Zimbalist and the One – Minute Bow …

How long can you play a Down bow? How about an UP bow?
No fair stopping on the way …

When I was a student, it was reported that early each morning,
Efrem Zimbalist, Sr., would open the doors of the famous Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and begin his daily morning practice on his violin.
By the time the students had arrived, he was well into his scales with his one – minute bow per note.

Needless to say, even 40 second bows are less than satisfying to hear and the sounds of his humble practice were the first sounds to greet the students as they arrived. There were some humorous remarks exchanged between students but never anything that reached the master’s ears.

what a lesson they all learned …

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A bit of history … Zimbalist, noted Russian violinist, composer, conductor, and teacher was the director of the world famous Curtis Institute from 1941 to 1968. Only the finest and most gifted students from all over the world are accepted at the Curtis Institute of Music.
Zimbalist was one of Leopold Auer’s outstanding pupils, had concertized extensively and had the reputation of being a very strict and demanding teacher. If you didn’t maintain Curtis standards, you were out …

Although Zimbalist officially retired from playing when he was about 60, he played the Mendelssohn Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra to celebrate his 80th birthday. It was a concert we will not soon forget. Obviously, his one – minute bow worked.

So how can we begin to learn this one – minute bow? Or even the 40 second bow…

  • First of all, you need to set your metronome at 60.
  • Next, place the bow very close to the bridge … begin to move as slowly as you can.
  • Sustain the same speed of bow throughout the entire stroke.
  • Holding the bow firmly,try to keep the same pressure at the point of contact throughout.

Be patient with your sound, maintain your focus and be aware of what is happening as you count each second.

Enjoy your disciplined, steady meditative approach, and know it brings results!

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Vivian Waters

Vivian Waters