Thursday, May 23, 2013

Playing with a Full Blow

A full bow is our full blow.  Often a good picture is our best instructor.  The violinist's fully extended bow arm reminds us that a full breath followed by a full blow matters.

Why is the violin bow as long as it is? And why do our lungs have the capacity they do? Both bow and lungs were intelligently designed for, among others things, the ability to produce a great sound.

What would the best Stradivarius violin sound like if played with only a three inch long bow?  Similarly, would you want to listen to a brass player who only played with tiny sips of air?  The sound of that little ToysRus fiddle bow resembles the tone quality of a brass player playing on a soda straw.

Of course, there are many times when small bow and small air is called for.  Often though, when the maximum tone is required, we default to the small blow/small bow tendency, and the sound suffers big time.

Violinist Gil Shaham in a master class at CCM was frequently encouraging more bow for better results.  If he had to hear a bunch of trumpeters, likely his advice would be the same: more air flow for better results.

The violin bow draws out the violinist's great singing tone.  Our air is on the same mission. Don't short change your sound by using sips instead of controlled gulps.  Learn to be comfortable with a full blow.  Your sound depends upon it.

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