inbalance of shoulder muscle functions lead to impairment.   this fact does not have to be in conflict with your observation with your own students.    perhaps your sampling is too small.  perhaps your teaching results in a positive development of their bowing shoulders.  if that is the case, it will be great to share with this forum in more details about the "natural way" so that other violinists can incorporate into their own practice and learning.

May 8, 2011 at 05:32 AM ·

IMHO, whatever type the bowing is, the important point of good bowing is to maintain a stable contact point.

Straight bow will of course help this, but in the end, there're plenty of good to great players with crooked or awkward bowing arm or bowing line. Observe their contact point, they can stay, or move to anywhere desire.

May 8, 2011 at 11:55 AM ·



I watched the video of your daughter experimenting with the shoulder rest.  I found it very interesting.  Also, the experiment against the wall is interesting.  Great food for thought!



May 8, 2011 at 01:12 PM ·

 thanks maestro russell!   now we have evidence how we squander our practice time:)  


for those who are interested in some anatomical background into the shoulder joint, here is a decent review article in which there is a mention of the 3 types of acromion processes inside the shoulder which can be a factor, among others,  in the development of impingement syndrome.

problem is, unless a person has had a MRI of the shoulder, or had post mortem dissection, there is no way to tell which one type of the 3 that that person has.  type 1 is flat, type 2 is sloping downward, type 3 is hooked, and is associated with high incidence of shoulder impingement/rotator cuff problem.  the rotator cuff tendon is like a piece of thin noodle.  the acromion process is like a dull blade.  during shoulder movement above horizontal,  they come in contact with each other.   wax on, wax off, all day long.

in other words, no violin teacher can tell which student is at higher risk.  in fact, no clinicians can tell reliably either.  type 1, 2, 3 evenly spread out probability wise.   high shoulder for one student may be fine and not fine for another.  perhaps the teacher has a studio of all type 1s.  or a mixture.  or all type 3s.  imagine a type 1 teacher with a strong sense how shoulders can be postured having a studio  of type 3s.  

therefore, my point: high shoulder bowing is a risky maneuver. period.  (take a look at the photos in that article, the guy with the hairy chest...look at how they examine for shoulder problems and appreciate how closely those maneuvers resemble how violinists twist the left shoulder to hold the violin and twist the right shoulder for the bowing.)


May 8, 2011 at 03:45 PM ·

Mr. Ku,

high shoulder position is certailny not only risky, it is simply wrong, there is no reason to hold the shoudler higher then the arm and bow are currently beeing (depending on the actually played string of course). Anyway I think this thread is not about the high position of the shoulder, it is about straight bowing (always strictly parallel) versus natural movements, which are more or less round and make some strokes curved.

May 8, 2011 at 05:58 PM ·

Straight bow was the hardest thing for me to achieve growing up in Suzuki!  When I was 5 my teacher promised me a gift certificate to Baskin-Robbins ice cream (I just googled them to see if they're still around) as soon as she saw me play an entire piece in public with a straight bow.  Do you know I didn't get it until I was 12 and no longer studying with her?  Who knows how many concerts she brought that thing to before that one!

It certainly takes concentration over time.

May 9, 2011 at 03:01 AM ·

 mr warchal, i have previously suggested to the op some exercises to learn to bow straight without a mirror, since op has problem bowing straight without the mirror but no problem with the mirror.  

whereas the op asks for advice on straight bowing, you advocate "natural", "round" bowing.  are you suggesting that students do not learn to bow straight but learn to bow natural and bow round instead?  or learn everything, both straight and non-straight? or after learning straight, try natural and round???  can you imagine my confusion for a change?

can you provide any video clips as references?  why should students who are currently bowing crooked learn to bow round instead of straight?  for the round and natural bowing you are talking about, what if another group bow straight instead?  will it have a different musical effect? physical effect? health effect?  etc.    as i said, i find it confusing and non-specific.  i don't think it is a matter of english diction.  even if you have said exactly what you have said in your native tongue, without a visual, many people will have no idea what you are talking about, unless they knew previously.  and if they knew previously, it kinda defeats the purpose of trying to educate those who have been previously educated.  i don't think you are the type who would propose something just to be different but do not back it up with enough materials and leave people hanging.   

i rarely stick to any topic if i am bored with it so at best, i am rather indifferent to your reminder.  you for one did not stick to the straight bow topic and wondered off to round and natural bowing.  isn't that the case? :)

my focus on menuhin and high shoulder is in response to a clip of his playing, supposedly as a role model of good bowing if i am not mistaken.  i pointed out that the high shoulder can be misleading to students trying to learn the basics of bowing.  in other words, not all great violinists in every aspect are great role models.

in summary, don't bother to reply to my post unless you are prepared to share with us about natural and round bowing.  we can argue it is more pertinent to the thread to talk about round and natural bowing than about shoulder:)  i have absolutely no interest to read other bluffs.  not interested to know if i am right or wrong.  interested to know what you know.  be educational, not argumentative.

May 9, 2011 at 09:04 AM ·

OK Mr Ku, I am really sorry I made you angry, it was really not my goal :-)

First I will answer some of your questions and than I will try to summarize.

can you provide any video clips as references?- I posted video with Zukerman. I find his right arm ideal. I should make my own videos of course, maybe I will one day :-)

why should students who are currently bowing crooked learn to bow round instead of straight? It is up to them of course if they want to improove their technique or not. I also had to change many details in my technique later in my career. Not all principles I learned originally was right.

 for the round and natural bowing you are talking about, what if another group bow straight instead?  will it have a different musical effect? Yes, it will affect their musical expression and tone production for sure. Whathever activity I do, I will achieve worse result doing it unnaturally and more complicated. Even such simple activity, such a car driving for example.

physical effect? health effect? Of course it can have health effect, (although it may not happen with all people). Unnatural movements leads to more tension and craming "technique" often.

So now I will try to summarize, although it is not easy, to squeeze it to few sentences. If we were able to disscuss in person with violins in our hands, it would be much easier.

The right arm technique shall be simple as possible. The priority of "Straight bowing fans" is simply straight bowing. The priority of "Natural playing fans" are round movements and feeling of freedom. The movements should be executed by shoulder primarily and accompanied by forearm. Movements of wrist and fingers should be mostly passive only.

We should distinguish sautille (1/16), detache (1/8 - 1/4) and long strokes. Sautille (or extremely fast detache too - theoretically) is the only stoke, which should be done by forearm movement. Detache and long strokes should be done by shoulder primarilly.

I already wrote that if we play detache in the middle, the part of forearm movement may be higher (larger?) than the shoulder one. In spite of it, the shoulder movement should be primary and more important. (Violin play is about feeling much more than about "visible" hand positions and movements). If we play detache at the frog, the part of the shoulder is even higher. Detache at the tip may be done even by shoulder only - but it depends very much on the arm length and chinrest type (classic or "bridge" type allowing holding the violin above the tailpiece).

Long strokes - here we need to compensate the bow way much more (by forearm) than with short strokes. We cannot bow form the frog to the tip by shoulder solely of course. But we still can keep round shape of direction changes. We can bow slightly in front of us with down stroke \ make a round change at the tip and bow / to the frog (and make slightly round change again). You can observe it in the video with Zukerman or at many other great violinists. It will even ensure you keeping the ideal touching point much better than straight bowing.

What we should avoid - we should avoid especially trying to keep straight bowing in the upper half of the bow with short strokes. It leads to unnatural acitivy, where the shoulder try to compensate forearm movements doing opposite movements.

IN PRINCIPLE - "Natural concept" do rely on any "compensations" in much less extend then "Straight bowing concept". Russian violinists understood it many years ago, but there are still many "islands" in the words, where local authorities are keeping the old concepts. I am sorry to say it (since I graduated at Prague Music Academy) but one of the islands still seems to be Czech violin school. The Sevcik's approach and Jozef Micka's book about violin play is still quite popular among teachers.

Micka describes violin technique really very complicated. (Quote - my translation): "Only when we engage finger movenents, it is when we utilize cooperation of all 18 parts of right arm we can create conditions for best bow techique". Then he describe quite lengthily and a bit consufing ho to make all the compensations.

To be open with you, I never cared about 18 parts of my right arm, I even never tried to count all the parts. If I would, I would be hardly able to play.

The "straight priority concept" rely mostly on compensation. In other words, one (or several) pards of your arm should compensate movements of another part of the arm. It is the same, as if you look at certain poin by your eyes and move your neck or even whole body at the same time Your eyes (the eye muscules) will compensate the movements in a real-time. It is a kind of optical stabilizer we were equipped by the Creator. But although it works quite fine with slow movemnets, you can simply learn it's limit. Try to shake faster by yor head, your sight will become blurred. The system will simply not able to react so fast.

Thus one again, whilst "straight bowing concept" rely on compensation primarily, "natural bowing concept" rely on any compensation in much less extent. The main priority is simplicity.

May 9, 2011 at 01:05 PM ·

 mr warchal, thank you for your response.  if it takes getting me "angry" for you to detail your explanation, feel free to get me mad :)

my assessment of what you are saying with round and natural--don't piss me off by second guessing my authoritative take--is that it is an off shoot from a solid fundamental training with straight bowing.  i can see why experienced players "rounding off" the tip of the bow, but it does not make sense to do it near the frog.  on that, i don't think zukerman went straight to the round and natural route; his years of experiences and experimentations lead him to where he is.  a beginner going straight to that destination, bypassing the straight bow regimen, is a risky direction.    a joggler may have 5 knives up in the air; a beginner needs to learn to feel just one knife in his hand and go from there.

both straight bowers and rounders make use of the figure of 8.  straight bowers's 8 is thinner; rounders fatter.  that is all.  it is not a different school of teaching unless one wants to sound like so.

but i must admit the word "natural" is quite catchy.  to raise the par, i am going to coin what i have said as "organic".  top that. 

you wrote: 

"Detache at the tip may be done even by shoulder only - but it depends very much on the arm length and chinrest type (classic or "bridge" type allowing holding the violin above the tailpiece)."

i can see why people make use of MORE shoulder movement with light detache at the tip for finish off a phrase.  but i think in general, to get from mid bow to tip, the release of the elbow and wrist should play a dominant role.



May 9, 2011 at 01:21 PM ·

I take part of several judging teams of violin competitions, thus I can assure you there are different schools and the difference is not only visible but also hearable :-)

It is up to you od course, (up to every teacher), but in my opinion there is no sense teaching imperfect method first and then hope for it's improovement one day. The same applies for intonation for example. Many students practise new pieces in a hurry and negligently, they hope for some "automatic" improovement in the future. In fact, it will never happen, on the contrary, their sense for intonation will be deteriorated gradually...


May 9, 2011 at 01:39 PM ·

" I take part of several judging teams of violin competitions, thus I can assure you there are different schools and the difference is not only visible but also hearable :-)"

i don't even play the violin, but i judge daily in my living room; with that credential, i come to judge the judges on :)

i agree with your assessment on intonation learning and people's tendency to rush through things--as humans we are entitled to such failures, but it seems that you have moved on from the bowing aspect in discussion.  to be perfectly honest, no one in his right mind bows perfectly straight anyway because we are not robots.   bowing straight is simply a saying to encourage beginners to properly track the bow to avoid slips.  a bow perpendicular on the string allows the most optimal energy transfer.   what violinists do with this basic understanding down the line is up to them, based on many other factors.

on that, i think there are many factors going into sound production.  i hope you will be more open minded with regard to that when judging violinists.  have mercy and try not to arrest them prematurely in their developmental years...please, at least let some straight bowers go beyond the first round, haha.

 have to go, will try rattle your tree on another occasion:)

May 9, 2011 at 02:19 PM ·

 on that, i think there are many factors going into sound production.  i hope you will be more open minded with regard to that when judging violinists.  have mercy and try not to arrest them prematurely in their developmental years...

I can assure you, I am one of most lenient judge. Althougfh I perceive all the imperfections, I always judge only according following rule: "Would spent money for the ticket if I would see this name on the poster next time or not".

 a bow perpendicular on the string allows the most optimal energy transfer.   what violinists do with this basic understanding down the line is up to them, based on many other factors.

Let me correct your statement. Believe me, I studied a lot of acoustic since I began with my current main job, which is string development and production.

As I alreaty mentioned, I wrote a book about natual way of violin play. Besids many other topics, I dealt with tone production of course. I described a phenomenon, which was unclear and wierd to me those times although I knew it worked. I knew that a slight difference form the 90 degrees angle can improove sound production a lot (if done correctly). The point was that I did not know why those times. This is why I wrote in my book something like: "There is no doubt, it works, you can observe it on many great players, however I have to admit I don,t know why and how it woks."

Now I know it precisely. This is why I decided to rewrite the book before translation into English. I realized that many upgares are necesarry.

The direction of the bow needs to be as precise as possible. The problem is however, that the string is not straight when it is bowed. The string has the shape of lens. You certaily know that there are two states which oscilate very quickly. The bow grasp the string and loose it at the and of one way movement. then the string slides under the hair and the circle repeats.

The most crucial moment is the grasp. In the other words, in the moment of grasp the bow has to be in a right angle to the string. But the string is not straight in that moment, the string is bent to lens shape. If you want to achieve really the right angle, you have to bow in the right angle to the particular point on the curve, (not parallel to the bridge). The ideal directions (deviations form the pararell dircetion) of the bow are different with down and up stroke of course. One can observe the phenomenon even with artificial bow (machine driven bow) in acoustic lab.

You can believe me Mr. Ku, all information I decided to share with others are both - theoretically explicable, but mainly verified by praxis. I spent a lot of time dealing with sound production as a player and teacher and I am doing the same even now as a string producer.

May 9, 2011 at 05:12 PM ·

 thanks mr warchal to grace this forum with more info on string and sound production.  one of the older fiddles i have uses a set from you.  can't believe you have anything to do with it since it actually sounds very nice.  just kidding.  now you are saying if i bow not at a right angle, it may sound even nicer, :):):).    you are confusing suzuki class with post graduate study at MIT:)

"at the lens shape", if i interpret that,  you are saying the pulling action of the bow on the string makes an otherwise "straight" and static string into a convex shape toward the direction of the bowing.  that is possibly true if you freeze a frame of a slow mo video.  but, theoretically, and realistically at microscopic level,  at the point of contact between the string and one particular bow hair (one hair as a representative of all the hairs on the bow),   the hair and the string remain to be at a right angle.  this is not unlike how a radius shoots out to the circumference of a circle and intersects it at a right angle,even though a circle is never..."straight".  

but, if i have misinterpreted what lens shape means, you have made me mad-which defines our relationship here- so you have to explain more on that:)

on judging competitions, do you take into consideration how a player look since to some ticket buyers, they want to see some sex appeal? :):):)

May 9, 2011 at 05:31 PM ·

My wife is pretty enough, I don,t need to gain any inspiration at concerts :-). Although "how one looks like" may matter often at competitions, I always aim to listen the music only. What I am not able to accept is lack of musicality. One dosen't attend concerts in order to be bored.

As for the disscussion, your last explanation seems to be beyond my English skills. I decided to spent a few days (since I was not very busy) by browsing musical chats in order to improove my English (it is much more interesning than attending English course). I bumped into several interesting topics on This is why I decided to join. However my English language skills are limited, I am not sure I will be able to explain more clarly all principles I mentioned briefly.

May 9, 2011 at 05:43 PM ·

 english in my secondary language; i still type in lower case:)   i never quite understand why to  begin a sentence one needs to push down 2 keys to capitalize.  how much time and effort have been collectively wasted? :) doesn't the preceding period already indicate the end of the previous sentence? :)   why being so insecure to begin again? :)

your english is perfectly fine with me.  it is the conceptual and technical aspect that i want to be sure i understand correctly.  it is not you, it is me:)

just so you know, my comprehension level with perfectly written english is not on the high side with aging, according my kids, haha.   

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

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

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Business Directory Business Directory Guide to Online Learning Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & 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