Long Slow Bow

August 28, 2019, 8:55 AM · Just out of curiosity, what do you have in mind (thinking and focusing) when you are practising the long slow bow?

More than one teacher I ran into encourage us to practise long slow bow, because it will help us on bow control and tone development in long term. However, I feel there are not much details beyond just aim for X second, divide the bow into Y and aim to spend 1/Y of the bow in X/Y second. Somehow after an unspecified amount of time, lo and behold, all the jerk and ghostly sound will be gone like magic (maybe one day).

I don't doubt the need of practising long slow bow, but I struggle to feel motivated enough not to do it mindlessly. I just wonder how other people approach this exercise.

Replies (21)

August 28, 2019, 9:03 AM · Just listen closely and make sure the sound is even throughout the bow. That there are no "bulges" in the sound. Its what I do when I do it
August 28, 2019, 9:27 AM · I observe the varying sensations as the arm opens, and the fingers, thumb and wrist adapt themselves.
August 28, 2019, 10:26 AM · There are a lot of things you can pay attention to. It's its own form of meditation. And like in meditation on the breath, it's not something that most people do or think about, but you can become intensely concentrated on what you do notice.

You can focus on and rotate between where you have tension in your right arm, and see if you can do less and allow any points of tension to relax; you can and should listen to the quality of the sound and really listen for little hitches, and see if you can not only hear your sound clearly, but also seek out the sound you are looking for.

Don't think about getting audited by the IRS.

August 28, 2019, 11:07 AM · Play Kreutzer #1.
August 28, 2019, 11:52 AM · "Play Kreutzer #1."
Yes but how, exactly?
August 28, 2019, 12:20 PM · Slow-bow, long-tones on scales is an opportunity to mentally focus on your bowing mechanics. Depending on your bow-hold and the bowing "school" that you have been taught, watch and control the point of contact of the bow-hair to the string, be aware of motion of your elbow, bending of the wrist, where and how weight is applied to the bow. Keep the right shoulder down and relaxed. The wind and brass players do a version of long tones; for breath control.
Edited: August 28, 2019, 3:08 PM · "Play Kreutzer #1."
Yes but how, exactly?

That's funny! I've just logged in to find vids of it as shucks, I can't work it out.

edit: I see, best in 2!

August 28, 2019, 6:23 PM · Well, it's pretty clearly written how you're supposed to play it, in terms of dynamics. In the Galamian edition, anyways.

Set your metronome to 75. There will be no way to play it except with a full bow.

August 28, 2019, 6:30 PM · This is how I have my students work on it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WNr5zlUXUc&t=3s

August 29, 2019, 3:09 AM · Josef Gingold had me practice Kreutzer #1 turning the metronome slower, and slower, and slower, etc. He loved to demonstrate his 5 minute down or up bow.
August 29, 2019, 4:39 AM · but Bruce, seriously, 5 minutes? how did that sound?
August 29, 2019, 4:47 AM · I agree with Joel and Christian.

A good place to start is on your contact point - is it really, exactly, consistent. Then at different times you can focus on all of the different joints in your right-arm setup - is there any tension, what are all of them doing at each point in the stroke and is that the right thing?

Then, you can focus on your breathing and releasing tension from your jaw (and indeed anywhere else in your body).

I also find it useful to look at a 'spectrum analyser' app which can visually display the number of overtones you are creating - more overtones = better tone! (It is all the same as what you can hear, but having visual feedback as well can be helpful).

Once it starts to feel 'easy' to get a stroke as slow as you initially aim, then turn the metronome down again ;) Also, try to do the same thing at different contact points (closer to / further from the bridge)

The good news is that it really does work!

August 29, 2019, 9:57 AM · The Mr. Gingold 5 minute bow sounded like an occasional pop,scrunch, or ping from the almost motionless bow. (Not to be done after a caffeinated beverage.) He was inclined towards hyperbole to make a point.
August 29, 2019, 10:10 AM · thanks for the clarification :-)
August 29, 2019, 10:57 AM · The 5 minute bow is incredible it’s onr of my favorite exercises
August 29, 2019, 3:54 PM · Thank you very much for all the suggestion, videos and example. I will give them a try. It is good to have one (or a few) things to focus on in this exercise to keep me mentally engaged.
August 30, 2019, 6:03 AM · you've probably already seen Nate Cole's video on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnH6EvvzCk8

Edited: August 30, 2019, 6:48 AM · WOW, Susanna. That is a wonderful study. It is not instantly easy and is taking me a bit (a lot) of concentration. Thanks for giving that link.
I was going to make a little concentration list for the slow bow just to add more specific focus to the practice and this is a nice addition.
Edited: August 30, 2019, 10:31 AM · Nate's Kreutzer no 1 is really clear and easy to follow and he doesn't waste time with talk. Saying that, I didn't find his slow bows very impressive.
August 31, 2019, 7:41 PM · Thanks Jane - glad it's useful!

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