Joseph Mendoes - cello expert
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Cello Bow Fundamentals

How to approach the study of the bow on the cello

Released on March 5, 2014

  
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Comments/Questions/Requests:

Anna M on March 12, 2014 @10:50 pm PST
I knew that shifting between sounding points was a good thing to practice but I didn't know how to do it smoothly. Thank you for explaining the correct motion so clearly. Is it beneficial to play with the bow significantly over the finger board in very quiet orchestral music?
Randy Smith * VSM MEMBER * on March 9, 2014 @3:51 pm PST
Thanks so much for your help. I think I have rosin evenly applied the whole length of the bow, and the problem of "slipping" seems to happen at various places on the bow, so I'm wondering if I am just not applying proper pressure to the string at those times. BTW, I also am very much looking forward to your next lesson(s) on vibrato.
reply
Joseph Mendoes - host, on March 10, 2014 @9:56 pm PST
Hello Randy,
I think I might have a solution for you. First, draw a down bow on the D string and when you get to the tip try to "pluck" the string with the end of the bow. There should be a spot on the end of your bow where the hair ends and the wood begins, and the wood should stick out a little. It is that part that I want you to "pluck" the string with at the end of your bow. Do this several times, and you should notice that in order to do this well you need to play on an arc, with the bow starting at the frog closer to the G string and ending at the tip closer to the A string. Playing on an arc instead of a straight line will allow you to increase you leverage as you play a down bow and maintain the proper pressure on the bow for a good sound. The next video will be on vibrato, but maybe at the end of it I can add a demonstration of this exercise so that it is clear!

Let me know how it goes!

Joseph
Sue+Leitch * VSM MEMBER * on March 5, 2014 @3:48 pm PST
Could you do a video on vibrato? I am a violinist and use a wrist vibrato and I seem to have trouble trying to do cello vibrato.
reply
Joseph Mendoes - host, on March 6, 2014 @11:26 am PST
Hello Sue,
I have good news for you! The violin vibrato in principle is no different then a cello vibrato, even if you use a wrist vibrato. The primary differences are of course the overall position, as well as the range of motion (which needs to be much bigger on the cello then on the violin.)
My next video will be on vibrato, and I hope it will bring some clarity to the issue!
Richard Wintercorn * VSM MEMBER * on March 5, 2014 @3:00 pm PST
I'm nearing 79 and have played off and on since five yrs. of age. A consistent problem I have is getting an F in the fourth position on the G string to "sound". The bow seems to slip on the string without "grabbing" to cause a proper vibration of the string. The idea of bow angle with respect to the various strings was never stressed by my instructor. I've tried different rosins with some success. I've extended my bow index finger which has helped. What could be the main problem?
reply
Joseph Mendoes - host, on March 6, 2014 @11:36 am PST
Hello Richard,
What a great question! It could be a variety of things. Sometimes a wolf tone can exist on the f on the g string, which can cause a delay. Another possible cause (this is the one I think it might be) is that your bow is not in the right spot. The cello can be a bit stubborn in the upper positions on the c and g strings, and playing a little closer to the bridge can make the string respond correctly. Every note on the cello has a corresponding "sweet spot" that we must find in order to have it sound its best, so try experimenting with that. If that does not help, please write again, because I have a few more suggestions!
marianmacleod * VSM MEMBER * on March 5, 2014 @8:29 am PST
This is VERY helpful. Thank you! I started playing cello (having never played a stringed instrument before) at age 61. I find vibrato difficult, and hope you will deal with this soon. Thanks again.
reply
Joseph Mendoes - host, on March 6, 2014 @11:22 am PST
Hello Marian,
I am so glad you started learning the cello! It is by far the most noble instrument, don't you think?

My next video will be on vibrato and vibrato related issues, I hope it will be helpful!
Randy Smith * VSM MEMBER * on March 5, 2014 @6:00 am PST
Thank you for these videos! I don't know if this is a rosin issue, or a bow technique issue, but I often notice than when I start to pull my bow on a string, rather than getting the bow to grab and start the string vibrating well, there seems to be a delay, where for a split second the hair seems to slip on the string, then suddenly grab and take hold of the string to get it vibrating well to give a good sound. I think I have plenty of rosin on my bow; could it be too much rosin? Or is it more likely an issue of how much pressure I need to apply to the bow? Thanks for any help you can give me long distance!
reply
Joseph Mendoes - host, on March 6, 2014 @11:20 am PST
Hello Randy,
First of all I am very glad you are enjoying my videos! They are fun to make.

If the hair is slipping on the string, it is probably not an issue with too much rosin. If rosin is the issue, then it may be that you have some clean spots on the hair at the frog or at the tip. Does this happen only at a certain spot in the bow, or is it an issue no matter what part of the bow you are starting on?
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