Remember when you were a kid and your mom told you to stay where she could see you?

Staying in the playground

The bow is hard to control. This is simply a fact we need to contend with as we understand what it takes to learn the violin. If you are new (or returning) to violin, getting control of the motion, pressure and speed of the bow is a very important but difficult step.

To make things easier, we are going to create a "playground" by taping off the middle third of the bow. When you stay in this area, you encourage proper movement of the arm, hand and wrist, while giving yourself a limited range of motion in which to practice even tone.

Playing at the tip and the frog are actually intermediate and advanced skills. Be patient and know that you'll develop ability in those areas of the bow later on.


Use tape or stickers to mark the middle third of the bow. This is your playground!

Play your open strings until you feel you can reliably and consistently play in the middle area, then progress to a scale, Twinkle, and early Book One pieces.

Use the whole playground. Sometimes, you'll discover that you aren't using the full amount of bow that you should. Give yourself permission, even with staccato notes, to use the whole playground. That way the notes will be given enough bow to sing out.

Open at the elbow. Move easily from your forearm, opening at the elbow. Don't scrub, press, or beat at the strings.

Remember, don't go outside the playground, or you'll upset Mom!