Do You Play with the Right Part of Your Violin or Viola Bow?

by | Nov 25, 2013 | Bowing Technique | 0 comments

Do you play with the right part of your violin or viola bow?

Jeremias asks:

I saw your video on selecting bows and it got me thinking. My music teacher always says that when I’m playing I’m playing in the wrong part of the bow.

I play my violin on the top half of my bow most of the time subconsciously but when the style of the music demands it I play with the rest. I still use my entire bow for dynamics even though it tends to lean on the upper half.

Is it ok to continue or should I put more effort into changing my bowing style?

(I don’t know if this is relevant but I think it might be because I have a younger teacher that plays the cello)

From one of my viewers I received the question whether it is okay to play with with the top part of the bow, rather than with the lower halve. This is a very relevant question, which is why I will tell you everything you need to know about when to bow with which part of the bow.

There is no wrong part of the bow

First of all, there is no right or wrong part of the bow! Many violin or viola players have what I call the fear of the frightful frog, which means that they tend to constantly play with the lower part of the bow. However, you can play with your extreme tip, with the extreme frog and everything in between.

The only thing is that you should always be conscious about your bow, and make a choice not on what is easier technically or what happens coincidently, but always focus on making beautiful music. So what place on the bow is most suiting for the style your are playing, the dynamics or the phrase you are playing with your violin?

Always be aware of where you are on the bow, and don’t do it unconsciously, and make choices based on what would be the best part of the bow to play your phrase with. Because playing at the frog gives you a totally different sound than playing on the tip, for example.

The easiest place on the bow where you can really put your weight on it, is slightly above the middle of the bow. That is also where your arm has the most neutral position, and which is easiest and most comfortable to play. However please don’t avoid the frog and always be conscious of where on the bow you are playing!

It’s always a good idea to train your bowing technique

This is because your right hand technique gives your play really your own voice and sound, so it is really worth it to practice this at least as much as your left hand technique. If you wonder whether you should work on this or not, I would really recommend to always work on this, since it really gives your music your own voice (and this can always be improved).

If you want some specific advice on your bowing technique, then send me and email with a video of you playing. In that case I can maybe give you some more specific tips or say what exactly you could improve.

I hope this video helped you to better understand with what part of the bow you can play best. Just always remember that there is no wrong part of the bow, and that you should be conscious of which part of the bow you play with. So don’t let (a lack of) your technical abilities guide you on where to play on the bow, but always have your end goal in mind which is of course to play beautiful music on your violin.


Happy violin playing!




PS: Do you want to see YOUR question answered in a Violin Lounge TV episode? Post a comment below!


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