Why is it so important to keep your bow straight on your violin? Because your tone and intonation depend on it. And it’s one of the things that beginners struggle with most.
In this post you’ll learn some exercises that REALLY help keep your bow straight. Work them into your practice and let me know what you think!
First, watch this video to see the exercise in action:
Exercise for Straight Bow on Violin
Now try it on your own. This exercise is one of many I teach in “Fabulous Violin Fundamentals” Suzuki Book 1 class. Early in that class, students learn this simple exercise:
- Place the bow on the string, eyes open looking in a mirror, position the bow until it is straight, feel it, memorize how it feels
- Close your eyes, take your bow off the string, then find the same spot, bow straight with your eyes closed.
- Open your eyes and see how you did.
This exercise really helps to speed the process of “muscle memory” in regards to straight bow.
Aside from that exercise, practicing in a mirror is the surest way to stay on the “straight and narrow”, and eventually, you memorize the feel of the straight bow.
As you work on straight bow, try to listen for the “sound” of a straight bow: pure and focused, compared to the sound of a crooked bow, which is flawed and fuzzy.
Just as important: greasy elbow
I should mention this now before you go any further: Straight bow is useless…in fact, it is nearly impossible, if you do not also use a “Greasy Elbow”. This is my pet name for a bowing motion which keeps the shoulder immobile while utilizing your elbow joint to the maximum degree. This bow technique is used in the upper half of the bow (NOT the lower half), which is the focus of the first half of the Suzuki Book 1 class. Video 2 will help you to simultaneously work on both skills, straight bow and greasy elbow:
Later in the Red Desert Violin Suzuki Book 1 class, you will learn a concept that is unique to Red Desert Violin called “good and bad bananas”. This concept has proven extremely helpful to students learning tone production and bow control.