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Motion Study of Violin Bow Technique: A Study Comparing the Motor Patterns of Professional and Student Violinists

by Lauren Michelle Deutsch Doctor of Musical Arts University of California, Los Angeles, 2011


The biomechanics of violin bowing is extremely complex and involves balancing a variety of physical parameters. Much of the previous research on violin bowing has investigated bowing techniques away from the context of actual repertoire or utilized extremely advanced equipment that is unavailable for pedagogic use.

This study used motion analysis technology to investigate the mechanics of the bow arm during six basic bow strokes (détaché strokes with string crossings, détaché strokes without string crossings, slurred string crossings, sautillé, up bow staccato, and hooked bow strokes). The excerpts investigated were taken directly from the violin repertoire and performed by six subjects of different experience and skill levels.

One of the primary goals of the study was to encourage performers and teachers to explore the possibilities of acquiring an understanding of the mechanics involved in violin bowing. The results demonstrate that there is more than one possible motor control strategy for some of the basic strokes.

This study gives support to teaching methods that utilize a learner-centered approach where the teacher guides the student to find the best movements for his/her unique physical make-up. In addition, this study has displayed some of the capabilities of motion analysis software as a pedagogical tool.

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by Lauren Michelle Deutsch, May 2006


Overuse injuries are common among violinists. Due to the awkward postural position required, violinists often suffer from injuries to the upper extremities. The aim of this research was to determine how experienced violinists control the left scapula and upper extremity during playing tasks performed along the length of the fingerboard using their preferred technique. Activation of muscles controlling the scapula and left upper extremity was monitored (surface electromyography, 2400 Hz) and segment kinematics were recorded (digital video, 60 Hz). Comparison of muscle activation patterns within each subject across tasks revealed that individual players scale different sets of muscles to accommodate playing in different positions along the fingerboard. Comparison of muscle activation patterns between subjects (n=3) within tasks revealed that two different neuromuscular control strategies were used to control scapular and upper extremity motion during the same playing tasks.

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