The Violin Bow

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 45,295
    Professional violinist and pedagogue Slavico Ilic discusses the violin bow.

    Slavico Ilic

    Slavico Ilic is a professional violinist and pedagogue. She has performed concerts in Italy, Israel, US, former Yugoslavia, and currently she is a principal second violin with Mount Vernon Symphony Orchestra. She is on the faculty at the International School of Music (ISM) in Bethesda, where she teaches violin to all ages, levels, and styles. With a distinguished faculty of 55 teachers, ISM provides students with a rich music education experience. The ISM faculty’s friendly personalities, insightful approaches, and individually tailored teaching methods have helped students become complete and versatile musicians. ISM provides an atmosphere that is warm and supportive so every student can achieve his/her best.

    Slavica Ilic: My name is Slavica Ilic and I will be talking about the violin bow. I will give you short introduction about the bow and I will be talking about some bow parts.

    We will start with the bow stick. These are the bow hairs, this is the frog, this part right here we called Adjusting Screw, what do we do with that, every time we finish playing or practicing, we turn this adjusting screw in this direction to have the bow hair loose, when we decide to practice and play the instrument, we tightened them up.

    To tell you how much the tension should be, its the best for you when you put bow on the string, you can feel immediately if your bow is tight enough or not. If the bow hairs are touching the bow sticks, that means you want to tight them slightly with more.

    The one thing you never want to do, you dont know want to know tight the bow hairs that much that the bow stick becomes straight or gets the curl on the opposite direction. The bow always has to have a slight curve line going down.

    The bow stick is made of the Brazilian wood called Pernambuco and the bow hairs are made of a white horse tail, actually it should be a male horse.

    If you have for example a new bow hairs in order for them to stick on the violin string, you will have to use something called a Rosin. Before if you just have a hair bow; you have to put the rosin because unless you have the rosin the bow wont be able to make any sound; you will sliding all over the strings, you wont be able to produce any sound. So, the way you put the rosin in order to protect the rosin not to damage the rosin, you want to put your thumb against this metal part right here where the frog ends and then you put your bow hairs flat on the rosin and you are moving your bow from the bottom toward the top and then coming back. You do this same thing couple of times.

    To know, how much rosin to put, of course, if youre putting the rosin first time if your bow hairs are brand new, youll probably put little bit more, but when you play again, when you play, when you put your bow on the string you will see and you will feel if you need more rosin. If you see, when you play it, when you first made a contact with the string if you see a dust flying all over the place that means you to have too much rosin.

    If your bow is sliding and loosing the contact with the strings somewhere, when you play, when you pull a full bow stroke, that means that you might need some rosin.

    Too much rosin, its never good for the playing because it accumulates on the strings and it could make a very harsh and a squeaky sound.

    My next clip will be about instrument care.