Beginners often struggle with producing good violin tone. They also often struggle to keep the bow straight, that is, parallel to the bridge. And they play with a “rusty elbow.” (Read on to learn what that is.)
Coincidence? I think not! Straight bow is one of the most important skills violinists must learn as they work on tone. In fact, it will affect all 3 keys to tone your tone production, which are:
- Bow Weight
- Bow Speed
- Bow Placement (highway)
If you can’t play with a straight bow, it will diminish ALL THREE of these keys to your tone production. A crooked bow will not only cause you to skid off your highway, it also renders bow weight and bow speed useless because the bow will not properly grip or engage the string if it is crooked, regardless of what you do with bow weight and bow speed.
The skills demo videos below illustrate the first skill, straight bow.
What is straight bow? It’s making sure that your bow is, well, straight. That is, parallel to the bridge.
A big obstacle to straight bow is the lack of understanding about what joints of the bow arm need to move and which ones need to stay put. You also need to understand the true direction a straight bow moves in. If you can learn the concept of “Greasy Elbow” you will be a step closer to executing a straight bow. Watch this video. I bet you’ll be surprised to learn that a straight bow is actually traveling straight out front!
This video demonstrates “greasy elbow”, which is an absolute necessity if you hope to play with a straight bow. It’s not hard to do…just takes a little practice.
Below is an exercise to help you practice and apply “Greasy Elbow” and “Straight Bow” to your instrument. Don’t be deceived….although these exercises are simple, they contain the seeds for very advanced playing and professional tone, if practiced correctly and extensively!