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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Help with my bow arm


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/54892

Lemon Banjos - Posted - 03/10/2021:  18:39:26


Hello all! I have been playing fiddle for over 7 years now, and although I do not like to brag, I have begun to think of myself as a fairly accomplished musician in my area, although I still have infinite strides till I get even close to where I would like to be.

Over the past year, due to COVID, all of the local jams have been shut down. So, I decided to start learning some songs I had known before in new ways, such as learning to play Bill Cheathem like Aubrey Haynie, or Ida Red like Mike Hartgrove. This has helped my left (noting) hand a lot, but because I have been learning these songs note for note, I had backslid on my bowing arm.

I used to be fairly slick on my bow arm. Now, however, I have backslid and my bow are has become rather stiff and robotic-like.

I can't remember how I learned to get loose in the first place, so I can't really figure out how to get loose once again. My goal is for my bow arm to become as loose as Mike Hartgrove's.

Is there anyone here who can help me? I will send a video to you if necessary, so perhaps you can pinpoint my problem.

Thanks!

Swing - Posted - 03/11/2021:  04:23:52


I would suggest doing something different in getting your bow arm back..... if you go on YouTube and look up Christian Howes, he has a bunch of videos, most of them have something to do with bowing...granted he is a jazz musician but his lessons are really good exercises and are simple. I have watched and played along with several of them and often just once... the results can be felt right away... it has more to do with getting you to relax and feel rather than trying to adhere to a genre...

Play Happy

Swing

ChickenMan - Posted - 03/11/2021:  04:24:18


You are likely not engaging your wrist enough. Try isolating your arm by standing in a doorway with your elbow held against the wall (or can do it in a chair too) so only your wrist and fingers are moving the bow. You'll see immediately what this does. 


Edited by - ChickenMan on 03/11/2021 04:33:47

carlb - Posted - 03/11/2021:  04:53:44


quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan

You are likely not engaging your wrist enough. Try isolating your arm by standing in a doorway with your elbow held against the wall (or can do it in a chair too) so only your wrist and fingers are moving the bow. You'll see immediately what this does. 






I've might also suggest that sometime standing in a doorway with your shoulder pinned to the wall, will allow one to work on elbow flexibility. I've seen some who play by moving the arm from the shoulder without any flexibility in the elbow.

Lemon Banjos - Posted - 03/11/2021:  05:49:45


quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan

You are likely not engaging your wrist enough. Try isolating your arm by standing in a doorway with your elbow held against the wall (or can do it in a chair too) so only your wrist and fingers are moving the bow. You'll see immediately what this does. 






So should my forearm be pinned to the wall? I tried just leaning my shoulder into a doorway and, while it has already helped my wrist a little, it's mostly my elbow. Do I need to pin my forearm against the wall to force my wrist and fingers to do all the work?

Lemon Banjos - Posted - 03/11/2021:  05:51:52


quote:

Originally posted by carlb

quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan

You are likely not engaging your wrist enough. Try isolating your arm by standing in a doorway with your elbow held against the wall (or can do it in a chair too) so only your wrist and fingers are moving the bow. You'll see immediately what this does. 






I've might also suggest that sometime standing in a doorway with your shoulder pinned to the wall, will allow one to work on elbow flexibility. I've seen some who play by moving the arm from the shoulder without any flexibility in the elbow.






I have just tried this, and it seems to be helping my wrist some. I think my elbow was in decent flexibility before, but it seems to be helping it as well. Should my wrist feel tired after doing these exercises? Because it feels tired now and I only played for like 10 minutes.

carlb - Posted - 03/11/2021:  07:11:11


quote:

I have just tried this, and it seems to be helping my wrist some. I think my elbow was in decent flexibility before, but it seems to be helping it as well. Should my wrist feel tired after doing these exercises? Because it feels tired now and I only played for like 10 minutes.



I can't say anything about the tiredness in your wrist. However, you might look up some other types of exercises, not musical but physical, that could strengthen your wrist.

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 03/11/2021:  07:36:04


Lastly .... make sure your grip on the bow is relaxed. If there is tension in your grip it will translate , I can't think of a better word, to the rest of your arm. Be patient. It seems like the more I know, the more I know I don't know about fiddling. I am closing in on 20 years of sawing and cussing. R/

Old Scratch - Posted - 03/11/2021:  07:52:13


I would think 10 minutes is plenty long enough at one go to play in any of those forced positions. You're not trying to achieve a different type of rigidity; you're trying to get everything loosened up and working fluidly - and to know what that feels like, and what you can do like that.

Lemon Banjos - Posted - 03/11/2021:  15:37:08


quote:

Originally posted by UsuallyPickin

Lastly .... make sure your grip on the bow is relaxed. If there is tension in your grip it will translate , I can't think of a better word, to the rest of your arm. Be patient. It seems like the more I know, the more I know I don't know about fiddling. I am closing in on 20 years of sawing and cussing. R/






That may be part of my problem. I remember that the muscle between my wrist and thumb on my palm (Idk which muscle that is, but it's the meaty part of my thumb where it attaches to my hand) gets tired and aches. When I try to make my hand mimic other people's, I actually drop my bow when I start to play. How can I develop this loose grip without dropping my bow haha?

sbhikes2 - Posted - 03/11/2021:  16:47:30


My teacher says to practice long bows. The lower part of the bow your shoulder can move but your upper part of the bow only your elbow should move. I can't say I've mastered this at all. This guy I play fiddle tunes with says to do this shaking motions with your hand. Sort of hold your hand out like it's holding a bow and shake it to the right. He says that's the motion you should be making. I have no idea if this does anything.

Astrang - Posted - 03/11/2021:  17:13:09


That shaky thing is how you turn notes on the fiddle into music.

ChickenMan - Posted - 03/11/2021:  18:56:56


quote:

Originally posted by Lemon Banjos

 When I try to make my hand mimic other people's, I actually drop my bow when I start to play. How can I develop this loose grip without dropping my bow haha?





I personally have a thumb that can't hold the bow using the tip of it like the classically trained. No matter how I tried to contort my thumb, the bow always rested on the nail and there is little in the way of flesh below my thumb before the pad starts. I also would just drop the bow if I held it that way. Nowadays, there's arthritis in the joint at the base of the thumb that limits movement. I get by fine. My point being: there are more than one (or three) ways to hold the bow, make adjustments if necessary. I still grip lightly, just a little differently smiley



Oh, and you rest the back of your upper arm (triceps) against the doorway to let your wrist and fingers flex more. Elbow can still move some. You'll be surprised at how little movement is needed.



Loooong slow bows while watching in the mirror is good for developing tone and a good straight bow that glides in the sweet spot between the bridge and end of the fingerboard. One note per bow stroke.



Shake out those hands every 5 minutes until you build up the needed strength/stamina. 

Lemon Banjos - Posted - 03/11/2021:  19:04:07


Thanks everyone for the bowing advice. This recording is all me, but I just wanted y'all to hear the fiddle. This was recorded after my bowing problem started, but before I noticed it. My left hand is better now, but my right is worse. What do y'all think? If I work on my right hand more, I'd be way better?

banjohangout.org/myhangout/med...archived=

Old Scratch - Posted - 03/11/2021:  19:49:22


I'm not an aficionado of that kind of fiddling, but it sounds fine to me.

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 03/12/2021:  05:34:51


Well .... there are MANY different grips to hang onto a bow with. I was taught originally to make a circle, not an oval, with my middle and ring fingers then us my index and pinky fingers to balance and add or lessen bow down pressure. I shifted this idea to my index and middle fingers and have been comfortable with it for awhile now. All a fiddler can do is watch other fiddlers and try different things out. The thing they all have in common is a relaxed grip. The bow has to be controlled and almost float over the strings. Be patient , try playing things you don't have to think about. R/

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