Bow Control


Lindsay said: May 8, 2006
Lindsay LogsdonViolin
55 posts

I have one student who just cannot seem to control her bow, no matter what we do. She has been playing since September, and has made almost no progress in bow control. She slides all over the place, bounces like crazy, uses way too much or way too little of her bow at a time, etc. This same student has also dropped and broken two bows since she started.

We have tried playing with a backwards bow (holding at tip with frog in the air), we’ve carefully marked her bow in sections for distribution, we’ve played around with a “soft” bow hand and a “rock hard” bow hand and everything in between to get the feel of “just right”… we emphasise moving from the elbow, not the shoulder… every trick in the book that I can think of, we have tried to no avail. I am nearly at my wit’s end!

The kicker—this evening her bow was sliding so wildly that it slid right off her strings and she jabbed herself in the eye. The rest of the lesson was a write-off.


Lindsay—Violin teacher, homeschooling mama of four, small-time publisher

said: May 8, 2006
 5 posts

I had a student like this also this year (a young transfer student who was on Twinkle). Week after week I reminded her to watch her bow. It was a gradual learning process for both of us. I realized fairly soon that she did not have the capacity to focus her eyes for more than three seconds on anything- my eyes, a sticker, a spot on the wall. So we spent quite a while working up the amount of time she could meet my eyes and not look away. That took quite a while- but what a feeling of achievement when she finally could meet my eyes for twenty straight seconds! Her mom had been very doubtful that it was possible at all for a while- she kept saying the child had been like this since birth.

That exercise helped in many ways, but it still did not fix the bow problem. After trying more difficult songs, we went back to the Twinkle rhythms on open strings and focused on copying my sound. We gave names to the sounds that were “icky” and the good sounds (her favorite and least favorite foods). I also was careful to keep my expression blank and have the student evaluate the sounds, not me.

The big breakthrough came soon after this. After months and months of weekly reminders to keep watching the bow on the string, her mother one day announced that her child had been watching a performance of a famous violinist TV and noticed that the performer was watching their bow most of the time. The student decided that this was a secret trick and suddenly decided to try it. Magic! She could suddenly control the bow and produce a good sound! Now all I have to do is tell her to remember her “secret” and she immediately remembers to watch her bow.

Now we just have to figure out how to make those fingers go when the bow does…

Pia said: May 9, 2006
Suzuki Association Member
Vienna, Australia
32 posts

I have made good experience in returning to the box-violin. One cannot learn so much on it, but for bowing direction and of course slanted head-position, it’s great.

Julio Cesar Anselmo Possette said: Dec 20, 2012
 Cello, Suzuki in the Schools
10 posts

Working with instrumental collective initiation and difficulties with arch are frequent. We discussed a lot about this issue today and divided into parts that facilitated the diagnosis begin to remedy or rectify this issue arc control.

We observed:

Contact point arc (between easel and mirror)
Weight arc over the chord
Speed ​​arc

Regardless of the region to be used—Frog, in point … We analyze which of these factors is more difficult student and work on it with greater focus.

It has helped us a lot, hope it helps.


Sue Hunt said: Dec 29, 2012
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
373 posts

Was she a new beginner in September? If so, I would still be playing lots and lots of bow hold games to help her to get used to maintaining a good bow hold and moving the bow around, before putting it on the instrument.

Bowing on a box is also a great idea, because she won’t be distracted by sound, while she focusses on keeping the bow on the marked bow spot.

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