Monday, January 14, 2008

How to Bend a Bow

There is a famous story about Jascha Heifetz that every violinist should know.

After one of his concerts a matronly woman came backstage and said to him, ‘Mr. Heifetz, I just love the sound your violin makes.’

Heifetz walked over to his opened case, picked up the violin, held it to his ear, and replied, ‘Funny, I don’t hear a thing.’

Yea, to get a real tone out of the violin you have to do something. Obviously brute force is not the answer. Nor can one be wimpy or indifferent.

Reminds me of Sir Thomas Beacham’s line, ‘Great music making combines the utmost in sensitivity with the maximum of virility.’

So there you have it. Smooth, silky, nuanced strength. DO get in there and bend the bow. But at the same time breathe and stay relaxed in your arm and shoulder as you roll on the arm weight.

And keep that bow speed absolutely constant, no speeding up and slowing down around bow changes.

Its also a good idea to angle the bow hair slightly away from you – the ‘cutting edge’ will be the side nearer to the fingerboard.

And one last thing. The more you drive the string, the closer the bow must tract to the bridge.

The feeling of ‘driving’ the string is a great one. As is the feeling of bending your bow as if you were an archer drawing back on a long bow. Best of all, however, is the way your heart will vibrate as all that full, glorious tone washes over your being.

All the best,

Clayton Haslop

P.S There will be some serious bow bending going on in Asheville at the Biltmore Estate in the New Year. I’d love for you to be a part of it. Come reserve your spot at the Singing Hands Masterclass/Seminar today.

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