Dounis’s main objective with technique is to reduce impediments to expression.
Phrase Length vs. Bow Length
Uncompromised musicianship is the goal, though our phrases are usually longer than the bow length! Good bow changes are necessary to avoid calling attention to this inherent deficit. Your concept of the music must override your idea of technique. Phillips believes he’s only done three or four good bow changes in his life – clearly, there is a never-ending standard of perfection to aim for!
How do we draw the bow one way and immediately change directions without a dead zone?
The Figure Eight
In physics, we learn that any object reversing directions by 180º must momentarily come to zero velocity. One solution to this is not to reverse our direction perfectly but to draw a very thin figure eight with our bow. The challenge becomes timing the exact shape of the loop, which might not always be the same.
Isaac Stern Bow Changes
Another way of changing directions, which Isaac Stern was a proponent of, involves the up-down dimension. At the bottom of a down bow, curl the fingers down so the tip of the bow sticks higher into the air (pictured above. Then, reverse this motion when the bow approaches the frog. Finally, combining the thin figure-eight and the up-down curve is possible. The bow should start to point away from you as you approach the frog and comes toward you as you approach the tip.
Active & Passive Bowings
How does this fit in with the up bow being active and the down bow being passive? As we approach the end of an up bow, the wrist starts to switch direction before the bow changes direction (see images below). Practice all of these elements separately and you will naturally combine them when playing repertoire. Ensure that your idea of the music from the outset is not influenced by changes of the bow.
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