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How long to work on bowing

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Jun 8, 2019 - 6:52:09 AM
59 posts since 5/8/2019

Question i purchased the Gordon Stobbe dvd on Bowing. How long should a beginner just work on bowing before tackling working with the left hand and bowing? Thanks!

Jun 8, 2019 - 7:21:58 AM
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4198 posts since 9/26/2008

I would think you could do both at the same time, but I don't have Gordon's book so I don't know how it is presented. Bow work, like all of fiddling  is a forever task. 

:-)

Edited by - ChickenMan on 06/08/2019 07:26:16

Jun 8, 2019 - 9:17:20 AM
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398 posts since 9/1/2010

That is sort of hard to answer.  I'm ten years into this mess and I still work on my bowing and I believe it is something I will always be working on.  At this point it is more of a fine tuning what I am doing and using whatever I have in my bag of tricks.

My best answer would be to practice something with your bow every time you play.  Maybe spend the first ten minutes or so just working on bow technique. 

Find a bow hold that works best for you.  Many of my favorite fiddlers from around here use the "thumb under frog" (TUF) bow hold.  It doesn't work well for me, but it may be something you could experiment with too. 

Look up some bow exercises online and try them all.  There is a 5 minute drill I used to do where you start at the frog and move very very very slowly towards the tip keeping contact with the same string.  At 2 minutes and 30 seconds you should be at the middle of the bow etc...  I thought it was kind of a strange exercise, but it was one that I really felt did something positive for my bowing.

Keep in mind it is probably going to take at least a couple of years before things start to feel and sound right...and it is usually around the 4 to 5 year mark that you make that real breakthrough into playing.  That isn't the case for everyone, but a lot of good fiddlers I know will attest to that.

My first two years (maybe longer...my memory isn't that great) I literally took my fiddle with me everywhere.  I played during my breaks at work and I had a dowel rod that was approx. the size of a bow next to my desk that I would pick up and practice with when I couldn't actually play.

Jun 8, 2019 - 10:15:17 AM

Riptide

USA

59 posts since 5/8/2019

quote:
Originally posted by rosinhead

That is sort of hard to answer.  I'm ten years into this mess and I still work on my bowing and I believe it is something I will always be working on.  At this point it is more of a fine tuning what I am doing and using whatever I have in my bag of tricks.

My best answer would be to practice something with your bow every time you play.  Maybe spend the first ten minutes or so just working on bow technique. 

Find a bow hold that works best for you.  Many of my favorite fiddlers from around here use the "thumb under frog" (TUF) bow hold.  It doesn't work well for me, but it may be something you could experiment with too. 

Look up some bow exercises online and try them all.  There is a 5 minute drill I used to do where you start at the frog and move very very very slowly towards the tip keeping contact with the same string.  At 2 minutes and 30 seconds you should be at the middle of the bow etc...  I thought it was kind of a strange exercise, but it was one that I really felt did something positive for my bowing.

Keep in mind it is probably going to take at least a couple of years before things start to feel and sound right...and it is usually around the 4 to 5 year mark that you make that real breakthrough into playing.  That isn't the case for everyone, but a lot of good fiddlers I know will attest to that.

My first two years (maybe longer...my memory isn't that great) I literally took my fiddle with me everywhere.  I played during my breaks at work and I had a dowel rod that was approx. the size of a bow next to my desk that I would pick up and practice with when I couldn't actually play.


Thanks for the help!! Yea i bought a 3/8 dowel rod to help with bowing

Jun 8, 2019 - 10:16:28 AM
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2132 posts since 10/1/2008

I agree with ChickenMan and rosinhead ... both bowing and noting are going to be on going projects for as long as you continue to fiddle. To put it simply the more you know the more you know there is to learn. The only real tough hill to climb is to get to the point where you enjoy practicing and playing. After that it's a work in progress but a work of joy. R/

Jun 8, 2019 - 11:26:43 AM
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4108 posts since 6/23/2007

You should start out playing scales in the first position. Start out with one key, and after you are comfortable doing that, start working on the next key. Stobbe teaches the keys of G,
D,A,C,F and Bb in his "Red" exercise books and CDs. I think it helps beginners to play along with a recording of a competent fiddler/violinist playing each scale. This will (1) teach you to recognize each note (2) familiarize you with the fingerboard (3) an possibly help you with your timing.

The hardest things to learn is to relax. Nervousness and tension prevent relaxation. Don't even think of the words "hold" or "grip". Just "cradle" the bow. When noting, just use a little pressure. Pressing hard doesn't provide any benefits and makes playing well more difficult.
When bowing, your fingers/wrist must be relaxed in order to have the naturally assume the correct positioning when changing bow directions. Playing slowly help develop this habit.

One last word of advice. Don't forget that exercises are a means to an end, not an end it itself. Your goal is to have fun and play music well. I once fell into that "trap". Exercises were using so much of my playing time, I wasn't playing much music.

If you don't have a recording of someone playing scales, send me your mailing address and I will send you a CD. When I first started I paid a professional fiddler/violinist to record it. It was a tremendous aid in learning to bow, and to develop my intonation.

Jun 8, 2019 - 11:32:10 AM
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37 posts since 9/16/2017

I think it was groundhog Peggy on this board that recommended playing on the porch til the shadow from your bow wears a groove in the boards. Made sense to me. I've been trying that and my wife is thankful when I'm outside

Jun 8, 2019 - 12:28:51 PM
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Fiddler

USA

3940 posts since 6/22/2007

If you can stand dry humor, this is actually a pretty good video about bowing technique. I like his other videos, too.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Pk66NVkmqw

 

Good luck!

Jun 8, 2019 - 8:44:41 PM
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Players Union Member

boxbow

USA

2391 posts since 2/3/2011

quote:
Originally posted by Fiddler

If you can stand dry humor, this is actually a pretty good video about bowing technique. I like his other videos, too.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Pk66NVkmqw

 

Good luck!


I happily second this recommendation. 

I don't really believe in ironclad timetables.  I do believe that it's easy to overdo some things on the "no pain, no gain" principle.  With that in mind, I seldom work on any single thing for more than a few minutes, which is just within the range of my attention span.  Very tidy.  When my teeth clench, when I try to bow from both shoulders at once, I know it's time to back off.  Remember how to breathe.  Put the music back into the notes.  It's probably easier than learning to juggle chainsaws.

Jun 9, 2019 - 3:23:20 AM

Riptide

USA

59 posts since 5/8/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Dick Hauser

You should start out playing scales in the first position. Start out with one key, and after you are comfortable doing that, start working on the next key. Stobbe teaches the keys of G,
D,A,C,F and Bb in his "Red" exercise books and CDs. I think it helps beginners to play along with a recording of a competent fiddler/violinist playing each scale. This will (1) teach you to recognize each note (2) familiarize you with the fingerboard (3) an possibly help you with your timing.

The hardest things to learn is to relax. Nervousness and tension prevent relaxation. Don't even think of the words "hold" or "grip". Just "cradle" the bow. When noting, just use a little pressure. Pressing hard doesn't provide any benefits and makes playing well more difficult.
When bowing, your fingers/wrist must be relaxed in order to have the naturally assume the correct positioning when changing bow directions. Playing slowly help develop this habit.

One last word of advice. Don't forget that exercises are a means to an end, not an end it itself. Your goal is to have fun and play music well. I once fell into that "trap". Exercises were using so much of my playing time, I wasn't playing much music.

If you don't have a recording of someone playing scales, send me your mailing address and I will send you a CD. When I first started I paid a professional fiddler/violinist to record it. It was a tremendous aid in learning to bow, and to develointonintonaton.


sent you a friend request and my address thank u again!

Jun 9, 2019 - 4:55:20 AM
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Swing

USA

1914 posts since 6/26/2007

In reality you never stop working on your bowing.... I just learned a tune that required a new bowing pattern as the melody line cross three strings three times... great tune!

Play Happy

Swing

Jun 9, 2019 - 11:19:32 AM
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ehoard

USA

5 posts since 7/15/2017

I have the Gordon Stobbe Bowing DVD and he has you practice the bowings  with scales. You can take any or all of the patterns he shows you and implement them in any tune. I like his bow routine in the dvd to Practice daily and the I try to take a tune  that I know well And run through it with one of the patterns at a time. Eventually the goal is to swap the bowings out at random in any tune in the fly. 

Hope this helps from someone that has the dvd.

Edited by - ehoard on 06/09/2019 11:22:08

Jun 9, 2019 - 1:45:38 PM

Riptide

USA

59 posts since 5/8/2019

quote:
Originally posted by ehoard

I have the Gordon Stobbe Bowing DVD and he has you practice the bowings  with scales. You can take any or all of the patterns he shows you and implement them in any tune. I like his bow routine in the dvd to Practice daily and the I try to take a tune  that I know well And run through it with one of the patterns at a time. Eventually the goal is to swap the bowings out at random in any tune in the fly. 

Hope this helps from someone that has the dvd.


Thanks!!

Jun 9, 2019 - 6:28:33 PM
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RichJ

USA

263 posts since 8/6/2013

The question in actually very easy:
Never to early to start and once you start don't stop.
For me bowing is the toughest part of learning the fiddle.
At it now for 8 years and still not sure what i'm doing a good part of the time.

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