On which Piece did you realize your bow limited you?
Although my question is mainly directed at advanced or professional violinists, I suppose it also applies to anyone.
Which piece of music were you on when you suddenly realized "this bow is preventing me from making the sound I want to make?" (Or, perhaps your teacher was the one who informed you this was the case)
And, at that point, what bow were you using and what bow did you upgrade to?
I'm assuming that for most, this event probably occurred multiple times over their playing history, so if there were multiple pieces of music where this happened, it would definitely be worth mentioning all of the them. It may also be worth mentioning a specific passage within a piece that prompted this epiphany.
I remember a specific time a fair while back where my teacher and I both realised that my bow just wasn't cutting it.
cotton, what piece was that?
I was using a German-made workshop bow worth maybe $500 or so, in late intermediate-level repertoire (playing Kreisler's Schon Rosmarin, I think), when my teacher asked me to upgrade. At his recommendation, I got a bow from an award-winning contemporary maker, Douglas Raguse. (Raguse's bows are worth $5k+ today.)
You ever tried a Benoit Rolland bow?
Erik, Wood, Spiccato or Arpege?
Wood! I think I actually have one of his spiccato bows for viola :P
I found that I was limited by the equipment exactly when I received an employment bonus or sold some property, and think that it could work in the other direction as well, except for the imbalance of effort/benefit for sale vs. purchase. So I decided to test that theory with an older bow which I still have, and I found that, although it was more difficult to work with, I could use it, better than I had been able to when it was the primary. So apparently the bow has exceeded its limitations somehow over time. Imagine how much better it might become if I set it aside for a decade. Then I went back to the newer bow, and found that it's easier to handle, and draws a better tone with less effort. So a choice might be like this -- work harder and maybe get better with the addition effort using the old bow, or work less hard and sound better despite that with the new bow. But time is short and the money is spent, so again the decision could largely be made on an economic basis.
J Ray, it may be that your old bow still meets a minimum standard of functionality for bows though, don't you think? As an example, my current bow is very much NOT balanced (most of the weight is at the frog), and it's quite a soft bow, so it doesn't attack like I feel it needs to. For me, it's not so much of matter of working harder" as it much as it is "working at all" for certain techniques.
I upgraded early and didn't realize the problems with the old bow until I was in a situation where I was using my backup viola with my backup-backup-backup bow. I had a situation where I had to leave class abruptly and didn't have time to collect my equipment (I trusted the professor, correctly, to take care of it given the time sensitive nature of the situation).
I... didn't realize how much my bow was holding me back until I got a good bow.
I am following this with interest. The problem is that most seem to realize that they had to upgrade the bow when they tried a better one, and they realized that what was difficult turned easy.
Separating the bow from the player -- very difficult, I'm afraid. My suggestion is to just try your teacher's bow every once in a while when you're struggling with some kind of bowing issue.
Erik, if I were you, I would definitely not go to to an intermediate bow. Get a bow intended for professional use. Anything less is going to hold you back.
Specific pieces: Tchaik Concerto mvmt 3, the first sixteenth notes section. I tilted at this one for many years before stumbling into a bow with a much quicker response to direction changes than my prior ones, and discovering that my decades-long inabiliy to play this at speed melted away in a matter of a few hours. The sustained double-stop section on the fifth page of the first movement is also quite sensitive to bow balance, though IMHO the left-hand challenges of that dwarf the right arm ones.
Changing violins, too. When I bought my first good violin, I realized when I put my bow to it that it hated my bow, so I bought a bow with it right then (fortunately it had no objection to the quite affordable ones I'd been trying it with in the shop).
I used to live in a place with little access to bows (or violins, rehairs, repairs, etc.) so purchased one on a whim back on 2001 or 2002, mostly because mine was a bit beat-up back then, and definitely too weak. A visiting luthier sold me a brazilian-maker gold-mounted bow I use to this day, which was much better than what I thought later on, despite its heavy weight. I had trouble controlling it, but it really never held me back since (tends to produce a thick, warm sound that is nevertheless strong.) After I purchased a decent, light Codabow carbon fiber bow for backup, I realized how much I really prefer my older pernambuco bow, and sadly my synthetic fiber bow is hardly ever used as a result (notably, staccato runs are much easier on my heavy bow, and the bite is better for sautille-the Codabow is theoretically easier to play with, but that doesn't make me want to regularly use it.)
It was spiccato that necessitated the change. The piece was Kreisler's Preludium & Allegro. Of course, spiccato is still a work in progress.
Great advice and stories all around.
Note that JonPaul Avanti sticks are somewhat individual from a tonal perspective, so you may need to try several to get a sound you want, too. The feel in the hand is pretty neutral.
Hmmmm, I wonder how I could get several of the same bow to choose one...
Or you could see if you could get 1 from several dealers. You'd just need to be careful to keep which is which straight.
A passage in Saint-Saens's Rondo Capriccioso, slurred Down-Down, Staccato Up-Up, repeat. Blazingly fast by the pros. So far best handled by a Benoit Rolland bow.
I play violin in one orchestra and viola in others, along with quite a bit of quartets, etc- strictly amateur. The following applies equally to both- Beethoven 9, Borodin 2, Tchaikovsky various. For solo, the Bach sonatas partitas on both, but particularly on viola- a better bow let me get closer to violin on my viola performance.
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