Rosin, Bow Weight, and Variations

| posted in: lessons 

Today I had my second lesson with my new cello teacher. It was a wonderful 40 minutes that left me excited about playing and eager to have my next practice session.

We worked on how much weight to use when pressing the bow against the strings. Too much “crunches” the string and the sound. Too little gives a glassy or wispy sound. The larger strings require an ounce or two more pressure than the smaller strings. He pointed out what I had discovered, that when properly bowed the string’s vibration is nicely visible. The variation in bow weight is something measured in ounces or grams, not pounds. The imagery he used was that of doing a push-up. When the bow hairs are only just touching the strings that is equivalent to the push-up starting position with your arms straight. When the bow is pressed hard enough against the string to pinch the hairs between the bow stick and the string that is the same as having your chest on the floor. Proper bow weight in most cases would be somewhere in the middle. The sound of the string is the best indicator of proper weight. Not wispy and not crunched.

He wants me to work on the transitions between fingerings and strings. He had a piece of paper with windows cut into it that was then laminated that he laid over the music to show just 4 or 8 notes around a transition, say from A on the A-string to G on the D-string. He wants me to work in playing 8, then 4, then 2 notes on A followed by 8 or 4 or 2 notes on G. By isolating the transitions from the entire piece I can improve that aspect of it. Practicing the transitions in isolation will allow me to play the entire piece fluently and without pauses.

He wants me to start working through the Suzuki book on my own and he’ll make corrections as needed. He wants me to memorize as much as I can - being able to focus exclusively on the bowing and fingering will be enough with out trying to add reading the “hieroglyphics” this is written music.

All in all it was another very good lesson. I leave there excited and ready to sit down and play for an hour or two. :) I am extremely happy about learning to play the cello and thrilled with my teacher and he approach to teaching.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Mastodon.