Your Fingers are Sightless Animals

The fingers of your left hand cannot see.

You must give them eyes with your ears.

Play any passage, concentrating on how your fingers depend on your ears for guidance.

The mysterious energy of Pac Man

As you play, your left and right hand are brought together not only by the bow and the string.

Your arms, the bow, and the string make a complete circuit with a Pac-Man shape.

Energy can flow freely in this circuit.

Tuning the violin like a drum

Every time you use your left hand to choose a pitch, you must be confident in its tuning.

It is as though you are playing the timpani: once you tune it, you can concentrate much more clearly on how it is struck, and how it makes sound.

And know, when you start playing, that what’s done is done.

Drawing the string as a bow

Play a slow scale, watching the small part of the string between the bridge and the bow hair.

Each time you draw the bow, you will see the string push to the left (for up bow) or the right (for down bow).

Do your best to maintain this angle in the string as you play, like an archer in perpetual preparation to shoot an arrow. The string will take care of the rest.

The string is the bow; the sound is the arrow.

What you don’t see when you play a stringed instrument, even if you look

It may be that you have never seen a string move. It doesn’t do what you think. This video will begin to change the way you think about sound production. Many thanks to whoever made it. And here is another nice explanation.

Skating

Play long slow notes with a gradual decrescendo.

The first impulse from the bow starts its energy.

The the motion of the bow afterward defines how its resonance continues.

Skate with the bow: glide powerfully from the strength of the first impulse.

9. Radiance and Resonance

The energy of the string has an outlet at the bridge.

Watch the bridge drink the string motion (audio in). Feel the instrument’s resonance as you play (audio out).

The invisible motion of the bridge becomes the sound of the instrument.

8. Brightness

Experiment with the distance of the bow from the bridge.

Create softness and distance over the fingerboard; create brightness and proximity near the bridge.

Make the greatest possible differences in timbre and dynamics. Find the borders of string and instrument.

7. Lightness

Play a scale or arpeggio, placing your fingers on the strings as lightly as possible.

Use again the image of the breaking wave: think of the curl at its forward edge.

Imagine that your left hand must simply point to the string rather than press it.