Bowing Fun: A Look at the iOS App for Bowing Exercises

Bowing FunBowing Fun offers up exercises for bowed instruments – double bass (violin, viola and cello too) – designed to develop sight-reading skills and agility.

A friend recommended that I check out this app, as he’s enjoyed it thought might be worthy of a review here. I have mixed feelings about it, but decided it was worth sharing the good and the not-so-good, and leaving it up to you to decide.

I’ll start by saying that the concept behind the app is a great one. I think it just wasn’t followed through nearly as far as it could have been.

Bowing Fun screen exampleEssentially, the app creates random string crossing exercises for bowed instruments. It offers up notation in treble, alto, tenor and bass clef to facilitate the various bowed instruments. You start by selecting your instrument of choice, the length of the exercise (in measures), and then select which two notes you would like the exercise to be based on. This is one of the problems for me – you only have the choice of two note exercises.

While I think it an excellent place to start with an exercise like that, I can’t see why it stops at two notes. The ability to expand to bowing exercises utilizing all of the strings (and possibly even tonalities or chord types with regard to the notes chosen) would be a big improvement.

As far as an exercise generator utilizing only one rhythm and two notes, it does an excellent job. Simple, stable and fast.

My favorite thing about the app was how well the random equation had been implemented. There were never any buggy repeated measures, and the inclusion of random accents was a very nice touch. Even with only two strings, these exercises would be helpful, I believe.

Bowing Fun is available from the App Store for $1.99 and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad and requires iOS 4.2 or later. The app is designed for both iPhone and iPad.

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  1. Thanks, Damian Erskine. Interesting app. Although I haven’t checked out the app, it looks like from the example here that it might generate a lot of exercises similar to Frederick Zimmermann’s book: “Contemporary Concept of Bowing Technique.” Of course, an app is an app and a book is a book… but Zimmermann’s book is a classic.