Artistic Quality and Bow Technique

By Kirk D. Moss, Ph.D.

String performers and teachers regard Ivan Galamian as one of the greatest violin pedagogues in history. Galamian’s system seemed to work regardless of how much or how little natural talent a student possessed, prompting the former first violinist of the Tokyo Quartet to famously joke that Galamian could make a violinist out of a table. In terms of specific exercises, the collé bow stroke was the staple of the Galamian world. Galamian students would warm up every day with collé. Playing it slowly was more important than fast, and Galamian had students play it in all parts of the bow with every possible bow direction combination: all ups, all downs, then back and forth.

Following in the Galamian tradition, the new Sound Innovations: Sound Development for Intermediate String Orchestra, Level 2: Sound Bowings introduces the collé bow stroke. Using collé to develop your students’ right-hand finger flexibility can make a noticeable difference on every bow change and in every attack stroke. Listen for clarity in hooked-staccato bowings and articulate martelé to hear the click at the beginning of each stroke. Refine the height of the spiccato bounce as well as the placement of the spiccato stroke. By paying more attention to these details, your students can share in the Galamian lineage of sound-driven technique. Remember: Artistic quality has no limits.

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