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Bow hold
Big thumb troubles, etc....
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Colin
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January 19, 2019 - 3:03 pm
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I've been messing around with different nuances of holding the bow for the past couple of weeks, particularly with regard to where precisely the thumb goes and what angle etc... Through this experimentation, I keep referencing back to a sort of 'beginner' bow hold that I learned once where the thumb is placed on the bottom of the frog, just aft of the metal part that fastens the hair to it---i.e. not in contact with the stick proper. With my thumb here, I feel like my bow hand is more relaxed and I have more control, less bounce, and more intuitive expression than I feel with the more traditionally taught Franco-Belgian hold. My thumbs are oddly large and long, and the Franco grip doesn't feel swell because of that, often tensing up after a bit and throwing off what the rest of the fingers on the bow hand are doing. I guess my question is, has anyone else ever heard of the grip with the thumb on the bottom of the frog? Is there any reason you shouldn't hold the bow like this? 

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cid
January 19, 2019 - 4:18 pm
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I was told, in this forum when I asked about bow hold about a month ago, and from reading non-strict classical violin sites (strict classical players apparently do everything by the book, from what I have noted - not meant as an insult), and on fiddler sites, that you can adjust bow holds. If it works for you, then do it. I figure if it hinders later, modify again. You use what you have to work with.

Now, understand, I am a newbie. If you look down further in this “Learning” section, there is a thread I posed a question about bow hold. Maybe some of those answers in tbat thread will help you, also.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 19, 2019 - 10:56 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Colin said
I keep referencing back to a sort of 'beginner' bow hold that I learned once where the thumb is placed on the bottom of the frog, just aft of the metal part that fastens the hair to it---i.e. not in contact with the stick proper........

Sounds like the beginning Suzuki bow hold. If it feels good for you, why not. I feel that we are all built differently and what works for most will not work for everyone.

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

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
January 20, 2019 - 2:21 am
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@Colin - here is "Peak Fiddler" - almost apologizing for his bow-hold because it had been commented on so often...  - it's also worth exploring videos of other well known fiddle-players' holds - like Bruce Molsky and so on..  Peak is worth following - he regularly comes up with his own compositions, freely shares them, and often accompanies his videos of them with sheet.

I wouldn't over-concern yourself about the rights-and-wrongs of it - experiment, adapt, find something truly comfortable - especially if your primary playing genre is fiddle rather than classical - although - if you have a tutor you may find he/she would insist on one of perhaps 2 or 3 forms (or even worse, the "only correct way" 🙂 )

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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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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January 20, 2019 - 2:41 am
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Bow control tends to be rather limited with the thumb under the frog and I find it especially hard to control bow weight that way, but some teachers seem to start beginners with that bow hold because they want the student to start playing notes rather than struggle early on with a bow hold.

That said: once in a while, when playing in orchestras, I find that I have to play for a few seconds with my thumb under the frog because I just don't quite manage to get my thumb back in place when switching quickly from pizzicato to arco. In those situations I do my best to just hit the notes and try to move my thumb back in place as soon as I can.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 20, 2019 - 8:29 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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AndrewH said
Bow control tends to be rather limited with the thumb under the frog and I find it especially hard to control bow weight that way, but some teachers seem to start beginners with that bow hold because they want the student to start playing notes rather than struggle early on with a bow hold.

That said: once in a while, when playing in orchestras, I find that I have to play for a few seconds with my thumb under the frog because I just don't quite manage to get my thumb back in place when switching quickly from pizzicato to arco. In those situations I do my best to just hit the notes and try to move my thumb back in place as soon as I can.  

Obviously it would be hard for people like us to play that way but if we had done it our whole lives, maybe it would be hard to keep our thumbs where we have it now.

A while back I tried to play a left handed violin and if you had heard me, you would have been LYFAO!!!

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

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Colin
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January 20, 2019 - 12:49 pm
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Okay, thanks for the input! I really appreciate hearing from both a traditional and folk perspective. It's been one of my favorite things about the instrument so far. I'll probably keep fiddling around with my hold a bit until the most comfortable, natural thing sticks. I just wanted to make sure there wasn't something obvious I was missing that would greatly inhibit me down the line. 

Fiddlerman, playing lefty is always good to remember what it's like to be a beginner again! I used to do that with other instruments I was instructing...it was usually insightful but mostly amusing. 

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Mark
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January 20, 2019 - 9:40 pm
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Watch and listen to Mark O'Connor play, he plays with the thumb under the frog, he just an incredible player of all styles on music.

here is an excerpt for Leopold Auer book, playing the violin as i teach it, he was Heifetz teacher who Heifetz said showed him the freedom of the bow, I found his descriptions of the best violinists of the time bow holds was very interesting.

 bow-holds2.doc

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
January 21, 2019 - 6:26 am
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Thanks for pointing out that particular publication @Mark hats_off - I shall be referring to it once I find it.....

The only in-depth treatise I have so far worked with and relied upon is that of Ivan Galamian - free access to PDF (and other download formats) to be found here - https://archive.org/details/Pr....._Teaching_

He also talks in extensive detail about bow hold, in what I consider quite an enlightening way.

EDIT: The full document @Mark refers to is available here as a .pdf - https://imslp.org/wiki/Special.....26%2Ftorat

NOTE: This is a scanned (photo scanned) version of the document, and although a .pdf, cannot be easily searched - I'm going to look for it in another format.

I may be a little bit old-fashioned, but I find written detail - as in both these fine works - significantly more satisfying than the vast deluge of YT clips and so on - although - they do of course have their place !

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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Mark
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January 21, 2019 - 9:29 am
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Bill, 

I found this an interesting read also on the bow hold.

Mark

 

https://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/i.....m/PDF/view

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
January 21, 2019 - 11:27 am
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thumbs-up @Mark 

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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Pete_Violin
Utah
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January 29, 2019 - 1:08 pm
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Bow hold, as with every part of learning violin, is something to get used to and it seemed like everything was uncomfortable when I began violin.

Every time my teacher would introduce a new technique, concept, position, posture, hold, way to play, I would exclaim, "are you serious!!!!".  It became a joke and we just laughed after a while whenever she was teaching me.

So I completely understand.

One method which I still use and will go back to whenever I am tense or having difficulty is to allow my bow hand to hang with fingers pointing down, completely relaxed.  Observe the natural position they are in.  This is your most comfortable hold.  Place your fingers on the bow in more or less this position.

But keep in mind the pointer finger and pinky are the bow control fingers.  They dictate pressure, control, direction, and stability.  So if you are having trouble with any of these areas while you play, see if adjusting these 2 fingers help. Also.. and most importantly... keep relaxed as you play.  Any tension in your hold, arm, wrist, shoulder will certainly have a negative affect on your playing.  I have been told that bowing technique is even more critical to beautiful tone and playing than fingering on the other hand (not that fingering isn't important).

Remember, violin is a difficult instrument.  If it was easy, everyone would do it!

- Pete -

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AndrewH
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February 1, 2019 - 5:42 am
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Mark said
Watch and listen to Mark O'Connor play, he plays with the thumb under the frog, he just an incredible player of all styles on music.

here is an excerpt for Leopold Auer book, playing the violin as i teach it, he was Heifetz teacher who Heifetz said showed him the freedom of the bow, I found his descriptions of the best violinists of the time bow holds was very interesting.

 bow-holds2.doc  

Interestingly, O'Connor appears to use two different bow holds for different styles of music. When he plays as a fiddler, his thumb is under the frog. When he plays as a classical violinist (as seen in YouTube videos of him playing Bach as well as his own Fiddle Concerto), he uses a fairly standard Russian bow hold.

It might not be that uncommon for someone to use more than one bow hold for different purposes. For some reason I prefer a Franco-Belgian bow hold on viola and Russian bow hold on violin. I'm not sure exactly why.

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