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Lesley
Does this happen to anyone else? I always start with my right hand in what I think is the right spot. But as I bow, my hand inevitably creeps upward. Is it a problem? I think so, since to me I can't help but have less control in the second photo.

PS. looking at the photos, it seems I have my bow in a death grip! Maybe something to work on as well...



Lesley
16 Responses
Posted: June 6, 2019
Last Comment: June 12, 2019
Replies

Lesley
Posted: June 12, 2019
Wow Beth! You made a video -- thank you!! Very good "tip" (pun intended). Makes a whole lot of sense. I will try this today and see what happens. :)

Beth Blackerby
Posted: June 11, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content



Beth Blackerby
Posted: June 8, 2019
I'll make a video regarding this discussion this week. 

Perhaps some teachers might reference the dot. But think about the various sizes of hands, lengths of fingers, positions of dots in relation to where the thumb is. (e.g. if the hair is on the long side, one will have to screw the bow tighter, which will pull the frog and the dot further toward the tip.)

Ultimately the dot isn't necessarily the right spot, although for one hand it could be. Mine is nowhere near the dot, especially now that my bow hair has stretched with the humidity! I can hardly get it tight enough without stripping the screw. UGH! time for another rehair. 

Lesley
Posted: June 8, 2019
"actually guiding the bow instead of controlling it" -- what a great way to envision it! I'm going to adopt that right away. Thank you, Elke! Here is your post from 2015. (Actually, your second photo looks to me like the perfect textbook bow hold, especially the angle of the hand, leaning into the bow at a tilt that does indeed look relaxed and natural.) Glad others have had the same question. I do notice that there is an entire spectrum of bow holds among professional players, even soloists. Today as I practice I will imagine the bow is my 'collaborator' and see if that helps :)

Kate
Posted: June 8, 2019
I thought the 3rd finger should be on the dot too! ...and my hand moves up after a bit. Very happy to hear that's OK - one less thing to think about :)

Elke Meier
Posted: June 8, 2019
Lesley, I searched my bookmarked posts but I think I did not bookmark it... Because in early 2015 I posted exactly the same question. I did find the pictures from that time and include them here. I remember Beth saying at that time that the "after" picture, i.e. the position the hand naturally takes after playing for a bit, is the more natural bow hold. 

I don't think you have less control in the second photo, but you need to learn how to use subtle control in the more natural hold. The first one is so deliberate and controlled to begin with that it gives the impression of better control. But the bow is actually so light that you don't need to grab onto it to control it. Think about the baroque hold which is even further up the stick - and they still control it. 

In my own playing I sometimes have the feeling lately that my bowhold somehow is shifting again ever so slightly, because I experience this "lack of control" you described. But when I look everything looks fine - just feels slightly different from maybe 4 months ago. So I feel I am at a new stage in actually guiding the bow instead of controlling it. In a way it feels like collaborating with what the bow wants to do on the strings. 




Barbara Habel
Posted: June 7, 2019
On the dot

My first teacher taught me to put the finger on the dot too. It is widely taught. You did not make this up yourself :-)

Lesley
Posted: June 7, 2019
Beth, I don't actually know... it could well be something I cooked up all by myself! What I have noticed is when my arm is fully extended and my bow is at the tip, that my ring finger and pinky tend to lose contact (in fact, the pinky comes right off). Then on the up bow, my hand more or less resumes the same position, but there IS some shift. This could be part of the problem with my "hand creep." Should I try to keep contact when extended?

Beth Blackerby
Posted: June 7, 2019
Lesley, your after picture is correct! Your fingers moved to where they should be. Where did you hear that your 3rd finger should be on the dot?

Lesley
Posted: June 7, 2019
Thanks, Dianne. That's a very good reminder, focusing on the fulcrum. I had been focusing almost exclusively on the first finger/pinky of late because I thought they were my problematic fingers, but I think I may have gone too far. Gonna shift focus to fulcrum today and see if that makes a difference.

Tim, I played with the same old (rubbish, clunky heavy) bow for years and never thought twice about it.  Then about 6 months ago, on impulse, I got a carbon fibre bow from Fiddleman. Lighter and more agile, definitely. Still not the Holy Grail of bows, tho: the carbon is a bit slippery and sometimes I feel the bow is about to fall out of my hand.

So then I began wondering what it would be like to play a really good bow. So these past couple of weeks I've been on a quest to find the perfect bow, the one that's going to solve all my problems and turn me into a virtuoso :)) The bow in the photo is a pernambuco that a friend has lent me. It seems to draw out a more resonant sound out of the strings, but it's also a bit heavier than my carbon fibre, so that could have something to do with the tension. Two days ago I tried out a bunch more bows in a shop, not super expensive -- the $200 to $500 range. I'm finding that lighter bows are definitely easier to play. The quest is still ongoing!

Timothy Smith
Posted: June 7, 2019
I guess I don't look as closely as I should at my bow hand when I play. The second picture looks more tense than the first. 

If my bow is getting low on rosin I sometimes get the skate effect on the strings. I also wonder if you have a bow that's well balanced and the right weight for the way you play.
I don't have good bows, just a bunch of ok bows. I have noticed my lighter bows need more pressure but they are more agile than my heavier bows.

Awhile back I picked up a cheap digital scale at Harbor Freight. Works well to weigh my bows and see which are heavier. I can also tell usually that a bow is heavier by the way it plays. My CF bows tend to be lighter and the most agile but I have to remember to apply more force to the strings. I don't own the better CF bows. I have a low end John Paul which has very little weight on the end. As I understand it Argus and JonPaul bows on the higher end compare favorably to the very high priced wood bows in terms of playability. They are a little high right now for my budget. Though Fiddlerman had a sale going on at 10% off all bows. 

Dianne
Posted: June 6, 2019
The fingers and thumb all move and flex throughout the bow stroke, but they pretty much stay in the same spots. I don't think your finger placement looks all that wrong though even though it has moved. The pinky does look a little straightened in the bottom photo, but I think that is because the middle finger has moved its position away from the thumb, which interrupted the fulcrum, and the pinky then tried to take over the balancing. The fulcrum of the middle finger and thumb keep the bow controlled with a light touch and no tension. I would say just try to concentrate on the fulcrum. The important thing is that you remain feeling in control of the bow throughout the bow strokes.

Lesley
Posted: June 6, 2019
Thank you for these helpful responses!

I'm going to try to relax and round my pinky more -- thanks Barbara. Fabiano, j'ai beaucoup de difficulté avec mon pouce en fait. Ça change de position tout le temps. Je crois qu'il va falloir recommencer de zéro... peut-être avec un archet différent.

Ted, I too try to stay mindful of the pinky/ring finger when playing. But it's very difficult and it's like as soon as I focus on that, I lose focus everywhere else. The bow starts pointing in all directions, the shoulder tenses... Guess that's just the "fun" of the violin! Right now I seem to be questioning my entire setup -- bow hold, shoulder rest, chin rest, the works -- and it's making playing very difficult.

Ted Adachi
Posted: June 6, 2019
Hi Lesley,
You know all about my bow problems but I can tell you that you are not alone in this.

I used to find my fingers riding so high up the bow that I would lose contact with the frog sometimes. It seems to me that this was because of my finger motion.

I was just checking this now and I find that I now often correct the position of my ring and pinky quite often while I play (when I find the time to think about doing it, that is!) and in this way my fingers stay closer to their original position.

It has only been lately though that I have had the space in my mind to be able to have a spot where I can 'feel' where my fingers are on the bow and do something about it, if you know what I mean.

Fabiano Formiga de Carvalho
Posted: June 6, 2019
Lesley, observe how your thumb works when you grasp anithing = as a clamp formed by the same thumb and another finger, that very naturally could be the third finger.

Then, look at your thumb on the two photos, far away from the third finger, unbalancing the grasp.

I won't write further, because of my deficiencies in the English vocabulary. Le problème réside dans votre mode de tenir l'achet.

Barbara Habel
Posted: June 6, 2019
Dear Lesley

The pinky on your After picture is looked. Look at the straight joints and then the last joint before the fingernail is bend.

Last week I did exactely the same thing on the pinky on my fingering hand for vibrato and my teacher told me that that means the joints are "looked". Pull the hand closer to the bow and make that pinky "round".