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Susie Kirwan
Hello Beth and Everyone,

It is good to be able to be online again is this great community of violinists.   I love violin so much.   My bow shoulder still likes to swing back when I play especially detache and when crossing strings during this stroke.   When my eye and periphery eyesight is on my bow arm, contact point on stings and general posture while playing it is straight.   As soon as my eyes are focusing on the written piece in front of me I can feel the shoulder stroke again.   

I do things like using a mirror, playing against a wall and works well and try to sense and feel this when reading and playing at the same time.   Would love to hear anyone's experiences with straight bow and further suggestions to help it.

Susie Kirwan
6 Responses
Posted: August 9, 2018
Last Comment: August 11, 2018

Jaime - Orlando , Fl
Posted: August 11, 2018
Hi Susie! Nice to meet your acquaintance!

I have found indeed VL to be so resourceful and helpful in my violin journey. I started along with Elke, about 4 yrs ago or so. The tutorials and the community have been great venues conducive to learning techniques and music reading. Beth's responses in the community posts always have much valuable information for everyone.

One thing for sure... practice practice practice… the one secret for successful learning, and with that... LOTS of patience! :0)
Wishing you THE BEST!

Susie Kirwan
Posted: August 11, 2018
Thank you everyone for your suggestions and experiences.   Beth, I look very forward to your Practice Course  and learning about bow lines, thank you for doing this.   Where I have memorised music, I notice and feel bow arm much more bringing straighter bow.  There is so much to work with here.   It is great!

Elke, I look forward to posting a video soon.   Currently working on aural, sight reading technical work, three pieces and two pieces in extra list for upcoming 4th Grade Exam.  They are coming along and have recently found some recorded piano accompaniments for them which I find brings rhythms, pauses, phrasings, dynamics all together.   A feeling of theory coming alive in practice.  It is great feeling.


Elke Meier
Posted: August 10, 2018
Hey, you are still around and still playing! How nice! I remember your energetic playing very well :). Beth is so right! I have thought that many times: Apart from the "normal" Violinlab these 60something videos in the practice course are just incredibly helpful! And the most helpful element in it for me is definitely the bow line practice. 

You said it works for you as long as you look at the bow but when you look at the music you revert back to the bad habits. And I think this is exactly where the bow line would help: It breaks this pattern of having to look at the bow and the strings to concentrate on them. When I work with the bow line I still look at my sheet music, but my concentration is on the bow arm. That is completely different from concentrating on what finger to put down. Because all of a sudden I start to feel what the bow arm does - even though I look at the music. That is so incredibly helpful. 

This last week I have started in earnest on a piece that is really quite a bit above my head and I go through it measure by measure and phrase by phrase. First practicing the bow line, then walking the fingers - just like Beth introduced it in this course. It really is amazing how things then come together. 

Looking forward to your next video :)

Ted Adachi
Posted: August 9, 2018
I should add that I've only been playing 2 years now so my advice is very much from a beginner and may not be applicable in your case.

Another suggestion I could make is to memorize the pieces you play. From feedback on this forum, I know that this is not possible for everyone but if you are able to do this, then this will 'free' your eyes from the act of playing.

Rather than use your eyes, you can then concentrate more on how the parts of your body, your arms, elbow, hands and fingers 'feel' as you play and you can try to make things 'feel' right. 

Ted Adachi
Posted: August 9, 2018
Hello Susie,
What helped me a lot was to concentrate on my elbow. If you watch Beth playing, you will see that her lower arm moves up and down at the elbow while her upper arm is still.

It took me a long time to be able to 'feel' my elbow flexing as opposed to my upper arm moving at the shoulder. For a while, I played in front of a mirror all the time (I had a small table mirror set up on my table when I played sitting down) and I focused on my elbow. Eventually, I was able to feel the difference between my elbow flexing and my shoulder and so I worked on getting that feeling when I bowed.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: August 9, 2018
Hi Susie, great to hear from you again! What you're describing is common to everyone. It happens to me to. I don't know if you've seen the Practice Course yet, but in the course I have several videos showing how to create a bow line for whatever piece you're working on. The great thing about that is it allows you to give full attention to your bow arm and to see exactly what the bow arm is supposed to do. It is an amazing feeling to feel measurably better control in the right arm, and I haven't found anything to work better than doing the bow line practice. Of all the playing tips and strategies I've ever "invented" in my career as a violin teacher, this one, imho, is the best.