Bow in one place
So this is an issue I've had for a while, and thought one of my teachers would mention during a lesson, but alas not yet. Its an issue that is more prominent on the violin than the viola, I don't have an issue really keeping the bow parralell to the bridge. That bit is fine. My issue is keeping it in one place. I know that its not supposed to be all the time, but when it moves its not a conscious decision on my part to move to a different sounding point. Anyone have any suggestions? I intend to ask my teacher during our next lesson, but want to get a bit of a head start as it won't be for a little while yet.
Do long very slow bows while watching to make sure it stays at the same soundpoint. Do it a lot. Next do long bows while changing from one soundpoint to another while watching. And then time to time do it with your eyes closed. You have to develop a feel for where the bow is.
If it's moving then it's clearly not parallel. The usual recommendation is to practise in front of a mirror.
And remember that as we go into high positions the bow has to play progressively nearer the bridge.
You have to imagine bowing along a very large circle, whose center is somewhere at the scroll. Put more simply, downbows have to be slightly "out" and upbows have to be slightly "in".
Cotton, how parallel the bow stays really depends on how exactly the bow moves. You can move it away from the bridge or towards it while keeping it 100% parallel. And anyway, for most of you, the OP made it clear that that is not his problem.
A common problem for us all. We want the bow to run parallel to the bridge, 90 o to the string precisely because we do not want the hair to drift off of the optimum point of contact. The physicists call it vector forces. All of our natural arm movements will result in circles. To get a straight line we have to do some subtle compensating motions with the right elbow, wrist, and fingers. It feels wrong when done right.
If your bow is at any kind of angle, then you will have to work hard to keep the bow in one place - Sometimes we do it on purpose.
The angle that you point the scroll and the length of your forearm are two factors that work together to support or counter parallel bowing within a "soundpoint." You want to be sure your chinrest is positioned and of the optimum shape for you to do this.
The bow moving sideways without any sort of angle relative to the bridge is in defiance of physics, unless your contact is very weak and it's skidding along the string. Try moving the bow just sideways, without any motion perpendicular to the string... it doesn't want to move that way.
Cotton, what he's saying is that he's not bowing at a harsh angle that one could see in a mirror, but his contact point is drifting. Why can't we just take his problem at face value?
continued,- @C.M.,-- The bow hair can still drift sideways, out over the fingerboard, even when the bow is parallel to the bridge and one is doing the proper wrist bending, IF, the elbow is stationary. It is a geometry problem; how can one draw a straight line if the only tool is a compass?
You could use the very beginning of Kreutzer 23. Because it's just a bunch of detache clusters without frequent left hand changes, it's quite good for focusing on your bowing while having lots of bow movement, which can introduce the problem that you're having, giving you a chance to address it in a sterile etude. In a Heifetz masterclass, he gave it to a student playing Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. He told the student to use it while focusing on his bowing and tone production, in a similar way to how I am prescribing it. In Heifetz's case, he told the student to practice this while using only the tip and frog, alternating between the two every time the cluster changed notes, which would hopefully help the student become more comfortable with using those areas (he was avoiding the tip and frog).
I think what Paul is saying makes sense in regards to legato playing and longer bows, but what I'm thinking about, and I think the relevance of what Cotton is saying, pertains to detache bowing.
"unless Mike, you mean to disregard the written bowing and play the etude detache on each note in order to establish the coordination (or perhaps you have a different edition where 23 is a different etude than what's in my edition"
I use the International edition (Galamian). I believe many editions follow the same numbering, but I believe a lot of Russian editions have a different order (or editions calling it 40 etudes rather than 42), where I think the Russian edition has the basic detache etude as number 1, whereas most other editions have it as number 2, with an impossible son file etude as the opener.
This is not the one that I have in mind. My Kreutzer 23 is just a bunch of octave clusters.
Another mystery solved!
That's a good call, Mike!
Mike, the "standard" Kreutzer editions are 42 etudes these days. IMSLP strikes again.
I'm out of touch with them youngins...
Buri, I think open strings is a great first step, but I have found in my playing that my messy angled bowing would tend to only show up once the left hand had something complicated to do - it showed up for me in a tense right arm. So eventually, I think it's good to add more and more complication in the left hand.
When my boy plays, his bow often drift to the fingerboard. So these are my observations (i.e. YMMV), and some of the things I am asking him to do:
Buri where abouts is it in Basics? I had a quick look through to see if I could find anything, but couldn't...
hi Jake, check out the section "bowing parallel to the bridge" starting on page 20. I know you say that this is not your problem, but it actually must be, as Cotton also wrote, there is no other way to leave your soundpoint than to bow not-parallel. just "pushing" or "pulling" it vertically cannot be the reason (that would be *very* strange). or you don't use any rosin whatsoever :-) anyway, that section mentioned gives a lot of deep insights.
Ah I see. Thanks!