Mini Lesson #4: Common Violin Bow Grip Problems, Solved

practice tips violin students May 22, 2020
 

Hey everyone! Today we're talking about how to improve your Bow Grip.

 

Bow grip is one of the most difficult technical aspects of the violin for beginners. Our fingers just don't naturally gravitate to this position...or do they?

Here are 5 tips to tackle those common bow grip issues, naturally and easily:

 

1. Practice the motion and placement before you pick up the bow. The motion should be a lot like moving through water- very fluid with soft knuckles.

  • Flip your right hand upside down so that your thumb is pointing down and your palm faces away from you. 
  • Relax your wrist and fingers, so that they start curling up.
  • Pretend that your hand is pushing through water, or pushing water away.
  • This will allow you to flow through the motion, letting the wrist to lead the motion.

 

2. Set up the shape! 

  • Keeping it bent, rest the tip of your thumb on the inside of the grip. 
  • Index curls over the top of the stick and contacts the bow at the first knuckle
  • Curl the middle and ring fingers over and let them drape over the top of the stick
  • Pinky rests on its tip and aligns with the dot or the “eye” of the frog.

 

3. Tilt your hand!

Make sure the bow is diagonal to fingers, not directly underneath them.

  • Practice setting up the shape with the bow leaning at a diagonal angle. 
  • Make sure your elbow and wrist are in one line.
  • This will help you keep a natural tilt in your hand, and mimic the angle of the bow when you set it on the strings.

 

4. Check in with your bow grip at different points on the bow (frog, middle, tip) 

You might notice certain things changing about your bow grip when you’re in motion. 

  • First of all, the weight of the bow on the string is naturally different depending on where you are in the bow. The frog is heavy, but the tip is light. 
  • The angle of your arm also changes as you draw the bow down towards the tip! Your bow grip will sometimes respond to this by collapsing when you get to the upper half or tip of the bow. 
  • Make sure to sustain the shape of your bow grip at various points throughout a long stroke, and make any adjustments that might be necessary!

 

5. Keep your pinky curled! 

Oh boy is this a big one! So many of my students have this problem. The pinky is naturally weaker than the rest of your fingers and therefore tends to slip off the bow or lock up at the middle knuckle.

  • First thing is to be sure you tilt your grip and redirect the weight of your hand to the index finger. Just relieving the weight off the pinky will allow you to restore that curl, most of the time.
  • Next is that you might need to do some pinky exercises to strengthen the muscle and keep it from locking! I recommend the ones you can find in this youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sf4WxWBb_g&ab_channel=StringOvation

  

Those are 5 tips for common bow grip problems. Remember you’re not alone in this process and that so many students before you have overcome their technique issues. You can do it!

Do you have another bow grip issue I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments!

 

Happy Practicing,

Nicolette

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