Sunday, September 03, 2006


Is it time to rehair?

I bought two bows along with my cello six months ago. I've used one of them exclusively for my daily 2 hour sessions since then. Yesterday, I pulled out my backup bow, rosined it just a bit, and started playing. The sound was immediately better! Significantly! Wow! It felt so good, I didn't want to jinx it by pulling out my other bow, so I wasn't sure if it really was the bow. Today it was still good, but I did try the other bow. I was able to tell a difference.

Bows need rehaired on occasion, but I'm not clear about how to tell when. Tipbook Cello says "Good-quality hair will last for years, and won't become wavy or brittle." Mine isn't brittle, but it is wavy when it is slack. Maybe I have been tightening it too much?

James McKean says in Commonsense Instrument Care that "Your bow will need rehairing when you feel that it is no longer digging into the string, or when you have lost a number of bow hairs, or when they just get dirty from use."

At my next lesson, I'll ask my teacher to do a comparison, and see what she thinks. Since I don't go to Anchorage very often, if it does need rehairing, I'll have to mail it off. In that case I may as well send it back to Ifshin Violins in Berkeley; after all they made it and stamped their name on it.

Meanwhile, I'm going to try cleaning it with rag lightly soaked in rubbing alcohol; I have been using too much rosin. And I'll continue playing with my backup bow.

I've practiced the second position shift so many times, that my #2 and #4 fingers seem to "know" where to go, finding ringing tones more often. I play lots of scales, arpeggios and little etudes using both positions. Until recently, I was feeling some strain between my thumb and forefinger when I reached for the new #4 notes, but these past few days the strain seems to have gone away. I've been trying to hold my left elbow a bit higher and curve my pinkie more above the fingerboard.

Today I played all the way through "Hunter's Chorus". Like all new pieces, it sounds so fine when I first hear it. I look forward to one day playing it well.

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