Crush Your Beginner Bow with a Swoosh!

Would you believe that it’s possible to change (read: improve) your violin bowing on the spot, just by thinking a simple thought?

Sure, there are things about your violin playing that can only change over time.

But… stack up too many of these items on your future violin “wish list” and it won’t be long before things look pretty dismal.

It’s far better to work on things that you can change right now, right in the moment.

In fact, that’s the only way anything can get done. It happens right now, or it doesn’t happen at all.

There’s a huge misconception about violin practice; the idea that you can keep repeating something that isn’t quite there yet, in the hope that it will someday become perfect.

The problem: that never works. Ever.

There’s only one thing that does work, as anyone who has mastered an instrument will tell you.

Practice only the violin motions and physical actions that you can fully control. Anything else is anti-practice.

Today’s video: a basic motion that you can control, by changing your thinking about the bow!

The Swoosh Bow

You need: violin and bow

Here’s How:

  • Choose an open string or harmonic for the exercise. I’m using an open A harmonic in the examples.
  • Watch the video above once, and then follow along with your violin.

Tip: “Hang on” to the motion. Let it feel infinite, as if there’s still another millisecond before you need to change bow direction!

Think about it this way:

You’re visualizing a bow that produces continuous “pipe organ” sound without a gap. When you reach the bow end, visualize and create a follow though motion that becomes a transition to the next bow.

Think about a jet imperceptibly lifting off the runway and becoming airborne. Or the follow though of a great golf swing.

It’s merely a thought. You don’t actually have to lift your bow off the string. But your thoughts count when you practice and play.

And though the bow never leaves the string, your visualization unlocks the muscles and joints of your arm and hand, and produce a healthy and ergonomically sound motion in your bowing.

This “swoosh” creates a seamlessly smooth connection between your up and down bow, and at the same time unlocks the rigid bow “stuckness” that may be hampering your progress.

Try the swoosh right now, and let me know what you’re feeling and thinking!

To your endless violin journey!

Bill Alpert

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Bill Alpert

About the Author

Bill Alpert

Bill Alpert is a performer, teacher and author with a unique focus on personal development and mindfulness viewed through the lens of violin study. Mr. Alpert's resume includes recordings, performances and film scores with artists such as The Moody Blues, Pepe Romero, Tina Turner and Johnny Mathis. The co-founder of the award winning Alpert Studio of Voice and Violin in California, he is professionally active in the American String Teachers Association and the Suzuki Association of America.