What is wrong with my bowing technique (bowing arm)?
I have some issues with my bowing arm. My bow shakes, it does not feel natural, I somehow feel restraint in my arm (my hand feels relaxed).
I have checked my bow with a luthier - it is OK.
I have some issues with my shoulder but my doctor says it is not a big problem.
I have light essential tremor (genetics - not kind of tremor that you get when you are nervous) so my bow shakes even when my hand is "still". I don't think this is the issue because my upbow does not shake that much. Main problem is down bow and a general "feeling that sth is not right / I don't have control over my bowing arm / it feels awkward".
Please share your thoughts based on the posted video (not general exercises because I have tried a lot of them and probably I do each and every one
unconsciously making the same mistake).
I have had the same problem for the past 4 years (of 80 years of violin playing). I have had some degree of essential tremor all my life (it shows in my penmanship over the years too) but it has only affected my bowing of violin and viola the past 4 years.
@Andrew: I have same observation when it comes to more first finger pressure = more shaking
Personally, Ido find a difference in shakes between upbow and downbow. I too believe a lot of this is linked to the shoulder nerves and muscles, but also to having a "clear path" through the wrist. So minimizing wrist angles may be important for some of us.
It sounds like you get a trailing-off in your sound after the frog portion in your downbow, and it seems to me like you aren't letting the weight of your arm and elbow do the work. I might try some even slower bows, really trying to keep the depth of sound at all moments in the stroke, which means letting your arm relax and letting the whole weight of your elbow keep your arm heavy throughout the stroke.
That looks very good, with a version of the Russian bow hold, which should track better, with less shaking than the F.-B. But we cannot see How you are using it, in the hand. I'll give the opposite opinion from Andrew: use More first-finger leverage when playing in the upper half, above the balance point, not less. Do Not try a heavier or tip-heavy bow until you solve this. The bow wants to bounce, it is a spring. It is designed to bounce. Some students try to apply weight through the third finger while playing long tones, which lifts the weight of the bow because it is on the other side of the thumb, and it looses traction, bounces. Others have a straight, locked fourth finger, which reduces control, and prevents it from bouncing when we want it to.
Just from the looks of it you seem a bit tense in the shoulder.
I don't know if this would help, but many years ago my cello teacher taught me to think of my bowing arm as a flexible thick rope. "A ship's hawser" was the expression he used, and, living in a city with a thriving maritime heritage, that resonated and worked with me. Decades later when I took up the violin I applied the concept successfully to my violin playing.
Honestly, the number one thing you can do to help yourself is to point your violin significantly higher. The strings should be *level*, which means that the body of the violin will be slightly *up*. To be more specific, when I say "level", I mean along the length of the violin. I don't mean that the E string should be the same height as the G. Basically, bring your scroll higher using your left arm.
More knuckles, less shoulder.
Tony, what did you mean by: "but donot change the geometry of the pressure."
Sorry. I actually meant geometry of your shoulder posture. Correcting.
@Andrew - what do you mean by writs angles? That some ppl should not bend wrist too much?
continued:-- Paulina - I called that bow hold "Russian" because the stick is between the base of the first finger and the first joint, while the F.B. hold has it between the first and second joints. Your fourth finger is long enough to stay curved, on the stick all the the time, which is great. I would change Nothing about your form and posture, it looks good, only the internal , invisible mechanics need improvements. I am puzzled about "shoulder movement". The shoulder does not move. it stays down, relaxed. Of course there are unseen movements inside the joint.
@Joel I will try this exercise out and share my results :) Thank you for a detailed description
continued-- Thanks Paulina,
managing the bow is always an obstacle at any level, so realize that even professionals have great difficulty getting their ideal sound and eliminating tremors in the bow.
Watched the video, actually it's not bad, you obviously are really working hard at being correct. Rather than nitpick what could be better form-wise I would encourage you to actually take a break from worrying about how your bowing looks and think about how it sounds.
Try practising open strings. It will help a lot.
continued, agree with A. N. about the right thumb. I rarely feel anything or consciously do anything with the thumb. Its primary job is;-- to prevent the bow from falling out of the hand.
@Joel Thank you for further explanation. I have watched recommended recordings on youtube to observe bow movement and it is magical indeed :)
I think the set up looks good! The bow movements seem to be caused by your thumb and pinky relationship. I would suggest two things:
@allan nelson , Could you please define what you mean by pronate? I don't want to hijack the thread, but I'm trying to follow the details of the helpful info. Are you talking about allowing the wrist to bend when the bow is at the tip? Thanks.
@ beverly harris. Pronation is the motion of turning the bow wrist in, or clockwise (similar motion to turning a key) to increase pressure on the bow.
Once again thank you for all of your tips and explanations. I will keep it in mind while practicing and share my results (hopefully) but I assume it will take a couple of months. :)
@Joel, thank you so much for explanation. Unfortunately I cannot have regular lessons right now. I think that the changes will be rather subtle and I will focus on weight distribution and potential tension in my body and just open strings exercises with more awareness.