You hear me talk about “bow lengths” all the time. And I promise you, it’s not to be annoying. It’s also not some beginner idea sending you back to where you began. It’s a concept that develops in layers over time.

As we improve as players, we learn to interpret foundational concepts at a deeper level. We learn to see things differently and engage with them in more sophisticated ways.

Today, let’s talk about dissipating that dang bouncy bow with The Art of Anticipation. This topic is big in Fiddle School’s Lesson 19, but here’s a sneak peek.

When you have developed definable bow lengths that we find in most fiddle tunes — for example, the LONG BOW (the middle two-thirds of the bow) and the SHORT BOW (exactly half of that distance, the bottom half) — you have set yourself up to anticipate the bow’s behavior when changing directions.

(I tend to see fiddlers who vary these bow lengths — and thus the bow speed — and this increases the amount of variables when bowing.)

No matter what level of player you are, anticipating the bow movements WILL change your playing and help you overcome a bouncy bow. Let’s try it:

1. Put stickers on your bow.
Here’s a video to show you how and where.

2. Create a well-integrated bow arm.
In a well-integrated bow arm, the upper arm, forearm, wrist, hand, and fingers all work together and create balanced bow stroke. But even when you get all this right, the bow may still bounce. And so, he best way to overcome a bouncy bow is to…

3. Anticipate bow movements.

  • Play through a basic fiddle tune like Boil the Cabbage or The Girl I Left Behind Me. We’ll treat the short bows as “ordinary” and “common” (since they are going to build 90% of your tunes). The other bowings (in this case, the long bows) are special.
  • It’s the out-of-the-ordinary bowing patterns that will surprise you if you don’t see them coming. We’ll call these “variables.”
  • Know where the variables are in your tunes so you can be prepared. Otherwise, tension or unforeseen variables can create bouncy bows.
  • Remember, every bowing variable is just a variation on a short or long bow!

I hope these tips help you conquer that dang bouncy bow and bring your bow arm to the next level. Looking for more resources on bowing? Check out the posts below.

And, for more in-depth tips and suggestions for refining your bow arm, join us inside Fiddle School!