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Oct 31, 2020 - 7:29:10 AM
180 posts since 4/15/2019

I am having trouble playing really slow songs. Right now I am trying to play along with Don Edwards and Tony Evans on Midnight On The Stormy Deep which they do very slow. I get the shakes with my bow. Any suggestions on exercises I can do to improve this?

Oct 31, 2020 - 7:46:47 AM

8785 posts since 3/19/2009

What do you mean by 'the shakes'? What kind of bow hold do you have? Do you ever practice long-slow strokes?

Oct 31, 2020 - 7:56:14 AM

11395 posts since 9/23/2009

I think if you go slow you have to lighten up the bow pressure...lighten the pressure that is aimed toward the violin itself, but increase pressure used to pull or push up or down with bow direction.

Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 10/31/2020 07:56:44

Oct 31, 2020 - 8:23:56 AM
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272 posts since 7/18/2014

When I’m playing a slow tune, I tend to slow the bow travel down, kind of bring everything down to that pace. I believe that’s a bad habit and the wrong thing to do. I’ve come to realize in my own playing, the bow travel should actually increase: a faster pace and using more inches of bow. Yep, it’s hard, kind of like playing two tunes at once. Might give this a try and see if it helps.

Oct 31, 2020 - 2:12:39 PM
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1682 posts since 12/11/2008

Keep working on it. Eventually you'll learn to relax. Your bowing fingers will become strong enough to be able to keep the bow in position with a light touch (yeah, that sounds like nonsense but it makes sense in practice). You'll be able to stop straining and stiffening up.

Oct 31, 2020 - 2:46:07 PM

Snafu

USA

51 posts since 2/2/2014

When I play slow waltzes I find myself playing on the edge of the hairs, not flat. I’d say about 25% of the hairs are on the string when bowing. This is done by tilting the bow and using less pressures. I tilt so that the stick part is further away than the hairs from the bridge. This works for me, I use a classical bow hold as a leftover from my one year of lessons before I went solo.

Nov 1, 2020 - 1:33:53 AM
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180 posts since 4/15/2019

lots of good advice here! Thanks all! I am anxious to get back to my practice. I have been for the past few days trying to play along with songs on you tube and am encouraged by the fact that I can actually do it to some degree!

Nov 1, 2020 - 7:02:20 PM

220 posts since 6/11/2019

Son File'

bow bouncing and tone wavering is due to bow speed inconsistency--fast/slow/fast/slow on the same draw:  downbow or upbow--so minute that it just about goes undetected by the eye, but the bow sure picks it up and lets you know by bouncing or shaking.  The above exercise is sure annoying, but highlights where on the bow you need to smooth out your technique.

Nov 2, 2020 - 7:13:22 AM
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Peghead

USA

1585 posts since 1/21/2009
Online Now

Just keep practicing - one day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear.

Nov 2, 2020 - 7:49:33 AM
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gapbob

USA

724 posts since 4/20/2008

When you play a slow tune, you use more of the bow.

When you approach the bottom of the bow, near the frog, gravity is fighting you, because all the weight of the bow is typically on the string for beginning players, who haven't learned how to adjust the weight of the bow on the string when you move from one end to the other.

At the tip of the bow, you have to put a little more pressure with your index finger on the bow to maintain a constant pressure, when you get towards the frog of the bow, you need to put pressure from your pinky to remove pressure of the bow on the string.

You want the pressure of the bow on the string to be constant throughout the bow stroke. If you don't have a constant pressure, it will probably sound scratchy at the frog end, due to the heavier weight on the string, and it might bounce as you reach the tip, since you have very light pressure without adding pressure with your index finger.

Without showing you via picture or video, it is hard to describe well.


,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Index finger... pinky
_________________________\/___________\/_
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,o ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,^
...............................string .......thumb

If you push down with the pinky, it reduces pressure on the string. If you increase pressure on the index finger, it increases pressure on the string. (The thumb is a stable anchor).

If you are playing near the tip, the weight of the bow is mostly where your hand is and does not push the bow into the string.

If you are playing near the frog, the weight of the box is on the other side of the string and all that weight is held up by the string, unless you compensate with your pinky.
....................................Index finger.... pinky
_________________________\/___________\/_
...........|......................... o....... ^
......bow weight.........string... thumb
.....pulling down

 

Folks who hold the bow up above the frog, in order to keep an easier balance, when only playing in the middle of the bow, find slow tunes difficult, because they rely on gravity to do the work for them—this is the main reason why holding the bow at the frog is the best, IMHO.

Since html clobbers multiple spaces into one or two, I had to put periods or commas in the diagrams above to maintain spacing.

Edited by - gapbob on 11/02/2020 07:55:31

Nov 2, 2020 - 12:45:02 PM

180 posts since 4/15/2019

Thanks Bob. I found a great video by Mitch Reed explaining this very thing.

Nov 2, 2020 - 1:07:01 PM

8785 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Peghead

Just keep practicing - one day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear.


FUNNY.. but True..

I could add that if someone wants to learn to play slow.. try TEACHING someone else to play slow..

If you want to teach it, you gotta be able to DO it..

Or, as they said in the US Navy,.... Watch one, DO one.....Teach one..!!!laugh

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 11/02/2020 13:08:47

Nov 3, 2020 - 2:57:29 AM

Peghead

USA

1585 posts since 1/21/2009
Online Now

Experiment with different pressure and speed, you'll find the combo that works for you. Also make sure your bow is not too tight, that makes it bouncy and harder to control. 

Edited by - Peghead on 11/03/2020 03:00:20

Nov 3, 2020 - 12:47:56 PM

1682 posts since 12/11/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Peghead

Also make sure your bow is not too tight, that makes it bouncy and harder to control. 


Another fiddlers'  can of worms.laugh

Nov 4, 2020 - 7:24:40 AM
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585 posts since 8/10/2017

The hardest thing I've done is play slow scales with full bows from frog to tip, keeping the bow straight. You gotta do it to learn control of the bow. I'm not sure how many years it take.

Nov 4, 2020 - 8:47:57 AM

gapbob

USA

724 posts since 4/20/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Peghead

Experiment with different pressure and speed, you'll find the combo that works for you. Also make sure your bow is not too tight, that makes it bouncy and harder to control. 


Each bow is different, I have one lovely bouncy bow that is quite light, and if I tighten it a lot, it loses bounce.

Thinking about it, it seems to me that tighter bows are less bouncy, at least mine are.

Nov 4, 2020 - 10:13:30 AM
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4879 posts since 9/26/2008

quote:
Originally posted by sbhikes2

The hardest thing I've done is play slow scales with full bows from frog to tip, keeping the bow straight. You gotta do it to learn control of the bow. I'm not sure how many years it take.


Not as long as you might think. Do it a few minutes before and after each practice session (with a mirror of course) and you will start noticing improvement in short order. This was the practice that gave me the breakthrough improvement in tone AND bow control.

Nov 4, 2020 - 5:39:36 PM

585 posts since 8/10/2017

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan
quote:
Originally posted by sbhikes2

The hardest thing I've done is play slow scales with full bows from frog to tip, keeping the bow straight. You gotta do it to learn control of the bow. I'm not sure how many years it take.


Not as long as you might think. Do it a few minutes before and after each practice session (with a mirror of course) and you will start noticing improvement in short order. This was the practice that gave me the breakthrough improvement in tone AND bow control.


Yeah, but throw in some complicated scale like G Harmonic Minor or something. I can't even reach some of those intervals. It's going to take me a long time.

Nov 4, 2020 - 7:01:06 PM
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4879 posts since 9/26/2008

quote:
Originally posted by sbhikes2

Yeah, but throw in some complicated scale like G Harmonic Minor or something. I can't even reach some of those intervals. It's going to take me a long time.


It sounds to me like you are having to learn two skills at once (slow bow AND new scales), and are thus not able to focus on improving your slow bow.  Classic training mistake. Not your mistake, but your teacher's. It happens more often than you might think. 

Instructors often forget that their students can have goals that are different than theirs - how often is a harmonic minor scale used in Irish music? But I still 100% support the choice to take lessons to improve one's playing. Hat's off to you. 

Nov 20, 2020 - 8:24:18 AM

9 posts since 11/20/2020

gapbob advice covers it. The only thing I would add is practice long slow bowing frequently. It seems like it should be easy but it’s not. sbhikes2 , I learned a super simple but challenging drill from a classical player. You play on open strings and challenge yourself to hold the note as long as you can on each up and down. Takes the left hand out so you concentrate on the right.

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