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David dH: Smooth bowing

Sound, smooth bowing and practicing to get progress

Pinky training and self correction

Steps to integrate finger action in playing and developing spiccato from that:

1 Do the correct movements in simple exercises with a pencil or on the balance point of the bow

2 Do the correct movements while bowing on open strings

3 Apply it in slow scales

4 Apply it in etudes

5 Apply it in repertoire, while your focus is on the music and not on the bowing. It should be automatic, relaxed, fluent

6 If it’s really natural, start the spiccato schedule and follow the steps I indicated below

Update about practice plan

This is exactly because there is more a bounce than a bow stroke and because the bow is in the air so long.

I seem to see less finger action than in the previous videos.

You’ll get a feeling of control when working on the finger movements (so without wrist or arm movements) and slowly performing the put down spiccato. It’s not possible to correct this in the tempo that you show in the video. Also playing with finger action is not possible to learn in spiccato. First you should be able to do it in simple detaché, legato and when that works (only when that works) you can start applying it in more difficult techniques like spiccato.

You’ll have to do the put down spiccato in a slower tempo, with full control over the bow (slow it down and work on the finger action until you have this control), longer bow strokes and less of the bow in the air. The exercise should be performed so slow that you can coordinate and control the full movement. If you feel out of control, you’re going too fast.

So… the first phase I wrote about in the previous mail is very important.

Remember: practice makes permanent and not perfect… if you do what you do in the video too often, this is what your hand will want to remember and repeat.

This will make it harder and harder to correct and a bad habit will settle before learning spiccato.

That’s why the practice plan laid out in my previous mail is so important and It makes much more sense to do put down spiccato extremely slow and get maybe three good movements that you’re satisfied with.

While practicing always think about what you’re letting your hand automate.

This time I will not make a video as I think I’ve touched this in previous videos. The challenge for you now is to step back from spiccato attempts and fix the finger action first :).

Practice Plan

Please see module 6 as a module that you can always do in combination with the other modules. It allows you to apply what you’re learning in a musical context. You absolutely don’t need to ‘finish’ the spiccato schedule before moving to module 6.

For the practice plan I recommend first fixing the finger action, applying that in some scales, etudes and pieces and when that is automatic and feels natural, more to spiccato. I know that might sound like a detour for you, but please trust that that is the fastest way to a good spiccato as you can’t learn that finger action while learning spiccato.

First phase for the coming at least four weeks:

I would go through my video under ‘Finger training’ (see below) and the resources it refers to. Focus mainly on the pinky. This will all help greatly with spiccato. I already hear you making some more of a bow stroke. Sevcik variation 4 would be really useful, so you can do that from module 6 alongside these exercises. Combining them will be very valuable as you have something to apply it in.

What would be a great spiccato exercise now is the put down spiccato exercise, which is the last video on this page. Try to do this one with a relatively long bow stroke and without leaving the string too much, so really get control of lifting the bow just a tiny bit at the bow changes. If you’re working with the practice plan, refer to week 2 (and that combines nicely with Sevcik 4).

Second phase:

Once you’ve done Sevcik variation 4 for a while (and it’s a new way of bowing and playing, so don’t worry if it takes some time to get used to it (think maybe some weeks or a month) and perhaps you have to start doing it in the middle instead of at the frog, just see what works) the things I mention below the video with the header Spiccato below. In this phase you can start working with the spiccato schedule.

It would be useful to send in a feedback video before you move to the second phase, but please note that this is something that takes time, so give yourself time :).

Pinky training

Finger action in the Russian bow hold

Resources mentioned in the video:

  • This part of my video where I go into finger action in the Russian bow hold and some misconceptions about it (it plays at the right point of the video)
  • The Heifetz performance I used in this video (mind that this is not spiccato, but it shows finger action in the Russian bow hold)

Finger action

Resources mentioned in the video:


Resources mentioned in the video:

Creating a better tone

Some pointers from the video:

  • Clean the rosin off your violin and bow. Here’s a video on how to clean the bow hair
  • Try out changing the proportions one by one. Review this lesson if you want and watch Vivien’s new videos there if you haven’t watched them yet
  • Already watched the tone and intonation module? Those exercises could be helpful
  • In the end of the video I show you the effect of lifting or dropping the shoulder while bowing. Also watch the video in this module on that topic.

Posture and smooth bowing:

Some pointers from the video:

  • Keep the left shoulder low and extend like you’re grabbing something to get to the violin
  • Make sure your thumb and pinky are a spring system
  • Experiment with moving from the hips instead of bending or turning your back
  • Keep your right elbow and mainly shoulder lower and compensate this by curving your pinky when moving to the frog

Something I didn’t mention in the video is that in your second video you have a bright sound, because you bow near the bridge. This can be choice, but the standard way to get a neutral sound would be to bow between the bridge and the fingerboard.

Experiment with all of this and keep me up to date about the changes in sound and relaxation you notice in your playing.