Homework: bowing joint-by-joint

This week’s practice theme has been all mechanics.

After going over Schroeder 14 in my lesson we spent a lot of time breaking down the bow arm action: joint by joint from the back of my shoulder to my fingertips. I’ve still got a bit of the swashbuckler shoulder swing going on in my shoulder (yo ho ho and a nugget of rosin) and although my bow hand looks and feels a lot more relaxed my fingers are now trying to do the work that my wrist should be hauling on string changes and my damn elbow is asleep on the job.

So I’m spending lots of time this week coaxing strange new movements out of my elbow and wrist to get to that elusive and lovely swan neck arm movement that makes a cello sing.

Today I spent a half hour just practicing string changes on open strings using my wrist. (Left hand yawns and sighs luxuriously) Then I worked the first line of Schroeder 14 on repeat watching my wrist in the mirror with the same laser eye I use to keep track of my standing leg fixed in yoga. I made my wrist my drishti and I reset myself every time I caught it slacking off.

I also, I noticed the bow isn’t staying even on the strings at the end of the slur, which makes my thumb straighten out and bowhand get all wonky. When I focused on keeping that bow perpendicular to strings – mostly by keeping the weight traveling down my index finger and onto the bow – my thumb stayed bent and life was good. So I spent another half hour played the first line focusing on keeping my bow straight on the strings AAAAND practicing the wrist action on the string changes.

Then to reward myself I worked on Allegretto (Suzuki) for 45minutes, which like Allegro evokes this deep feeling of delight in me every time I get into it. It just feels happy – unlike 14 which reminds me of a Russian novel (Anna Karenina, anyone) – and I the wrist work really came in handy while I took the first line apart measure by measure and worked on the string changes and tempo.

Tomorrow I think I’ll spend some time on my scale of the week and more wrist and elbow exercises. Seems like a good theme to keep working on for the week. What were your favorite beginner bowing exercises? Any favorites?

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About Eddie

Watch what happens when you give a writer a cello.
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