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Violin Lessons: Sound Production

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To make a sound on the violin
we use a bow.
And the bow has three main variables,
three things that can change one way or
the other, and as violinists whether we
know it or
not we're always changing those variables.
So, what I want you to be able to do is to
control each of those individually.
Later on in combination, but, but to know
what you're doing.
Too many times we get sucked in the
We have bow strokes that feel comfortable.
We have patterns that feel comfortable,
we stop thinking about what we're doing.
You always wanna know what your bows speed
your bow pressure, and how far or how
close you are to the bridge.
So let's look at how you can change those.
Bow speed, it's pretty simple.
We take a note.
Now I'll play that with a faster bow.
Now a slower bow.
You can hear that unless I change
something else, the faster bow gives me
more sound,
the slower bow gives me less sound.
That's all as predicted.
Now how about pressure?
Take the normal speed again.
Now add more pressure.
Or less.
My goal with all of these is to still
have a smooth unbroken sound.
If I use less pressure and suddenly.
It's doing that on me.
Then I don't really have control of the
less of using less pressure.
So I want all the smooth.
Finally, and
this is one that often gets put on the
back burner,
the sounding point or the distance from
the bridge.
So, again I take normal speed, normal
Now, without changing anything else,
I'll get closer to the bridge.
Mm-hm, that was kind of strange.
And without changing anything else further
from the bridge.
That's very strange, so obviously I would
need to change at least one of those other
variables to get,
to get a quality sound there.
So we'll talk about those combinations a
little later on.
You're already making those adjustments
anyway because you don't like hearing
those weird sounds close to the bridge and
far away from the bridge.
But do you really know what you're
That's, that's a question for a little
Now how about the tilting of the hair?
That means do I play with totally flat
hair, all the hair contacting the string.
Or my tilting this thick away from me.
The reason people [COUGH] often tilt this
thick away from them, well, there are a
couple different reasons.
With a little less hair contacting the
It's possible to make a more delicate
And when you're doing strokes off the
you sometimes get a little bit more
A little bit softer edge to the sound.
But in general it's great to play with all
or most of the hair.
Not to overdo the tilting of the hair.
As Isaac Stern once told me in a coaching
you paid for all the hair, use all of it.
So it's good advice.
He knew how to produce a great sound.
So I'd like you to get in the habit of
generally using all the hair of the bow.
A little moderate tilt.
The way you control that tilt
of course is with the thumb and
the fingers rolling the bow.
So you can roll it on the string to tilt
the stick away from you,
roll it back to have the, the stick.
Straight up and straight up above the hair
for a flat hair.
What you always wanna listen for when
you're producing a sound is that ring.
If you lose the ring on the sound or that
the shine, the sheen there are a lot of
different ways to describe it, but I think
you know it when you hear it.
[SOUND] If you start making a sound that
loses that ring.
[SOUND] Then you know one of your
variables, at least, is out of whack.
So whether you're getting louder or
softer, you always wanna have that glow.
And without exactly knowing what
variables you're changing,
it's possible for your body to make a lot
adjustments on it's own to keep that ring.
That's what you wanna be listening for.
And later on we'll talk about how to
change those variables in some pleasing
and effective combinations.
So, when you submit a video to me about
sound production,
what I'd like you to show me is first two
normal bows.
[SOUND] That's one down and one up.
Then I want you to show me a down and an
up bow with the slower bow speed, and
a faster bow speed.
Then I want you to change the pressure.
Show me more pressure and less pressure.
Then finally I want you to show me
different sounding points.
Now remember that you're not changing any
other variables, so you very well may get
pretty un, not a pleasing sound when you
play closer to the bridge.
And then when you move out further from
the bridge, with that same pressure and
speed, you may not produce a great sound
But I want you to show me that you
understand how that works.