One of the trickiest parts of the berimbau is not even playing it…
It’s stringing it.
When I first got mine I was so worried about having to string it. I ended up leaving it strung so I wouldn’t have to restring it. I eventually realized I’d have to learn how to string it properly if I ever want to take care of it.
To learn how to string it, I asked everyone I knew who had one. That helped me a little, but I learned the fastest from watching others. Lucky there was a video I used which showed me how to do it easily. I’ve included it on here to help you with learning it to.
The key points to stringing the bow are:
Secure the bottom of the bow against your foot or a wall to hold it in place
Push your knee into the middle of the bow
Bend the bow down with one hand
Use the other hand to pull the wire down tight behind the bow
Twist the wire around the bow and follow it down with the other hand
Secure the arame around the bow by tying at least two knots around it
It will take some practice, but like tying a shoe, when you learn once you know itfor life!
Holding the Berimbau
Just as challenging as learning how to string it is learning how to hold and play it properly. When I started, the first piece of advice I got was to just get comfortable holding it.
That sounded simple enough…until I actually held it. My pinky finger felt like falling off and the bow was wobbling all over the place.
Hopefully, I can share some advice that will get you playing much faster. The first step is holding this musical bow.
Follow these steps to get it right:
Place pinky finger under string holding gourd to the bow
Use ring and middle finger to grip the bow or verga
Use thumb and index finger to grip the dobrão
Hold caxixi in palm with middle and ring fingers through the loop
Hold the baqueta with your fingers like a pencil or chopstick
It does take practice holding the berimbau to get the strength and flexibility needed to play it for longer periods of time.
I definitely suggest practicing frequently. But also give yourself time to rest when your hand gets sore.
Eventually your hand builds the endurance to carry it for longer periods of time. Keep at it and you’ll even be able to hold it behind your head!
Now that you can hold the berimbau, the next step is playing it!