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Starting over. Bow hand troubles.
woops =/
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RoseOfMayIX
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January 3, 2018 - 1:25 am
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So I made a really really novice mistake. For the last 3 weeks of learning the violin, wondering what is wrong with my violin. My G string sounded very wrong.. Upon doing a 3rd and 4th finger exercise from The Online Piano and Violin tutor, I realized... my violin was tuned way to low. My g string was soo floppy. Well its all tuned now, so I have decided to restart my time.  A problem I notice from videoing myself is that on my bow hand  my ring finger (3rd)  and my pinky keep locking straight. Along with sometimes my thumb.  I am struggling to keep them curved. I know the locked pinky is a problem for some beginners, but how do I also correct the 3rd finger? Should I only focus on my bow hand being perfect and only until then, keep progressing? Or should I keep playing with the mindset to keep workjng on my bowhand. I also notice I hold a lot of tension in my hand.  Also the resin i am using is 5 years old. I notice my bow sliding all over the place. Should i get a replacement one, and are there any suggestions on a gripper resin?

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Ferenc Simon
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January 3, 2018 - 6:02 am
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Hi there,

Here's an idea 🙂 If you're making videos of yourself anyway, why not post it in the critique section so people can see if you're doing something wrong and help you correct it.

Anyway, the 3rd finger should be resting next to the middle finger at the side of the frog, not on top of the stick like your pinky so it doesn't matter what it does as long as you're not actively pushing anything with it (it's main role is a relaxed stabilization of the bow so it doesn't turn from your middle finger). As for how to get the pinky to be curved, try holding the bow deeper in your palm (meaning that your middle finger should hang down more, even slightly below the bottom of the frog - this in turn will also force you to keep the thumb curved as to draw the stick deeper in your palm. 

Forget the 'hold it so it feels like you're going to drop it' sentence, it's a bow.. not a tea cup. I think that sentence confuses a lot of people into holding the bow too far away from their palm with the very tips of their fingers and their hand all rounded, like they're literally about to drop something, which is not how you should do it. Which reminds me, just a personal opinion: Watch it with Alison! (online violin tutor), while she is a wonderful violinist and some of those exercises and tutorials are really good, of all the online violin teachers, she has the largest volume of 'contraversial' advice (by this I mean that sometimes when she tells you how to do something, you'll easily find 10 other violinist youtubers saying not to do the very thing she just told you to). With that being said, I still enjoy watching her videos, I just take everything she says with a grain of salt - but then again.. when it comes to online advice, I suppose that is a good approach to anything, even this text I'm writing haha 🙂 

As a bonus, here's the link to Fiddlerman's video on how to hold a bow, see if that helps:

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damfino
oHIo, USA
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January 3, 2018 - 9:07 am
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You mentioned you get a lot of tension in your hand when playing. When you notice this happening, drop your hand to your side (after putting the bow down of course, haha) and shake out your hand to relax it. That's what my teacher taught me to do. 

My teacher taught me to keep my bow hand very loose and flexible (she keeps hers so loose she said she's never sure if her bow will fly out of her hand when she starts fiddling really fast). With fiddling you'll see players that look like their hands/wrists are little bouncy springs, and that's what you aim for (from what I've been taught) is that loose springy bowing hand. I don't think you see that super springy hand in classical (not that I've seen, anyway), still want it to be flexible, but not quite as bouncy. So I guess it depends on what style you're aiming for just how loose and springy you want to train your bowing hand to be.
 
When you're away from your fiddle, you can practice your bow hold on pencils, stuck on hold at work, or while watching tv. 
 
For the rosin, it does sound like you might need to try a new one (if even after reapplying your bow still won't grip). For nice and grippy, I think the Holstein premium rosin should fit your needs. 

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On a journey to learn the fiddle since July 24, 2015
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Bella86
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January 5, 2018 - 3:49 pm
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The pinkie locking up straightened is because your pinkie is weak. It's not a finger we use much. I did this too but I fixed it in just a week. I used 2 exercises whenever I had the time, like at work when i had a minute over, or on the couch in the evening, I'd pick up a pencil. Pinkie push-ups and an exercise where you hold a pen like you would a bow, and pull your fingers up, then stretch them out, pull them in towards your hand again and repeat. If that make sense, I don't know if that exercise has a name. With pinkie-push ups I would pretty much just hold the bow horizontal, then with my other hand pull my pinkie into a rounded position and just hold it there, gradually let my pinkie take more of the weight of the bow. It would pop out straight again but I'd pull it back with my left hand. A couple of days and I could keep it rounded while counteracting the weight of the bow for a few seconds. After a week, at my 2nd lesson, I had no trouble keeping my pinkie rounded. 
About your 3rd finger, it's not really very active. Sound odd if that one locks up, is it resting ontop of the bow like the pinkie or hanging down with 2nd and 1st? Like Ferenc said, hold the bow a bit closer to your hand, rather than fingertips, if that is what you are currently doing.

I suggest you find some strenghtening exercises for your bowhand, there are plenty of them on youtube. And do them daily, it takes time to build up muscles, especially when it's muscles we usually don't use the way we use them for playing the violin. 

As a sidenote, my bow used to slide all over the place when I started with fingering with the left hand, it was horrible 😛 Too many things to pay attention to at once. But that fixed itself thankfully lol

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RoseOfMayIX
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January 8, 2018 - 10:51 pm
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Thanks everyone for the replies. I'm am double jointed in my hands so it's an extra struggle for me. I can do the bow hold with a pen, just once I use the bow its a problem, but I am working on it. I will def. get a new rosin.

I am starting to realise violin is about the small baby steps and small progress, "Ah ha" moments if you will, that eventually all add up to wonderful art. I look forward to the day to be able to play with the smile on my face, at ease to reflect the smile and love I have found for this instrument. One day soon, once I work up the courage, I will post my progress. =)

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Charles
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January 9, 2018 - 11:31 pm
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Rose,

I'm moderately double-jointed also, especially on my thumb. I don't hold the bow with the tip of my thumb and curl it in, like most people do.  I hold it with the pad of my thumb and curl the thumb backwards.

When I first mentioned it to my teacher he was concerned because he thought I would lose flexibility. When I demonstrated how far the thumb would bend back, and that I could easily do the "bow lifting" exercise with it bending backwards that way, he said not to worry about it.

Reviewing your original post, you want to grip the bow with your fingertips. (Less true for the index finger, but for all the others, the tip or the pad at the tip should be what connects to the bow.) If you can then bend all your fingers (including the thumb) and have the bow come up at the frog (without anything except that happening), you should be fine. If it doesn't come up, or the rest of the bow flies wildly in an unexpected direction, you have adjustments to make.

If you're not brave enough to show yourself on a video, show your hand. (Hands don't show blushes very well, so nobody will be able to tell how shy it's feeling.) We'll be able to comment a lot more intelligently if we can see what you've got. Be sure to show it from all angles - there's a lot of things that can't be seen from just one.

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Cearbhael
Minnesota
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January 11, 2018 - 11:50 am
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RoseOfMayIX said
Thanks everyone for the replies. I'm am double jointed in my hands so it's an extra struggle for me. I can do the bow hold with a pen, just once I use the bow its a problem, but I am working on it. I will def. get a new rosin.

I am starting to realise violin is about the small baby steps and small progress, "Ah ha" moments if you will, that eventually all add up to wonderful art. I look forward to the day to be able to play with the smile on my face, at ease to reflect the smile and love I have found for this instrument. One day soon, once I work up the courage, I will post my progress. =)  

I am double jointed in all my fingers but learned to play violin in grade school and never really thought about it! The trick is relaxation, NOT tension! My only problem now that I am in my late sixties, is coordination. I am left handed and learning how to play a right handed violin I inherited from my grandfather. I am quite relaxed since I am comfortable with the violin but my right hand is NOT very coordinated! I keep working on it!

"Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one".- Albert Einstein 

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 11, 2018 - 4:30 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 13395

@RoseOfMayIX - It's good that you realize that you are dealing with tension. Many struggle through it. Learning to play with double jointed fingers can be challenging but with the right focus you can overcome this issue. Relaxation is the key.
Take baby steps with good focus now to avoid issues later.
Patience is a virtue of course and you can liken learning the violin to building a house. Start with a solid foundation. 🙂
A 5 year old rosin is bound to be too dry. I would recommend that you get a new one, especially since they are not expensive.

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

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RoseOfMayIX
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February 13, 2018 - 11:22 pm
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Update on progress. Yay progress!! So after going back to basics and videoing myself a bunch, I found my problem.. I have mountain top knuckles instead of rounded hills. If that makes sense. Since I have realized I have been doing this, and have lowered my knuckles (1st knuckle by the palm) my fingers are not locking and are staying round. I still have alot of work to get that into muscle memory, but now some of my tension is gone. =) sometimes the obvious is right infront of you I guess. haha

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Bella86
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February 14, 2018 - 4:09 pm
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Happy to see you figured it out! 😀 It should be getting better and better every day now then.

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Fiddlerman
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February 15, 2018 - 2:20 pm
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Congratulations on your self analysis success RoseOfMayIX.
No matter how much we know, or learn with a teacher, the art of analyzing yourself is probably the most important thing you can learn to do.
We spend most of our practice time all by ourselves working without anyone pointing out what we are doing wrong or what we can do to improve our playing. If you at all times analyze what you are doing and how changing a technique affects the sound either for the better or worse, you'll be able to progress much quicker.

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

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