Learning to master the bow is a lifelong task, so today we will begin to learn how to hold the bow correctly.
It is important to firmly hold the bow to avoid dropping it from the hand, but also flexible enough, because it allows us to do different bow strokes which we will learn later.
Sitting with a bent leg, drop the weight of the right arm on the right knee several times. We do this to feel the roundness of fingers. Then, rest the forearm on the arm of a couch letting the hand deadweight hanging in the air, and you will see that the natural position of the fingers in a relaxed state is slightly curved.
Then replace the knee with a pencil, as shown in picture 3, and teach the student to place properly two important fingers: the little finger and thumb. The little finger is the only one placed rounding up the wand and the thumb, also slightly rounding up below to the middle finger height, as shown in picture 4.
Next day we will hold our real violin bow!
In this chapter we will learn how to hold the bow correctly and we will also start to strengthen the muscles of the right hand and arm.
Playing the violin is based on three pillars, which are sound, rhythm and intonation. It can be considered as the three legs of a tripod, and it is interesting to see how if the tripod is missing any of its leg it falls. Likewise, we can’t ignore any of these three elements. If the left hand, which we will talk about soon, is responsible for intonation, we can easily say, that the task of sound production belongs to the bow. So, as the sound is so important, let’s start by teaching the child to rosin the bow!
The hairs of the bow are horsehair and resin, which derives from trees, avoid slipping the bow on the strings. It is also used by dancers to avoid slipping on stage.
Exercises should be done in short periods of time, resting frequently, to avoid neck pains.
Approach the violin to the neck several times in a row, controlling that the position of the shoulders remains relaxed and the feet separated as we previously mention.
Approach the violin to the neck without losing our
balance position (shoulders down, trunk leaned backward and tummy pulled out) and once you are in the right
position, walk slowly around the room, holding the violin only with the neck, without the help of the left hand!
As the violin weighs and tires a bit, the child will end up leaning down the violin. We will see later why it is important that the violin is parallel to the ground to get a nice sound. Young artist, be
prepared to hear it many times 🙂
¡Raise the violin!
To hold the violin correctly, we should imagine a straight line crossing the nose, the violin strings, the left elbow and the left foot. Also very important: Don’t forget to always keep the shoulders down and relaxed. It’s very important!
In this pic, you can see how well Maxim Vengerov holds his violin 😉
And here comes the moment of truth! We place the violin over our neck for the first time. Certainly, the student has already held it several times at home, but we are not telling this to anyone … 😉
Even though it may seem trivial, holding the violin for the first time is a very important moment, because, usually, this is when the first mistake is made. Let’s say that if the violin will not come the child, the child will go to the violin. I mean, usually it’s just a bit of both things. While we are approaching the violin to her neck, she tends to
approach the violin to hold it better, losing all the resting position and balance we mention previously. When approaching the violin, she often leans forward and when she wants to bring it to the neck she raises the left shoulder to prevent dropping it.
This may cause many future problems. Raising the shoulders is a movement that must be avoided to play the violin.
Our first goal is to get rid of all that muscle tension so we can feel the violin as an extension of our own body as soon as possible. Let’s do it!
When we are young, our body is more flexible and therefore we are inclined to think that, when taking the violin in her hands for the first time, the student will be soft and relaxed, but soon we will notice that this is not happening. The violin is a foreign body for her, and naturally she feels uncomfortable. In addition, she is afraid to drop or break it, so the first thing she will do is get tense and clutch the hand to grab it tightly.
To lay the groundwork for a correct position, our body needs to be balanced, from left to right as well as from back to forward.
Left – Right Balance
If we were standing with our legs completely together and someone pushed us from one side, we would fall easily. Our sense of safety increases if we separate our legs a bit, so let’s try to separate our feet to the same distance that shoulders are separated from each other, i.e., the right foot lined up with the right shoulder and left foot with the left shoulder.
Back – Forward Balance
We can see the “back – forward” balance in the following pictures. In picture 1, the torso reaches its resting point by totally leaning forward. In picture 2, the resting point is reached by slightly leaning backwards. To do it correctly, we must feel that our upper body rests on a central point over the waist in the back. Explained simply, we get our tummy out and slightly lean our head and shoulders back.
Next day we will place the violin over our neck!
Welcome to this exciting adventure we are about to start!
In this blog, I will tell you about the first steps in the world of violin. Regularly I will be posting some theory, tips and exercises you should practice at home in order to archive the different goals I will be proposing to you!
If your teacher can assist you, it will be great.
In any case, and independently from your current level, you are most welcome to contact me at anytime or even send me a video file of your playing. I will try to help you as much as distance allows.
And of course, if you are around Switzerland, I shall be delighted to listen to your playing live! Just call me or drop me a message to arrange an audition.
So, are we ready to start?