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Adjusting Bow Hold
Adjusting bow hold for senior citizen that has issues with learning normal bow hold
Topic Rating: 4.9 Topic Rating: 4.9 Topic Rating: 4.9 Topic Rating: 4.9 Topic Rating: 4.9 Topic Rating: 4.9 (8 votes) 
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cid
December 29, 2018 - 9:54 am
Member Since: December 26, 2018
Forum Posts: 1504
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Is there any reason why a violin student (64 yrs old) can’t modify a bow hold and bowing to suit the way her aging body can do it in a way that suits her needs or desires?

My finger, wrist, and arm joints are not that flexible. I want to learn the violin. I am not going to play with anyone. This is just for my own benefit and enjoyment. I have been on other forums and they are loaded with classical violinists and any response will be that you have to do it the way classics do it. All I ask is that you please do not go down that road with replies. 

Here is the issue. I have issues with my joints, just age, not specific medical or physical issues.

I have an issue with bowing the way classical violinists bow. I have always used bulky pens, bulky knitting needles, etc., never anything thin like a violin bow and this is causing me issues that I did not have with the fatter and heavier cello bow.

I do play cello, although, still learning. The cello bow and weight is much easier for me to handle. The violin bow is so lightweight and skinny that it just does not register that it is in my hand, especially with the “wimpy” way it is held. I don’t know how else to describe it. 

The thumb is extremely uncomfortable. Nothing helps. All those little exercises have made things worse because I am being forced to do something that, in my 64 years, I have never done with my fingers. I have never held skinny objects or at least, if skinny, held with light grip. 

For me, that thumb position notch at the frog on a violin bow is just not big enough and not going to work. If I can hold it so I can feel it, couldn’t I adjust everything else? I am not going to play solo in front of anyone, I am not joining an orchestra. I do not even have dreams of playing classical music. What is wrong with someone who has no professional goals, is dealing with aging joints, etc learning to do something in the most comfortable way for that person and adjust things as needed as she moves along?

I understand that this could hinder extensive complicated classical pieces, which I have no desire to play. I want to be able to get a violin book of songs, melodies, (Danny Boy, English Country Gardens, Moon River, etc, not Allegros, etc), etc and be able to play them to the best of my abilities, for myself and my own self worth. I have no aspirations to be playing fast allegros or anything like that. I just want to have relaxing enjoyment. I am not going to perform in front of anyone.

Is it possible to do this? I started using my viola bow on my violin. It is heavier, which I love, and a little more, just a little more, bulk in my hand. It works much better for me than my lightweight carbon violin bow or my lightweight wood bow. But, it is still not registering as I get into the melody. If I adjust my grip to what I need, it won’t be traditional violin hold and it will be pointed out in my lesson, but it will work better for me.

Is there any reason a violin instructor needs to force a student of any age, who is learning the violin solely for his or her own enjoyment, to be hindered by the crazy classical violin hold if that hold just does not work for that student? 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Shane "Chicken" Wang
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December 29, 2018 - 10:32 am
Member Since: October 25, 2018
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Hello cid, glad you're here. I am not a classical person either and understand exactly what you are saying and going through. 

If you watch videos of old time fiddlers, you don't see that many that use a classical hold. The bow hold, even in classical varies from person to person. The most important thing for people like us, is to relax and enjoy what we are doing. Relax as much as possible in the back, shoulder, and elbow, and allow the arm to lead the hand.

There are also products and such you can try to make it easier. The foam piece on one of those fat pens you use, if you can remove it from a pen, it will slide on the bow. foam tubing is available at lowes, find a piece that is 3/4" to 1" on the outside with the inside diameter being roughly the same size as a pencil. Cut it to about 4" long, with a 1"inch slit running long ways, remove the frog, careful not to get your hair in a tangle, and slide it up the shaft. replace the frog and you're good to go.

Also, there are products on Amazon like the bowmaster. it slides over the bow and is for correcting the bow hold, but it also adds thickness to the bow. making it a little easier to hold. The Bowmaster by sensitive is roughly 10$.

Image result for bowmaster for violin

There is another product, things for strings, that can be found on amazon.

Purple Raspberry 2-Piece Set: Things 4 Strings Bow Hold Buddies, Award-winning Violin/Viola Teaching AidImage Enlarger

Purple Raspberry 2-Piece Set: Things 4 Strings Bow Hold Buddies, Award-winning Violin/Viola Teaching Aid

This could also be of help in making it easier to hold the bow. It's actually cheaper on Amazon than on the company website. Like 26$ with free shipping.

I hope this helps and I'm glad you joined us.

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Irv
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December 29, 2018 - 10:40 am
Member Since: December 23, 2017
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Chicken got to this before I did.  Anyways, my two cents.

Amazon has a variety of products, as Chicken mentioned.  Search “violin bow buddy” and you should be able to find them.

A bit more radical solution is called the wonderbow.  Same idea as above.

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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Shane "Chicken" Wang
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December 29, 2018 - 10:44 am
Member Since: October 25, 2018
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Also, you mentioned wanting to learn songs like Moon river, Here is a link to 

EasyViolinLesson

 on youtube. It is a TAB channel. Plenty of hymnal type music, Amazing Grace, and such. Stand by me, The Beatles....There is also StringClub. You can slow the songs down with the settings button on the video. Looks like a little gear or cog. Drop the speed to 3/4 or 1/2 until you have it familiar.

Happy playing.

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
December 29, 2018 - 12:16 pm
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 3127
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Welcome to the friendliest fiddle forum on planet Earth @cid !

Both @Shane "Chicken" Wang and @Irv have good thoughts there.

The way I see it is that since you mention you have a tutor - your tutor should have the good grace to understand what YOU want from your playing, and not force upon you any specific bow hold.  When it comes to "fiddle" tunes, most (well a substantial number) adapt to what works best for them, and there are some awesome fiddlers out there with holds that are nothing like any classical hold!

Here's an English chap, called Peak Fiddler ("Peak" as in "from the Peak district" that is!), and he puts quite a number of tunes, many of his own compositions, on You Tube - and he's had quite a number of comments regarding his "strange" bowhold - so much so he made a separate video just to talk about it!  

Personally, I find I vary my hold quite radically dependent on what I'm playing - but - rather like Peak, that's just me, the way I prefer it, and would never suggest it is the "best", the "proper" or the "only" way !!!

To answer your final question - 

Is there any reason a violin instructor needs to force a student of any age, who is learning the violin solely for his or her own enjoyment, to be hindered by the crazy classical violin hold if that hold just does not work for that student? 

... to my mind, one word suffices, and that is....   "No"    🙂 

Best wishes on your fiddle journey drummer

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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wtw
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December 29, 2018 - 12:29 pm
Member Since: November 10, 2018
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Agree with all of the above… there are many bow holds possible and the important thing is being comfortable when you're holding it (hence not stressed up that it'll slip from your hand).

As Shane pointed out, there are items you can buy that could help ; or you could just experiment with rubber bands (for instance ; a bit like her, except more permanently) to widen the place where your thumb or other fingers go, which would add friction and stability.

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cid
December 29, 2018 - 1:29 pm
Member Since: December 26, 2018
Forum Posts: 1504
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Thanks for the replies. Funny thing, after I posted this my husband made me a sleeve to put over my bow at the frog end. It is pretty much like what is mentioned in the replies here. 

He took some flexible piping and made slit so it could slide over the bow and the frog passed right by. I slid it to go beyond the frog as far as I need it and it is also far enough towards the end so that my little finger butts up to it. That little touch reminds me to pay attention to my little finger. The diameter is perfect for my grip and it actually gives it a tad more weight, and does not seem to affect the balance. I think the weight of this flexible foamy piping is very minimal and it is the diameter added to the frog end of the bow that is making the difference. I did not know they even made these. Just as well, because my husband had the piping left over from a project, so I didn’t have to spend any more money.

Since it is removeable, I can put it on any bow I want to use. Wonder what my instructor will say when we start up again. The music store has been closed since 12/25 and reopens 1/2. My lessons will restart the following week. I will have had a two week break when they restart. My tube gripping is not coming off. 

Thanks, everyone. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Shane "Chicken" Wang
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December 29, 2018 - 8:33 pm
Member Since: October 25, 2018
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@BillyG @wtw  Thanks brother and little wunderkind,(a person who achieves great success when relatively young. wtw is fantastically talented.)

@cid your husband is a man after my own heart, wifey needs, wifey gets, no questions needed. Love that.

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Mark
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December 29, 2018 - 10:26 pm
Member Since: September 30, 2014
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Cid, if I haven't all ready, welcome to the forum, have you tried the thumb under the frog type hold, Mark O'Conner uses this hold and he is a fantastic fiddler both classical and fiddle music, you got to work with what you have to work with, good luck.

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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