Re: at the risk of sounding redundant... Bow Fingers

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Posted by matt goeke on May 18, 1999 at 14:41:14:

In Reply to: at the risk of sounding redundant... Bow Fingers posted by Andrea on May 17, 1999 at 12:53:06:

Hi Andrea,
I had posted some thoughts on your question. In case you didn't find it, I've posted it again. If you've read all this already, please ignore it.

The first two paragraphs are a direct quote from a note written to me by Dimitry Markevitch. The rest is stuff I've gathered up over time.

>Lift your arm, with the bow horizontal, well above the head. Bring the arm down in a natural arc, as slowly as possible, to the D string, at the frog, and start playing as softly as possible, without scratching. During this process which should be done extremely calmly, imagine that the arm is suspended in the air, as if it is resting on a cushion of air.
>After having done this several times, experiencing this new feeling, do this exercise, also slowly: Play a scale thus, 1st note at the frog, 2nd note at the point, 3rd note at the frog and so on, using about an inch of bow each time.
>If you do these two exercises in the most relaxed manner possible, you don't need anything else to be confortable and enjoy yourself, which is the essential.

In addition to these two very pleasent excercises I would suggest the following:
Drawing the bow slowly, playing long tones and using the whole bow, individually raise and lower your fingers. Raise finger on the down bow, lower the finger on the up bow. Begin the sequence with your 4th finger (pinky), then proceed to your 3rd finger, then your 2nd, then 1st. As this gets more comfortable try raising and lowering the fingers in combinations: 1st & 3rd, 2nd & 3rd, etc.
Another bow hand excercise which I've found helpful is the collé: moving the bow at the frog, not past the winding, using *only* the fingers. Begin with just a back and forth motion, and as it gets easier, incorporate rythms: taka taka ta ta, whatever. When I do this I find afterward that my hand feels really centered over the bow. It also helps with smooth bow changes at the frog.
Something I saw Anner Bylsma demonstrate in a master class: Put the bow at the tip. In one non-stop motion go to the frog until the ferrule taps against the string, stopping the string much the same way a clavicord hammer stops a string. You will get a pitch, usually a half-step higher than the one you were playing. This is not only a cool little party trick, but also trians your arm to use the entire length of the bow and not shy away from the frog.
I hope some of these things help.

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