String Bowings in an Orchestra Rehearsal

December 22, 2018, 4:09 PM · Ask the subscribers this question.

In an orchestra rehearsal where violins, violas, cellos and basses all have the identical rhythm and phrasing. Should all these string instruments use the identical bowings? Or does size matter in this respect.

Replies (49)

December 22, 2018, 4:51 PM · I do not think that size matters, but the bowings are really the concertmaster or conductor's call, perhaps in consultation with section principals.
December 22, 2018, 4:59 PM · The concertmaster bows the first violin part and then the other string principals mark their parts in accordance with the concertmaster's bowings where applicable.

If the sections are playing identical rhythms and phrasings, the firsts, seconds, and violas will match up for sure. Cellos and basses will usually match up but there are times when what works on a violin does not work on a cello, and in those cases they make whatever choices will best produce the concertmaster's desired result while working within the constraints of a shorter bow and a different instrument.

December 22, 2018, 5:13 PM · I am a String Specialist. That means I play and teach violin, viola, cello, double bass, guitar, piano, mandolin and ukulele. On bowed strings instruments in the orchestra, the bows are of different lengths. Violin and viola are the same, cello is a little shorter and double bass is shorter than cello bows. The reason for this is that the strings on a double bass and so thick and heavy, we all need to be able to apply equal pressure when playing near the tip of the bow. If the bow is shorter, then it makes that technique just a little easier. The answer to my question is that: No, all instruments do not use the same bowing because strings react differently on bigger instruments. A bassist should not always play the same bowing as on a violin part.
Edited: December 22, 2018, 6:54 PM · Making a good sound trumps the aesthetic appearance aspect of having all the bows going the same way. In my string orchestra, the director will sometimes split bowings by stand, asking one player to take one bow and one player to take two, thereby maintaining sostenuto while generating more sound. Remember, this is within the same section! It's a very creative approach I think. I bet the LA Phil doesn't ever do this though.
Edited: December 22, 2018, 8:02 PM · Conductor Leopold Stowkowski introduced "unsynchronized bowing" in the Philadelphia Orchestra over 100 years ago creating the famous "Philadelphia Sound." Some subsequent conductors of that orchestra have continued the tradition.

You just have to be careful not to poke your neighbor or get poked!

December 22, 2018, 9:27 PM · As concertmaster of a community orchestra, I do the bowings for 1st, 2nd violins, and violas. Cello and bass bowing is mechanically different, so I ask the principal cello to do those.
December 22, 2018, 9:44 PM · I echo Mary Ellen and Joel, more or less.

As the CM of a community orchestra, I do the 1st violins, at least some of the 2nd violin, and often a portion of viola as well (indicating where I explicitly want the articulation to match). I leave the rest of it to the principals.

I don't think it's important for the directions to match between the upper and lower strings, but it's important for the articulation to be consistent.

Edited: December 22, 2018, 10:54 PM · Andrew Victor, I would have mentioned Stokowski if you hadn't!

As principal violist in a community orchestra, I typically have the 1st violin section's bowings emailed to me by the concertmaster. I am generally given quite a bit of discretion: the instruction I get is to match the articulation and auditory effect, not necessarily the bow directions. This means matching the 1st violins' bowings 99% of the time where the patterns are similar, but occasionally I have to make adjustments for the heavier viola bow.

December 22, 2018, 11:15 PM · Can someone elaborate on how Philadelphia executes the unsynchronized bowing that’s been mentioned?
Edited: December 23, 2018, 6:45 AM · I remember an idiot conductor we had once (and not for long) who demanded that the cello section on his right change their bowing so that their bows go in the same direction as the firsts' relative to the audience. So we cellists were expected to change our down bows to up bows to satisfy his lordship, the said IC. As I said, he wasn't with us for long.
December 23, 2018, 7:50 AM · Jeez, Trevor. Idiot is probably a charitable characterization for the IC. Glad he did not last long.
Edited: December 23, 2018, 8:01 AM · I was once in a humble amateur orchestra where the conductor thought the first violins looked messy in one place, so he made the leader teach them how to bow it. I'd imagine Karajan would have kicked you out of the BP for not complying.

But every now and then you see a question about left-handed players, and my assumption is that, if they existed, they wouldn't get a look-in in a lot of orchestras.

December 23, 2018, 8:02 AM · Viola parts sometimes ressemble 'cello parts rather than violin parts, and our sluggish response on the much-used lower strings can make us team up with the 'cellos!
December 23, 2018, 8:55 AM · As Victor notes, Stokowski was an advocate of free bowing; Ormandy was not. I haven't seen this officially written anywhere, but Yannick Nezet-Seguin has re-introduced free bowing for the Philly strings. The emphasis is on the sound rather than simply the appearance of perfect synchronization.

In practice, the sections still bow together most of the time -- where you see different bowings is fast passages where the visual difference is small.

For community orchestras, I think sometimes an obsession on bowing direction can hurt a performance because too much precious rehearsal time is spent synchronizing bowings instead of concentrating on dynamics or intonation or getting the sound right.

Good players should be able to produce a nice sound or a good attack up-bow or down-bow.

Bowing direction is not nearly as crucial, as, say, remembering where forte ends and piano begins. Or getting a 7th or a 4th in tune.

But community orchestras in my experience are reluctant to do free bowing because, if you can't SOUND like a professional orchestra at least you can try to look like one. Less informed audiences see bows going different directions make negative judgements.


Edited: December 23, 2018, 11:56 AM · There's a reason that 99.999% of orchestras use synchronized bowings. Because it works.

Bowings directly affect the phrasing, metric emphasis, and articulation. An orchestra is not for those who want to "do their own thing." Someone has to make basic decisions about what's going on.

And I think it's more important in community orchestras. So what if there's an obsession with bow direction? You want a good performance or not? It shouldn't be rocket science to just play what's on the page. Community orchestras are, to a large extent, learning situations. People who play in them have many varying levels of training, and some people may have a minimum. They often need to be taught the basics of why one bowing is better than another. Hopefully, this informs all of their playing, including solo and chamber music activities. But if you say ":just do whatever you want" you do them a disservice.

Yes, in a perfect world any string player should be able to make the same sound up- or down-bow. They should be able to make the same articulation hooking or not hooking. But they don't. Everyone has basic tendencies, and these get magnified in a group. Listen, for example, to a middle-school string orchestra or lower-level youth orchestra: the fact that there are many players does NOT average things out. Instead, certain things sound even worse, such as the tendency to play triplets instead of real dotted rhythms, poor half-step or leading-tone intonation, or emphasis of off-beats.

This is why we bow the parts for young musicians and make them try to adhere to it. So they go through all the levels of orchestra this way: trying to follow the bowings because someone more advanced thought about them and marked them in for a reason.

My argument is that, even if most musicians could actually just make up their own decent bowings, they will, after years of having to do otherwise, experience cognitive dissonance in trying to disregard everyone else. It's a musical and psychological mess that most professionals hate. It's only students and amateurs that aren't bothered by not having the right bowings.

Another aspect to having free bowing is what you're really encouraging of people: Not deciding what bowing to use. If you say "use whatever bowing you want" what you're really telling people is not "pick a musically valid bowing and stick with it." They will just bow whatever comes to mind. They will likely NOT write in anything, or think about what the best bowing is. It'll change every time they play it. If they don't have the discipline to do what someone else marked in, they definitely won't have the discipline to mark in their own and follow it. So it will not only sound like a mess, but will look like one too.

I conducted a community orchestra for about 7 years--I know what human tendencies are. I was not about to let them use their own bowings any more than I was about to let them turn dotted rhythms into triplets. If I had to remind them every singe time, then I did.

Here's an excellent example of how bowings can make a big difference:
Look at editions of solo Bach in which the D-minor Gigue is hooked. If you play the triplet figures hooked, you end up with an entirely different articulation than if you don't hook. Hooking encourages a longer separate 8th at the ends of the bow. Those who have the chops to play the 2+1 figures separately around the balance point have a much shorter and energetic separate 8th. That's why I no longer use the hooked bowing--I feel it saps the energy from an energetic dance.

My preference is besides the point, which is what happens when you let half the orchestra hook and half not hook. You don't get any kind of coherent interpretation of the music.

I've played under many conductors that had no plan for articulations and didn't care if all the strings were doing them the same. To me that's lower-level music making.

I once saw a professional string trio that attempted to play a transcription of the Goldberg Variations, and it soon became clear that no one was listening to the bowings or articulations of the other 2.

"Should all these string instruments use the identical bowings? Or does size matter in this respect."

This was Victor's question. But he didn't include another important factor: articulation. The strings must articulate the same. When I was concertmaster of an orchestra, I would bow the parts, and often, the bass and celli would "go their own way" and do what worked for them. Unfortunately, that usually meant they also started doing different articulations. The conductor didn't notice. No one noticed except me, and it drove me crazy. People who don't think about articulation are not making music at a high level.

"In practice, the sections still bow together most of the time -- where you see different bowings is fast passages where the visual difference is small."

I don't see how this is possible, even with the Philly orchestra. If it's a fast passage and some people are different, that means some people have to be doing slurs here or there. How does this not destroy the integrity of what's trying to be achieved? How does this help? Philly musicians certainly have the ability to do the same slurs and start on the same bow. I think it's a marketing gimmick, on the same level as a young conductor refusing to wear tails and instead trying to look hip and individualistic. Maybe it's an extension of the current trend to knock down the establishment because, you know, what everyone's been doing is wrong...

December 23, 2018, 12:18 PM · I think the "thing" in "Philly" was mostly about getting "full sound" on long notes or slurred passages that required multiple bows to sound their best. Articulated notes would likely be bowed the same way by experienced professional players and even long-time amateurs.
December 23, 2018, 1:00 PM · When I'm leading, you do it my way.
And hopefully, it works out.
However, the cellos ALWAYS say they're different, and demand to do their own thing.
Provided it matches musically, I don't argue.
December 23, 2018, 1:48 PM · Yes, but usually it doesn't match.
December 23, 2018, 2:40 PM · I agree with Scott, 100%.

In fact, one flaw of student and amateur orchestras is that the players often think that the reason that they're being given bowings is because the direction of the bows has to match. (I grit my teeth at the school orchestra directors and string teachers who tell their students this, too.) This is not the case, of course. The bowings are there so the articulation will match.

When I bow community-orchestra parts, not only am I explicit about the up/down, but I also often note the part of the bow that I want it to be in, and the type of stroke used (for instance, spiccato vs a brush stroke) -- i.e. I am trying to convey the desired articulation. And I will call out string sections during rehearsals that aren't getting the articulation right. It really does make a difference in the overall section sound and the performance quality.

December 23, 2018, 5:20 PM · I found it interesting to watch the three seasons of Gerard Schwarz's All-Star Orchestra on PBS: top players from orchestras all over the USA get together for TV-only performances with almost no rehearsal clearly all use their bows the same ways(a la Lydia).

I hope there will be a 4th season!

December 23, 2018, 5:29 PM · But is the articulation the primary goal or is it an invaluable bi-product? That will depend on the orchestra.
Edited: December 23, 2018, 8:44 PM · Articulation should be one of the primary artistic decisions. It's not a "by-product." That implies it just kind of happens.

"I found it interesting to watch the three seasons of Gerard Schwarz's All-Star Orchestra on PBS: top players from orchestras all over the USA get together for TV-only performances with almost no rehearsal clearly all use their bows the same ways(a la Lydia)."

That's the result of experience. If you've done the repertoire enough, you know what bowings will likely be needed at a split second. Most experienced players have practically memorized the standard repertoire. So their bowings (and fingerings) have a very good chance of converging.

December 23, 2018, 9:03 PM · I've noticed that "free bowing" means different things in different levels of orchestra. My high-level (semi-pro) community orchestra recently premiered a piece where the composer explicitly specified free bowing for almost half of the piece, because in that portion of the piece each of the string parts consisted of short passages of moving notes interspersed with long sustained notes. The bows in each string section ended up synchronizing directions no later than the second note of each moving passage anyway, possibly instinctively based on articulation needs. On the other hand, my mid-level community orchestra is much more reliant on written bowings and articulations; if you tell them "free bowing" it will look a lot more chaotic.
December 24, 2018, 9:35 AM · In my chamber orchestra, which probably comes into the high-level semi-pro category, emails are sent to all the members listing DropBox links where they'll find copies of their parts carefully bowed by the section leaders in consultation with the CM. So no excuses!
December 26, 2018, 7:03 AM · My community orch operates the same way as Trevor's. The bowed parts are posted on our website with links emailed to the members.
December 26, 2018, 9:01 AM · Thomas: "for community orchestras, I think sometimes an obsession on bowing direction can hurt a performance because too much precious rehearsal time is spent synchronizing bowings instead of concentrating on dynamics or intonation or getting the sound right."

Lydia: "In fact, one flaw of student and amateur orchestras is that the players often think that the reason that they're being given bowings is because the direction of the bows has to match. (I grit my teeth at the school orchestra directors and string teachers who tell their students this, too.) This is not the case, of course. The bowings are there so the articulation will match."

One has to agree with both - but it really depends not only on the level of the community orchestra but also the challenge of the piece and the time available. Two examples: one orchestra that I played in last season did 6 separate concerts (5 with different rep) while the other only had two during the same period. In the former case the bowing seemed to be primarily to minimize the technical challenges and secondarily for phrasing. In the latter I could see no logic except to make the bows go in synchrony; for example, a phrase would be bowed one way and then on repeat exactly the opposite without any apparent logic.

Thus, at least at the community level, bowing can be for technical ease or just to look good.

December 26, 2018, 9:08 AM · Lydia, you make it almost sound like you decide the articulation, and not the conductor? In our orchestra we definitely fix the bowing directions but the articulation, plus the dynamics, is something that transpires during the rehearsals, and is decided by the conductor. We then of course agree where to bow and which bowing to use, and also often need to change the bowing directions to accommodate what the conductor wants to hear.
December 26, 2018, 11:21 AM · Conductors often aren't listening to articulation, and aren't string players. Sometimes they seem to fixate on the winds and brass, but not what is happening between string sections. I don't mean to paint them all as articulation nitwits, but I have experienced this phenomena enough to know it's real, even for highly trained conductors. And for lower-level orchestras trying to play advanced literature, it may not be a top priority: the conductor's main priority is to prevent a train wreck because each section has its own rushing/dragging tendencies.

Sometimes the CM simply has to work around the conductor. One can call it "sneaky" but I'd call it just "helping out."

December 26, 2018, 11:46 AM · One of the younger conductors I work with, a full-time conductor of orchestras and choirs, isn't a string player but a pianist and pro-level horn player. He is aware of this gap in his technical knowledge of instrumental playing and has taken steps to rectify it by discussing details of string technique with the CM and the leader of the cellos at each and every opportunity, to good effect.
December 26, 2018, 12:02 PM · Elise, if two identical phrases are bowed differently, yet are intended to be musically identical, the CM has probably made a mistake. (It's worth asking about. If I make mistakes like that, someone will almost certainly catch it. Our conductor looks over the initial bowing draft that I do, and will usually spot those mistakes.)

Jean, the conductor of my community orchestra usually cites two or three preferred recordings for each work. Most of the time, articulation is stylistic and "traditional", and the recordings and my instincts will agree. If there are major differences in interpretation in a section, I will usually ask the conductor which they prefer (citing specific recordings if necessary) and choose bowings accordingly. On the conductor's review of my draft bowings, we'll work out the occasional disagreement about articulation. (Our conductor is primarily a pro wind player, but has a working knowledge of string playing. Our assistant conductor is a violinist.)

December 26, 2018, 12:33 PM · That's what I thought - but its not just one time its over and over. Basically he likes to keep alternate bowings - often through slurs or whatever too. I'm sure its nothing subtle. And there is no point asking.

Sounds like your orchestra is considerably more sophisticated!

December 26, 2018, 12:44 PM · Interestingly:

My elite/semi-pro community orchestra doesn't send out bowings at all, only rehearses 4-5 times for a concert, and spends almost no time talking about bowings. The conductor (whose own primary instrument is viola) occasionally insists on a particular bowing for a passage, but this only happens once or twice a year. Otherwise, only articulations are discussed; section leaders follow the concertmasters and often spend 5 minutes at the beginning of the second or third rehearsal making sure everyone has the bowings, but that's usually the extent of it.

In my mid-level community orchestra where I'm principal violist, the concertmaster emails bowed 1st violin parts to section leaders after the first rehearsal, with instructions to copy where appropriate and match articulations, and we are expected to email our own bowings to our sections within a week or two after that. The conductor is a horn player, so while he asks for certain articulations, I've never heard him ask for any particular bowing.

In general, my experience is that the higher-level the orchestra, the less time is spent on bowings, and the more likely concertmasters and section leaders are to deviate from their own marked bowings. I think it's because section players are more capable of following the deviations without getting lost.

My experience in community orchestras may or may not differ from others because, out of eleven conductors I've played under in my life, only one has been mainly a string player, and only one other has had any string playing experience at all.

December 26, 2018, 2:31 PM · "Basically he likes to keep alternate bowings - often through slurs or whatever too."

Then he has a huge gap in his musical training. Slurs=emphasis.
The first note of a slurred group has more emphasis, and the following notes under the slur have less. It makes big difference in the music, and one should try to follow what the composer intended.

This is why I hate the bowing that many soloists use in the first movement of the Beethoven violin concerto.
An example is bar 191 and following: In the Breitkopf/Oistrakh and International/Francescatti editions, there is a slur on the 2nd to 3rd 16ths on beat one.

I don't know if they were influenced by Viotti bowings, but I'm pretty sure these are added and not original to Beethoven. If that's the case, it changes the metric emphasis to a syncopation. Sure, I like those violinists, but the point is that if you add or subtract a slur, you change things. At those bars, there is nothing in the accompaniment to suggest that Beethoven wanted a syncopation by putting a slur on the second of a group of four 16ths. Maybe if some instrument in the orchestra had an accented note with the soloist that would be a clue. But there isn't.

December 26, 2018, 4:48 PM · Scott - Beethoven's ms. had very few slurs in the first movement. Almost all edited versions add a huge number of slurs. My parents once heard a concert where Szymon Goldberg played the concerto as written. My father said it was quite a revelation.
December 26, 2018, 5:18 PM · The higher level the orchestra, the more likely it is that bowings have been done in the past and that the orchestra librarian has copied bowings into the parts. No one really has to fuss with them and they're only changed if the conductor wants something unusual.

Indeed, I will bet that community orchestra CMs tend to spend more time on bowings than pros do, because the orchestra is much less likely to have a library of already-bowed parts.

More broadly, though, for the standard orchestral repertoire, the pros pretty much already know the repertoire and the typical bowings for that repertoire. As the CM, you want to avoid deviating from the norm unless the conductor's unusual interpretation forces you to do so. Otherwise everyone will hate you because you are making them break the force of habit.

December 26, 2018, 5:32 PM · "Beethoven's ms. had very few slurs in the first movement"

Precisely.

December 26, 2018, 5:37 PM · It's true that the orchestra is more likely to have bowed parts for standard repertoire... but the trend also seems to hold true for rarely-performed pieces and even world premieres. And both of my current orchestras are currently led by conductors with penchants for programming obscure music that the orchestras definitely haven't played before. (The elite community orchestra tends to program no more than one standard repertoire piece per concert, and often none.)
December 26, 2018, 7:30 PM · "In general, my experience is that the higher-level the orchestra, the less time is spent on bowings, and the more likely concertmasters and section leaders are to deviate from their own marked bowings."

No, we do not do this. If I do deviate from my own marked bowing, it is called a "mistake" and I do my best not to repeat it. There are several issues with not following the marked bowings in the part, not least of which is that in rehearsal, my section will assume it is a change and there will be a horrifying clatter of pencils behind me unless I quickly turn and indicate not to mark what I did.

It is true that there are standard bowings in standard works, and we don't tend to vary wildly from those unless a particular articulation is requested that necessitates it.

December 26, 2018, 11:00 PM · +1 to Mary Ellen. Even in a reasonably attentive community orchestra, a section principal's deviation from the marked bowings will cause the aforementioned clatter of pencils -- or at least a question about whether the change was intentional or a mistake.
December 30, 2018, 4:48 PM · In my experience in the U.K., a community orchestra will spend much more time on bowings. What's in the parts is rarely consistent, and often non-existent or awful. Especially if you hire parts after a youth orchestra's had them - with a number on every note! So you just take EVERYTHING out and start again.
On the other hand, a professional orchestra has its own parts, at least for the standard works, with its own leader's markings in.
So you have marked parts you could just use straight away.
Edited: December 30, 2018, 8:44 PM · Rental parts can be headbangingly frustrating for that reason.

A lot of community orchestras just print their parts off IMSLP these days, though. This can have its own issues when the concertmaster / other string principals are unfamiliar with the "standard" bowings for common repertoire.

December 31, 2018, 12:56 AM · The exception to completely synchronized bowing that I sometimes do; 19th century pianist-composers that write very long slurs, especially Brahms. Those long slurs are piano style phrase markings not bowing directions. To preserve that long, sustained line, the bow changes can be staggered a little, maybe by only one note, like outside players change at the bar line and inside players tie over the bar line.
December 31, 2018, 8:56 AM · It surprises me that rental parts arrive with another orchestra's markings. My university symphony used to have an "erasing party" after the concert. I'm ashamed to say I never attended because they always coincided with exam prep the week before finals. I assume we erased the markings before sending the sheet music back to the rental company to avoid a penalty.

The next quarter, accurately-marked parts would show up on our stands at the first rehearsal. I never questioned who did the markings or when they were done. Perhaps at a by-invitation-only "marking party?"

December 31, 2018, 10:00 PM · I'm the concertmaster of a community orchestra. I mostly agree with the many excellent replies here. I used to do bowings before the first rehearsal, but decided after a while to wait until after the first rehearsal to see what kind of tempo the conductor has in mind.

I had a laugh over what to do when getting rental parts with older bowings penciled in. Sometimes these are very good, but there are other times where it is exasperating to find that the bowings are not, IMHO, very good, or worse yet, that they vary within the same section! Then I burn through an eraser.

Our orchestra has a website where I post the bowed 1st violin parts. The other string section leaders consult those and conform their sections when possible. The rule is that section members go to the website and write the bowings into their individual parts.

Our conductor is very experienced and asks bowing questions when he wants a specific effect, or when he sees people going in opposite directions, when the score doesn't suggest they should be.

December 31, 2018, 10:00 PM · I'm the concertmaster of a community orchestra. I mostly agree with the many excellent replies here. I used to do bowings before the first rehearsal, but decided after a while to wait until after the first rehearsal to see what kind of tempo the conductor has in mind.

I had a laugh over what to do when getting rental parts with older bowings penciled in. Sometimes these are very good, but there are other times where it is exasperating to find that the bowings are not, IMHO, very good, or worse yet, that they vary within the same section! Then I burn through an eraser.

Our orchestra has a website where I post the bowed 1st violin parts. The other string section leaders consult those and conform their sections when possible. The rule is that section members go to the website and write the bowings into their individual parts.

Our conductor is very experienced and asks bowing questions when he wants a specific effect, or when he sees people going in opposite directions, when the score doesn't suggest they should be.

December 31, 2018, 10:00 PM · I'm the concertmaster of a community orchestra. I mostly agree with the many excellent replies here. I used to do bowings before the first rehearsal, but decided after a while to wait until after the first rehearsal to see what kind of tempo the conductor has in mind.

I had a laugh over what to do when getting rental parts with older bowings penciled in. Sometimes these are very good, but there are other times where it is exasperating to find that the bowings are not, IMHO, very good, or worse yet, that they vary within the same section! Then I burn through an eraser.

Our orchestra has a website where I post the bowed 1st violin parts. The other string section leaders consult those and conform their sections when possible. The rule is that section members go to the website and write the bowings into their individual parts.

Our conductor is very experienced and asks bowing questions when he wants a specific effect, or when he sees people going in opposite directions, when the score doesn't suggest they should be.

December 31, 2018, 10:00 PM · I'm the concertmaster of a community orchestra. I mostly agree with the many excellent replies here. I used to do bowings before the first rehearsal, but decided after a while to wait until after the first rehearsal to see what kind of tempo the conductor has in mind.

I had a laugh over what to do when getting rental parts with older bowings penciled in. Sometimes these are very good, but there are other times where it is exasperating to find that the bowings are not, IMHO, very good, or worse yet, that they vary within the same section! Then I burn through an eraser.

Our orchestra has a website where I post the bowed 1st violin parts. The other string section leaders consult those and conform their sections when possible. The rule is that section members go to the website and write the bowings into their individual parts.

Our conductor is very experienced and asks bowing questions when he wants a specific effect, or when he sees people going in opposite directions, when the score doesn't suggest they should be.

December 31, 2018, 10:00 PM · I'm the concertmaster of a community orchestra. I mostly agree with the many excellent replies here. I used to do bowings before the first rehearsal, but decided after a while to wait until after the first rehearsal to see what kind of tempo the conductor has in mind.

I had a laugh over what to do when getting rental parts with older bowings penciled in. Sometimes these are very good, but there are other times where it is exasperating to find that the bowings are not, IMHO, very good, or worse yet, that they vary within the same section! Then I burn through an eraser.

Our orchestra has a website where I post the bowed 1st violin parts. The other string section leaders consult those and conform their sections when possible. The rule is that section members go to the website and write the bowings into their individual parts.

Our conductor is very experienced and asks bowing questions when he wants a specific effect, or when he sees people going in opposite directions, when the score doesn't suggest they should be.

December 31, 2018, 10:00 PM · I'm the concertmaster of a community orchestra. I mostly agree with the many excellent replies here. I used to do bowings before the first rehearsal, but decided after a while to wait until after the first rehearsal to see what kind of tempo the conductor has in mind.

I had a laugh over what to do when getting rental parts with older bowings penciled in. Sometimes these are very good, but there are other times where it is exasperating to find that the bowings are not, IMHO, very good, or worse yet, that they vary within the same section! Then I burn through an eraser.

Our orchestra has a website where I post the bowed 1st violin parts. The other string section leaders consult those and conform their sections when possible. The rule is that section members go to the website and write the bowings into their individual parts.

Our conductor is very experienced and asks bowing questions when he wants a specific effect, or when he sees people going in opposite directions, when the score doesn't suggest they should be.

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