FIDDLE BOWING TIPS
Here are some fiddle bowing tips. If you’ve played fiddle for any time at all, you’ll know the sound of music is drawn out of your fiddle when the bow goes across the strings. This is called bowing. When you put too much pressure on the bow when you’re pulling out a note, it might start screeching. If your bow goes over the strings too lightly, it may sound wispy. Sometimes you may need to add a little more pressure; sometimes you don’t need as much. There have been books written on bowing and with good reason. There is much to learn about bowing. You may see these masters playing and ask yourself how they get that sound that we’re all listening for. The simple answer is years of practice.
Too many younger players don’t or cant’ relax enough at first. This takes time. Time that the player thinks he doesn’t have enough of. The reality is, relaxing while playing comes with time. To shorten the time it takes, consciously be aware of not being relaxed, then consciously relax. This will shorten the time it takes to get good bowing habits.
Be aware of keeping your bow relatively straight while bowing. Practice in front of a mirror. Again, being consciously aware of this while your practicing will go a long way. I’ve seen professional players arc their bow while they’re playing. Not good technique.
Keeping a decent amount of rosin on the bow is somewhat of a challenge. Too much is bad, and not enough is bad. What is the correct amount? Well, just start out with a little, and then play some. If your bow starts slipping and squeaking add a little more. After some trial and error you’ll find the right amount of rosin to put on and keep on your bow. Make sure you clean the rosin off your fiddle every time you finish practicing. Rosin builds up fast on your fiddle and it will be hard to clean off if it gets too thick. Keep your fiddle and bow clean.
As you see, there are quite a few things to think about when it comes to bowing. I’ve just scratched the surface. There are many more things I’ll go over in the coming months.
Watch this video from master fiddler Bruce Molsky and listen to him explain bowing. Very good stuff.