Fiddle bow hold and bowing patterns

 Relaxing the bow hold

Tonight we looked at our fiddle bow hold, and how to keep the hand really relaxed while we’re playing. It’s particularly important to keep the thumb relaxed and slightly bent, to avoid tension creeping into the muscles in the forearm. We tried out using the pinkie and first finger to help us change the pressure of the bow on the strings. With a relaxed hold on the bow, they can be used along with the thumb, which acts as a ‘pivot’ for the bow. We also worked in pairs, helping each other to work on keeping our bows perpendicular to the strings while playing long bow strokes.

How to hold a fiddle bow
Photo ©Ros Gasson

We played through Campbell’s Farewell to Redcastle several times, and looked at possible chords we could play throughout the tune. The chords can be placed to emphasise either the onbeats or the offbeats in the tune. We also looked at playing  some grace notes in both parts of the tune.

It’s important to keep the left hand really relaxed when playing grace notes, to allow the finger to effectively flick on and off the string really fast. We’re aiming to turn this into a fast fluid movement.


Bowing patterns

We spent some time towards the end of the evening playing with different bowing patterns. While we played up and down a D scale we tried mixing up single bow strokes, slurring pairs of notes, and a one-down-three-up pattern. We discovered that it’s much easier to emphasise the note on the up beat when you’re playing single bow strokes than when you’re slurring notes together.

We finished off the evening by playing a few tunes together.

“Without music, life would be a mistake”
                                                               Friedrich Nietzsche