Bow Exercises

January 24, 2015 at 03:46 PM · What awesome bow exercises to others on this forum use? I'll start by submitting my favorite - bow circles. Helping the arm and hand find balance. But what are your favorites?

Replies (23)

January 24, 2015 at 04:20 PM · I like Sevcik School of Bowing Technique, op. 2, for teaching spicatto

January 24, 2015 at 04:30 PM · The bowing exercise I like best is the one where I put it back in the case ...

January 24, 2015 at 06:16 PM · ..which reminds me of the violist who came to a rehearsal without his bow, and vowed he would never again practice at home..

January 24, 2015 at 07:24 PM · Greetings,

The five basic Tone exercise taught by Simon Fiischer. of those, the first one. WBs strating on Sound Point 5 at mm80.

I also like so file but such an exercise needs to be followed by rapid strokes to prevent the bow arm becoming sluggish in the long run.



January 24, 2015 at 08:50 PM · The Genealogy of Bow Strokes in Menuhin's Six Lessons is extraordinary. If you go through it, you end up sounding like him! You may not want to, of course, but it is a remarkable achievement to have communicated the sensations so precisely in writing, and to invent a sequence of exercises that works.

The whole book is heavy reading, but worth every minute. Sorry, hour..

January 25, 2015 at 07:38 AM · Your viola comment also reminded me of a true story about the viola player that turned up for rehearsal with an empty case. There was a lot of relief, until he arrived back with the instrument and joined in the rehearsal.

Another true story at the opera house here in London from decades ago. One fiddler had a great instrument which he took great care of and was very proud of. In a break some naughty players carefully removed his fiddle from the case and substituted it for one worth about £10 which was covered in filth. I suppose they could have caused a heart attack! (I was not involved, I have to say).

January 25, 2015 at 07:10 PM · Ha ha!

Another question that goes along with these is what are your favorite bow finger flexibility exercises? There seems to be an epidemic of stiff bow holds in my studio...

Buri - thanks for all of the recommendations for Fischer Basics. I need to go back and dig into some of those exercises more :)

January 25, 2015 at 09:47 PM · Hi Laura, that should be the collé exercise #88 in Basics. I found it quite difficult to execute at first, but it develops really strong and flexible right-hand fingers. Doing this exercise every day as a warm-up really brought my bowing technique to a higher level, so I expect the same may happen to your students.

January 26, 2015 at 02:17 AM · Yay! Thank you!

January 27, 2015 at 11:31 PM · Eugène Ysaÿe's bowing exercise as described by Primrose in "Playing the Viola" has been helpful to me in terms of smoother, better string crossings.

January 28, 2015 at 12:58 AM · Greetings,

the colle is a crucial stroke or component of a stroke. The only finger exercise I practice of it now is thatb in Fischer's warming up. One plays 8th notes at the heel and the point with a moderate amount of string crossing. The exercise is executed entirely by the fingers and thumb. In order to transfer from the heel to the point and vice versa one does a whole bow. On the down bow the hand begins in the flat position with both fingers and thumb bent. During the stroke the fingers and thumb straighten together and bend together about 8 times while not interfering with the smoothness of the stroke. Thisis valuable as an independent bowing exercise.on repeated up and down bows.

An actual stiff bow hand may have a number of causes. Oneof the worst faults is too much thumb on he stick. Many beginners do not understand that only the top tight hand corner of the tip of the thumb as you look at the nail touches the stick. They may have been told by a previous teacher that the thumb and fingers make a circle when in actual fact if the thumb bends under the hand in a relaxed manner the shape is basically a rectangle.

They may also believe the base of the thumb is the second knuckle instead of at the bottom of he hand near what we call the wrist. This mental misconception is extremely restricting.

Another issue is where the thumb goes on the stick. I used to follow the standard guideline of putting it between the thumb leather and touching the frog. Then I noticeda lot of players very slightly furthe run the stick with the thumb simply placed directly on the part of the leather nearest the frog. I found this small change extremely effective. It is possible, especially in a badly set up bow, that the frog and thumb leather are actually slightly clamping the thumb in one position. Placing directly on the leather allows great freedom of movement in the bow hand with no loss of stability once you get used to it.



January 28, 2015 at 03:34 AM · Here's one to loosen the right hand.

Here's one for tone control.

January 28, 2015 at 01:53 PM · Smiley, very nice flexible bow hand and fingers you've got there!

January 28, 2015 at 03:05 PM · Yes, Smiley, you have good relaxed flexible fingers and wrist on bow arm.

Sorry to be a real pain, Smiley, but I did not hear a great difference between forte and piano on the second video. Maybe its the recording - or maybe my funny ears!!

But you do a great job with the video and demonstrations - keep them up. Maybe I should do one or two as well, but I'm having a lot of trouble accessing at the moment.

January 28, 2015 at 05:26 PM · I did not know what Buri meant by so file, so I looked it up. I found "son file" (not that I knew what that is either) and this wonderful link to a blog post that features Fisher, Galamian, and Flesch's son file practices, so I am giving a link.

Bow speed techniques

Buri, do you recommend combining those practices with rapid strokes. Son file -> rapid, son file rapid, lather, rinse, repeat?

January 28, 2015 at 07:06 PM · Greetings,

son file, fast whole bows, sleep, fart, repeat,

Routine in life is important,



January 28, 2015 at 07:58 PM · "son file, fast whole bows, sleep, fart, repeat,"


I can do 4 out of 5 of the recommended steps. But for the last step; doesn't it require large quantities of prunes?

January 29, 2015 at 02:41 AM · naaa,

when you`ve become completely familiar with them image training is an adequate trigger,



January 29, 2015 at 07:33 AM · Oh Thank You! Such great responses and good exercises to try!!

February 9, 2015 at 03:10 AM · Still one of my favorites:

February 9, 2015 at 02:29 PM · I vote for Kreutzer #2 with all the variations.

February 9, 2015 at 03:00 PM · I'd add Kreutzer #1 and #4 to balance #2.

February 9, 2015 at 05:27 PM · Count on the British to bring flatulence into it. Oh well, one has to be good at *something*.

Lots of mentions of Kreutzer, but on youtube there are several videos produced by Sassmannshaus where these bowing exercises are thoughtfully combined with appropriate Kreutzers. That guy knows what he's doing, and he doesn't have any shortage of skilled students to showcase his methods.

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