Mirror, mirror on the wall...
What happens when you can SEE yourself playing
KIds often can’t tell what their bow is really doing. When it is right under their nose it is hard to tell whether it is perpendicular to the bridge.
They need a way to stand back and observe themselves, much like an audience would. This works especially well for gauging the bow angle, and getting the feel of how to keep the bow perpendicular across the strings.
I'm always impressed with what happens after sending students home for a week of practice in front of a mirror.
All of the practice tips can get better if we see ourselves in a mirror. Here are a few good ones to start with:
- Violin Position (See Practice Tip #7 - Violin Floats Up)
- Using More Bow (see Practice Tip #10 - Open the Gate)
- Bow Control (see Practice Tip #9 - Stay In The Playground)
- Left/Right Wrist (see Practice Tip #20 - The Candy Bracelet and Practice Tip #15 - The Mousehole)
- Bow Placement (see Bonus Practice Tip - Stay In Lane 3 below)
BONUS PRACTICE TIP: STAY IN LANE 3
A really great thing to practice in front of a mirror is keeping the bow straight and in one place on the string.
Many times when students are not pleased with their sound, and can’t figure out what is happening, it is because they aren’t aware of their bow drifting toward or away from the bridge.
Finding the sweet spot
There is a sweet spot midway between the fingerboard and the bridge, where the tone production will be most solid. I call this "Lane 3". (Playing close to the bridge is lane 1, close to the fingerboard is lane 5.)
I often draw this “lane” right onto the strings with a washable marker. This also assists with keeping the bow perpendicular.
REMEMBER: Stand in front of a mirror to practice staying in lane 3, as it is very hard to tell whether the bow is straight.
Gradually you will learn to keep the angle of the bow correct, as well as stay on the string in the same place relative to the bridge.