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Adam Cherlin
Hi,

I recently picked up violin again after a 20 year hiatus. I am having what seems like a common problem, but I wanted some additional feedback.

When I down bow, especially towards the middle of the bow, my bow begins to vibrate, causing the pitch to oscillate. This never happens on an up bow, and the vibration is intensified if I start placing fingers down.

I believe that my bow hold is correct and relaxed, and am trying eliminate tension in my arm, but it has little or no effect. I am a pianist and composer, and the pitch oscillation is really grating on me when I play.

My question has two parts: 

1) If I am completely fixated on this issue, should I continue to focus on it until it is corrected, or try to ignore it and work on other aspects of the instrument?

2) Are there any tips for correcting the issue, if it is tension related?

Thanks for your help,

Adam
Adam Cherlin
6 Responses
Posted: November 6, 2011
Last Comment: November 9, 2011
Replies

Adam Cherlin
Posted: November 9, 2011
I talked to someone about the issue yesterday. I was told my shoulder is tensing up, and that is likely the cause. It might be aggravated by not bowing perpendicular to the bridge on occasion.

Beth, I am currently on a business trip to Chicago, and don't have a recording device. I'll try to get one up when I get home, if the problem is persisting.

Ray, I like your idea of visualizing horizontal bowing, I think that might help quite a bit to relax my arm muscles.


Ray
Posted: November 7, 2011


Hi Adam,

I was thinking of your problem over the last couple of days.  I'm wondering if when you 'down bow' you are thinking-on some level- a vertical direction?  Instead perhaps think of moving the bow to the right and since the violin is tilted the bow will be moving towards the floor just on an obtuse angle and not perpendicular to the floor. 

Advice from a newbie.


Beth Blackerby
Posted: November 6, 2011
Hi Adam, My guess is that something is happening when you approach the middle of the bow, which is where it is the most springy. The bow is set to bouncing and then continues on it's own for a while. When you get to that same spot on the up bow, you approach the frog, where the bow won't bounce. At this point, I can't tell why it's happening without seeing the mechanism of your bow arm. Is there any chance you could make a video and post it on Youtube? You can make it "unlisted" and email me the link if you're feeling to shy to post it here on the website.


Adam Cherlin
Posted: November 6, 2011
Thanks for the responses. 

I watched the Bounce video, and tried those exercises in connection with deep diaphragm breathing, exhaling on downbows. It helped somewhat, but I still see mini-bouncing, though not enough to be audible, or at least barely so.

I am not sure how to get a good tone with a downbow without downward pressure. On upbows I can put down a pretty wide range of force, but any extra pressure on a downbow, even to get a decent tone causes the shaking.

How would you suggest I transition from bounce-less weak downbows, to normal tone quality?

Beth Blackerby
Posted: November 6, 2011
Ray, for a newbie, you give good advice. True enough Adam, it could be either (or all of the following) a problem of tension coming from somewhere in the hand, arm, shoulder...,  a sounding point to close to the fingerboard, or too little bow speed on the down bow.

Even though you feel your bow hold is relaxed, check your thumb. Could it be more relaxed? In normal playing in a medium dynamic, the thumb is primarily for balance.  We use counter pressure when we apply more weight to increase volume.

I have a video called "Getting Rid of the Unwanted Bounce".  If you haven't seen it, watch it and let me know if it helps or not.

Ray
Posted: November 6, 2011


Hi Adam,

If your bow hand is relaxed, what about tension in your arm, shoulders, back, or left hand.  As you down bow focus on other parts of your body and try to notice if there is any tension else where when your bow starts to vibrate.  Muscular transferance is a common problem and the body works as a whole not in isolation.  Hope this helps.

Advice from a newbie.