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Pinky Gremlin
Need your opinions.
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (3 votes) 
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ELCBK
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September 16, 2022 - 4:38 pm
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How & how much do you use your pinky on your bow?

I need to figure out if I'm getting too anal about this, because I had honestly thought I'd gotten past all my pinky problems. 🤨 

What really disturbed me - I saw in my En La Mar video I'd completely changed the way I've been using my pinky on my bow.  I wasn't feeling very good that day, but seems I've gone from nice springy contact that I'd worked so hard on last year, to stiff finger laying on top of the bow!  ...and I'm pretty sure that affected my tone. 

I've had a terrible problem with not feeling like recording this year, partly just getting to know my 5-string Viola (Edgar) & partly feeling apathetic, because it's only after I play something fairly well I think, "oh, yeah - too bad I didn't record that". 

I'm beating myself up a bit here, because I'm aware that recording can help catch problems before they become bad habits - feel I should know better. 😔

Anyway, decided to take a closer look at one of the videos I submitted for County Down.  At least my pinky is relaxed here, but I think it has become pretty USELESS! 

 

 

Don't I need to have the tip of my pinky finger resting on the top of the stick? 

 

In the long run, will my playing & tone suffer if my pinky doesn't join the rest of the family? 

...of course, now it feels so friggin' unnatural to try to do it any other way. 😖 

So, is it worth trying to fix my pinky?

- Emily

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stringy
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September 17, 2022 - 4:07 pm
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looks good to me, sounds good too.

I confess most of the time I dont use my little finger at all, a fiddler on you tube said its not really needed for fiddle tunes, dont know if thats ttue, but I feel a lot more comfortable only using it for classical stuff. With fiddle music it was making my hand lock up with no flexibility.

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ELCBK
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September 17, 2022 - 7:18 pm
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@stringy -

Thank you. 

I started feeling too culpable... and mad, that I let a lot of work go down the drain - but also afraid I'd miss out on something down the road, so worked on changing it last night & today.

It's ridiculous, how just changing from the pad of the finger to the tip seems like such a big ordeal to me. 😣 

Suppose at least one good thing coming out of all this focus - nice sense of getting back in touch with my right hand.  I was too concerned with my left hand & the fingerboard to notice anything else - my right hand could've snuck off to rendezvous with someone else's hand, for all I know. (lol)

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hmLJRxqkeO8/UbJ0biSiayI/AAAAAAAANI0/LFRMkvpyMSQ/s1600/Head+and+Rear+Meeting.jpgImage Enlarger

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ELCBK
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September 27, 2022 - 7:56 pm
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Here it is, 10 days later... 

I feel it's worth mentioning that it is NOT, in any way, easy for me to change my bow grip - even though I'm only trying to return to something I was previously doing correctly!!! 

Don't know how, or when, I went astray, but for right now - it's annoying, I really have to focus.  I still have to make sure I can FEEL where my fingers are on the bow - AT ALL TIMES.  When I don't focus, I slip back to the video position!   

Also, it was actually more than just my pinky that I had to change. 

My middle 2 fingers were off!  My fingerpads were NOT resting on the side of the frog! 

I looked at my video, again, slowed it down to .5 speed - and sure enough, right at 0:51, this is confirmed.  My 2 middle fingers were up on the stick - NOT along side the frog! 

Turns out, it's really those 2 middle fingers I have to focus on, right now - when they are down over the eye of the frog far enough (and my hand is relaxed), it's easier to keep my pinky in the right spot. 

 

I do notice I sound better... hope it doesn't take too many more weeks to make sure I keep it that way! 😞  

 

I don't believe it's easy for anyone to change anything they've been doing, playing the violin! 

 

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/85/88/74/8588747fe70dcc9bcf58db2269a20b87.jpg

- Emily

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ELCBK
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June 28, 2023 - 8:37 pm
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Just making a note of this, in case anyone else needs to do a periodic check. 

I have been focusing on bowing the lowest/hardest to respond strings for a while now.  Somehow I've managed to ignore what my fingers have been doing (again!) - caught my middle ones creeping off the eye of the frog (up to the stick) & my pinky headed for outer space, I guess. 🥴  

Might need to resort to using the 'rubber band-over-the-middle-fingers' trick, if I can't keep them lower on the frog (at least most of the time)! 

 

I tried this exercise of holding my bow at the tip end, but probably not the greatest thing to practice with my Arcus bow.  The skinny, octagonal stick has sharper angles near the tip & the heavier frog made this exercise PAINFUL, until I moved my hand a little closer to the center (cheating, I guess).  Think it's a good exercise, I just need to try it with one of my other bows. 

Stephan Jackiw is an amazing violinist - he also seems pretty good at identifying & explaining how to fix problem areas! 

He explains how important the bowing pinky is for 'string crossings'!!!

 

Anyway... always keeping an eye out for a new way of looking at my bowing hand & thought this video had an interesting focus on 'flattening' the knuckles... workin' on it.  

 

Feel like both videos helped me!  

I clipped what little bit of a pinky nail I had growing, repositioned my 2 middle fingers & kept my bow grip my main focus last night and today's practice - so far, so good.

...hard to do in between keeping the Grandkids busy. 

https://s7d9.scene7.com/is/image/BedBathandBeyond/112396960966513p?$478$

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invisiblewasp

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September 27, 2023 - 5:17 pm
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Where did you get your violin from? 

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ELCBK
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September 28, 2023 - 12:58 am
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invisiblewasp said
Where did you get your violin from?  

WELCOME @invisiblewasp ! 

I bought both my 5-string Violin and my 5-string Viola (seen in the OP video) from the Fiddlershop

Thanks for asking! 

- Emily

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ELCBK
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January 17, 2024 - 4:44 pm
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It's been well over a year since I started this thread, but looking back - taking time to fix my bow grip was one of the best decisions I've made! 

It took me awhile (like making any long-term change), but definitely has proven invaluable this past year, started allowing me more 'micro' control for articulation, string crossings (I have a smaller room for error with 6 strings) & pressure variations within a bow stroke (from tip to frog).

I still do a little 3-point mental 'frog check', periodically:

  1. make sure only the tip of my thumb is in contact with the frog (holding the bow lightly, I run the risk of my thumb slipping too far thru under the stick)
  2. make sure the pads of my 2 middle fingers touch along side the eye of the frog 
  3. make sure the tip of my pinky stays in contact, just shy of the top of the stick (a VERY long bow stroke is the only exception) 

I thought about all this today because I noticed something unusual in a video.  It is the first time I've seen the 'ring' finger used this way on the bow - on top of the stick. 

giphy.gif

I understand bow weight & balance enters the equation, also fiddlers who specialize in one style can have a specific preference - and there IS more than one 'classic' bow hold... 

When's the last time YOU checked YOUR bow hold? 

 

Are YOU getting the most out of YOUR bowing hand & fingers?

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Jim Dunleavy
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January 18, 2024 - 1:35 pm
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Great that you managed to sort out your problem. Having a few simple check points is a great way of getting over ingrained bad habits.

You've just reminded me that I haven't taken a video of my practice for a couple of months, so I'll try to remember to do that and check out my form (it's so easy to slip into bad habits isn't it?).

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