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The saga of working on my bow hold continues......

I had reported under an earlier thread that I had recently settled on the "Franco-Belgian" bow hold. But the last week or so that has changed again. I've now gone to a modified "Russian" bow hold.

For whatever reason, this really seems to work best for my bow hand. I can get the best, most consistently clean tone, without really thinking about it, with this "modified Russian". When using the Franco-Belgian bow hold, consistent tone took a lot more concentration. Additionally, as Flesch mentioned in his book, having the stick contact on the middle joint of the finger allows the tip of my index finger to assist in controlling the bow, which I find to be hugely helpful. I seem to be able to control the amount of contact quite easily, so that I don't experience any negative effects from this. The tip contact really seems to come in hand when bowing right at the frog, allowing me to more easily remove weight from the bow without squelching the tone as much as previously. It also helps me with keeping a consistent soundpoint and bowing parallel to the bridge.

Another big advantage for me with the modified Russian hold is that I can easily bow right up to the bow tip, without any undue strain on my right wrist, so much so that I could bow with an even longer bow and still get right to the very bow tip.

My biggest concern is that I originally didn't seem to have enough finger flexibility for the up and down bow "looks" with the Russian hold, but this turned out to be easily rectified by a different placement of my three remaining fingers. This is why I call it "modified Russian". My pinkie finger remains nicely curved, and in contact with the stick the for the entire stroke, unlike the standard Russian hold. I also seem to be able to enlist the aid of my ring fingertip pad in controlling the bow, much easier than I was ever able to with previous bow holds that I worked with.

I guess that this all comes down to the build of an individual's fingers, hand, wrist, shoulder, etc.

If I make another change, I'll report back here. :-)


27 Responses
Posted: May 17, 2011
Last Comment: July 25, 2011
Replies


Posted: July 25, 2011
Ida loves dressing up and looking 'dashing' that's true :)

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: July 25, 2011
Ida Haendel plays in "The Art of Violin", Frank. A Brahms Hungarian Dance, if I remember correctly. Looking absolutely dashing, like a film star, and producing just glorious sound on her Strad.


Posted: July 25, 2011
Ida is great isn't she Frank? over 80years old and still going strong! she's such a great woman too, I have not watched the video you have but have watched her documentary 'I am violin' and she is such an interesting person, I could listen to her (talking and playing) all day, such good company!


Posted: July 25, 2011
Jojo:

Thanks for these links. I had only known about Ida from her commentary on "The Art of Violin" video. But I'd never heard her play before. (I don't know if she plays on that video, as I still need to watch the second half of it).

What expressive playing! I'm going to enjoy watching her performances on YouTube.

Thanks!

Frank



Posted: July 25, 2011
Just to clarify a previous reference: the video is actually called "The Art of Violin", not "The Art of the Violin", for those who may be interested.



Posted: July 21, 2011
Sorry, and let's not forget the 'great' Ida as well amongst those who use a Russian hold

sorry....just getting carried away LOL

http://www.youtube.com/user/IdaHaendelSite#p/u



Posted: July 21, 2011
Frank, another violinist you might enjoy is Nate Robinson.

he also studied with Erik Friedman and he is good friends with Ann Fontanella.

his playing is heavenly and sounds so 'scarily' similar to Heifetz in some of the pieces he plays!

You can watch some of his videos on youtube and of course he also uses a Russian hold ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0f0SR9dmgY&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL



Posted: July 20, 2011
Simon, and Jojo, thank you very much for the information on Ann Fontanella.

I saw a YouTube video of her playing the theme from Schindler's List. At that time I didn't even know about the Russian bowhold, and I wasn't really watching her hold. But now I see that it's pretty obvious in her videos.

Thanks!

PS: I highly recommend the video "The Art of the Violin" to anyone that hasn't seen it. It is amazing to watch and listen to Heifetz, Ellman, Milstein, Menuhin, and all the other virtuosos that are featured on that video. Very inspiring!



Posted: July 15, 2011
Good Simon, Ann Fontanella studied with Erik Friedman who himself studied with Heifetz (who studied with Leopold Auer), so.... 'russian lineage'

Clayton Haslop (man in the video) studied with Nathan Milstein, who studied with......Leopold Auer TA DAH!!! isn't it a small world :) :) it certainly is in 'violin world' ;)

Even my teacher, he studied with Sacha Lasserson who himself studied with......Leopold Auer!!! LOL LOL

It's like one big family! :)



Posted: July 15, 2011
For Russian style, take a look at Ann Fontanella: http://annfontanella.com/old-russian.html And her YouTube videos and Masterclasses: http://www.youtube.com/user/annfontanella

Eileen
Posted: July 14, 2011
I also have a high elbow and wrist like that little girl. I'm disappointed that I couldn't hear her play though ! <:-(

Frank, after reading your description of the changes you noticed after switching to the Russian hold....I think I'll have to give that hold a try. Lately I've been trying to lower my elbow a bit because I've noticed more control and better tone when I do..the weight of the arm helps in this I think. I get a more relaxed feeling when I play. Jeesh !! Always something to work on ! lol


Eileen
Posted: July 14, 2011
I never knew that my bow hold had a "name" but I think I use the franco-belgian, though I've never had anyone teach it to me. It's just the hold that developed as I learned.

I do have an issue with my hand creeping up the bow though when I play at the tip. My arm isn't quite long enough. I think when I used to lift my pinkie finger it was an unconscious effort to lengthen my arm. When I started to keep that pinkie down is when I started to creep up the bow. I didn't notice this tendency before so now I'm trying to work out a solution to this.



Posted: July 13, 2011
but if you watch the video I gave the link to, the man in the video shows VERY WELL what a russian bow hold is like, and Beth in her video if I remember shows the 'franco belgian' bow hold (please anyone correct me if I am wrong, but am about to go to bed and don't have time right now to go and re-watch, watched it a long time ago).


Posted: July 13, 2011
I too would love to see photos or even diagrams/drawings of the different bow holds. Word discriptions don't do it for me.


Posted: July 13, 2011
yup, franco belgian, particularly for the spaced out fingers too (I called them the 'spider fingers' LOL).

it is quite interesting, I never knew the franco belgian hold is supposed to give 'more power'...when I switched to the russian hold I immediately noticed more power to my sound, I had to learn to hold my bow much more gently, especially with the weight of my index finger! LOL

another thing that for me anyway, the russian hold has done, it has stopped me from having my bow wondering to the fingerboard to easily, who knows what I was doing before!! LOL


Beth Blackerby
Posted: July 12, 2011
To me, that's Franco-Belgian with that high elbow and wrist at the frog for power.

KarenJ
Posted: July 12, 2011
This discussion includes members-only video content

What bowhold is this one called? pardon my hijacking of your thread, Frank


Posted: July 12, 2011
I also use the russian bow hold, it comes from the 'russian' school ie: leopold auer, nathan milstein, heifetz et al, in this video Clayton Haslop (who studied with Nathan Milstein) demonstrates it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyn32zH1cQE&feature=related

he starts at 1:34 to talk about/demonstrate the russian bow hold

(I will not embed it as it's a video from his 'teaching series' and I don't want to be 'misunderstood' by anyone as 'advertising' other teacher's methods, like it happened in the past, so people who are interested can watch it on youtube)


KarenJ
Posted: July 12, 2011
Has anyone got pictures or video to demonstrate the difference in the types of bowing?


Posted: July 11, 2011
Thanks for the encouragement, Beth!

I have the video "Art of the Violin". In it there are clips of many famous players from the 20th century.

After some observation, it seemed that some of them did indeed use the Russian hold (which gave me encouragement to try working with it). Off the top of my head, I seem to remember that maybe Heifetz and Elman used it. Others too, but I can't recall them off hand.

Best wishes,

Frank


Beth Blackerby
Posted: July 11, 2011
Frank, that's great! Your bow hold is totally legit. Most people use the Franco Belgian style, primarily because of the prevalence of the Suzuki method and the widespread legacy of Galamian and DeLay. The Russian bow hold has been the preferred style for many of the world's greatest players. Would love to hear it sometime!


Posted: July 11, 2011
Update as of 7/11/2011:

I had to take a few weeks off from regular practice due to extremely busy activity at home. I'll now be getting back to a more normal practice routine.

My bowhold has currently developed to what I would identify as a "full" Russian bowhold, as Flesch taught. Interestingly, I still have the ability to keep my pinkie on the stick at all times, without any struggle. So maybe it's not exactly as others have used (where their pinky tends to leave the stick when playing at the tip). But it fits my hand very well. As Flesch outlined it, my thumb is now comfortably between (across from) my index and middle fingers with this hold.

For me, this hold feels so "natural" that even if I want to go back to some permutation of the Franco-Belgian hold, I find I cannot. The sound that I can get with the Russian hold is so much more full and natural (at least under my ear), and requires so much less effort, that it really seems to be helping my playing considerably.

One of the big advantages for me is overall bow control. The best way to describe this is that with other holds that I have tried, I have to consciously work to keep the proper pressure on my index finger. With the Russian, it just happens. Adding or removing pressure from the bow seems to come less from the involvement of my fingers, and more from the wrist or arm. Another aspect of bow control is that my ring finger seems to be more involved with bow tracking and control, which provides additional stability. Overall, I now have very little problem with unwanted bow “bounce” when bowing slowly, due in part (I think) to more consistent bow pressure, bow control, and relaxation with my hold.

It also seems to take less bow speed to produce a good tone with the Russian. So when I want to extend a note, I have more bow available.

Anyway, that’s my recent experience, FWIW.

Frank



Posted: May 19, 2011
sorry, I 'assumed' you may have a human being in the house who could do that for you, I often 'force' my son to do these things for me ;) LOL


Posted: May 18, 2011
I may try a picture eventually. I find that it's hard to take a picture of myself holding a bow. I suppose I could try using a stand and delay timer.

By the way, is it possible to submit photos or audio tracks that are not videos?

Also, do these need to first be posted to another site, and then linked back to here? Or is there a way to upload them? I don't do social media or photo sharing sites.



Posted: May 18, 2011
how about a couple of photos?


Posted: May 18, 2011
Unfortunately, no , at this time.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: May 17, 2011
Do you own a video camera..?

; )