Bow Work

Last week’s lesson brought a bow tool – Teacher fixed a green rubbery thing over the frog and screw of my bow that is meant to support a proper hand position. I played with it for about half the time, then she removed it and I continued, trying to maintain the improvements the device had wrought as I worked without it.  She had just acquired the tool and was trying it out with all her students over the course of the week.  Her perceptions of effectiveness had an age component – she thought the older the student the more appreciative they were of the intervention.

Playing with the bow tool reminded me that, years into playing, I’m still working on the most fundamental of skills on the violin.  Fundamentals are a part of any complicated pursuit.  In my karate practice, when do I stop working on my stances?  Never, of course.  With the bow hold, as it is in many dimensions of violin playing, relaxation remains one of my core challenges – tension held in the bow hand is translated into the tone produced by the violin quite directly.  In addition to helping me relax, the tool helped me keep the proper angle of the hold, encouraging the bow to move perpendicular to the strings, and as smoothly as possible.

The lesson’s focus on the bow was a nice respite from my constant focus on the technical accuracy of the notes in the Vivaldi concerto.  Sometimes when working on something complicated it can help to shift focus and let typically primary concerns become secondary for a while.  I see these kinds of focus shifts work well in karate training too – when practicing a memorized sequence for speed, or for power, we can let a focus on perfect technical accuracy slide.  Returning to the primary point of focus after such work often reveals improvements in both the primary and secondary areas of focus.

Thanks for reading.


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