help for a sore thumb

Originally published 7 January 2008. The main takeaway I have, now that an additional 12 years have elapsed, is that while the larger aspects of this post hold true, bow hold is wildly variable. The video I posted about visualization addressed it a bit: the function must lead the form. As it turns out, chasing […]

Does your bow grip work?

Originally published 5 Jan 2008. I really wish I had somehow been able to wrangle the bow in the picture into my life. While the current Sasano bow (I’ve had since my second year at CSUN) is wonderful, I can still remember the miraculous glide of this one. I nicknamed it “Excalibow”. A colleague had […]


Originally posted 26 June 2007. It’s wild that this is all words and no images, although I suppose there is some utility in having to visualize the movements independently. It reminds me of the Eddie Izzard skit where he talks about why there are no car chases in books. When a student is first learning […]

the bow

Originally published 18 June 2007. I’m still a bow-centric teacher. Maybe even more so now, even though there are lots of really insightful instructors whose philosophy centers intonation as the first goal. It’s not that I don’t think intonation is important. It’s just that producing a beautiful sound is much harder. Work on both, of […]

hacks for your technique, part 5: staying focused on a problem thumb

This may be the simplest “hack”, but it’s also one I wish more students used. Something as rudimentary as a bandage can work wonders to draw the physical attention (that is, the body’s awareness of what is happening while other complicated things are going on) to a small, but crucial aspect of technique. I use […]

hacks for your technique, part 3: getting a tense right pinky to chill out

I wrote about this nearly ten years ago, but it’s stood the test of time for a tense/hyperextended/jerk of a pinky. My school of bow technique asserts that the pinky is largely inert during most actions, and although there are big names (A. Weilerstein and M. Haimovitz to name two…sometimes Rostropovich) who lean on their […]

hacks for your technique, part 2: cultivating vibrato from the arm

Vibrato may be describable in words, they’re not easy to come by. For most students, it’s a bit of a long haul to add it to the list of techniques considered well in hand (pun resisted). I’ve had several freakish students pick it up instantaneously, like some sort of sorcery, while the majority of others toils […]

hacks for your technique, part 1: fixing clumped fingers

There are techniques that feel, for some, completely unnatural. It gets to the point that struggling students can’t even feel what right is, so they either give up on the technique (this is common with vibrato, for instance) or develop weird work arounds (hello splayed extensions!). Over the years, I’ve employed a few novel strategies […]

bolstering your shift practice, part 2

So last post we talked about getting a feel for the distance the arm travels to put the hand in the right place for an accurate shift. Today is all about the mechanics involved and a bit of the mental approach behind policing your technique. Shifting physically Although the mind may seem very active during […]

vintage srcb, part 4: help for a sore thumb

Originally posted 7 January 2008, as part of a series on the bow. Ah, the heady days of cello blogging! This is still an exercise I prescribe to develop the most relaxed bow grip possible, and one I practice, myself.  Superstar of the cello blogging world, Gottagopractice kicked off the Bow Month celebration with this […]