Shetland bowing patterns

The bowing hand in action

Shetland bowing patterns

We started off tonight’s class by working on our bow control again. We each held our own bow in front  of us, using our usual bow hold. We used a little pressure with the little finger on the frog end of the bow to take the weight of the bow and lift the tip, so the bow lifted into a vertical position. Releasing this pressure with the pinkie allows the bow to return to a horizontal position. While we were repeating this action, we focused on the fingers in the bowing hand responding individually to the movement of the bow in the hand.

We repeated the exercise where we made the bottom (frog end) of the bo0w move in a small clockwise circle. The bow should pivot round the thumb, making the tip move in a much bigger circle. We used the fingers to get the circle action happening noting again that the fingers move independently of one another to control the bow. Then we changed direction to anticlockwise.

We learnt the Barrowburn Reel, by Addie Harper, and spent some time working on Shetland bowing patterns in the A and B parts. In the A part, we were using the 3 up 1 down pattern, which emphasises the off-beat. In the B part, we used a 1 down 3 up pattern, emphasising the  on-beat. We also tried out some chords and grace notes in both parts of the tune

We focused for a while on a simple short phrase from the B part of the tune. We played it with a clear emphasis on the on-beat. It’s important when working on playing more precisely to be quite sure of exactly when the note should start, and making that start point clear and crisp. play it with conviction!

At the end of the evening, we spent time playing together as a group again, focusing on listening to folk on either side, and playing in time with them

We played the Strathspey form a couple of weeks ago in a set with tonight’s reel. We’ll learn another Strathspey next week to make longer set.


Here’s an interesting article on effective practicing

Bowing patterns in reels
Photo ©Ros Gasson