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Elke Meier
I have been fighting something for quite a while, but today I decided that I would ask you about it - maybe I don't have to fight it and it is normal.

It is about my bow hand. My bow grip changes while playing. I have included two pictures here, the first one is my normal bow hold when I start playing, the thumb nicely across the second finger, the pinky perched on top. During playing the fingers shift, the second, third and fourth fingers move slightly up the bow. It is just a little bit, but it feels completely different. So in the end I always end up with the second picture: the second, third and fourth fingers closer together and slightly shifted up - which means the thumb is now across the other side of the second finger, rather toward the third. When I notice it during playing I try to get back to the normal bow grip, but if I try to keep it that way, my bow hand gets really stiff. - And as soon as I stop concentrating on it, the fingers get back into their preferred shape.

So before I continue to work so hard trying to have a relaxed bow hand and still keep the right bow grip, I thought I'd ask you: is there a long term disadvantage if the thumb is not exactly at the place which we learned in the beginning, across the second finger?


Elke Meier
13 Responses
Posted: January 18, 2015
Last Comment: January 20, 2015
Replies

Darren B
Posted: January 20, 2015
Hi Elke,

I bought the very thing that Kevin mentioned, and I really didn't like it.  It just seemed too awkward overall, with what felt like was an unnatural spacing/placement of the fingers - it did not feel relaxed at all.  I think maybe it would work better for kids than adults, but that's just me...

Elke Meier
Posted: January 20, 2015
Kevin, I am not too fond of these kind of gadgets. I would rather learn how my fingers should feel in relation to each other. With something like this they will rather learn how each finger feels in relation to the gadget. So once you take it away, the learning process needs to start over again - at least this is what I imagine...

Kevin
Posted: January 20, 2015

I just came across a bow hold helper on Amazon (not that you need it). Looks like it would be great for training an initial bow hold. Search for "Strings 4 Things" on Amazon. I'll see if I can attach a couple of pics below. This (two-piece) set was $30 USD. I can sure imagine that it would help beginners of all kinds.




Beth Blackerby
Posted: January 19, 2015
Elke, To my eye, the second picture looks more natural for the size of your hand. In the first picture, it looks as though the base of your hand is extended beyond what your normal finger spacing would be. Just lift your hand off of the bow and let the fingers hang normally.  That should be the spacing in between your fingers, particularly between the third finger and pinky. Also, your thumb and middle finger are still across from each other. There is a range of acceptability, and you're definitely not outside that. The up bow and down bow hand postures differ in the amount of bend in the fingers. Otherwise, the spacing should stay the same. However, changing the shape of the fingers makes the spacings seem different. True, the fingers can work their way up the bow quite easily, especially if at any point the fingers become stiff. I think the flipping upward, happens at the tip as the fingers straighten. So the trick is to allow them to straighten but not change their contact points.

Daniel Gheorghian
Posted: January 19, 2015
I second Mary's post, go watch that video, she is basically teaching two bow holds that look entirely different. Once for up bows and a second for down bows.
To me it seems that you are morphing towards one of them (the up bow?).

I've watched my bow hold evolve and I think it changes from technique to technique and it certainly doesn't stay the same when I play, we make most of the time subtle changes without being aware. But if the general shape is there and there is no tension I think it is fine. And yours looks within the parameters: curved fingers, perched pinky, bent thumb. Maybe think of moving the index finger more towards the second knuckle, it should give you more control over the bow and more weight transfer into the stick.

george #
Posted: January 19, 2015
HI, YOUR HAND SEEMS TO BE DRIFTING FOREWARD AND ANGLING MORE IN YOUR PLAYING HOLD, IT APPEARS TO BE REDUCING YOUR HEIGHT-WHICH MAY AFFECT YOUR ABILITY TO USE FINGER MOTION IN THOSE SITUATIONS WHERE IT IS APPROPRIATE.... IT'S HARD TO SEE, IS YOUR THUMB TIP/FINGERNAIL LOCATED AT THE SPACE BETWEEN THE FROG AND THE END OF THE LEATHER WRAP..? THAT WOULD ACT TO LOCK YOUR GRIP NEARER WHERE YOU START.... ..EVER NOTICE THE FIDDLER ON THE ''CELTIC WOMEN'' HAS A GRIP THAT PUTS HER THUMB AHEAD OF THE LEATHER..I'M SURE IT GIVES MORE CONTROL WHEN''DANCING ABOUT'' OR SHE HAS SHORT ARMS !! LOL.... IF YOU'RE COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR HOLD AND IT IS NOT AFFECTING YOUR ABILITY TO PLAY..LET TIME TAKE CARE OF ANY ADJUSTMENT YOU MAY FEEL YOU NEED...WE'VE BOTH PROBABLY NOTICED THINGS WE HAVE DONE TO MAKE OUR PLAYING COMFORTABLE OVER TIME..THAT ARE NOW DIFFERENT FROM THE ''BOOK'' BEGINNERS METHODS.... ;-)

Kevin
Posted: January 18, 2015
Oh, it just occurred to me that your second bowl hold looks a lot like mine! :-) So I hope I'm writing what I say… It is the natural position for me I know.

Kevin
Posted: January 18, 2015
Hi Elke, I would say had both groups look perfectly fine to me. The fact that you're here and always ends up in the second hold says to me that is the natural position for you, and that it is the most stable – "lowest energy" position that gets the job done. If it was me, I will stop fighting it and embrace it instead. Unless you have A really good reason with some evidence for thinking that the second position both old is wrong, I'd say stay with it and just have a good time playing. I think it was you talking about Alexander technique in another phrase, and I'm sure he would say that the second bow holders the one that has the least tension and is most neutral, so that should be the one that you use.

Mary Reeley
Posted: January 18, 2015
Hi Elke.  Look on you tube under 2 bow holds for every violinist, there is a couple of good videos by Lora Staples on this.

Clifford Green
Posted: January 18, 2015
Either Galamian or Fischer (can't remember which) recommends that the second finger should be a little ahead of the thumb contact to help balance between the index finger and the ring/little fingers.  That seems to be your hold in the second picture
It seems to me that the bow hold should be dynamic so that we have many subtle bow holds depending on the necessities of the moment.

Cynthia Alpers
Posted: January 18, 2015
Hi Elke,

I'm not sure if I'm on track here because I'm still somewhat of a "newbie," but here goes.  Did you ever take ballet lessons when you were younger?  If so, do you remember those, "ballet hands," that had to remain super fluid and soft, but still maintain some sort of form?  Those hands had to remain relaxed, but still flow with the music and be expressive, while the fingers gently pointed downward most of the time.  That's kind of the way I visualize the bow hold...not that I'm so great at it yet, mind you.  Anyway, try to picture that in your mind when you play.

Hope I've been of help...Cindy

Raúl Rivas
Posted: January 18, 2015
Hi Elke, I notice that my fingers have also some kind of movements, but it is a very technical question. I don't dare to answer. We'll see what Beth has to say.

Maria
Posted: January 18, 2015
u r not alone i have the same problem...i think i should only practice bow grip n bowing from now on except from time to time to play music for pleasure.