Sei sulla pagina 1di 2

Tone Toolbox Dr.

Eliza Jeffords
TMEA Clinic Presentation 2015 Texas Lutheran University
ejeffords@tlu.edu- (830)372-6026

Tone production is the first essential building block in great string performance. The primary
portion of this session will demonstrate exercises to build a consistently resonant tone, while
providing techniques to use tone for its expressive possibilities. Quality of tone can be adjusted or
varied through bow angle, arm weight, bow speed, and sounding point, and exercises to address
each will be demonstrated; first in a simple application appropriate for beginner students and then
in an advanced application for the intermediate and beyond. Expressive uses will then be shown
for each using standard repertoire. The exercises demonstrated are simple for any music
education professional to implement and are effective in group or individual teaching settings.
Though best used as daily warm-ups, these techniques may also be introduced as a longer tone-
intensive session. All techniques have originated from the teachings of Dorothy DeLay and study
with Mimi Zweig, Masao Kawasaki, and Catharine Carroll.

1. Other factors to consider in tone production (not covered today): posture, instrument hold,
instrument quality, vibrato, intonation, and more.

2. Bow angle. A bow that is parallel to the bridge will invariably produce the most beautiful tone,
and is the most appropriate goal for beginner and intermediate students. When a student
becomes advanced, changes in the bow angle may be explored for artistic/expressive purposes,
but a parallel bow should still be emphasized.

Beginner exercises to establish a parallel bow:


A. Begin bow usage in the middle and limit the amount of bow used. Emphasize the
open and close motion of the fore and upper arm while playing simple rhythms.
B. Divide the bow into four equal parts and use them to gradually lengthen the amount of
bow used, while monitoring the angle. Begin with middle to mid-upper half, then middle
to tip, mid-lower half to tip, whole bow. Scales work well for lengthening bow usage.
**It is essential to give students a visual cue for where each bow division lies- tapes,
sticky notes, or stickers are suggested.

Intermediate exercises:
A. If you find that you are rehabbing a bow that is habitually off-course, begin with the
bow lengthening exercise (B, above.)
B. Have students practice in a mirror, watching for the bow to be parallel to the bridge. A
small mirror on the stand may be enough! (Watching the bow from the player’s position
often provides a skewed visual perspective that looks as though the bow is parallel, but
it is not. Left/right eye dominance also plays a part.)

Advanced exercises: See advanced exercises under number 5; Bow Placement/Sounding Point

**If a student cannot seem to reach the tip of the bow without changing the angle, it may be too
long for their arm length. Find the highest point of the bow where their arm can comfortably keep
it parallel to the bridge and mark it with a tape/sticker. That is their new ‘tip’ until they grow! (If a
violinist or violist, one may consider adjusting the angle of the instrument hold.)

3. Arm Weight.

Exercise to practice use of arm weight:


A. Begin with one whole bow in the up and then down direction at a medium arm weight
to establish ringing and vibrant tone.
B. Alternate light and heavy arm weight to create ‘pulses.’ Best practiced in the middle
(between the fingerboard and bridge) unless otherwise noted. May be done on open
strings or any fingered note.
Beginners: 1, 2, and 4 pulses in each whole bow. Use bow divisions for evenness.
Intermediate: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12 in each whole bow. Add vibrato if it is comfortable.
Advanced: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 24, 32 in each whole bow, with vibrato. Once
excellent tone is established in the middle, may try with other sounding points.

4. Bow Speed.

Exercise to practice use of bow speed:


A. Begin with one whole bow in the up and then down direction at a medium arm weight
to establish ringing and vibrant tone.
B. Alternate slow and fast bow speed to create ‘pulses’- be careful that the arm weight
remains constant! Best practiced in the middle (between the fingerboard and bridge)
unless otherwise noted. May be done on open strings or any fingered note.
Beginners: 1, 2, and 4 pulses in each whole bow. Use bow divisions for evenness.
Intermediate: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 in each whole bow. Add vibrato if it is comfortable.
Advanced: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 24 in each whole bow, with vibrato. Once excellent
tone is established in the middle, may try with other sounding points.

5. Bow Placement (Sounding Point). These exercises reinforce the principle (and require the
knowledge) that a lighter and faster bow creates the best tone near the fingerboard, while a
heavier and slower bow creates the best tone near the bridge.

Exercises to practice bow placement:


A. Beginners: establish three sounding points; middle, close to the fingerboard, and close
to the bridge. Draw several whole bows (up and down) in each sounding point creating
the most vibrant tone possible.
Intermediate: establish four to five sounding points, follow directions above.
Advanced: establish five to six sounding points, including just over the fingerboard and
directly next to the bridge- follow directions above.
B. (Advanced only) Begin with the bow near the fingerboard and pull it from the
fingerboard to the bridge and back to the fingerboard while drawing a whole bow. In
each down and up bow try moving the bow placement 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, and 16 times.

6. Expressive uses that will be enhanced by these exercises: dynamic changes, hairpins,
phrasing of notes under a slur, constancy of tone and dynamic in held out notes, variety of
possible tone colors, and so much more!

7. Keep a collection of descriptive words for tone (positive and negative)- the more the better for
more possible tone colors and more connections with what your students identify with.
Full, rich, velvety, chocolaty, wispy, airy, breathy, skating, heavy, vibrant, ringing, radiant,
bright, dark, burning, languorous, tender, gracious, luminous, twinkling, sparkling, strong,
ghostly, timid, crying, vocal, stale, forced…keep adding!

Ideas for the Tone Toolbox have been developed through the influence of the Dorothy DeLay
tradition of string teaching and study with Mimi Zweig, Masao Kawasaki, and Catharine Carroll.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

Dr. Eliza Jeffords – (830)372-6026 – ejeffords@tlu.edu