Teaching and learning about bow distribution

Changing lengths
Bow distribution is folded into the Suzuki method beginning with the hooked bow strokes introduced in Minuet 1 in volume 1. Students learn that using different lengths of bow and utilizing different articulations within a piece of music requires some advance planning. For instance, the strokes in the first measure need to produce accurate note duration with ringing tone, but then switch to shortened strokes for the eighth notes in the second measure.

Introducing more advanced bow strokes
In the proceeding Suzuki volumes, students learn more about using the bow as well as learning new bow strokes. While learning these new strokes, students learn functionally how to choreograph the bow’s being in the right place at the right time. However, students do not learn for themselves how to specifically organize the use of the bow which is somewhat like jury-rigging bow lengths and speed to optimize a particular stroke and allow for more efficient use of the bow.

A good starting point
Students learn how to avoid letting the bow “travel” in the slurred sixteenth note/eighth note preview (measures 25-26) in Hunters’ Chorus. In this excerpt, students locate a specific place in the bow and then figure out how to not use more bow for the two down bow slurred sixteenth notes than for the single up bow eighth note. Being able to match the lengths of the down bow and up bow strokes is important but maintaining the location in the bow is equally instructive for learning more about bow distribution.

Violinist Linda Beers is the creator of the Inspiration for Violinists, a 50 card deck. Each card has a unique image and text inspiring musicianship, mindfulness and spirituality.

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