Bow Exercises for the Expressive Violinist

I recently wrote an article on my top 5 picks of violin etude books that develop bow technique. Shortly after I was approached by David France with an etude book that he had developed inspired by his study with renowned teachers Sally O’Reilly and Roland and Almita Vamos. While the list I shared in my previous article was a solid catalog of the tried and true books, there is plenty of room for new material. With more and more young children playing violin there is a great need for simple and progressive etudes that close the gap on the more advanced studies. It is with that in mind that David offered me the exciting opportunity to share his first official review of his book!

As a bow maker, I firmly believe that the tonal palette is all developed in the right hand. What I love about the etudes in Bow Exercises for the Expressive Violinists is that they are designed to focus solely on the right hand, reducing each etude to a single string. While keeping the left hand very basic, this book does an excellent job of explaining the goal of the right hand with easy and clear instruction.

The book opens up with a wonderful introduction and explains plainly how to utilize the resource to its full extent along with some excellent practice tips. The progression of each etude is incremental and logically laid out. Taking a student through several bowing techniques including detaché, martelé, collé, and up- and down-bow staccato. For the advancing student, it would definitely give them a sense of accomplishment as they work through the material. It would feel like they are working through a “big kid” etude book without being overwhelmed at the onset. As a student works through this set of etudes, they will surely develop their technical ability to easily approach music with more expression and beauty.

While one has advanced beyond this book, it may still be used as part of a warm-up routine to further develop sensitivity in the right hand. David mentions in his book that he intends it to be used as a precursor to the Sevcik bowing books and I would agree with that statement. 

While David was writing the book, he realized as a Black violinist he had never used nor heard of any etude books written by a person of African Descent. I am excited to share this book so that it can be added to the regular literature for the violin and inspire more musicians to do so as well. The paperback version of the book may be purchased by following this link to Amazon.


DAVID FRANCE is a keynote speaker, an international performer, and an innovative educator. He is currently the founder and Executive Director of Revolution of Hope, a music for social change non-profit in Boston. David was recently named a Top 100 Most Influential Person of Color in Boston and a Top 40 Urban Innovator Under 40 in the United States. He has spoken at The Harvard Kennedy School, the Babson Entrepreneurship Forum, and MIT. He has also appeared in Time Magazine, NBC Nightly News, The New York Times, and on CNN. He is an Associate Producer on the Emmy Nominated TV show Ambitious Adventures. When he is not juggling multiple projects, you can find him advising startups, biking the streets of Boston, cooking delicious meals after midnight, and traveling the world with no money. He believes that joy in this life is maximized when you Give Your Life Away.

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