The bow is one of the bow techniques sensitive instruments on the violin, which means it can be manipulated to produce all sorts of different sounds. Some of these techniques are more subtle than others and require a lot of concentration, but they’re vital to developing good playing technique.
The first step is to keep the bow straight. This involves continuously adjusting the shape of your fingers, wrist, elbow, and shoulder while you play bow strokes. It’s easy to over-tighten the wrist during bowing, which can cause the bow to lose its shape. To check that you’re doing it right, look in a mirror or ask for help from your teacher.
Guiding the Music: Demystifying Markings in Violin Sheet Music
Once you’re able to consistently hold the bow straight, you can move on to coordinating your bowing with the music. This takes into account the ebb and flow of the music, as well as forecasting any change in direction. It’s a little like how an archer aims their shot, using a horizontal distance to hit the target rather than an actual vertical line of sight.
Next comes articulating the notes in your arpeggios, which can be done with different bowing techniques. For example, staccato creates short, detached notes with a clear separation between each note, usually indicated in the music as single dots above or below the note. On the other hand, martele is a more forceful and accented bowing technique that emphasizes the attack and initial sound of each note.