February 27, 2011 – Bow mechanism

In working with the bow, there should be four sets of joints that have flexibility. They are developed in a particular order and the movement is refined over time.

  • Opening and closing of the elbow joint. This is developed first in Suzuki method of teaching. Students play at the square of the bow so they may open the elbow (and go down bow) and close the elbow and go upbow.
  • Wrist movement should come naturally with the elbow motion. If it does not, you may need to help students develop the wrist motion that goes allows the bow hand to stay in the same position while the elbow opens and closes.
  • Floating of the shoulder ball joint. This is not to be confused with a shrugging motion. The floating allows you to fluidly move the forearm up and down. Shrugging should be avoided.
  • Finger movement. I use the teeter totter exercises to teach students about finger movement. The student places the bow on the low string at the frog and pushes across with the pinky and thumb. When extended, the frog and the pinky are in “tip” position. When bent, they are at the frog position.

All of these movement work together to create good tone and strokes of the bow that move parallel to the bridge with great facility.

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