Mary-Elizabeth Brown - beginning & intermediate violin expert

How to draw a straight bow

Is there a special way to accomplish a straight bow?

In this video, Mary-Elizabeth teaches you an easy-to-understand way to draw your violin bow straight, parallel to the bridge, for maximum and best sound production.

Released on October 7, 2015

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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

Hi, there. This is Mary Elizabeth Brown, for, here to talk to you today a little bit about the basics of keeping a straight bow path. So, by a straight bow path we mean a parallel path between the bow and the bridge of the violin.

The first thing we need to do is establish the middle of our bows in our bow arms. Sometimes this is a little bit tricky because we can't necessarily see the entire bow in our peripheral vision. What we can see, however, is our right elbows. We want to make sure that we have a right angle, so a 90-degree angle, or a square in our right elbows. This will be the basis of our straight bow practice.

Once we've discovered our magic square in the middle of the bow, it's time to think about what part of our arm is responsible for which part of the bow. Here, by opening our forearms, we can keep a steady and straight bow path all the way to the tip, just by opening and closing the elbow like the hinge of a door.

Let's see that once more. So, opening. And closing.

Now, using our upper arm and folding in like an accordion, we can keep our straight bow all the way to the frog.

So here we have forearm. Forearm. Upper arm. Upper arm.

Always using the middle as our reference point. When we put this set of techniques together, we can have a beautiful bow all the way from the frog to the tip.

As an exercise, I would suggest isolating these movements in the arm. So, first practicing only the forearm motion. Then, isolating the upper arm motion. Then putting them together but always starting from the middle. So, forearm, forearm, upper arm, upper arm, and so on. Until finally, you smooth everything out.

I hope this short tutorial has helped to clarify a little bit more about how to keep a straight bow path. Don't forget to leave your questions and comments below so that I can address them in a future video. Until next time, bye.
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User Comments and Questions

Comments, Questions, Requests:

Sue Fuller * VSM MEMBER * on October 8, 2015 @6:53 am PST
Thank you, very helpful. I have several bowing problems. When I am trying to draw a full long bow, and at the same time, the pieces calls (ppp), my bow is very unstable, a starts to bounce. Your in put would be very helpful.
Kathleen M. Barry * VSM MEMBER * on October 7, 2015 @9:06 am PST
I was taught to keep the upper arm on the same plane as the bow when going past middle to the frog, especially to reach the lower strings (G and D). I see your bow is parallel to the bridge so your method must work.
Mary-Elizabeth - host, on October 7, 2015 @3:34 pm PST
Thank you for your comment, Kathleen. You are right! It is important to use the upper arm/elbow to help move the bow from one string level to the next. When you combine that with a hinge motion in the fore-arm, you should be able to have a straight bow at all string levels!
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