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Bow hold
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Wallflower
Rhode Island
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February 15, 2014 - 2:09 pm
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After receiving my violin for Christmas I started practicing my bowing, but got a little frustrated and let it lay dormant all January :/  Now that I've started up again I'm back dealing with the same issue... I know you're not supposed to have tension in your bowing hand, but the bow feels pretty heavy and I can't hold it with using a death grip.  My pinky ends up going stiff trying to balance the weight.  I'm also having some double-jointed issues with my pinky and cannot get it to stay nicely curved.  Grrrr!  Anyone have some advice?  Do my hand/fingers just need to get stronger or do I need a lighter bow? (I have the Fiddlerman Carbon Fiber Bow)  Any help would be appreciated :D

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johnnyblaze
Rhode Island
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February 15, 2014 - 3:09 pm
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Funny you say that Wallflower i have been watching videos all day on my bow bouncing that is coming back..

Im 19 months at the violin and it just seems to come back the more i advance on certain pieces.

     It could be a number of things like make sure your fingers are slanted,grip,weight etc,etc..

   It sounds like you may be trying to hold it up with your pinky instead of just balancing it??

 

I myself got frustrated today with working on my bowing..

 

This snow is not helpingfacepalm

 

Blaze

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Wallflower
Rhode Island
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February 15, 2014 - 4:11 pm
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Thanks for responding jonnyblaze.  The snow sure is pretty to look at, but that's about it, lol.  I think I might have figured out some of the problem...  I noticed that when I'm bowing I hold almost all of the weight with my hand ( as if you want the bow to just barely touch the strings). I found that when I transfer the weight of the bow to the strings and sort of rest it on the strings while just using my hand to guide it along my grip lightens up.  Does that make sense?  Anyway, I have no idea if that's right or wrong, so maybe someone can clear that up for me. 

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KindaScratchy
Massachusetts
February 15, 2014 - 8:25 pm
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Hi @Wallflower :

First of all, it's nice to see another RI member here. As you probably noticed, @johnnyblaze is from RI and I'm originally from RI, though I live just over the line in Mass. now.

Anyway, I'm two years into this now and all I can tell you is it takes a lot of time and practice to get just the right bow hold, pressure, angle and speed. It's probably the most difficult part of playing this instrument. I haven't mastered it yet, though I think I'm improving (maybe). You just have to be patient and keep at it.

I can't imagine that the FM carbon fiber bow is too heavy for you. CF is just about the lightest bow material there is. I have the same bow and I like it a lot better than the wood bow that came with my violin. It works well for me because my hand is not all that strong.

You might consider getting a bow hold trainer. There are a number of them on the market. I just ordered the BowMate. I'll let you know how well it works after I get it.

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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StoneDog
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February 15, 2014 - 10:30 pm
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I have the FM bow and it made a huge difference in my playing. It is SWEET!! It showed me that it wasn't the bow it was me. Keep at it. Keep parallel to the bridge and take is really slow. You will hear it. It may take a while > but you will hear it. > do scales.

 

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Robyn.fnq
Queensland, Australia
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February 16, 2014 - 12:07 am
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Hi ... I understand your problem.  We all have problems as beginners, not least of which is a comfortable bow hold.  Sorry, but it's like anything else, it takes time.  Watch this first:

http://fiddlerman.com/tutorial.....old-a-bow/

One little thing I learned by myself when I first started and had the death grip, was to try putting the bow on the string so that I had no weight in my hand, then trying to bow just by pushing it back and forth, lifting one finger at a time, including the pinky.  Concentrate on keeping the bow moving straight (use a mirror, and forget the sound you're making), just little bow strokes at first.  Make sure you're either on a soft surface, or sit on the floor, so if you drop the bow it won't cause too much damage.  You'll be surprised how much you need that pinky just resting on the end of the frog, to reduce pressure on the other fingers.

Hope this helps.

pink-violin-girl

If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're probably right.

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DanielB
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February 16, 2014 - 8:10 am
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I found the bowing to be about the hardest thing to get used to with violin/fiddle.  Very awkward and it tires out muscles you never even knew existed in your hand, at first.  It takes time, as others have already said.  Learning to actually relax the bow hand is probably what took me the most time.

But it comes, with practice and time.  Just keep going. 

This is probably not going to make any sense to you right now, but may be useful at some point later.  A thing I have found helpful is to not even think of the bow hand as holding the bow.  Think of it as just resting on the thumb and the other fingers are just steadying it or guiding it, rather than actually holding it at all. 

In actuality, we do hold it, of course.  But I found thinking of it more as just making it balance on the thumb to be helpful in getting over the "death grip".  Your mileage may vary.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Wallflower
Rhode Island
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February 16, 2014 - 9:30 am
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Thanks everyone for the great advice 🙂 

I think in an effort to control the volume of my playing (small house, close

neighbors...) I made a habit of completely overpowering the bow and allowing only a

small amount of the weight to touch the strings.  I had no idea I was doing that.  I

was so concentrated on playing quietly and having the perfect grip and form that this

problem somehow escaped me.  I realized this problem yesterday when my arm

became increasingly tired and I began to play haphazardly dropping all of the weight

from the bow onto the strings and just guiding it along with my hand.  Oddly enough,

when I put less thought into playing I sound better, Lol. 

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Uzi
Georgia
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February 16, 2014 - 11:16 am
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@Wallflower there's no need to try to control your volume that much by using the bow.  They make mutes to do that for you.  That way, you can use you're bow as it was intended, yet cut the volume way down.  There are two general classes of mutes (I think) the orchestral mute and the practice mute.  The ones that don't say "practice" will mute your instrument somewhat and are generally used while playing in an orchestra.  The practice mute will mute the violin much more.  Fiddlerman has them for sale here:

http://fiddlershop.com/accessories/mutes

or you can probably find one in a local shop.  They only cost $2-$5 and will reduce the volume of your instrument a lot.

 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
February 16, 2014 - 5:23 pm
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From your description is seems to me that you are having a hard time with your bow grip. Finding the right grip is the difference between being relaxed or not. Also, the only finger that actually lifts the bow is the pinky. The other fingers rest on the stick or aide in getting more sound. If someone was to chop off my ring finger and middle finger I would still be able to play fine. Might need some time to get used to not having my fingers though. :-(
Regardless of your grip, don't hold the bow hard and relieve bow string pressure simply by keeping your pinky on top of the stick.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Schaick
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February 16, 2014 - 8:05 pm
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@Wallflower - HI!!  I am fairly new - When will I no longer be new?  Anyway - here is an exercise my Teach showed me to demonstrate how firmly to hold your bow.

Get set up in your bow grip then turn your bow tip up to the ceiling.  Hold your left hand under your bow - to catch it.  Slowly release your grip.  Right before the bow slides out of your hand into your left hand THAT is how much of a grip you should have on it.

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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Wallflower
Rhode Island
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February 16, 2014 - 8:33 pm
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Uzi: Thanks for the info on mutes.  I had no idea they existed.  I'll definitely check them out :)

 

Fiddlerman: Thanks for the advice.  You're right, I'm having a hard time keeping the proper bow grip while playing.  I find that my pinky tends to stiffen while playing so I'm constantly having to stop to relax my hand and then restart.  It seems nearly impossible to keep a curved pinky :/  I'm sure with practice I'll get the hang of it.  

P.S  I'm sure you'd play beautifully regardless of a couple missing fingers, lol  :D

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RosinedUp
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February 17, 2014 - 3:07 am
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Wallflower said
 I find that my pinky tends to stiffen while playing so I'm constantly having to stop to relax my hand and then restart.  It seems nearly impossible to keep a curved pinky :/ 

For me, the key to the bow hold is to keep the thumb bent.  That means that you have it wedged into the frog, as Pierre shows in his bow-hold video, or else touching the stick with only the very TIP of the thumb.  That will lead to the other fingers being curved.

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Wallflower
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February 17, 2014 - 11:58 am
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Thanks for the tips @Schaick and @RosinedUp !

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