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How to Prevent Your Pinky from Slipping off the Bow

Zlata Brouwer

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Published: November 13, 2014 at 8:06 AM [UTC]

In your violin or viola lesson your teacher might have instructed you to make your pinky round and set it on top the bow. This is easier said than done. Loads of violin and viola players struggle with this.

Pamela writes:

I am learning to play beginning violin at 66 years of age and the challenge of the pinky bow finger is tremendous. My pinky is very weak when I am trying to learn the bow hold. It slips off the bow and the knuckle sometimes straightens and locks up on me. Like you say it is probably due to weak pinkies! I will attempt the pinky exercises (click here to see them too)! At this point I would not like to lose my confidence. No pain no gain I suppose. My bow (right) pinky is definitely aching!

In my FREE Pinky Training Program you will learn how to improve the strength, flexibility and balance of your pinkies so you can lose your fourth finger phobia and improve your bowing (tone) and intonation. Click here to see it!

My mantra is ‘pain... no gain’.

In daily life... when do you ever use your pinky specifically? You can imagine that a beginning violinist’s pinkies are not trained at all. You didn’t need them much in your life and when you start playing the violin or viola, they (your pinkies) suddenly play a big part.

Your pinkies have to become stronger, but also the coordination of your pinkies need to improve, so they actually do what you want them to do.

In the video I will explain what causes your pinky to slip of the bow so easily. It’s not only because of the lack of strength.

A lot of beginner players hold their bow with their fingers stretched. This makes it very difficult to keep your pinky round: it wants to stretch too along with the other right hand fingers. It will lock more quickly and because of this it will slip of the bow.

You need to relax your pinky, so it can move along with the bow movement: stretch on the down bow movement and bend on the up bow movement.

Make your pinky more round, so it will not easily stretch. It helps to have your other fingers more over the frog, so it’s almost impossible for your pinky to stretch. As soon as the balance, flexibility and strength of your pinky have improved, you can let the bow go a bit.

The first part of your bow (at the frog) is octagonal, even if you have a round bow. When you put your pinky on the highest side (so on the top), it can easily slip of to the back or to the front.

When you place your pinky a couple of millimeters to the back, on the side of the bow just before the top (watch the video to see exactly what I mean), the pinky will not slip of so easy.

This is a very small adjustment (just some millimeters) and very easy to implement, but it can make a big difference! It solved the pinky issue for me years ago and has helped my private students a lot.

Now I’d like to hear from you! Did you implement these tips and did it work? Or do you have other tips to share on this topic? Please let me know in the comments below!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

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