I'm reviewing my bow arm from the ground up, and its surprisingly difficult to find any convincing rationale for the positioning of the right elbow, particularly towards the heel. So I searched v.com, expecting it to be a perennial issue, but found relatively little.
In The Violin Lesson Simon Fisher recommends keeping the elbow at the hight of the frog, so the forearm would remain roughly parallel with the ground. But while he normally gives a convincing rationale on controversial issues, all he says here is that this means the elbow moves at the same speed as the hand. But what does this mean? The same speed in what plane? And why is that important?
Perhaps it's my body shape, but this high elbow has never felt natural for me. Once I pass the right angle on the upbow everything goes into motion - the upper-arm lifts, the shoulder lifts, and the elbow itself describes a complex path in multiple planes.
When I follow my instinct, my upper arm remains roughly parallel to the bow throughout the stroke - or a touch higher for ff. This means that the forearm slopes up at the heel. For me, the shoulder and upper arm are much quieter, and the elbow follows a much less complex path in a single plane. It feels simpler, more natural and more energy efficient. I suffer a muscle metabolism issue and am looking to play into old age, so energy efficiency is a high priority for me.
I'm aiming for simplicity, and would happily settle for the lower approach if it wasn't for the fact that most teachers and virtuosos seem to use the high elbow. What advantage does the high elbow offer that offsets this greater complexity? I can still generate ample power with the lower arm, so that's not an issue for me.
On the other hand, it seems that the low arm is not an entirely daft idea, when you see it being used by artists such as David Oistrakh and Hilary Hahn. Of all the violinists I ever saw live, Oistrakh seemed the most unhurried, secure and organised. I would settle for that :-)
I'm self=teaching so I only have myself to please. I'd appreciate your thoughts on how a player can discriminate between these two schools of thought and evolve the best approach for their particular body shape.
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