“I need more rosin,” grumbling my way out of my practice room – AKA bedroom – yesterday. Michael smiled. I had a very busy couple of days and hadn’t gotten to the violin as much as I like since my lesson on Wednesday. Even at this early stage in my playing it’s become an old joke between us – if I’m having trouble practicing on any given day I blame the rosin.
In truth, rosin is indeed necessary. For those who don’t know, there’s no getting around using it. The horse hair on a bow running across the strings doesn’t do anything at all until you put something on it to allow the hair to grab onto the strings. Rosin, or dried tree sap, gets into the horse hair and helps it stick to the strings as it slides across them, creating the vibrations that impact the air and produce the sounds.
In seeking online guidance on ideal frequency and quantity of rosin application, beliefs differ and abound. Some people claim you should never have to rosin the bow if it’s properly rosined with powdered rosin upon re-hairing. Some people claim you should use so much that the bow will be like Pigpen and dirt – trailing a cloud of rosin dust everywhere it goes. Some people say the type of rosin needs to be harder or softer based on the humidity of your climate.
So far I’ve landed on putting the stuff on the bow about every other time I practice. Sometimes I forget, and I do believe that I have occasionally detected slightly less gripping of the strings by the bow. But I also know what a complete beginner I am and that some days my bow hold is more or less relaxed, my movements are more or less fluid, and myriad other factors can also be at work. But it’s more fun to blame the rosin.
By the way, Teacher has never even brought the stuff up. Not once!
Thanks for reading.