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Student having some struggles, any suggestions? (Bow-hold/wrist.)
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (9 votes) 
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wanderviolin
United States
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March 18, 2024 - 6:01 pm
Member Since: January 26, 2024
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Looking for some advice from my fellow violin tutors:

My student, Hailey, is twelve years old and has been playing for a little over a year. I am the only music teacher she has ever had. (She does not do orchestra or band.) 

The big concern: her wrist and her bow-hold. Her hold is correct except she grips the bow so hard her knuckles turn white! (She says she's afraid of dropping/throwing the bow.) I have tried the pencil exercise, shown her several wrist-exercises from professional violinists, and done every exercise I can think of to help.

We started with an Essential Elements beginner book, with some other supplemental material, and we're nearing the end of Suzuki book 1. I have also used some beginner's fiddle books with her, but I want to give her a classical background. She aspires to play Celtic fiddle music and learn how to improvise/play by ear. I really don't want to overlook this crucial piece of technique.

When I was learning violin, my teacher showed me the pencil exercise, and it helped me loosen my wrist and improved my articulation immensely. When I began teaching I implemented a "Shake n Stretch' time halfway through each lesson. We take 2 or 3 minutes to shake out our hands and stretch, and that helps relieve any tension/stress. That is the only thing that has helped her loosen up, but it doesn't fully eliminate the death-grip she has on that bow. 

Is there any alternative methods to help this kiddo relax her wrist?

Thanking you in advance!

-Wander ;) 

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stringy
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March 18, 2024 - 6:46 pm
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Tell her to imagine she is holding a small bird.

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ELCBK
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March 18, 2024 - 7:16 pm
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@wanderviolin -

Some great suggestions to help make bow grip easier/more comfortable in the Bow Grip Thread

If her thumb slips thru easily or if middle fingers aren't low enough along side the frog, then she may not feel secure & there are tips in the link to help. 

The other thing to consider - I think beginner bows can feel tip heavy & may just be too heavy overall.  I would consider a smaller, fractional bow size if she is using a 4/4 bow. 

Hope you find something that makes bowing more enjoyable for Hailey!

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Mouse
March 18, 2024 - 8:11 pm
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@wanderviolin I edited your title to place the "Bow hold/wrist" with the main topic title so it is more visible when scrolling the "Teaching" section, and so that it appears in the post listing on the right edge of the forum.

🐭

The Bumblebee Flies!

Please ignore any typos. My typing ability on a real typewriter did not transfer to these device key pads.

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Unfretted
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March 19, 2024 - 3:57 pm
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wanderviolin said
 

The big concern: her wrist and her bow-hold. Her hold is correct except she grips the bow so hard her knuckles turn white! (She says she's afraid of dropping/throwing the bow.) ….

Is there any alternative methods to help this kiddo relax her wrist?

 @wanderviolin,

Take an inexpensive carbon bow and let her just drop it on the floor a few times.  Notice that it doesn’t break.

Have her hold the bow with proper form and then loosen her hold until the bow falls from her hand to the floor.

Repeat that exercise until she stops loosening her hold just before the bow falls.

Do the same while playing a simple piece.

She’ll get it.

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Mark
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March 20, 2024 - 2:16 am
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wanderviolin

Maybe this exercise idea will help her loosen up her grip.

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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Gordon Shumway
London, England
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March 20, 2024 - 3:51 am
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Grip is an unfortunate word.

The "grip" only needs to be a gentle pinch of the thumb and middle finger (as the OP is aware, otherwise they wouldn't be asking). The other fingers are for balance and control (i.e. the index applies pressure against the strings). The wood is away from you, and the little finger rests on the always octagonal endpiece - not on top, but on the first face towards you, which becomes the top when the bow is rotated. The bow also rests on the violin, even on the E string, if the violin is held right.

A good exercise is just to hold the bow between thumb and middle finger and pinky and move it from horizontal to vertical and back and then in circles mimicking the action of bowing.

Andrew

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wanderviolin
United States
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March 25, 2024 - 6:01 pm
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Thanks to everyone for the advice! Some of these tips are things I had never heard before. I will have her try these until we find what works for her.

-Wander ;) 

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