Bow control

Edited: September 4, 2018, 8:06 AM · Hello all,
I have recently been trying to work on my bow control by making sure its straight, with success. However, it is constantly moving over sounding points. I was wondering if any of you had any suggestions on keeping it in one place?

Thanks in advance!

Replies (14)

September 4, 2018, 9:02 PM · The thing that dramatically improved my bow angle and soundpoint was to put a mirror in the practice room. We all know to practice in front of the mirror some times, but to have it there constantly so that you can check all your scales and exercises, was radical. From that point on, all the pieces started to fall into place just by regular practice.
September 4, 2018, 9:08 PM · I second the suggestion of having a mirror in the room constantly.
September 4, 2018, 9:41 PM · Simon Fischer's Basics is very helpful.
September 5, 2018, 12:13 AM · I have all but one of his books, I think
September 5, 2018, 1:06 AM · The major reason for bowing "straight" is to prevent the bow hair from moving off of the optimum point of contact. All of our natural motions from a joint will produce circles. To get straight bowing we make small compensating motions. Depending on your bow hold and style, that will be some combination of bending the right wrist, a small horizontal back and forth motion of the right elbow, and a pivoting motion inside the hand, around the thumb. The violin world has been working on this problem for centuries, and some things are still controversial. You are not likely to learn it on your own, that's why we have private teachers. I second the motion on using a mirror.
September 5, 2018, 1:38 AM · I do have a teacher and I have a mirror up whenever I practise
September 5, 2018, 3:26 AM · My teacher makes me make sure my chin is set right in the chin rest. This tends to correct the situation for the most part.
September 5, 2018, 3:26 AM · My teacher makes me make sure my chin is set right in the chin rest. This tends to correct the situation for the most part.
September 5, 2018, 9:31 AM · have you looked up the notion of "crescent bowing" as explained by Drew Lecher. also the explanations by Simon Fischer about bowing with angle inside or outside, which will move your bow accross soundpoints. in a sense, once you understand well how to let your bow float to different soundpoints in a controlled manner, you will also understand how to prevent it from floating!
September 5, 2018, 9:42 AM · A "Bow-right," such as sold by ( )

can really help assure a player that bowing is "straight" and parallel to the bridge. It may also help a player adjust the angle of the violin and chinrest position properly to make parallel bowing more natural.

September 5, 2018, 9:48 AM · Simon Fischer has a DVD called "secrets of Violin tone production" that includes a demonstration of the exercise mentioned above, where you sort of snake the bow back and forth between sound points to learn how to control it. That said, on the simpler side, a lot of it at the basic level comes from proper use of the right elbow (vs the shoulder) to draw the bow along its length, and a number of ridiculously complex flexes and articulations in the right wrist and fingers. There is more than one set of related solutions to those problems, so for instance teachers may appear to disagree (but each is likely presenting a complete workable system when followed correctly). I also find watching video of professional soloists very helpful - Heifetz in particular has some nice videos where you can watch every subtle detail of how he uses his right arm (a nice big collection of such videos are on The Art of the Violin DVD), though be warned that Heifetz's right hand technique is quite different from how it is now taught.
September 5, 2018, 6:22 PM · I found that this simple exercise was very helpful in getting the "feel for a straight bow" parallel to the bridge:

Draw the bow slowly its entire length on top of the bridge. No sound will be produce keep shoulder down and let your forearm "hinge" on the elbow. Down and Up bow.
If done in front of a mirror the better. Practice 15 minutes. Move to open strings and feel the additional control you have on the bow. Do this daily for 15 minutes until you are satisfied that you don't need it anymore.

September 24, 2018, 11:55 PM · You should look into an iPhone app called Violin Bow Hand Coach. It's helped me improve my bow arm a lot.
September 25, 2018, 5:03 PM · It seems like I'm always working on ways to keep my bow straight. Here are some of my favorite methods that don't involve a "coach"

Clip a convex (fish eye) mirror on the top of your stand (7 inch clip on, found on Amazon). I find this easier to see than a mirror on the side.

Straighten only down bows with retakes (mirror) one day, only up bows the next. Alternate. Make sure the retakes are moving perpendicular to the string in one plane.

Cut 2 bendy straws, connect in the middle and put into your f holes for warm up. Maintain contact with them as you slowly make your way up and down the bow.

Use an ipad and video delay app to turn and check your bow issues while practicing spontaneously.

Bow for a minute each day with the bow upside down (bow grip at the tip). I find I can only support the weight of the bow if it's straight.

I think of the bow has having 3 regions: frog, middle, tip. Work on one region a day (with mirror or video).

If a straight bow feels really uncomfortable (as opposed to unaccustomed), it's very likely that the fiddle needs to be moved left or right. In this case it's moving the violin that needs to be worked on.

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