You can read the first part of this “bow distribution” article chain here.
So, you have started developing your instinct for making spontaneous bow distribution choices using the note values of a piece to guide you. The next step in developing your “violinistic instinct” is to use bow distribution to shape phrases.
First you have to learn how to spot a phrase
This is another topic for discussion, but here’s a rule of thumb: Phrases tend to be 8 bars long. Sometimes they are shorter or longer, but if you start searching for a phrase ending every 8 bars, you will find it near there. Sometimes, a piece is organized into miniature “half-phrases” which are 4 bars long…so you could also look every 4 bars and see what is happening.
Think of a phrase as a “sentence”. The melody should make a full, meaningful statement, like a sentence that ends with a period, versus a sentence that doesn’t come to a
See? You instinctively knew my sentence wasn’t finished!!! It’s the same with music, and you’ll develop an instinct for musical syntax as well!
Ask yourself: where does the music “breathe”? Those are phrase endings.
And do not stress out about being right or wrong…..even if you count the wrong number of bars for your phrase, if you shape it nicely, it’s still going to be awesome….and you will continue to learn and refine this skill.
Listening to recordings and private teachers can also help tremdendously.
Next, Learn to Shape the Phrase
Once you learn how to spot a phrase or a musical statement, then you start developing your instinct to SHAPE it through the use of bow distribution. Bow distribution allows us extra bow when we want to move the phrase energy higher, and less bow when we want to bring a phrase to a resting point.
Some common phrase shapes are:
1) “The A-Frame”: Starting soft, getting loud in the middle, then ending soft.
2) “The Bow-Tie”: Starting loud, getting soft in the middle, then ending loud.
3) “Crescendo”: Starting soft and getting progressively louder throughout the phrase
4) “Decrescendo”: Staring loud and getting progressively softer throughout the phrase
Three “rules of thumb” for musical phrasing:
1) Obey the dynamics and other markings provided by the publisher or composer
2) When the notes get higher, try getting louder or more energetic, when the notes go lower, try getting softer or less energetic.
3) For extra dramatic effect, try doing JUST the opposite of number 2. (softer as you go higher, louder as you go lower)
After you have the phrases sketched out, play around with bow distribution to shape and execute the phrases the way you envision them. Remember, you want to learn to make spontaneous choices, spur of the moment adjustments, and quick recovery if you choose wrong.
The next article relating to bow distribution will be here
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I have picked up playing the violin again, after retiring. I have had problems with this very thing. All that to say, thank you for some clarification!!!
Your comment went into a cyber-wormhole….and it just found its way to me.
But in a way, it’s good, because now I get to ask you: HOW IS YOUR VIOLIN?
Are you still pursuing it?
Can I help you in any way? Sometimes it’s hard to get momentum and direction with a complicated endeavor like violin. But I have tools and resources that can help you, like my free membership and practice tips newsletter.
Hoping to hear from you.
Started to practice today again. Yesterday I spent the whole day going through my older books and past teachers notes. What I found was a bit of a different between how I was instructed and what I have read. Found the information on your site (violin practice Tips) made me see that my focus was wrong. So my focus has been changed to the basics. Started a Journal to not only keep track ofter progress but to highlight my real weakness so these little things like bow control, Tone, Time of the music. In short instead of trying to memorize the lesson the focus is on technique. Getting the basics down before rushing to the next lesson in the book.
I was looking for the CD on Suzuki Book 1. Is this an Item I can get from you?
Sounds like you have had a revelation! That’s GREAT! Let me know if you have any questions along the way.
As for the CD, I have a free recording that I give to my students when they sign up for my Suzuki Book 1 class. (it’s violin with piano, and then piano alone)
But i also encourage my students to ALSO purchase the CD of William Preucil or Hillary Hahn on violin. Both of those recordings are beautiful. (they are widely available on Amazon, and are very affordable)
It’s worth the purchase. The recordings are beautiful.