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Drew Nietert
I have a question on the bow hold. Which finger should recieve the most pressure? One teacher tells me my first finger (index) the other teacher tells me the second finger (middle). The teacher who tells me the middle said she learned for years her first finger but in college hey changed to her middle finger. Specifically the first finger just lays on the bow - you control the pivot throught the thumb and the middle finger - in fact she has had me practice with just the thumb and middle finger so I don't rely on the first finger. Is this a preference? I have not seen mention on which finger in your bow hold videos. I am a new violinist with about 6 mo of work in. I have had two teachers because one moved.
Drew Nietert
16 Responses
Posted: April 25, 2011
Last Comment: April 6, 2014
Replies

Sterling Wright
Posted: April 6, 2014
I will do that Tina.  Thank you!  How nice of you to say hello :-)

Tina Carlsen
Posted: April 6, 2014
Welcome to violin lab Sterling! I suggest you copy and past your question here into a new question and start a new discussion.  That way Beth knows it is a new discussion, and is more likely to respond.

Sterling Wright
Posted: April 6, 2014
Hello, All!  It is such a pleasure to be here.  I am very new and am practicing with a Viola.

Prior to joing the lab (wonderfully done, btw!), I did have a few lessons with a live teacher. I hope to get back with him shortly.

However, I have an immediate question about my bow hold, which I must resolve before I try one more stroke!

The vast majority of pressure in my hold is on the tip of my thumb, with some weight on the 1st finger knuckle, that changes in intensity as the stroke requires. 

 I have no problem keeping my thumb nor pinky bent.  But because the thumb is doing nearly ALL the work keeping the bow stable and in my hand, it becomes very rigid in the bent position. Eventually the bow just slips out of my hand altogether--it is as if the whole hold hinges primarily on the thumb.  Should it?

I have exhasutively checked the positioning of my other fingers, and believe they are correct.  So, I conclude that I am simply distributing weight incorrectly throughout the hand.

I feel no tension at all in my palm, because my 2nd and 3rd fingers are draped with complete relaxation over the frog.  Is this my problem? Should those two fingers be exerting more pressure inward toward the palm, the way a baby would wrap its curled hand around  its parent's finger to grip it?  I don't mean actually wrapping fingers around the stick, just exerting pressure *toward* the palm--or contracting the muscles in the center of the palm inward and upward to produce grip?  

I hope I have clearly articulated what I am doing and that it is understandable and that someone has some helpful advice!

Thank you so much, I look forward to beginning to meet each of you!

Best wishes,
Sterling


Beth Blackerby
Posted: May 5, 2011
Frank, I think you'll find the Franco-Belgian bow hold will certainly allow for that deep rich sound. Also check in with your bow arm. With either bow hold, make sure the arm is heavy and relaxed.

Think of the difference between the comparable weight of a sleeping child vs. a child that reaches to be picked up. Make your arm feel like a sleeping baby. (I actually used this analogy with one of my private students today. I guess I need to use it again).

And of course remember to play at the sounding point where we can get all those overtones to ring!


Frank M
Posted: May 5, 2011
Here's a follow-up on my bowhold development:

For the last few weeks I've been going back and forth between what Beth teaches (the "Franco-Belgian" bowhold), and what Carl Flesch espouses in his classic book "The Art of Violin Playing: Book One".

True to what Mr. Flesch teaches, I get the richest, fullest sound with the Russian bowhold. The difference is quite stunning. I really wanted to make it work, I liked the sound so much!

But as Beth teaches, the hold that she uses (Franco-Belgian) has the advantage of allowing me better finger mobility. I like to use a good amount of "finger flex" in my playing, as it allows me to achieve cleaner string crossings and more expressiveness, by using the up bow and down bow "looks" that Beth describes. I've seen this described in other places as the "paintbrush" motion, where the hand always leads the fingers, much like the handle of a paintbrush leads the bristles during a stroke.

So after much experimentation I decided today that I'm going to go with the Franco-Belgian hold. I find that if I make a conscious effort to keep the index finger contact point nearer to the proximal end of the middle segment (rather than towards the distal end), and if I remember to bear down a little more with the index finger, that I can get a sound almost as rich as the Russian bowhold, but with better freedom of movement.

I wanted to share this with my "classmates" here, and see what others' experiences have been.

Best wishes,

Frank


Frank M
Posted: May 5, 2011
Hello jojo:

Until Beth made the follow-up video on the bow hold, it looked to me as though the windings were contacting her index finger at the middle joint. After she made the new video, I could more easily see that the contact point was at the proximal end of the middle segment. That's what gave me the impression that she was using a Russian bow hold.

Best wishes,

Frank


Susan
Posted: May 3, 2011
You got it! When I move it closer to the ring finger, I can curve it. It's very awkward, but so is everything else about learning to hold the bow correctly, as opposed to the bad habit I had developed in two months. Practice, practice, practice! Thanks!

Beth Blackerby
Posted: May 1, 2011
Susan, will it touch the bow stick if it's positioned closer the the ring finger?

Susan
Posted: May 1, 2011
Beth; Is it possible that my pinkie is shorter than 'normal'? I find it very hard to have it curve above the bow the way you do? My pinkie doesn't quite come up to the most distal knuckle of my ring finger. Susan

jojo
Posted: April 27, 2011
Frank, I'll have to go and revisit Beth's first video as I don't recall anything in there that looks like a russian bow hold (which is what I use) and now I am 'puzzled' LOL :)

Beth Blackerby
Posted: April 26, 2011
Thanks, Frank. I'll do that.

Frank M
Posted: April 26, 2011
Ditto-wow, Beth!

I'm really glad that you made this video. Based on what I could previoulsy see of your bowhold, and on what you teach in Lesson 8, it seemed as though you were espousing the "Russian" hold favored by Flesh. But since you made this video, everything is much clearer. Marking your finger with the brown marker was very helpful.

I would suggest that you name/rename this video "Lesson 8A", and place it in order directly after Lesson 8 in the Library. I think that this video is vital to gaining a proper understanding of the bow hold that you espouse, and is especially pertinent when first starting out playing.

Thank you so much.

Frank


Drew Nietert
Posted: April 26, 2011
Wow - amazingly fast response and excellent explanation. Really appreaciate the specific video. I will check out the bow exercise videos now as well.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: April 26, 2011
This discussion includes members-only video content


Beth Blackerby
Posted: April 25, 2011
Great question! Much too complex to be explained in type. Getting out the camera.

Frank M
Posted: April 25, 2011
I'd be interested in this answer, also.

I thought that the middle finger was only used to "trap" the bow along with the thumb, providing a pivot point, and that the first finger was used for adding weight. Some do teach getting used to playing without the first finger, but only at the frog, where you don't want much weight

Beth seems to teach what Carl Flesch calls the "Russian" bowhold (windings contacting finger at middle joint). I used to use the "German" hold (windings contacting finger at the distal joint), but after watching Beth's video, I now use a middle ground, what Flesch would call the "Franco-Belgian" hold. It seems to give me the best sound and flexibility. It also enables me to add weight without squelching the sound as much as my previous bowhold did.