Chinese Proverb

"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand." - Chinese Proverb.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lesson #30 (11/07/11): Selecting my bow (finally!), C&G bow angles and hand position

During this lesson we tested a couple of bows, went over bowing G & C string, bow angles and briefly went over some new repertoire.

  • We tried out two more bows. The Paesold bow that came with the cello I purchased wasn't to my satisfaction. It was a good bow, but the Paesold wasn't stiff enough for me. However, I did like how it felt in my hand
  • I requested the shop send me two more bows that were stiffer and had a balance point closer to the tip for me to try out. Linda is super nice and has the patience of a nun, especially dealing with my crazy picky self! 
  • Before sending me additional bows the shop owner informed me: 
    • 1) Balance is more critical than weight and stronger bows typically have an effort tone and less rich
    • 2) The best, most sought after French bows are light and springy
    • 3) In general 9" to 9.5" for the balance point is preferred for the cello bow with 9.5" being the target. Anything above 9.5" is considered to be tip heavy for cello bows and can cause injury
    • 4) Cellists tend to play with their bows over tightened 
      • ummm...that would be me.... 
  • She than had me find the balance point of a cheap bow I purchased on eBay that felt good in my hand but didn't sound very good
    • To find the balance point measurement: measure from the end of the wood (not including the tightening screw) behind the frog to the balance point
  • After I sent her the balance point and weight, she sent me the two bows at the top:
      • D. Caravalho Brasil - I selected this one
        • Weight 82.5, balance 9.87"
          • It doesn't feel as good in my hand as the Paesold bow, but it worked best with the Li cello, that is, it drew the sound out a lot easier and better than the other bows and it had a good stiffness 
      • Schaeffer Brasil 
        • Weight 83.5, balance 9.75"
      • Roderich Paesold
        • Weight 82, balance 9.55"
    • Okay, I don't fit into the "in general" category... or its probably because I'm a beginner and don't realize what is supposed to be good. I'm sure I'll be changing my mind in the future, but in the mean time, my preference is light weight (less than 80), stiff and a balance point closer to the frog
    • We tested out the bows during the lesson and my teacher and I agreed on the same bow. Before telling his opinion, my teacher always asks, "so what do you think?" I can tell when he doesn't completely agree and sometimes changes what he says because what I say, but I think in this case he really agreed with me
    • My teacher mentioned that:
      • 1) Each bow will sound different on a different cello, so pairing a cello and bow is often times difficult which is why its a good idea to try out a lot of different bows 
      • 2) In this price range, it's normal to have some inconsistencies. When I get to the $1,500+ range than the bows should be of good quality, i.e. straight strick, good hair, etc. 
      • 3) The pictures below are of a couple of bows I bought on eBay. (Yeah - I know, I'm not supposed to buy bows from eBay, but I couldn't resist! Although I didn't realize how good bows are supposed to look and feel like until I got some really crappy ones for comparison!) Some inconsistencies in beginner/intermediate bows:
        • a) Straight Stick - look down the end of the stick and see if it curves to one side by lining up the tip to the screw. Or I can look at the hair and try to line up the stick directly above the hair so the same amount of white is showing on both sides. The bow below is extremely crooked! It's even more crooked and obvious in person...
        • b) The frog is not coming off the stick. I can also line up the frog against the octagonal edge to see if it is attached straight  
        • c) The hair at the tip is straight and hair is not bunched on one side. Sometimes bowmakers will put more hair on one side to straighten a crooked bow. The first bow has more hair on the right and the other one has more hair on the left. This is fairly common on intermediate bows 
        • d) Scorch marks indicate the bowmaker was drying the wood instead of using naturally dried wood. 
          • My teacher also mentioned in general bowmakers look for dense wood and in the past they wood drop a bunch of wood on the floor and listen to the sound to determine which piece of wood would make a good bow  

    G String
    • Hand position
      • My hand position was completely wrong! ugh... my elbow was too high which was making my wrist go concave (like when I'm doing pushups) and I need to make sure my wrist is up
    • Bow angle
      • Also, my bow angle was completely wrong too. I was taking the bow straight across instead of putting it at an angle. My teacher explained that it should be the opposite angle of the D string and the mechanics of the G string should also be the opposite of the D string. 
      • Sounds simple, but it's kind of difficult for me. Although he said once feel the correct motion a few times, I'll understand it immediately and be able to do it correctly 

    C String
    • My shoulder should open and the movement of the bow is circular, but the bow stays on the correct path because the wrist and fingers adjust so that it remains on the correct path 
    • Normally when we go over important aspects of technique I'll record my teacher summarizing the information so I can go over it again later and also try to mimic the movement. I don't get a lot of time to practice technique during the lesson so have to try and get all the important information to work on later
    • Another reason why I record lesson that go over technique is because what I think I understood and what he really said sometimes don't correspond correctly! 

    • I also recorded my teacher doing Long, Long Ago, Allegretto and Andantino. My goal was to have these done by the end of this month, but that was when I thought I had the correct bow hold and bow angle, so now I"m not so sure that I'll get that goal completed by the end of the month, but we'll see... I'll still try to push it to get it done. I have the fingering down for the most part, its just the bowing that needs work so perhaps I'll get it done in time...hopefully...

    1 comment:

    1. We tried out two more bows. The Paesold bow that came with the cello I purchased wasn't to my satisfaction. It was a good bow, but the ...