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Smooooth ‘Son Filé’ Bowing


This series of blogs about bowing technique features pieces of music to help you (or your students!) develop different types of bow stroke. This week’s post introduces the Son Filé stroke.

Son Filé means ‘spun sound’ and is the term used to describe a sustained note played with the whole bow.

It is very important to develop an even quality of sound. Think of your down and up bow strokes as gentle waves flowing in and out over the sand

Get Ready…

Use these questions and tasks to prepare and get ready to play the piece:

Before playing these long bows of eight beats at a time, start with two beats to a bow. Count “1, 2” slowly, out loud, making sure that the bow is divided exactly in half for each beat.

Counting at the same speed, progress to four, dividing the bow into quarters. Next try six, with three beats in each half of the bow, before attempting eight.

Listen to your sound at all times. Is it beautiful?

If you can, ask a pianist to play the accompaniment to you. Try singing your part, with the dynamics, before you play. What does tranquillo mean?

Tip: To help a smooth bow change at the heel, imagine a wave on a calm moonlit night gently changing direction. Your arm, wrist and fingers should float freely.


Let’s Play!

Treble clef version for violinists

Alto clef version for violists

Bass clef version for cellists

How Did It Go?

Use these questions and tasks to review what you just did, and think about how you could make it better!

  • Did you find this easy to play?
  • What can you do to help make the long notes easier to sustain?
  • Were you listening to the piano?
  • What happened to your bow stroke during the crescendos and diminuendos?
  • Was your bow in the same place on the string all the time?
  • Did you have to move the bow faster or slower?

Next Steps…

Now build on what you’ve just learned with this task…

  • Play a very slow scale of D major. Mentally divide the bow into four sections, and really listen to the sound that you make.

This series is based on Bow Strokes for Violin, Bow Strokes for Viola, and Bow Strokes for Cello by Caroline Lumsden and Anita Hewitt Jones. Piano accompaniments for all pieces are available in the printed versions!