Beginner Cello

Bow technique – arco

Holding the bow may feel strange and unnatural at first but I assure you it will soon become second nature.  There are a few pointers I can offer to support you as you develop your bow technique:

Like most things in life, we begin with zombie arms. 😀

For a natural, relaxed bow hold, extend both arms straight out in front of you and let your hands flop down limply at the wrists, just like a zombie.


Now hold the tip of the bow in your very relaxed left hand and gently curve your fingers around the frog with your right hand.

The key here is to be as natural and relaxed as possible.  As in all things, going with the natural state creates the least work.  Here is an excellent tutorial showing a natural bow hold:

Note – I am not the kind of teacher who will insist on identical bow hold for each student.  Each bow hold will be a little different, but I do teach the principles of light, relaxed, organic and as little work as possible for maximum affect!

The next important part of your technique is to learn to draw the bow across the string (arco) in as straight a line as possible.  By this I mean, keeping the bow parallel to the bridge at all points along the bow: when you are at the frog, about the play down-bow, the bow should be parallel to the bridge.  When you are at the tip of the bow, your bow should still be parallel to the bridge.


This video offers a useful exercise for straight bowing.  At home, simply hold the tip of the bow with your right hand and move your left hand along the bow in the manner described.

  • Practise your silent bowing on all four strings.

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