Joseph Mendoes - cello expert

Wrist Motion in the Bow Hand

Simple yet powerful technique to improve your bowing

In this video, Prof. Mendoes tells you about a very useful exercise to improve your right-hand bowing technique and avoid stiffness in the right hand.

Released on February 7, 2018

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hello, everyone, this is Joseph Mendoes with another video for Today, I'd like to talk to you about a little exercise that you can do that'll help to free up your bowing. In particular, it will help to free up a little bit of your wrist and your fingers.

I've seen some students before, and I've seen some other cellists before, who have some trouble with this, and so their bowing, their bowing is a little bit stiff. So, when they go back and forth, there's very little motion in their hand or in their wrist. And then, sometimes, when I tell students who have this problem, "Well, you have to have a little bit more motion," it's not always that simple. You have to give some sort of very specific thing to do, some very specific motion to practice. And one that I've seen that helps, usually, a wrist in particular that is pretty well blocked or not moving at all, it's just this little trick of changing what angle your bow is on the string. Now, by angle, I don't mean the common way that I talk about it, which is, you know, changing, changing the angle this way. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about this change, whether you have flat hair or whether you have hair...whether you're playing a little bit more on the side of the hair.

Now, if you just take some bows back and forth, and you start on the down-bow, you start a little bit more on the side of the hair. And then, as you change, if you then change to more of a flat hair position, it doesn't have to be totally flat, just a little bit more flat, what you'll notice is, is that as you change, your wrist starts to move a little bit this way, and so you start to get a little bit of a wrist motion at the bow change. If you focus on that, on that... Now, that won't help you get smooth bow changes, really, that much, but it will help you to start to get a little bit of motion in your wrist so that you can then start to work on getting those bow changes to sound smooth. So, this is just kind of a simple way to get your wrist to start to open up.

So, and there's lots of places you can do this. You can obviously practice this just in a scale or something. I find it, the simplest way to practice, is just on one note, an open string just to take the left hand out of the equation altogether. But, a common etude that I use to also teach this is the Dotzauer #21, in the first volume of etudes there. And that one, I change it so that the separate notes are to be played up-bow so that... That etude goes like this if you do it as written. It goes along like that, but I change it so that the separate bows are two up-bows. And then, I have the student practice on the down-bow, being a little bit more on the side of the hair, and then on those up-bows being a little bit more on the flat part of the hair, and it usually gets all of this stuff working really well like that. So, that's just something to think about, and to try and to see if you...see if it helps you to get that wrist opened up.

So, yeah, I hope that little tip was helpful, and if you have any questions, please leave them, not on YouTube if you're watching this on YouTube, leave the comments on Those ones, I will reply to. And, yeah, I hope that was helpful. And, once again, this has been Joseph Mendoes for
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User Comments and Questions

Comments, Questions, Requests:

Christy A Larsen on June 7, 2018 @3:45 pm PST
Could I download the Etudes for Cello? Who is the arranger or publisher?
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on June 8, 2018 @7:51 am PST
Christy, you can find the Dotzauer's Etudes here on VSM:

They are in their original version by Dotzauer, and we are the publishers of our own high quality digital edition.

Please, let me know if you have any further questions.

Thank you!
Thomas Kindel retired colonel on May 8, 2018 @8:04 am PST
Thank you for the wonderful cello videos...especially appreciated for myself as a 78-year old somewhat advanced beginning player.
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