Beginner: locking pinky on bow

May 21, 2017, 8:28 AM · I'm an adult beginner, and I know it's very important to get the bow hold down. Problem is, my right pinky locks up. It bends at the first joint closest to the nail, but the joint close to the knuckle won't unlock unless I use my other hand to break the lock. This doesn't happen on my left hand, but I'm right handed :-) I wonder if my pinky is shorter than it should be? Any help would be appreciated!

Replies (4)

May 21, 2017, 8:32 AM · It is one of the THE universal problems, and one that will prevent you from mastering advanced bow strokes and fast playing. You must find a way to relax the pinky and keep all the joints bent.

Also, please do not place it on the very top of the stick as so many teachers would have you do. It should contact the stick on the next facet towards you so that the bow is slightly tilted away from you.

May 21, 2017, 9:01 AM · I cannot disagree with Scott Cole's advice, but since you are and ADULT beginner I have to ask:
1. How adult?
2. What are your violinist goals?

If your goal is to play in a community orchestra, perhaps to play in an amateur sting ensemble (i.e., trios, quartets, etc.), even to play non-virtuosic solos, then don't do anything your body will not allow. If you are forced to hold the bow the way most cellists do with the pinky tip not near the top of the bow - you can have a wonderful life-long "career." If you have a teacher you should discuss any problems you have not matching certain ideals of playing posture - including this one.

One of the things Simon Fischer talks about for staccato bowing in his wonderful book "The Violin Lesson" is to actually hold the bow in a fist to see how so much bowing is controlled by the arms and shoulders and not the fingers. Of course the fingers are important too, but it is amazing to realize that when you are in trouble in the middle of performance there are many ways to "skin this cat."

May 23, 2017, 5:47 AM · Thank you both for your replies! Both tell me not to give up :-) I've retired, and my goal is to play for myself. I want hear music coming from my violin, that I was able to bring forth. Such a small goal :-) From there, I'm hoping to perhaps get involved with others like me!

I'll take a look at the book you mentioned Andrew. Sounds interesting!

May 23, 2017, 9:15 AM · I have had the lifelong problem that the pinkie on my LEFT hand has a joint that can "lock". Once that happens then it happens more easily the next time, and it's a slippery slope which becomes kind of painful. I have learned to control it -- but I do have to still be careful how much I press down on it, which affects somewhat my approach to shifts, vibrato, etc. I cannot do those things with abandon if they involve pressure on my fourth finger -- I have to do them carefully.

Linda, ALL of Simon Fischer's books are great, but "The Violin Lesson" is perhaps the best one to start with. I second Andrew's suggestion.

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