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Can you please tell me if my bow hold is correct?

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Dec 29, 2020 - 5:02:07 PM
88 posts since 10/7/2010

Hello! I am self taught and have watched numerous YouTube videos and read articles trying to get a proper bow hold. Can you let me know if this is correct, and if not, what I need to do to make it correct? Thank you!

Dec 29, 2020 - 5:49:59 PM
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8930 posts since 3/19/2009

What I can't see is how tightly you are holding the bow.. Remember it is not heavy.. and once you put the bow onto the violin strings, the weight you feel is even less.. maybe just a couple of ounces.. So.. Hold the bow as if it was a baby bird and you don't want to hurt it.. Squeezing in not necessary...Does that make sense? The real experts will chime in here soon and I'll slip out.. but just remember...baby bird..

Dec 29, 2020 - 6:29:33 PM
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308 posts since 6/11/2019

All of the above, plus...thumb should be convex, not concave...do an OK sign except with middle finger rather than with index...

Dec 29, 2020 - 7:30:52 PM
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Players Union Member

boxbow

USA

2597 posts since 2/3/2011

The bow should not leave any painful indentations in any fingers.

Dec 29, 2020 - 11:16:02 PM
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banjopaolo

Italy

135 posts since 9/14/2010

All the suggestions are very good... I usually tell to my students ‘think to hold a tennis ball in your hand’ and then close the hand on your bow keeping the round shape of the fingers’

I hope my English is good enough to understand what I mean!

Edited by - banjopaolo on 12/29/2020 23:16:37

Dec 29, 2020 - 11:24:46 PM
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Dragonslayer

Mozambique

289 posts since 9/1/2019

It looks like you're holding too tight, but otherwise about right

Dec 30, 2020 - 4:48:41 AM
Players Union Member

carlb

USA

2293 posts since 2/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

All of the above, plus...thumb should be convex, not concave...do an OK sign except with middle finger rather than with index...


Bend that thumb.

Dec 30, 2020 - 5:34:09 AM
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Earworm

USA

168 posts since 1/30/2018

I can tell more about a bow hold by watching the wrist than watching fingers. Just keep that wrist relaxed when you're actually playing.

Dec 30, 2020 - 5:48:18 AM
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2311 posts since 10/1/2008

Yeah ... that flattened thumb .... there needs to be a circle or oval shape between your thumb and index finger. And relaxing your grip is equally important.

Dec 30, 2020 - 7:06:05 AM
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58 posts since 1/21/2017

I think that with all these suggestions, that's probably the correct "standard" bow hold. However, if you look and watch closely to your favorite fiddlers, you're gonna' notice a huge variation in the holds that people use...thumb under frog, choked up,etc.
I personally could never get that classic grip to work for me, it felt too constricting. I still use a couple of different grips depending on the circumstances, but I'm just a hack so it works for me. I guess what I'm saying is don't try to force something that's not working. Maybe experiment a little. Jeez, I can just imagine the can of worms this is going to open.

Dec 30, 2020 - 7:19:59 AM
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banjopaolo

Italy

135 posts since 9/14/2010

no worms in my can! I'm a classically trained player and so I suggest what I have experienced but Cory is right: there are a lot of fantastic player that use different grips: have you ever wached a video of Gaelynn Lea Tressler?

Dec 30, 2020 - 7:28:42 AM
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309 posts since 3/1/2020
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Your thumb should be bent, not straight. A straight thumb locks the wrist and makes a fluid bow stroke impossible. Your other fingers are decently placed, although it’s hard to get a true sense of your hold if you’re holding the bow vertically—it might look different when you place it on the string.

A good bow hold will be relaxed and allow for good control with the wrist and fingers. For reference, people used to say that Jascha Heifetz’s bow hold looked so light that it seemed as if one could just walk up and pluck the bow out of his hand with ease.

Dec 30, 2020 - 7:45:36 AM
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4289 posts since 6/23/2007

I suggest that someone learning the fiddle should get Gordon Stobbe's DVD "12 Things Your Right Hand Show Know". It taught me more than all the instructors I had.

I have posted this before. I am doing it again because I think this DVD will help beginners.
Especially if they use it as early as possible in the learning process. I am not connected with Gordon Stobbe. This website made me aware of that DVD. and I am very appreciative.

Dec 30, 2020 - 8:06:40 AM

494 posts since 9/1/2010

quote:
Originally posted by coryobert

I think that with all these suggestions, that's probably the correct "standard" bow hold. However, if you look and watch closely to your favorite fiddlers, you're gonna' notice a huge variation in the holds that people use...thumb under frog, choked up,etc.
I personally could never get that classic grip to work for me, it felt too constricting. I still use a couple of different grips depending on the circumstances, but I'm just a hack so it works for me. I guess what I'm saying is don't try to force something that's not working. Maybe experiment a little. Jeez, I can just imagine the can of worms this is going to open.


I totally agree with you.  In folk music there is no "standard".  I choke-up an inch or two and use two or three fingers and thumb to hold.  The most important thing for me is to have flexibility in my fingers and wrist.  The franco-belgian hold (pictured) is a tried and true hold that many use, but may not be the best for you...or it may be the best for you laugh

banjopaolo - Dec 30, 2020 - 10:19 AM

no worms in my can! I'm a classically trained player and so I suggest what I have experienced but Cory is right: there are a lot of fantastic player that use different grips: have you ever wached a video of Gaelynn Lea Tressler?

I have been fortunate to see her perform twice.  It is mesmerizing and her method of playing is as unique as it gets.  Just goes to show that there is no "one way" to do things.

 

Dec 30, 2020 - 8:41:25 AM
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2546 posts since 7/12/2013

While a lot of people in folk music have all sorts of different holds I do think it's worthwhile to strive towards the classical grip. It just provides so many benefits and has few downsides (other than cramped hands when you are first learning it). When I show people how to hold the bow, I first have them let their hand dangle loosely then gently let it settle on the bow. See the attached video


Dec 30, 2020 - 9:48:07 AM
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5005 posts since 9/26/2008

Short answer: yes or no

Long answer: everything that has been said.

Dec 30, 2020 - 7:42:17 PM
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217 posts since 6/3/2016

I can't believe I'm posting a picture of my bow grip, but here it is. It illustrates a grip with a bent thumb, which makes it easier to micro manipulate the bow with your fingers. I'm not a bowing expert by any stretch of the imagination. This particular grip has thumb contact with the tip of the thumb, near the nail. Then the bow pivots on that small tip surface. 


Jan 1, 2021 - 4:03:42 AM

88 posts since 10/7/2010

I'm going to take my first classical violin lesson tomorrow. I bought a violin ten years ago, learned some stuff by ear, and stopped playing any and all of my instruments until two weeks ago (I have no idea why I stopped playing). Over the past two weeks, I started with Suzuki book 1 and can play through book 2. I can read music and am familiar enough with bluegrass from playing banjo/mandolin so the classical lessons should be good as far as technique.  Thank you all for the suggestions:)

Edited by - Physicslawyer on 01/01/2021 04:04:06

Jan 1, 2021 - 4:09:41 AM
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banjopaolo

Italy

135 posts since 9/14/2010

Physicslawyer good luck with your 1st lesson and have fun with your violin!

Jan 1, 2021 - 4:53:27 AM
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11689 posts since 9/23/2009

That's the way classic players hold the bow. I know it's the "correct" and popular way, but personally, at least in my own playing, I don't see how people get their bow rhythm going by holding it that way. Early on in my playing I considered many bow holds and there used to be a lot of discussion here and the hold that started working for me best, and still does 12 years later, not a long time, I know, but it's really worked out for getting a bowing rhythmic groove going for me personally...anyway that hold is thumb under frog. I never noticed it before, but after a lot of discussion here from old time players, I began to see its popularity with rhythmic players. These days you can find people playing that way on youtube. If it doesn't work for you, of course don't do it...but just saying it does work out for some of us...and if you're fiddling instead of violin playing, you do have more options to choose from than what classical violinists are stuck with. Here's a photo of my hold from several years back...and I've been happy with how my groove goes using this hold.


Jan 1, 2021 - 6:20:42 AM

banjopaolo

Italy

135 posts since 9/14/2010

groundhogpeggy you know that that grip is often used by players of renaissance music? I use it sometime, it gives more attack so it’s good for rhythm playing, but it is less versatile in other situations because it make difficult to take on and off the bow from the string....

Jan 1, 2021 - 6:47:49 AM
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5005 posts since 9/26/2008

quote:
Originally posted by banjopaolo

groundhogpeggy you know that that grip is often used by players of renaissance music? I use it sometime, it gives more attack so it’s good for rhythm playing, but it is less versatile in other situations because it make difficult to take on and off the bow from the string....


The music mostly played around these parts doesn't require you to lift your bow until you're done playing laugh

Jan 3, 2021 - 3:26:54 AM
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5 posts since 1/17/2016

This is my favorite video on the bow hold:
youtu.be/HcoOWGdIlgI

Jan 3, 2021 - 11:38:30 AM
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88 posts since 10/7/2010

First lesson done, I learned what bending your thumb looks like and was told to press harder with the bow. I'm at the end of Suzuki book 1 and can sight read most of book 2. I also just finished American Fiddler Volume 1. So, we'll see how this goes. My goal is to be able to play some fiddle at a bluegrass jam in addition to guitar, mandolin, and banjo. I normally play banjo or mandolin since I'm a guitar player and there are usually more guitarists than anything. Attempting to play fiddle back up at some point would be interesting.  I'm also hoping to be able to play through Suzuki book 8 and "sound" like a violinist.   I posted my first mp3 here as a starting point, the Gavotte at the end of book 1, and we'll see how it goes from here :)

Edited by - Physicslawyer on 01/03/2021 11:41:01

Jan 3, 2021 - 1:05:54 PM
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5005 posts since 9/26/2008

Around these parts there is a glut of really good banjo slingers as well as the usual gaggle of guitar pickers. :-D
Have fun on your fiddle journey, it can be both vexing and rewarding.

Edited by - ChickenMan on 01/03/2021 13:06:07

Jan 4, 2021 - 7:36:46 AM
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11689 posts since 9/23/2009

Gee Whiz, hope nobody ever tells Michael Cleveland how to correctly hold his bow.

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