Carriage House Violins and CelloBello: Tips on Selecting a Bow

Carriage House Violins and CelloBello: Tips on Selecting a Bow


So my own preference for choosing a bow is
that the bow be well-balanced. I’m not so concerned as to whether the bow
was a heavy bow or a light bow… Rob: Just if it’s balanced… Paul: That it’s a balanced bow, right. Because if it’s a balanced bow, like this
is a pretty thick bow it has a big diameter, and it’s a pretty heavy bow, but it doesn’t
really feel heavy in my hand because of the way it’s distributed. I mean, some people will say they’re looking
for a heavy bow because they want a bigger sound? I think that’s totally irrelevant, that’s
my own sense. I mean, when you think of…the amount of
power and energy that it takes to play loud, whether a bow weighs three or four grams more
in the end has very little impact on what’s coming out of the instrument. So, a light bow can make a huge sound and
a heavy bow can be…can play very elegantly depending on balance. So there’s a lot of moving parts here in terms
of decisions. What are your thoughts on find a bow that
has, you know, either stiffness or a lot of flexibility? I mean, sort of the ideal bow that came from
heaven? I guess would be a strong stick that has a
lot of flexibility. Right? Right. Because I think for nuance…you can actually
see the stick here to make different colors. So the…the nuance and the color we get out
of, so we don’t get a…we don’t get straight sounds but we get nuanced sounds depends somewhat
on a very responsive stick. Also, whereas…spicatto-ing, there’s a tremendous
amount of spring in the stick that we need to activate. So there are bows that don’t spicatto very
well either because the balance is bad or the…sometimes they’re so stiff that they
don’t have the spring in them. Look how much…this is a very thick, heavy
bow actually. But look how much, I mean it’s also a great
bow. Rob: Absolutely. Paul: But you can see how much spring is there
that I just…I like to do this…it’s kind of a test to see how much spring resilliance
is in the stick. Um…so yeah, I believe in a lot of that and
Piatagorsky, who was a huge guy, liked to play with a lightish…a light bow and a loose…loose
hair because he was just looking for as much of this as possible. The more you tighten your bow up, then the
less of the spring you’re ab–see there’s just not as much, not as much spring in the
stick you can start to lose that. So how much you tighten, how much you loosen,
all of those things are very individual and just…as a player you tune in on those things
and you work with them over a period of years and sometimes you change bows, you know? It’s uh…the spring in the stick…also has
a lot to do with articulations. And also the other thing that is very important
is what kind of basic bow technique you’re using. I mean, there are people who push down and
press, there are people that rest into the instrument. That also is going to make a difference in
terms of what your personal preference would be. I had an amazing experience, or one of my
students had an amazing experience a number of years back. He studied with me at New England Conservatory
for four years and I’m sure by the time he left, he was just sick and tired of hearing
me talk about weight, resting, and don’t press, rest. Don’t press, rest. So he went off to another school and it actually
was to study with a very well-known cellist and the night before his first lesson, at
the beginning of the semester, this cellist gave a masterclass. And my student hadn’t even had a private lesson
yet, but he went to the masterclass and in the masterclass, he was telling a student
“Press! Press so hard, that your stick goes right
down on top of the hair! Push! Push with your first finger” like that. So my cello student panicked because he’d
never had to do that before so he ran back to the practice room to learn how to press
before he had his first lesson the next morning. And about eleven o’clock at night I got a
phone call: “Mr. Katz, I just went back, I was trying to learn how to press, and I broke
my tip.” He pushed so hard, he busted the tip of the
bow. Anyway, I don’t know what the point of that
story is except that there’s a lot of ways to play the cello. Rob: Absolutely.

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