Relaxation and Grace

In Wednesday’s lesson, we returned to the issue of relaxing my bow hold.  Getting this hold right is an iterative process; the nuances are myriad, and as I improve I’m realizing that there’s definitely an art to it.  It’s more paintbrush than exact-o-knife.  Any unnecessary tension held in the hand and arm are reflected in the sound.  A lot goes into tone production on the violin, but bowing is extremely important – I don’t know where I read it but I’ve seen the bow referred to as the “breath” of the violin; try singing without breathing!

My left hand also needs to relax.  I have a tendency to hold onto the neck of the instrument for dear life.  “Holding” the violin is really the wrong way to think about it, in fact.   It really needs to just rest there – I especially need to relax the palm heel attached to the thumb joint.  When I tense that up it causes problems on the other side of my hand.  I’m supposed to keep my fingertips on the strings, versus flattening out the whole pad of the finger.  It’s about precision of tune as well as ability to move them quickly enough.   The more relaxed the hand is the more spritely the fingers can be as they find notes.

And spritely is good.  I’m now onto a third Bach minuet, and this one is a very widely recognizable tune.  It’s the first classical piece I’m playing that I “knew” beforehand, and that’s awfully exciting to me!  Technically, it’s all about slurs –  different notes played with one bow stroke.  Each measure has one, it seems.  The minuet also teaches a new concept for me entirely – grace notes.  Just one – a touch of grace.  I’m supposed to barely play it then immediately release the finger to play the note one step down.  Currently, I must admit, it’s not sounding all that graceful.

Thanks for reading.


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