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Learning to keep the bow parallel to the bridge

How to keep the bow parallel to the bridge

bow parallel to the bridge

Learning to keep the bow parallel to the violin or viola bridge is an essential skill that all students need to learn. Spoiler alert: many of the great violinists frequently use bow strokes that are not parallel but like learning to drive a car you need to drive in a straight line before you can learn the art of drifting.

Once you have established a good violin position you can try this silent bow hopping exercise. Place a mirror where you can easily see your bow and bridge from the side. Place the bow at the frog parallel to the bridge and check your hand, wrist, elbow, arm shape. Look for rounded, comfortable arm position.

Lift the bow in an arc and place it on the string in the middle of the bow. Check the bow remains parallel all the way through the arc as well as when it lands. Again, check your bow hand and arm shape. Graceful curves and spring-like movements are the aim all the way through this exercise.

Now, ‘hop’ the bow to the tip, repeating your careful observation of the bow in relation to the bridge. Then reverse the exercise back to the middle and then the frog.

Try this exercise for a few minutes every day. It’s a useful way to build good muscle memory without the distraction of having to play the right notes, in tune, and on the right string. Gradually decrease the size of the hops until you can simply move the bow on the string pausing in those places to do your checks.

Listen carefully at all times when you are playing so you can learn to discern when your bow is going off course.

And remember Your Pro-Am Strings online violin tutor can offer some great tools, tips, and insights to keep your bow on the straight and narrow. If you have found this blog useful, please subscribe to our newsletter.


This post was written by Stylus writer, a former professional violinist/ violist who has taken his gift for phrasing and tone into the world of words. You can learn more about his work at https://styluswriter.com/

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