Bow change at the frog/tip: how much flexibility is too much flexibility?

Edited: February 7, 2019, 3:37 AM · I cam across this video of a fine violinist, he is the second performer from left to right.

His playing is such a pleasure to watch. I notice remarkable flexibility in the wrist of his bowing hand, especially when the bow changes at the frog. Upbow or downbow, his right wrist and palm moves gracefully like a piece of white flag undulating in the wind.

While his right hand looks awesome and is quite a scene to behold in my amateur eyes, I have a question, can you be too much flexible with your bowing hand wrist? I have never seen such degree of flexibility even with famous soloists. Is it possible to overdo bow changes and cushioning?

Your opinions will be helpful for my practice as an amateur, thank you for your insights!

Replies (6)

February 7, 2019, 9:36 AM · If your wrist is so loose that you're losing control over your bow and it's bouncing everywhere, I think that's too much.
February 7, 2019, 12:39 PM · If you want to see real bow hand wrist flexibility watch videos of Perlman. But beware of trying to develop this based on appearances on your own, you can very easily go astray. Let sound be your guide and preferably build your bow hand under the guidance of the best teacher you can find.
Edited: February 7, 2019, 4:57 PM · Thank you for your insight, Nina.

@Andres actually I'm considering choosing the violinist in the video to be my teacher. He's in my city, and charges higher than other instructors. but I can see him playing which is nice. Not to say that good playing equates good teaching, but it's one indicator IMO? Is it wrong to assume that way?

February 7, 2019, 5:07 PM · Think of Menuhin's remark about holding the bow like a baby bird (even if you don't admire his playing); i.e. holding the bird safely, but without crushing it!!
Edited: February 7, 2019, 5:28 PM · Matt,
I have just recently started having a very flexible wrist like this in the last few months.
What I notice - and I can I think hear with this man (contrast with the woman with her stiff wrist) is an amplitude of sound where the movement of the wrist can get a stroke of bow that kind of surges out auotomatically .
I think this can help a lot with changing bow direction, but also, as I say, with more amplitude of bow and sound from modest movements.
I find it very liberating. Probably one could overdo it, but it is just always in service to the playing task at hand, and as long as that is uppermost I don't see why there whould be a problem - or "too much" .
I kind of find now I have this extra lien, this extra lease of freedom, this afterburn on the bow-engine, which is gifted to me for free, by the phenomenon of the flexi-wrist doing a small (or large) flick like making a whip crack .... It is good fun, and I think VERY useful musically.
Yes, the white flag undulating in the wind - wow if you can translate this poetry into playing - you will play SO well. And yes, I think he plays beautifully
February 8, 2019, 1:49 AM · @Sylvan I really like how you describe it: very liberating! In my vocabulary, bow cushioning at the frog and tip makes the playing looks really aesthetic and exciting, and it has implications on the sound you produce too. I think he plays beautifully.

@Adrian on behalf of all the beginners of this instrument, I feel sorry about crushing millions of birds and geese before being able to handle them safely.

@Andres, I reviewed some of Perlman's videos, and I could see that he has a very flexible wrist too. But Perlman does it more subtly/economically, and his range of direction-changing movements is generally narrower (perhaps because Perlman has better control of technique), which is probably why I didn't notice.

I'm about to contact this quy and ask him to be my teacher soon.

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