I'm currently working on being able to play with two bows at once.  It fairly obvious that my left hand should be playing the "sharps" but I was wondering how other players handle the cross-overs between the bows so they don't get in the way of eachother when moving up and down the instrument. 


Any comments or recommendations???

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Comment by Dave Holeton on October 4, 2013 at 2:05pm


Thanks Nozomi

I'm printing this one because after seeing your "Whiskey Before Breakfast" I decided I needed to learn how to move better on some of the faster tunes.  I actually have been using Whiskey Before Breakfast as a practice vehicle, but I haven't been playing bow over bow.  I've tried some bow over bow exercises but this is like having the answer to the final test before report cards.

Thank You!

Thank You!


Comment by Nozomi Nose on October 4, 2013 at 6:26am

The following is mostly what I learned from Makoto Kato and I added my ideas.  My students and I are using the following bow movement patterns for the bow movement practice.  I would be very glad if this would be of any help for you.  R means the right hand, L is the left hand, and the arrows (<-、->) show the direction in which the bow moves. 


When you play the white key side of the psaltery with two bows, keep the bow hairs of your two bows parallel to each other.  This will keep the movement to pass over the other bow smallest. 


I will explain the following Bow Movements using one octave C major scale. 


Bow Movements 1 and 2 (Down Strokes and Up Strokes)

     1.1      1.2       2.1      2.2

C    R->     L<-       R<-     L->

D    L<-     R->       L->     R<-

E    R->     L<-       R<-     L->

F    L<-     R->       L->     R<-

G    R->    L<-        R<-     L->

A    L<-     R->       L->     R<-

B    R->     L<-       R<-     L->

C    L<-     R->       L->     R<-

The Bow Movement 1 is usually called down-stroke and the Bow Movement 2, up-stroke. 


Please be careful that the bow moves in the opposite direction when you play a note with a right hand down stroke and when you play the same note with a left hand down stroke, although both of them are called down stroke all the same.  In the following explanation I will call R-> right hand down stroke, L<- left hand down stroke and so on, regardless of whether you play a white key string or a black key string. 


The Bow Movement 3, 4 and 5 are for playing faster sequence of three or more notes. 


Bow Movement 3

       3.1                      3.2                     3.3                      3.4

C     R-> (R down)       L<- (L down)       R<- (R up)           L-> (L up)

D     L-> (L up)            R<- (R up)           L<-(L down)        R-> (R down)

E     R<- (R up)            L-> (L up)           R-> (R down)       L<-(L down)

F     L<- (L down)        R-> (R down)      L-> (L up)            R<- (R up)

G     R-> (R down)       L<- (L down)      R<- (R up)            L-> (L up)

A     L-> (L up)            R<- (R up)          L<-(L down)         R-> (R down)

B     R<- (R up)            L-> (L up)          R-> (R down)       L<-(L down)

C     L<- (L down)        R-> (R down)      L-> (L up)           R<- (R up)


In Bow Movement 3 the two bows move in the same direction, alternatively. 


Practice the Bow Movements 3 and 4 through the following procedure.  I will explain the procedure using the Bow Movement 3.1. 


(1) Place the middle of your right bow on the C string and the tip of your left bow on the D string.  Play the note C with right hand down stroke and the note D with left hand up stroke, as one sequence.  It is a good idea to play the two notes at the same time first, and then gradually move on the play the C note before the D note.  Then place the tip or your right bow on E string and the middle of you left bow on the F string, and play the two notes as a sequence (This time you play E with right hand up stroke and F with left hand down stroke).  Repeat this procedure on the note G and A, and then B and C.  So (1) would sound like CD, EF, GA, BC.  The commas are the time you take to place the bows on the next two strings. 

In the Bow Movement 3 and 4, place the middle of your bows on the string when you play the note with a down stroke (regardless of whether you play with your right hand or left hand),, while you place the tip of the bow on the string when you play the note with an up stroke.  This will avoid your bows colliding with each other. 


(2) Play CD, EF as you did in (1).  Then play the four notes using the same bow movement (C right down, D ldft up, E right up, and F left down) with a slower but connected movement.  (2) would sound like CD, EF  C  D  E  F. 


Bow Movement 4

      4.1                       4.2

C    R-> (R down)       L<- (L down)

D    L<- (L down)        R-> (R down)

E    R<- (R up)            L-> (L up)

F    L-> (L up)             R<- (R up)


G    R-> (R down)       L<- (L down)

A    L<- (L down)        R-> (R down)

B    R<- (R up)            L-> (L up)

C    L-> (L up)            R<- (R up)


Here we play the four notes CDEF GABC with down, down, up, up movement.  Place the middle of the bow when you play the note with a down stroke, and place the tip of the bow when you play with an up stroke, as we did in the Bow Movement 3. 


Bow Movement 5

      5.1                     5.2                     5.3                    5.4

C    R-> (R down)      L<- (L down)       R<- (R up)          L-> (L up)

D    L-> (L up)           R<- (R up)           L<- (L down)      R-> (R down)

E    R-> (R down)      L<- (L down)       R<- (R up)          L-> (L up)

F    L-> (L up)           R<- (R up)           L<- (L down)      R-> (R down)


G    R-> (R down)      L<- (L down)       R<- (R up)          L-> (L up)

A    L-> (L up)           R<- (R up)           L<- (L down)      R-> (R down)

B    R-> (R down)      L<- (L down)        R<- (R up)         L-> (L up)

C    L-> (L up)           R<- (R up)           L<- (L down)      R-> (R down)


Here we play the notes moving the two bows in the same direction.  Here again you must be careful with which part of the bow touches the string when you play each note.  For example, in 5.1, you start with the grip end of your right bow on the C string and the tip of your left bow on the D string.  As you play the sequence your right bow moves on to the middle and then to the tip part, while you left bow moves to middle and then the grip end. 


Finally the following is a way to play the beginning of ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’ using the Bow Movement 3.1. 


G(R->)   G(L<-) A(R->) G(L->) E(R<-) C(L<-) C(R->)    A(L<-)

You play the underlined four note sequence A G E C using the Bow Movement 3.1, and other notes using the alternative down strokes. 

You can play the whole song using the same bow movement pattern. 


Comment by Dave Holeton on September 26, 2013 at 8:42pm


Most of my psaltery playing up to now has been left hand for left side notes and right hand for right side notes.  For some songs it takes some effort to arrange the bowing technique so the bows don't run into each other.  One song I play in particular requires I start with a down and up stroke on the same note on the left side so I can follow with a down stroke on the next left note before playing the next note on the right.  I had to learn to remember to start the sequence with a down stroke on the first note on the left to avoid collisions with the bows. 


If you have a particular part of a given song where the bows are colliding, try finding a way to start the sequence of notes with a down stroke or an upstroke such that the following notes cause a natural separation in the bows.  When you find a pattern for a given sequence of notes for a given song, you will have to remember to play that sequence in your learned non-collision manner every time you play the song.



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