No. 2: Establishing the Bow Position

Category: Cello Video Tutorials by Susan Moses

No. 2: Establishing the Bow Position

Establishing the Bow Position
Keep the awareness of the curve in the bow. The Italian word “arco” means arched shape. Have the student pick up a pencil in the most natural way. Place the relaxed thumb opposite the longest finger. No grabbing!

Another way to approach the first bow position is by imagining you are swimming the crawl and gently approach the bow with the hand. Come to the bow from a forward motion, grasp the bow first with the fingers (feel that you know the bow), and gently add the thumb opposite the longest finger.

Keep a sense of pronation as you play to the tip of the bow. Draw an” X” on the wrist bone. As you draw the down bow, make sure you can always see the “X”. This reinforces the feeling of pronation.

String playing is based on physical sensations.
Keep the bow stationary and walk the fingers down to the tip. Each person’s arm is a different length and walking to the tip helps define the passage of the arm. Hold the bow at the tip with left hand and walk up the stick with right hand, keeping the pinky on top of the stick. The hand stays in contact with the bow at all times. This allows the bow arm to feel comfortable and natural in all parts of the bow.

The student can also hold and play with the bow at the ¼, ½, and ¾ division of the bow. Return to frog, see how the bow feels, and listen to the tone quality.
Get to know your bow. The bow is a living thing as it is an extension of your arm… it is alive!


Susan Moses is Co-Director of the String Academy and has been leading the cello department of the Indiana University String Academy since 1996. Ms. Moses earned her degrees with the highest honors at Indiana and Yale Universities before completing her studies at the Jascha Heifetz-Gregor Piatigorsky Master Classes at the University of Southern California. She was awarded a Ford Foundation Prize and has performed throughout the world in recital, with orchestra and as the solo violoncellist of the celebrated I SOLISTI VENETI. She has taught for Boston University and the Conservatoires Regionales de France and founded the Chicago String Trio, which was awarded a special Prize by the University of Milan for outstanding contributions in chamber music. In addition, she has been on the Oberlin College faculty. She records for ERATO and CONCERTO and was nominated for a Grand Prix du Disque. Ms. Moses was recognized by the University of Padua for her outstanding research on the school of Giuseppe Tartini in the 1700s. She also created a special music program for Trinity College’s Italian Elderhostel, where she is principal lecturer and performer. Her students are performing and teaching throughout the world. In January 2015, Susan Moses was awarded the Outstanding String Teacher of the Year Award by the Indiana American String Teachers Association.

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