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Pinky finger on bow
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Mt. Fiddler
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February 6, 2013 - 8:54 pm
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As I'm practicing good bowing, I cannot seem to keep my pinky finger curved on the bow.  It falls off.  I want to cut a little ledge for my finger nail to set into, or should I not worry about it and just continue to struggle with it?  Perhaps it will come in time... I realize it's probably going to be helpful in balancing the bow when I'm playing the Wabash Cannonball or other fast bowing songs.?serenade

 

Mt. Fiddler

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Tyberius
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February 6, 2013 - 9:45 pm
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I was just playing with my bow trying to see what you are speaking of. In order to play without my pinky, I have to grip really hard with my thumb and the middle finger's crease. It causes my whole hand and wrist to become tense.

For myself, I barely grip the bow with my thumb and "two" middle fingers and let the balance happen between my index and little finger. This allows me to flex my hand and fingers keeping the bow in a "line" and play really lightly or add pressure just by flexing my index finger. Without my little finger as a guide, the bow flops off my grip.

Something I do note is that on a long bow stroke, my bow sort of twistsand ends up playing more to 1 side of the bow strings, but the tone seems clearer. For that I would imagine the friction of the lesser strings not causing additional harmonics. Maybe on a more expensive bow it might not be so noticeable. On my $75 pernambuca, it does.

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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ozmous
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February 7, 2013 - 8:50 am
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oh, it does come in time, and sometimes, it's because of the weight of the bow.

Back on my first days, I used a russian bow hold, like Nathan Milstein, or Jascha Heifetz use, it's typically all straight, and stiff, and many beginners, as I have seen on the internet, use it.....after sometime, I can now curve my fingers and use an italian bow hold, an itlian/franco-belgian bow hold is good for fast pieces, since it is more flexible, your fingers are all springy, not unlike the russian bow hold, it's very very stiff, and bowing fast needs the whole arm to move, I don't even get why Milstein or Heifetz used it....

And having a heavy bow, specially the tip, is gonna be  trouble, you need to find a balance spot, so that it would be easier to grip, and so that the pinky can carry the weight when curved.....

cheers! - ⁰ℨ

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Picklefish
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February 7, 2013 - 11:43 am
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Without actually seeing what you are doing, not being an expert, and realizing everyone is different in their approach and physicality; I think your hand is either tilted to far towards you so that much pressure is on the first finger or I have also seen this happen when people hold the bow with just their fingertips (daintely).

The "best" way for most "efficient" and "versatile" holding of the bow is shown in FM video for bow hold.

The (see above disclaimers) drawing the bow is also shown in FM's video.

I recently learned and have been working to apply to my own bowing is the difference between "applyed pressure" and "dead weight of the arm" when bowing. Useing a dead weight approach seems to put even or equal responsibilty to the whole hand when bowing, like dragging a dead body down the road and then pushing one ala alternating directions. The applied pressure approach is equal to using the middle finger and thumb like a "teeter totter" for the index finger pressure on the up bow and the pinky pressure on the down as the index releases. Again, nothing is better than in person lessons, then skype, then vids so find someone to help you sort out your bowing issue it is the second most important aspect to playing next to posture IMO.

-Peace, Love, Fiddle    Pfish.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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DanielB
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February 7, 2013 - 12:23 pm
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#Mt. Fiddler:  I wouldn't go cutting into your bow.  They make gadgets for "pinky positioning" or whatever one might call it.

http://www.amazon.com/YM-Onlin.....n+bow+nest

 

...and while that isn't by any means expensive, I personally wouldn't pay that for what it is.  You could probably make one in 5 min out of an old marker cap. 

Nothing wrong with trying a gadget or gimmick once in a while though.  At least it can be a fun experiment.  Sometimes they probably can even help, at least briefly, to form new habits or something.  If they do, fine and well.  If they don't, then at least you know about them when someone else asks.  If you see any benefit from it, I'd bet that like most gadgets, it would outlive it's usefulness in a few days for you.  Probably less days than you'd wait for it to come in the mail.

To replace even a cheap bow costs more than that gadget.  And the gadget costs more than a marker cap (or anything else that happens to be lying around that is about the right size, like a piece of tubing or whatever).  So, use a little Yankee ingenuity and cobble one together and see if you feel it helps.

Silly as such things may seem, I've known some good martial artists and body builders who would try every weird goofy gadget they could find.  Never know when one might actually be useful or even just be that little bit it takes for a few days to break into a new plateau.  Failing that, it was at least something to have a little fun goofing around with.  A little variation in the practice routines.

"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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Mt. Fiddler
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February 9, 2013 - 8:33 pm
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great ideas all... i think i like the gadget one teh best~

 

thnks alll!

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Fiddlerman
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February 9, 2013 - 10:26 pm
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Let us know what you think when you try it. I actually liked it when I tried it but didn't like the other products so much. IOW, only the pinky thing not the thumb or the other fingers.

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

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RosinedUp
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February 10, 2013 - 1:43 am
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I would look for some bigger or more general problem in your bow hold or bowing.  Are you following some specific directions for your bow hold?  I would think you could get it right if you follow the directions.  If not, maybe your anatomy is not suited to that particular hold.

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DanielB
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February 10, 2013 - 4:08 pm
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With the talk about the "pinky nest" gadget, I decided to try cobbling something like it together, just to see what it actually does (and if it might be useful for my own practice/playing).  Easy to just dismiss any new gadgets, but unless one has actually tried something at least similar, it is just "talking though your hat". 

My first attempt was with a bit of heavy copper wire I had handy by the computer.  12 gauge, I think. 

 

100_0410.JPGImage Enlarger

 

I noticed when trying it that having the pinky curving down onto that spot was different than how I usually had been holding the bow.  My pinky had been resting usually near or on the adjustment knob, and this was closer to the frog.  But my design/version slid on the stick too easy, and I figured the metal would likely mar up the wood, so I took some plastic tubing I had handy and made one more like the commercial "pinky rest".

100_0412.JPGImage Enlarger

 

More stable, less likely to mess up the stick or frog, and it positions the pinky more where FM shows in the tutorial on how to hold the bow.

But I was pretty sure I'd seen some pics and tutorials with the pinky placed a bit further back than FM shows it.  Checking my older bookmarks, I found some, including Itzhak Perlman's vid on Bow Grip where it was a little further back, but not as far back as I had been putting it.  So there might be some variance for hand size.  I have rather large hands, but Mr. Perlman is pretty well known for having large hands for a violinist, and I doubt I need to move the pinky back further than he does.  So I made yet another one that places the pinky about where Itzhak says to.

100_0411.JPGImage Enlarger

Interesting stuff.  I think the gadget maybe could actually be helpful for some folks.  In my own case, I'm pretty sure it corrects some aspects of an incorrect bow hold.  I *thought* I was holding it like I'd seen shown months ago in assorted video tutorials, but my pink had apparently drifted down towards the end of the stick which was maybe spreading the hand too much.  With the gadget, I notice that a much gentler bow grip is actually comfortable, and the bottom end of the bow stroke seems a bit less of a strain to the wrist.  It also seems to fix a bad habit I have of locking my bow-hand thumb with the joint bent backwards.  I've been working on that for quite a while, but it kept locking like that whenever my attention would be on some other aspect of playing.

That's an example of where lessons/teachers can be good, if you can manage it.  A teacher would have probably spotted it months ago and figured out what I could be doing better. 

In any case, I'll try both the FM/commercial "pinky nest" position and the Itzhak position for the pinky for a bit in my practices and playing and see how it goes.  But just from a brief test of how it feels to play using something like one of these little gadgets, they may actually be useful to develop the habit/muscle-memory of having the pinky in a spot which may be a bit better than what I have been doing.  

My pic here show a couple ways of going about it without actually running out and buying or ordering the gadget, and of course there would be other ways it can be done as well.  Might be worth a try, though.

 

 

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"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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Picklefish
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February 10, 2013 - 6:14 pm
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See a need, meet a need. Good Job!

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Fiddlerman
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February 10, 2013 - 10:02 pm
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Daniel, you are Mcguire. You're a genius. When do you start mass production? I like the one with plastic tubing. Can you make a how to video for Fiddlerman.com please? It looks easy enough that anyone can do it. Perfect for beginners having trouble with keeping the pinky on top.

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

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DanielB
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February 10, 2013 - 10:35 pm
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Thanks Pierre.  To be honest, I thought it was probably just a goofy gadget like a hundred other things out there until you mentioned actually liking the one you tried.  That's why I decided to cobble one together and see what it does.

Mass production isn't going to happen because it is most likely a patented design, if they have any sense.  Besides, the things aren't really over-priced for folks that would just want to buy one.  They list at about 4$ if a local music store happens to have them or can get them.

But patents do not stop people who want to make one for themselves as a DIY project.  Patents are to protect someone's idea from being marketed by someone else for profit.  So yeah, we can come up with a DIY for this.  I used a dremel to make mine, but it wouldn't actually need one, this is just a piece of plastic.  I also can think of some other ways it could be done that would maybe be a bit easier, but could still do the job. 

I'll look for a couple of items next time I'm at the dollar store to try the other ideas.  So long as it won't hurt the bow and is easy to put on and take off, other ways to do this trick could be good.

 

"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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Dude-CCK
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February 11, 2013 - 9:34 am
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How do you actually use this? Do you have a photo of it in use? 

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Fiddlerman
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February 11, 2013 - 11:20 am
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Thanks, that would be great Daniel. I'm sure that a lot of beginners will be very happy about that. I'll ad an official post with links and all. We'll try to accumulate DIY pdf's for those who can't afford buying things and paying luthiers to do everything for them.

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

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DanielB
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February 11, 2013 - 12:25 pm
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@Dude-CCK:  I use it like this..

 

100_0415.JPGImage Enlarger

 

Pretty simple.  The one I made weighs around 1 gram. 

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"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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ratvn
Kent, Washington USA
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February 11, 2013 - 7:14 pm
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Great job, Daniel. You're really a genius, come up with simple, effective and inexpensive solutions to complex problems.

Thank you for posting these valuable "tool", as I have some problem with my pinky and bowing (actually I have problem with all my fingers, both hands, can we have gadgets for each one of them, lol).

Thanks again.

thumbs-upthumbs-upthumbs-up

 

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Tyberius
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Daniel, as always, well thought out and presented. I do say, however..... (notice the however).... That 3 or 4 drops of super glue on your fingers will prevent any sliding what so ever and you don't actually have to install a "mechanical" bonding device when you can have a molecular bond. ;) facepalm

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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DanielB
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Thanks, folks, but my kudos would go to whoever thought of the "pinky nest" in the first place.  It wasn't my idea, I just cobbled something like it together out of materials that were handy.

But for anyone thinking of making one or buying a commercial one, I can at least personally say that I definitely think it can actually help a bit.  I don't think I was understanding how important the pinky finger is on the bow hand.  It was one of those many things one is supposed to remember about how to hold the bow that probably everyone struggles with for the first few days.  Having used this gadget for a long playing session yestermorn (a few hours of playing and exploring some new songs/pieces), I think it definitely does help with keeping the bow grip gentle and being able to steer the bow easier.  Playing with it on and off, I seem to be playing a bit better with it on.  So at least for now, it is definitely a part of my kit. LOL

Who knows?  In  hundred years or so, it may be considered a standard fitting and be part of at least all bows in beginner kits.  The chin-rest and shoulder rest were new gadgets once.  But they make the instrument easier to play for some folks and maybe allow for some possibilities of play that would be harder without them.  So they were developed over time and became standard fittings for many folks.  This gadget only weighs about a gram and it fits on the bow at a spot where it won't hurt balance and might even help it slightly.  It could be made of nicer/prettier materials (hardwood, bone, glass, carbon fiber, boiled leather, brass, silver or whatever) and even look like it belongs there as much as a chinrest does on the violin itself for most people. 

My general thought is that if something might help, try it.  If it *does* help, then be all means, use it.  If I seriously had any reason to believe that putting a plastic Pikachu on the scroll of my violin would improve my playing even a little?  I'd probably at least give it a try.  LOL 

 

"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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Ms-G
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March 4, 2013 - 5:25 pm
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Hmmmm at this point in time am just happy to keep ahold of the bow. 

Maybe the dynamics of it will come in time. 

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