Wes has used the imagery of archery in his string teaching for many years. String playing and archery have a surprising amount in common, starting with the use of the bow. The violin bow functions like the arrow and the violin strings are similar to the bowstring in archery.
For their greatest success, both require, among other things, calm and focused concentration, excellent posture, precise form, balanced use of left and right arms in different but complimentary functions, and a constant refinement of aim.
Picture the process of aiming an arrow at a target. Once you release the arrow, you can no longer control where that arrow arrives. You need to adjust your aim for the next shot in order to get closer to the target. Controlling where your left hand fingers drop on the string to produce notes in tune is a similar process. Each time you play a note, listen to how much you need to adjust where you are aiming. Your intonation thus will improve in the process.
As another useful analogy, imagine your violin or viola bow as an arrow, using the image to help you to cause the violin bow to travel in a very straight line, just like the arrow. This can assist in learning bow control to develop a more beautiful and resonant sound.
The violin bow drawn across the string on the violin functions quite similarly to the arrow being shot from the archery bowstring. In archery it is very important for the arms to be positioned in a straight line, pulling the correctly positioned bow and arrow in such a way that the arrow is released smoothly, achieving the greatest power from the bowstring with the least amount of turbulence. The arrow then will move in the straightest line possible with maximum speed in order to reach the target with the greatest control.
In violin playing, this correlates to the bow being drawn perfectly parallel to the bridge with a relaxed bow arm. A relaxed arm with the bow exactly perpendicular to the string, using a correct combination of weight into the string, sounding point and bow speed, produces the optimal vibration of the string, resulting in a good violin tone. Such mistakes as having a bow alignment that is crooked or pressing into the string would produce an undesirable tone, much in the same way that a misaligned archery position or an awkward release of the bowstring would have a negative effect on the arrow’s flight.
Read Wes’s post on archery:
If you are interested in learning archery, contact Next Step Archery at (425) 977-2770 or ask Wes.
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