One of the essential pieces of gear for any string player is rosin. Rosin is the processed tree sap that, when applied to the horsehair of the bow, creates the friction between the bow and the string. Without rosin, all we would get is a faint “whooshing” sound as we pull the horsehair across the string.
Rosin comes in many different styles and quality levels. Many beginner, inexpensive rosins tend to be hard and difficult to apply to the hair. In combination with student bows, which often have lower quality horsehair, applying fresh rosin to a brand new bow can be a very challenging endeavor – especially for a beginning student who has never rosined a bow before.
One classroom tradition is to scratch the surface of the rosin with a key – the idea being that it will make it easier to apply to the bow. However, putting scratches in the surface of the rosin can potentially provide a groove for individual bow hairs to travel and be pinched/broken. The preferred method for getting a block of rosin “started” is to tighten the bow, lay it across your knee with the hair facing up, find a 2″-3″ section of the hair by the frog (where it has the most support), and rub the rosin on that small section using a medium amount of downward pressure. Using those short strokes along that small section will get the rosin started, given a little bit of time. Then just walk the rosin to the next 2″-3″ section until you’ve done the length of the bow. This is only necessary when handling a brand-new bow with no rosin on it.
After this initial rosin application, a few swipes along the entire length of the bow each time you play should be sufficient. The higher quality the rosin and hair, the easier the process.
Feel free to contact us with any questions!