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Ian Renshaw
My handy tip for right hand relaxation and suppleness...

Here's something I've hit on over the last couple of weeks and it's made a huge difference to my bow hand. I'll share it with you and if it works great - if it doesn't then Beth feel free to shoot me for misleading the gang...

I realised when I watched a recent video of myself playing some exam pieces that my right hand is not nearly as fluid and relaxed as I would like it to be after nearly four years of playing so I tried extreme relaxation of my hand..

I made sure the bow hold was technically correct and secure then (do this over carpet with a bow that isn't worth too much!) deliberately almost let go of it while playing. I let my hand really flop, the fingers barely holding the bow and, sure enough, I dropped it a few times (and also sent it flying over the violin).

To begin with there was a sacrifice in tone quality and the bow skidded rather too lightly over the strings at times, but soon control came back into the equation - and this time without my usual frustrating right-hand stiffness.

So far it has proved to be a really effective antidote to tension and stress in my bow hand and when I play I've noticed it's started to look like a violinist's hand - complete with that motion on changing bow direction that reminds me of the way marine plants sway under water (if you know what I mean!).

Another benefit (once I stopped hurling my bow around the room) is that I can play for a few hours at a time and there is none of that old aching in my right hand.

It might be worth a try for anyone who's struggling to free up their bow hand. But don't send me the bill for replacement bows or repairs to dents in walls or ceilings...!

Cheers, Ian :o)
Ian Renshaw
12 Responses
Posted: December 11, 2012
Last Comment: December 16, 2012

Ian Renshaw
Posted: December 16, 2012
Hi everyone,
It's good to read your responses. Seems like generally I'm on the right lines - certainly my bowing has improved very recently.
Ah, Lynne - the left hand. If I find a way, I'll let you know!
Ian :o)

Posted: December 14, 2012
This is a great technique.  But do be careful, as you can get used to holding your bow really loose!  Just the other night at a session, I dropped my bow no fewer than three times!  I've been known to drop it in a performance as well.  It usually happens when I'm concentrating really hard on my left hand (usually on fast, complicated fiddle tunes) that I'm not aware I'm getting looser on my right, and then, plop.   I have a carbon fiber bow for just that reason......

Posted: December 14, 2012
Hi Ray,

Thanks for that advice. I tried, and it seems that during the change from downbow to upbow my whole hand slides up a little bit. After a couple of times i reached a position where my hand stays at. Then my pinky is right above the frogs eye.

Posted: December 13, 2012
Hi Armin,

Of course this information will be more for Beth, but if you slowed things down and played open strings, and observed minutely what your right hand is doing.  Which finger (or thumb) is the first to begin the creep up your bow?  This may help solve the problem or give Beth more information to help you solve this problem.



Posted: December 13, 2012
My hand always climbs up an inch while I am bowing relaxed. Any Ideas how to fix that problem...    ... if it is a problem :) 

Posted: December 12, 2012
Lynne......"Trills".....lots of Trills !   :-)

Lynne de Velazquez
Posted: December 12, 2012
I love it!  Thank you so much, Ian! You are amazing!  Now what can I do to lessen the tension in my LEFT hand?  Hugz,  Lynne :-)

Beth Blackerby
Posted: December 12, 2012
Absolutely, Ian! It's a great practice to see how little muscles tension one needs to play. I demonstrate something similar in the video on "Getting Rid of the Unwanted Bounce".

Posted: December 11, 2012
Haha......Ian I've flung and/or dropped the bow on a number of occasions during practice....thank the Good Lord it was never during a performance !   x-D

Pay attention to your first finger and pinkie working together as you experiment.  Most especially controlling the pressure you exert with that first finger.  That will keep your bow firm on the strings without tensing up.  You're already a great player Ian and I'm more than likely telling you stuff you already know...keep at it....I can't wait to hear the improvements when you get this down !   :-)

Jen McColley
Posted: December 11, 2012
Hey Ian, my teacher had me do this exact same thing.  I have to continually remind myself to stop tensing up, but it definitely works!

Posted: December 11, 2012
Hey gang...he's out of the Star Pub....the party after his exam must be over as he's already posting stuff on the Community Page...nice to have you back Ian. : >)
Stay tuned.
Fiddle hugs. Diane

Joe P
Posted: December 11, 2012
Ian, when I read the first paragraph I was certain that the rest was going to have some reference to Guinness or single malt scotch :-)
I like your suggestion and am going to try it out during tomorrow's practice with my original fiberglass bow.