use index finger while bowing

Something wonderful happened yesterday! I really had a breakthrough with my bowing technique. It was such a wonderful sensation of freedom and improved sound!! Thanks to tons of feedback.

This week I had posted my first fiddle songs on some forums to receive feedback and the results were more than I hoped for! One of the forums where I posted my video is http://fiddlerman.com. This is some of the feedback I’ve received:

  • my first vibrato wasn’t that bad :-)
  • make straighter bows
  • keep my right elbow back when nearing the frog to not have my bow hand wrist so bent
  • relax my bow arm
  • keep all the fingers of my left hand tall and bent for better intonation
  • don’t bow to close to the bridge

Bowing technique inspiration

So, seems like most of the feedback is about my bowing and I am very determined to get this right. I started thinking about everything I had learned about bowing before. I have seen/heard many different explanations about it. Mostly I remembered:

  • The motion of the index finger: Michael Sanchez explains how to guide the bow with the muscles of your index finger instead of using your arm muscles
  • Keep the bow flowing: Heather Broadbent talked about feeling the bow motion as a river that flows from your shoulder through your arm all the way to your index finger
  • The strings keep the bow up: I don’t remember where I heard that, but on one of the violin forums somebody told me that you don’t actually need to hold the bow with your arm. In fact the violin keeps your bow up. It won’t drop. So you can completely relax your arm and feel how the bow flows over the strings.

These are some of the things I remembered. I think they are like the seeds in the image of this post. All these little seed where flying/waiting in my mind and it looks like they needed time to settle down. And yesterday the flower started to grow. :-) So, I was remembering all those tips and explanations I had heard and I tried to improve my bowing with all that in mind… and all of a sudden it just felt great! I was guiding my bow only with the index finger and all tension was gone. I felt incredibly relaxed, the bow bouncing was gone and I could play way faster than before maintaining a nice tone. It’s hard to explain but it made me soooo happy! I can only think of it as a breakthrough in my bowing.

Today I tried the same thing and it didn’t work out the entire time. But at moments the feeling was there again. :-) I think it will take some time before I can have that feeling all the time, but I will work hard to get there. :-)

Violin bows

So now I wonder what difference a better bow would make. If I can get a significant improvement in my bowing with the right techniques, then how much would the difference be if I were using a great bow. I hope to use a better bow some day and experience the difference. :-) I was checking out this great variety of violin bows, available on Fiddlershop. They all look so beautiful! Would be wonderful to try them out and see how much more it will improve my bowing!

2 thoughts on “Bowing technique – a breakthrough!!

  1. Ahh I’m so happy for you that you had a breakthrough! Maybe you saw that video before but Lora has a nice video about bowing movement
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yupfdNjZjaE

    I just rewatched it. I had seen it a while ago.

    Some really interesting points you brought up. I wasn’t perfectly aware of all of those.

    About this: “keep all the fingers of my left hand tall and bent for better intonation” I’m not sure what is the opposite of that. Did you have your fingers flat or something? If I understand the problem correctly putting your elbow further up helps getting your fingers bent on all strings.

    And about the straighter bows… I think you are doing a great job with that already. I think it’s really hard to have a nice straight bow at all times.

    As far as I can tell my bow movement in general is alright. I think I don’t bent the wrist much. I really have to learn to bow straighter though…

    1. Well, I did have my first and second finger tall and bent. But not so much the third and fourth finger. I didn’t pay much attention to it. Now that I do, I notice that even my first and second finger are much more bent than before. Now I don’t touch other strings anymore either. So, if I have my fingers on the D string, I can still play a clear open A. And I think that’s the idea. I’ve had to adjust my violin hold a bit and also my elbow position (indeed put it a bit further up like you said), but it feels more comfortable now.

      And to bow straight, I sometimes practice with a bow right . When I first started using it, I was bumping against the borders all the time. Now, only sometimes I bump against it. I has helped me a lot, because it made me feel immediately how I have to bow. Instead of having to watch in a mirror, this tool made me feel what it’s like to bow straight. To be honest, I didn’t use it anymore for more than a month because I thought I didn’t need it anymore. :-) Apparently I do, so now I’m using it again, but only half of my practice time.

      And thanks for sharing the video you found. Those are very good tips. The bow motion, wrist flexibility and colle motion are absolutely going to be my goals for February. ;-)

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