The Bow Makes the Music

  • To use the the bow creatively for expressing emotion, mood and character.
  • How artistry evolves out of the infinite and intricate choices we make with the bow.
  • Switch conscious thought from your left hand to your bow. Plan your phrase shapes, dynamics and articulations. Mood, color and character are profoundly affected by contact point, weight, bow speed and bow distribution. First comes conscious planning; eventually ear and heart can guide the bow with less brain.
  • Self-examine your thought processes: are you focused only on the left hand? Expand your physical and aural awareness, putting emphasis on the bow. Imaginative use of the bow is integral to our search for expression.
  • Touch the cello the way you want it to sound. Move gently in tender moments and vigorously in dramatic passages.
  • Feel the direct connection of heart to bow.  Music begins inside each of us; revel in your opportunity to speak through sound. Your left hand provides individual letters and words.  Your bow creates phrases, sentences and stories.
  • Feel the direct connection of ears to bow. Heighten your listening awareness; use the ears to guide the bow, to craft gestures and ideas.
  • The cello is exquisitely sensitive to your every physical motion, large and small. Interact with your instrument–it changes with temperature and humidity–be attentive to its response.
  • Sing the phrase for yourself–then imitate your natural musical inflections with your bow.
  • Listen to the color and dynamic of your sound–is it creating the character and mood that you want?
  • Listen to the shape of your phrase. Does it have a logical architecture, do unimportant notes stick out, do the expressive notes say enough?
  • Listen to articulation, not just for clarity, but specifically for what you want to say.


The left hand is your thoughts, the right hand is your tongue. Gregor Piatigorsky

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