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Steve about right hand motor skills

Here’s how to improve your bow technique

In the video I noticed that you move over different Contact Points. You can find some more lessons about that right here.

Module 1 is really good to learn the motor skills and finger action for bowing smoothly with a beautiful sound. Also it’s important for you to practice bowing with the whole bow on open strings and scales to challenge the finger action.

In the video at 04:34 I start talking about the bow hold. It’s important to bend the thumb and pinky to allow some flexibility and finger action.

To get a better sound, explore Module 2, where you learn all about improving the sound and balancing proportions.

It’s good that you made a video about left hand and right hand technique, as both will benefit each other.

What to practice?

Follow the practice plan in Module 1. The timing is only an indication. Take as much time as you need. Rather take more time to get it right than to go through the module quickly.

Practice your scale in the same tempo, but with whole bow and a higher bow speed. Match the weight you put in the bow to the speed (or the other way around).

Do the finger action exercises by Vivien in Module 6 Variation 1 and play the Theme with whole bow. They are a really useful addition to those in Module 1, however Module 1 is definitely where to put your focus at this stage.

I hope my son Victor trying to join the conversation wasn’t too distracting in the video :D.

Looking forward to your next video in which you show some whole bow bowing, Steve!

Steve about left hand flexibility

Here’s what to experiment with to have more fluency in the left hand and reach the notes with ease

From my example of Oistrakh I show in the video there are four tips:

  • Place the violin more in your hand
  • Play the fourth finger with a stretched pinky
  • Hold the violin more to the middle and lower
  • Move your hand in the direction of the pinky instead of the index finger (video 07:25)

You can watch the full performance by Oistrakh right here.

What to practice?

To solve this, there’s not really an exercise to do repetitively. What matters is to find a different way of holding the violin and using your left hand in which you don’t need to stretch or move in an awkward manner.

Study Module 1 of Free your Vibrato to improve your left hand technique.

Let me know if this solves your issue, Steve!

Mathilde about stopping bow shakes in performance

Here’s what to practice to get rid of those nasty bow shakes:

Practice performance

Experience what your body does when you’re in a performance and how to handle it.

  • Perform for friends, in a home for the elderly, in church or other opportunitites to play for an audience
  • Imagine an audience when practicing
  • Run a couple of rounds so your heart rate goes up and you start sweating… try to play the violin in that state
Relax your right shoulder

Sometimes the cause of the shake lies in an unexpected place. A lot of people have bow shakes, because of thension in the right shoulder. Keep your shoulder low while playing and make sure you’re not lifting your shoulder when you’re performing.

Another idea: when you work on a relaxed left hand technique, this can work wonders for your bow technique as well. You might want to go into the left hand technique videos in Free your Vibrato right here.

Practice finger action

Move your pinky while bowing, so you don’t have to lift your wrist that much. You learn this in Module 1. You can apply it in Sevcik 40 variations in Module 6. In Variation 1 Vivien gives some great additional exercises for finger action. This gives you more control over the bow and reduces the chance of bow shakes.

Play with weight in the string

Create a full and deep sound giving you more security in general. Explore this in Module 2 submodule Beautiful Sound with Core.

Jump on purpose

Practice jumping bow techniques, like you were already planning to, to get more control over your bow and to get to know how, where and when your bow jumps. These Spiccato Skills exercises are really useful.

Also play around with staccato, martelé and ricochet.

Know your bow

If you know how your bow behaves where, for example where on the bow it jumps easilly (usually at the tip), then you can divide your bow accordingly. If you have a bow shake at a certain note, try to play that note elsewhere on the bow. Module 6 Variation 5 and other variations with whole bow are really useful to controlling your bow division in general.

Practice swithing back and forth detaché and spiccato

Module 6 Variations 8 and 10 are really useful. By learning to switch quickly between a jumping bow technique and a bow technique on the string, you gain control over your bow. When you feel a bow shake coming up, you know what to do.

Learning spiccato

You asked about spiccato, staccato and controlling the bow on the down bow. On the down bow the bow jumps a bit quicker indeed. You can find everything about learning spiccato in module 3. For staccato I recommend going through the submodule about Martelé. The staccato you’re aiming at is called Solid Staccato there.

What to practice?

You might be a bit overwhelmed by all these exercises. The thing you would benefit from the most right now is to focus on finger action in Module 1 and Module 6.

What I would like to see in a next video is the progress you made with the finger action in bow strokes with the whole bow.

I’m looking forward to see the progress you made in your next video, Mathilde!

Arunaditya about finger flexibility and smooth bow changes:

Here’s what I recommend to practice for the coming two or three weeks:

What you need about finger flexibility and smooth bowing is mainly in Module 1: Master the Basics of Bowing. Don’t be fooled: it’s definitely not a beginner’s module. Even conservatory students work on this stuff. The submodule Bow Smoothly will be really useful to you to get that finger and wrist action going. Already tried finger bowing?

In your video you’re mainly bowing at the tip. Doing some exercises the Whole Bow might be very useful to practice flexibility and smooth bow changes.

The Boring Bowing exercise might be very useful for you for your bow technique in general.

To put all this into a musical context, check out Module 6: Practice to Perfection taught by Vivien. I recommend the theme with whole bow strokes and Variation 1 where Vivien gives some very useful exercises for finger flexibility.

In your daily bowing practice of 10 to 15 minutes I recommend going through the above exercises for two or three weeks. Start with the exercises from me in Module 1 and 2 and after one or two weeks, move to Module 6.

I’m looking forward to see the progress you made in your next video, Arunaditya!