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How to Bounce a Bow

Hello Everyone,

Todays video is about learning how to bounce your bow. Bouncing your bow on a stringed instrument is more commonly known as Spicatto.

There are many types of Spicatto and today we are only going to focus on the primary mechanics of a simple Spicatto bow stroke. I will cover more techniques and practice exercises in later videos.

There are 2 primary things you can do that will pretty much guarantee your success in learning how to bounce your violin bow.

Remember, success with Spicatto = CONTROL.

1. You must practice with a metronome

—Practicing with a metronome will give you consistency from day to day on the speed at which you practice.
—Practicing with a metronome will provide you with a steady beat that will engrain in you an even stroke. This will help you be consistent, relaxed, accurate and clean.

2. You must have a relaxed bow hand.

-- A relaxed bow hand is pretty much mandatory to achieve spicatto at higher speeds.
— A relaxed bow is only possible with a proper bow hold: bent thumb, bent pinky.

There are a few points to remember.

1. The faster the bounce the further up the bow you will bounce.

2. The faster the bounce the less vertically the bow will bounce. The bounce will height will become smaller as speed increases.

3. Turning your bow slightly away from you, so it’s on an angle will help with achieving a less scratchy sound.

4. The faster you bounce, the more the BOW is doing the bouncing. Conversely the slower the bounce, the more YOU will be controlling the bounce.

Here is how to practice bouncing your bow.

1. Practice the motion: Find a spot near the base of the bow (about 9-10 inches from the frog) and start bouncing. You can think of the bow as if it’s an airplane. The better it lands the better then sound. The worse it lands the worse the sound. How the bow contacts the string will determine your sound quality, so you are mostly learning how to control how the bow contacts the string. Start from a raised bow position ABOVE the string and let the bow hit the string and then lift.

Remember to strike the string in between the fingerboard and the bridge.

(There are techniques where you learn to bounce the bow FROM the string but this technique is much harder to learn and the results are less consistent without expert guidance from an experienced teacher.)

2. After you have learned the basic motion. Practice the motion with a metronome. Put the metronome at 62 BPM and bound each note 4 times. Each bounce is a beat on the metronome. Use a basic Major scale for the exercise. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 on every string.

3. Gradually build the speed with the metronome. A good goal speed would be 192 BPM.

4. After you are successful getting to 192 BPM or even a bit before, practice bouncing the bow 2 times times per beat and then once per beat. You can then Make it much harder with more advanced exercises. For example, you can do the same exercises listed above but with a two octave scale and then a 3 octave scale.