Practice Tips For Keeping The Bow Straight – Violin

Practice Tips For Keeping The Bow Straight – Violin
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the bow, so I thought I’d start to make some bow videos. In this video, I discuss some tips for how to start practicing with a straighter bow!

Learning to play with a straighter bow is difficult. As one plays, it is hard to tell whether or not the bow is actually straight just by looking from the player’s perspective. Keeping the bow straight is primarily based on muscle memory, and can be difficult to gain in the very beginning.

To keep the bow straight, it is important to pay attention to the upper arm. There should be no sideways upper arm movement – the movement of the upper arm should primarily be an up-down motion to change strings rather than a side-to-side motion. Having the upper arm move side-to-side is the primary reason why the bow will be “crooked” when playing.

Controlling the elbow and wrist are the main components to playing with a straighter bow. As the elbow opens outward in a down-bow, the wrist needs to curve out away from the player to compensate for the elbow movement. As the elbow closes inward in an up-bow, the wrist needs to curve in towards the player to keep the bow in a straight position. Learning the fluid motion between the up and down bows is difficult and needs to be practiced.

The first idea for practicing this fluid motion is to not use a violin bow at all! Pick up any light object and pretend to play an imaginary violin. This will give you a similar placement for the real bow. Next, you can solely focus on the object. Try moving it away from you and towards you in as straight a line as you possible can, with minimal upper arm movement. You will notice that any upper arm movement will actually mess up the straight line movement that you are trying to create.. This will force you to use the elbow and the wrist to keep the object coming directly towards and away from you.

The next tip is to lean your shoulder and upper arm against a wall while practicing. This will prevent the upper arm from moving too much “back” as you play. It is very comfortable to play with the upper arm slightly back, but it will cause a crooked bow to develop. This can be a very frustrating way to practice, but it helps a lot if your upper arm tends to creep backwards like mine!

The third tip is to use straws! You can connect two straws together and use them in the f-holes as a bow guide. It’s a cheap and very effective way to learning how to bow straighter, and entire practice sessions can be done using the straws!

The final tip is also the most-known — and it is to use a mirror. It’s important to play something that you don’t need to focus on your left had for – I usually use scales or open strings. You can make corrections to your bow as you play to make sure you are playing with a straight bow.

These tips helped me learn how to play with a straighter bow, and I hope they help you, too!

Thank you for watching, and happy practicing!


Camera used: Canon 70D
Video editing software used: Final Cut Pro X


  1. I tried the wall tip with the mirror and it worked. However, there is also a problem, i could not keep my bow in the same lane, it somethings slide near the fingerboard with straight bow.

  2. Katy what is your violin brand name? What do you advice for me? I am beginner pupil, I have a violin but it does not satisfy me…

  3. Really good lesson Katy on a very difficult topic and such an important one for producing good tone!!!  Your years of practicing this way certainly shows up in your beautiful playing and tone!!  Thanks again for all that you do for us the viewer!!

  4. it’s on you if you want to read this piece of sh- nonsense comment, I’m just bored and wanted to learn things I’m lazy for.

    This is my not actually first experience: (sorry for my grammar)

    So Im just watching K-pop and suddenly I’m now watching this and remembered that on Saturday I’ll start my violin lessons and they say that the one who’ll be my teacher is Bossy. While I’m watching this I want Katy to be my aunty so bad but it would never happen and I wanted to practice but my violin is still for sale, I need to wait until Saturday for me to get it and I couldn’t practice so my teacher will be proud of me and not disowning me cause I’m a slow learner except for learning different comfortable sleeping positions(dont be GM) so I used Umbrella and broom for practicing putting it in the center while I’m wearing white T-shirt and I tried doing the wall thing but end up cleaning a spot on our wall.

    Thanks for reading my nonsense words. 👋

    Edit:(BTS fault for making such beautiful songs and making me want to play it on 🎻)

  5. Thank you so much for sharing these helpful tips! By far, this is the best video for “keeping a straight bow”! I’m a beginner player, and keeping the bow straight has always been an issue for me.

  6. Sweetheart, If you really want to bee a good Violin Teacher you have to understand, your right hand is important to be visible and NEVER despair from your video screen.
    Mary Christmas

  7. An amazing video Katy! I love all your information about the bow!! As for my roisin I use-it is actually cheap! I live in Northern Ireland and it only costs £3.99 at my local music shop. I hope you will be posting videos like this again.
    Can you suggest any good violin string brands? I am new to violin playing, and as there are so many string brands available I really don`t know what to choose!!! I will certainly subscribe to your fantastic videos.

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