The Secret to Silent Bow Changes on the Violin | Violin Lounge TV #312

by | Jun 12, 2019 | Bowing Technique | 4 comments

Improve your sound quality and violin bow technique with the two short and simple exercises for smooth bow changes in this video:

Do you have difficulty making silent bow changes? I’ll unveil the secret in this video!

Helmholtz motion

When you’re bowing your string moves in a V shaped motion. We call it a Helmholtz motion. Watch the video to see a close up of what this motion looks like.

This V shape is different in down bow and up bow. So at the bow change when you go from down bow to up bow or the other way around, you need to stop one movement and start a different movement. That’s why silent bow changes in the absolute sense are technically not possible.

So why does your teacher tell you all the time to make silent bow changes? Why do all violin players strive for silent bow changes?

Well we can create the illusion of silent bow changes and sometimes it can even seem that we really have silent bow changes.  So you want bow smoothly and fluidly maintaining the resonance in your violin and your bow.

Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist, teacher and bowing technique nerd helping you play the music you love beautifully

Here are some tricks:

Don’t just move your arm while bowing, but mainly move your wrist and fingers. Your fingers are the ignition point of the movement. Your body just moves along.

Prepare the up bow while doing the down bow. In the down bow, first move your elbow downwards and during the bow stroke move it upwards to prepare the coming up bow. You make eights with your elbow like I demonstrate in the video.

This way you have the feeling that you’re making round movements, like stirring in a big pan of soup. The typical beginner sound is caused by vertical motions that don’t follow each other fluently.

Smoothen the bow changes with your wrist and fingers. Practice this with a pencil like I demonstrate in the video.

Now grab your violin and go practice those eights and those movements in your wrists and fingers! Let me know in the comments below if you managed to create an illusion of silent bow changes!

4 Comments

  1. Irene D Silva

    Thanks Your tips are worth practicing.

    Reply
  2. Philip Hankins

    Thank you, Zlata for this video. But how can I manage a silent bow change when I go from strings that are far apart, like from the E string to the D, or the A to the G? I’m having trouble with this. The bow wants to “rock” on the in-between string, like a fulcrum, and I can briefly hear the contact with the in-between string.

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Hi Philip,

      Three tips to help you out:
      – make sure the bow really doesn’t move while crossing the string in the middle of the two strings you need to play on, time your string crossing very well
      – lift the bow a bit, so it doesn’t touch the middle string while crossing strings
      – choose a different fingering to avoid a big string crossing, if the music requires it to be seamless

      I’m planning to make a video on this specific topic, so subscribe! In the meantime, watch my other videos about string crossing: https://violinlounge.com/?s=string+crossing

      Is this helpful?

      Reply

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