Bouncing bow

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Chip Cohen said: Mar 2, 2017
 1 posts

Some of my beginning students have a problem with their bows bouncing on the strings. I have suggested less downward pressure and more lateral motion of the bow, both of which help, but the problem persists, if to a lesser degree. Suggestions?

Kurt Meisenbach said: Mar 3, 2017
Kurt Meisenbach
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Chacra La Diva Maldonado, Uruguay
23 posts

A fluttering bow is frequently caused by inadequate arm weight in the right arm. Here are a couple of things you can try.

First, have your student play a slow detache passage at the middle of the bow, but hold the bow using a cello grip—move the middle fingers (index, middle and ring finger) much lower on the bow—to the point that they almost wrap around the bottom of the frog. If they do this correctly they will feel a lot more arm weight in the bow, and a bigger, more robust sound as a result. Also , they will not be able to go as far to the tip of the bow. Ask your student if they can feel this extra arm weight.

Just do this for about 30 seconds or so, then go back to a normal grip. Ask your student to remember how the extra weight felt when the used the cello grip and try to continue to feel that same extra weight as they play with a normal grip. See if this helps. This simple exercise can be repeated as often as you like.

The second approach does not produce as rapid a result, but the benefits go deeper. Have your student play the same detache passage using short martele strokes, one quarter bow in length. First play the martele from the beginning of the fourth upper quarter of the bow to the tip Then do it using one quarter of the bow starting at the middle. Do about 30 seconds to a minute on each quarter of the bow. Do this every day for several weeks. It takes time for the results to be seen, but this exercise should help. It also improves tone production.

Once you have tried these, let me know if they help. Good luck!

Edward said: Mar 24, 2017
Edward Obermueller
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Morris Plains, NJ
42 posts

I developed a few practice tips specifically to address this problem—you’re right it is a pesky one! Here are the links:

Bow Sinks Down
Spider Crawl
Jellyfish Fingers

Hope this helps, and feel free to pass along to parents.

Happy practicing,
Edward

Free Guide: Five Ways To Motivate Your Kids To Practice

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