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How to Distribute Violin Bow Weight

Learn how to distribute violin bow weight from musician Julie Artzt Becker in this Howcast video.


We're going to talk now about bow weight distribution. What that means is, you know, it's very difficult to make a beautiful sound, a constant sustained sound, on your instrument unless you use the right distribution of your arm and your hand on the bow. Because the bow is not equal in weight. The frog is much heavier than the tip. So, you need to do different things with your arm and your hand at the frog than you do at the tip.

As we learned in a previous segment, when you hold your bow this is the proper way to hold your bow. When you first put it on when you hold it you have to make sure that your fingers are very curly, not straight like this. Curled, including your thumb, which is very difficult for a lot of people to do. You want to make sure that, at the frog especially, your fingers are nice and curly. I call them pillow fingers because if they were like this, really straight, then you would get this crunchy sound. But, when they're curled you get a nice sound.

Also, when your bow grip and your fingers on your bow grip are curled your pinkie gets weight on it, which is a good thing. Because the frog is so heavy that it's very easy to do a crash landing I call it, unless you distribute the weight of your fingers to the pinkie, the weaker part. If your fingers are distributed too much to the index finger you're going to get that crash landing, but if you distribute the weight to your pinkie, meaning it's nice and curly, then you're going to get a nice sound.

As the bow moves you need more weight at the tip. So, as I approach the tip I'm going to move the pressure from my pinkie to my index finger. Now, you don't really normally take off your fingers off the bow, but I'm trying to show that now I'm pressing nice and hard with the index finger so that the sound is the same at the frog as it is at the tip, and then the fingers sort of straighten.

Let's try that again. Nice and curly at the frog. Weight on the pinkie. Go. And as I reach the tip the weight went to the index finger. That was an example of sustained sound where it didn't stop, it didn't decrease, it didn't increase. It stayed the same.

That's an example of perfect weight distribution of the bow.

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