One thing I struggled with for a long time is straight bowing.
There are so many variables (wrist, elbow, shoulder, fingers, etc) that it's difficult for the novice to track a straight line with the bow. Both the angle of the bow relative to the bridge and the height of the bow above the bridge can vary widely from moment to moment.
I tried various techniques, at my teacher's suggestion -- bracing my upper bowing arm against a door frame, watching myself in the mirror, trying to feel the proper angle as my teacher manually forced my bow arm along the correct path -- but none worked very well. Then she told me about the "Bowright" bow guide.
|Two parallel wire guides, attached together with two plastic grips, held on by a rubber band that stretches across the back.|
two wire guides create a channel in which the bow can travel. The
object of the game is to minimize the amount of time scraping the bow
against the guides.
This device provides immediate feedback when your bowing is
worked far better for me than the mirror, where it was hard to judge
the angle, and I always tended to correct "backward".
Using it, I discovered that you have to move your bow arm so that it
feels as if your right hand is tracking an outward-curving arc away from
"IN THE ZONE"
|This shot shows the bow in the channel between the two wire guides. At first, it will look like this only a small percentage of the time, but it does limit how far off you can go, and that scraping feeling when the bow contacts the wire is a strong disincentive.|
I am now to
the point where my bow tends to automatically track a straight line, and
the (originally highly unnatural) feeling of the required coordination
between elbow, wrist, shoulder, and fingers comes naturally to me.
But I still pull out the Bowright from time to time to make sure I am
not developing any bad habits ...
So, what makes straight bowing so important?
Several things, I think, including:
In an experiment, I tried to
keep the bow height constant while bowing at a steep angle, and I
couldn't do it. When I try to make the bow contact point stay at
the same location if the bow is not perpendicular to the strings, the
bow tries very hard to crawl upward or downward.
Straight bowing is
only one factor, of course. This won't help you get the feel for
proper bow pressure, speed, and such. But one thing at a time!