"Imagine a beam of light, emanating from the frog. Where does that light shine? That's where the weight of the bow should be aimed!"
Aimee told me the credit for this delightful image probably comes from her mentor, esteemed Suzuki pedagogue, Ronda Cole, and may originate even further than that!
I really liked this explanation of the way bow weight is directed, and it occurred to me that it might be fun to make a laser bow.
Maybe making a working prototype would yield unexpected results?
At the very least, my cat, Sub-Zero, would be entertained.
The cheap plastic frog is hollow, and allows the laser to fit snugly after drilling.
I found the lasers on Ebay:
"5PCS 650nm Laser Diode Module Copper Head Diode Red Laser Circuit 3-5V 5mW" (less than $3)
And found a battery pack for less that $5 on Amazon.
For a first try, proof of concept, this didn't have to be pretty, or expensive.
Ultimately, that big battery pack will have to be switched out with a couple of 3V coin-sized batteries.
The wire and wire connectors are too big for comfort.
I've tested the laser bow out on students this week. It's been an excellent tool to show that the weight of the bow never goes straight down to the floor. Rather, bow weight travels from left of your heart, down your right leg. I've had varying success directing students to pull closer to the bridge, to use arm weight, etc.
Students reading this: Yes, I mean you.
There are a myriad of methods to get a student pulling weight rather than pressing.
However, the laser bow has been the most direct, easy to understand method of showing directional weight.
It's been much more memorable than any purely verbal explanation I've attempted.
And who will be able to forget playing a laser bow?
One of the more surprising discoveries I noticed, occurred when playing three octave scales. In a 24-note per bow, 3-octave scale, the laser travels in nearly a straight line down my shirt buttons.
I also tried Paganini Caprice number 14, which involves a lot of playing in the lower half of the bow. I was able to much more efficiently achieve a full, focused tone when I thought of pulling the weight of the bow towards the laser dot. It's easy to forget that at the frog, the weight of the bow should be directed just left of your heart, rather than the abyss of the floor underneath the violin.
I'm very much looking forward to Andrew Small's masterclass on Saturday, in hopes that I'll continue to be inspired by creative and thoughtful teaching technique.
More info on Andrew's class here.