VENGEROV’S VIEWS | Violinist Maxim Vengerov on Bowing Fundamentals

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On this, the fifth of eight educating lessons, violinist Maxim Vengerov discusses completely different bowing necessities

To assist rejoice the launch of our new website, and the re-launch of Maxim Vengerov‘s new web site,, over the approaching weeks the famous person violinist, instructor, and conductor, will probably be visitor presenting a sequence of unique educating recommendation lessons for our readers, lecturers, and college students in every single place.


Accompanied by useful educating movies that reveal key ideas, Maxim will cowl a variety of subjects together with sound, left and right-hand method, bowing, respiratory, concord and construction, and interpretation.

In right now’s fifth lesson, Maxim discusses completely different bowing necessities.

Be part of us over the approaching weeks, and you should definitely share the lessons with your personal college students and pals, and tell us how Maxim’s recommendation has helped you in your journey to be taught extra.



If we examine string enjoying to singing, then our bow is sort of a singer’s lungs. Nevertheless, the bow is a artifical object, with sure traits we have to work round. By understanding these, we are able to keep away from being restricted by them, and even use them to our benefit. To assist construct a musical phrase, cautious consideration of find out how to use the bow, and why, is crucial – simply as a singer decides find out how to management their breath and the place to breathe.

Capturing all of the subtleties to this artwork would want a whole e book, and it requires a few years of examine to totally grasp. Nevertheless, there are some basic rules to remember. On this put up, I’ll share with you a number of concepts on find out how to strategy utilizing the traits of the bow that will help you play a musical phrase as naturally as a vocalist can sing it.


How can the musical phrase affect the selection of bowing?

“The selection of bowing is principally a query of musical priorities, and the way you need to use the bow to serve these.”

The bow is heavier on the frog and lighter on the tip. This implies it’s most pure to make a decrescendo on a down-bow, and a crescendo on an up-bow. Until you compensate for the uneven weight distribution throughout the bow, through the use of bow pace or strain, this crescendo/decrescendo is what is going to occur.

Nevertheless, crucial information is the musical phrase, not what the bow desires to do. So it’s a compromise between what you want to specific within the music, and the way you need to use the bow traits that will help you obtain this. This is the reason the selection of bowings is essential.



For example: beginning down-bow on the frog, the burden of the bow will provoke you to counsel an emphasis (e.g. an accent, downbeat or a brand new starting). You should utilize this to your benefit by selecting bowings so that you arrive on a down-bow on the climax of a phrase, or when there may be an accent. The load will provide help to create the emphasis with minimal further effort.

Conversely, this weight can work in opposition to you, for instance in case you begin a crescendo on a down-bow – this can provoke you to make a decrescendo as you go in direction of the lighter tip of the bow, or you will need to work twice as exhausting to compensate and make the crescendo.

By rigorously contemplating the musical priorities, and selecting bowings that will help you obtain these, you possibly can work with the traits of the bow as an alternative of in opposition to them, and save your self a whole lot of further effort.


How can bow distribution additionally assist?

“Bow distribution is vital to profitable phrasing.”

Apart from selecting the place to play up- or down-bow, bow distribution can also be essential: how a lot bow you utilize and which a part of the bow. Serious about this rigorously and making sensible decisions will help you carry out many subtleties within the music.

Following on from the identical instance above: if you want to keep away from the emphasis which may occur beginning down-bow on the frog, however it’s not attainable to decide on bowings to play up-bow as an alternative, you would as an alternative begin in the midst of the bow, and use much less bow.



As one other instance: you too can use bow distribution that will help you construct a crescendo. Relatively than giving all the things away at the start through the use of an excessive amount of bow, you possibly can as an alternative regularly enhance the quantity and pace of the bow, to construct the depth.



To assist preserve the music as your most essential information, I like to recommend to place the violin apart once you first be taught a chunk, and to review the rating – determine how you are feeling about it, the place the phrasing leads, the place the climaxes are, and so forth. Then, primarily based on this, you possibly can select bowings which can provide help to obtain these musical concepts. This strategy will make sure you suppose past any limitations of the bow, and develop your method.



What about bow modifications?

“Clean bow modifications are important to construct an extended phrase.”

While you change bow from as much as down or vice versa, there’s a threat of shedding the sound through the change. If we take into consideration how we communicate, we don’t communicate phrase by phrase – In any other case It Would Sound A Bit Like This With An Accent On Each Phrase, and it could be exhausting to observe. The equal once we play is the break within the sound or small accent which may occur throughout a bow change. This presents the identical hazard of enjoying word by word, shedding the connection between them, which makes it exhausting to construct a musical phrase or convey the sense behind it.



Usually talking, it’s best to join the bow as legato as attainable, so you don’t hear the change from one word to the following. The important thing to that is to keep up the identical pace of the bow. Keep away from “flicking” or an accelerated bow pace simply earlier than a bow change – all the things should keep below your management. Use the fingers in your proper hand, particularly the pinky finger for bow modifications on the frog. I’ll handle this matter in additional element in Half 6 of this sequence.

To conclude

While you play violin, or any instrument, at all times attempt to join all notes, from one to the following – suppose forward, and suppose within the course of the phrase. The music lies in between the notes, and the connection between them. It’s this steady connection which sustains an extended phrase or musical thought.

I hope these suggestions for find out how to strategy utilizing the traits of the bow to your benefit will provide help to create phrasing as naturally and expressively as a singer can. Understanding and controlling these nuances will add to your enjoying many extra musical potentialities. All the time take into consideration the place within the bow you play, and why.


Watch the total educating video beneath, the place Maxim explains in additional element and demonstrates the ideas he introduces on this article:


This sequence was curated and co-written by Anna Gould.


You may also subscribe to his YouTube channel and observe his official social media websites:


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