Advice needed: smooth bow changes with slurred 16th notes

January 6, 2019, 2:12 PM · I can get a smooth bow change when I have longer notes, but when I start doing slurred 16ths for the same duration, the bow change is unpleasantly audible. (acceleration scales, Rode #3, etc.)

Any suggestions for correcting this?

Replies (12)

January 6, 2019, 2:28 PM · Julie from the way you write it seems to have nothing to do with the left hand fingers not being lifted or placed fast enough just before or after the bow change. then indeed your problem is very bizarre, I can offer no suggestions only my sympathy!
January 6, 2019, 2:40 PM · I find that two thirds of our technique is between the notes! (Or just before them.)

I would stop between each slur to home in on exactly what happens: swift release of bow pressure, slight anticipation of subsequent left hand action before the bow resumes its "scoop" into the string; first of all, like a slow-motion film; then each of these elements separately but up to speed until they are so light and neat that they can come together in approximately zero seconds!

January 6, 2019, 3:29 PM · Just play it faster so nobody notices.
January 6, 2019, 4:13 PM · The best way to fix this is to think of the left hand as a separate entity from the bow arm. In your example the bow arm plays whole notes. The left hand plays whatever the run in question requires (16ths, 32nds, etc.). The moment you come close to the bow change, slow down the last two to four notes to ensure a seamless change. Then slowly eliminate the ritardando and maintain the same bow change technique. It will work! For more intense work on this sort of thing, check out
January 6, 2019, 8:06 PM · Do you have a teacher? If so, you should ask her/him for some help. Gary's suggestion is a good one, but you may need someone to help implement your technical change. Good luck!
January 6, 2019, 8:25 PM · +1 to Gary.
January 6, 2019, 8:38 PM · "Aim" your thinking into the start of the next bow, so you focus on the continuity across bows. Just thinking about going to that note might be enough to fix the problem, at least for the familiar patterns like scales.

To make sure that there's nothing in the left hand that is hampering you, during practice, add the next note into the slur, so you change bow one note later. Also try doubling that note, so you play it twice (once slurred into the first bow, and then a second time on the changed bow). For that you can cut the note duration in half to avoid distorting the rhythm, or you can do it as a kind of appoggiatura.

January 6, 2019, 9:02 PM · I would certainly try Lydia's suggestions.
Also, you might experiment with placing the bow change at different places in the string of 16th notes and see what change that makes to the problem.

Also try running the 16th with your left hand while just air-bowing.

It is obvious your mind is telling your right AND left hands about the bow change. a "bad" and common habit that is hard to break.

January 6, 2019, 9:41 PM · Questions:

1. While on what part of the bow (tip, frog, middle, 2nd quarter, 3rd quarter) string crossing is (always):
a) the easiest
b) moderately difficult
c) the most difficult

2. Do you practice in different rhythm?

3. Do you tend to co-orindate direction of the bow with the direction of the run?

January 6, 2019, 10:07 PM · I've noticed that when I have string crossing problems they fall into one of three categories:

1) left and right hands are out of sink (as mentioned above). Make sure the bow is not beating the left hand (wait longer to cross), and make sure left hand is ready and over the new string sooner than you think it needs to be.

2) Even bow speed is important over all the notes even when there is a cross. I have noticed that I sometimes speed up the bow suddenly when crossing strings. Aiming for even speed or even slower bow in the actual change can help.

3) Too much camber - You should be as close to the new string as possible when it comes so as to avoid a sudden seasaw motion. I practice this in slow motion and actually forcing myself to play a double stop for a split second. I find it helpful to have the elbow advancing in front of the hand when crossing strings (so it's already there).

Just some ideas - this might be hit or miss, but hopefully there is something helpful in there.

January 7, 2019, 6:55 AM · thanks Susanna except that Julie's question is about bow changes, not string changes :-) Julie has a degree in violin and teaches violin, so it is interesting and actually inspiring to see that also professionals need to keep working on the basics. I kind of knew that but still nice to see it in real life.
January 7, 2019, 10:49 AM · Thank you for all the suggestions! I'm going to experiment with the ritardando this afternoon.

Jean, I only went through half my music program and got my degree in another field. Although my question wasn't specifically about string changes, it's more about bow direction changes, string changes can always be better and I'll try them out!

I'll take suggestions for improvement wherever I can find them :-)

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