itzhak's bow arm, um bow hand, um bow fingers...

September 26, 2007 at 07:18 PM ·

if you look at this when he was 13, his right upper limb was already in form, powerful but relaxed. was this before or after he went to the US?

Replies (22)

September 26, 2007 at 08:02 PM · Is that his appearance on the ed sullivan show? He was born in 1945 and played on the show in 1958.

If this were the case, then it would have been after he arrived in the US.

September 26, 2007 at 08:27 PM · I love watching him. Oistrakh is another person whose right arm never ceases to amaze me.

September 27, 2007 at 06:26 AM · Haha he used lots of slides in that Mendelssohn, kind of in the style of Elman.

September 27, 2007 at 08:17 AM · Oh'm-gosh!

September 27, 2007 at 11:00 AM · Perlman is the king of slides

September 27, 2007 at 11:00 AM · By the way is anyone going to the concert he is going to give in State College (PA)?

September 27, 2007 at 11:10 AM · Amazing.

September 27, 2007 at 12:27 PM · The curious thing to me about Perlman's technique is that his pinky is never upon the bow. When I play I have a tendency to allow my pinky to remain off the bow, but I am being taught to keep it on the bow so I make a concious effort to keep it set. I know that the standard technique calls for the pinky being on the bow, but what do all of you think of that in light of Perlman's technique?

September 27, 2007 at 12:39 PM · Chris--probably a combination of an extremely relaxed and free right hand, and fingers so big he doesn't need to have the pinky on the bow to get a solid hold on it. ;-)

September 27, 2007 at 01:12 PM · mr dolan, i have seen accomplished players doing both, pinkie on stick most of the time except when bowing near the tip, and pinkie on rarely, only when near the frog to balance the bow, which is pretty much what itzhak does, much more so in the first video than when he was 13.

i dont have a clear understanding on this issue, whether it is a trend set by each bow "school", or a personal physiological optimal fit. one way to look at it however is in terms of the level of pronation and supination of the forearm. in other words, axial rotation of the forearm to turn a door knob.

in general (emphasis), you need to be more pronated to allow the pinkie to be off the stick without losing balance and control (think your right hand turn counterclockwise). conversely, you need to be more supinated for the pinkie to rest comfortably on the stick (clockwise).

now, i think the grip---your finger contact points on the stick---plays a key role in setting the foundation for the level of pronation/supination, thus the level of your elbow "height" during bowing as well as the level of involvement of your shoulder or upper spine, etc. (with emphasis on "etc" :) if it is tough to comprehend, imagine how we walk if we walk tiptoe or on heel; our entire body adjusts to a new position to compensate a new point of balance.

concur with mara that itzhak has certain physiological advantage to do what he does,,,,well. agree that his hand is the size of many people's forearm or manhattan.

September 27, 2007 at 03:32 PM · Mara and al ku, thank you for your responses. The build of my hand makes it difficult to keep my pinky on the bow all of the time, unless I take a deeper hold of the bow, which becomes uncomfortable or begins to feel unnatural. My natural tendency is to hold the bow just as Perlman seems to in the video, but I am being taught to keep the pinky in contact and I have to make a concsious effort to do so. When I play with a slow bow this is not so much of a problem, but when the bowing gets fast the pinky leaves it's place and begins to float. It feels natural to me, and my hand seems to want this, but bad habits can at times develop through a lack of discipline and I want to make sure I am not doing so here. As someone new to the art of the violin, I sometimes question to what extent I should accomodate my natural tendencies. To look at the technique of some of the greats (in my mind most notably Itzhak Perlman and Nathan Milstein) it appears that they sometimes develop their own way of bowing, etc. to a large extent. Other greats, most notably Jascha Heifetz, appear very disciplined with respect to their technique.

September 27, 2007 at 04:14 PM · if you look at heifeitz in this fast clip, and if you can pause at 32 to 36 seconds, his pinkie was "naturally" off the stick.

what is your thoughts why immdediately afterward that he put his pinke back on?:)

September 27, 2007 at 05:42 PM · al ku,

Actually, unless my eyes are fooling me Heifetz's pinky spends most of the time off the bow...interesting. I guess this goes to show that there are always exceptions to the rule, and that maybe it is alright for my pinky to do what it wants now and then. Also, check out this dude ( The pinky on his bowing hand is all over the place!


September 27, 2007 at 06:33 PM · hi chris, i think that guy was using his pinkie to point at each of the audience:)

but seriously, i would suggest that you truly understand your teacher's intention of having you putting the pinkie on the bow, for now, before you go off too far. i think you need to consider all aspects of the whole set up.

here is a side story: my kid went for the NYSSMA this year and she played the partita 3. the lovely judge (probably a v.comer:) commented that she should put her pinkie on the bow. when i showed the comment to the teacher later, the teacher rolled her eyes and shook her head.

i pay to get confused,,,like you:)

October 22, 2007 at 09:18 PM · here is another amazing example of his bow arm

Its amazing how relaxed he is near the climax and not absorbed with getting the notes, enabling him to interact rest of the orchestra.

I also noticed how little his elbow level changes on string crossings; instead, he seems to raise his forearm

One of buri's old quotes seems to sum it up well:

"Secondly, in spite of his apparent awkwardness due to polio his body usage when he plays is absolutely flawless. He is being use dmore and more as a textbook model in Alexnder lessons these days.

when you ccan use the body this well the music just flows out of you."

October 23, 2007 at 08:16 AM · He looks like he's just brushing the dirt off his slacks.

October 23, 2007 at 01:50 PM · It's a lot of fun watching him play. He makes everything look like child's play.

July 28, 2013 at 08:18 AM · what hypnotizes me is that he sings with his violin.technical problems of playing the violin is seen among many great violinists causing them not to be able to sound as they want and that's what i insist is true.regarding his bow technic i'm a passionate advocate and inspite of having smaller hands,i have learned many things from watching his videos.first of all,he uses a bow which is shorter than the standard lengths defined for the violin.secondly,he doesn't insist on using lengthy bowings and all that matters is the sound he wants to get and so he sings rather than playing an instrument.

July 28, 2013 at 08:34 AM · concerning his pinky,i'm fairly sure he doesn't plan to do so that's what happens when he wants to get the sound he loves and that's what is also true about his facial fact,he doesn't watch himself in the mirror that's just something that comes up automatically.i also noticed that i have the same story with my pinky but i don't care every single detail that my teacher says sometimes you have to disobey him.

July 28, 2013 at 09:47 PM · Don't get sucked in to thinking he's not 'planning anything'. Everything is planned, he's concentrating. The skill of the greatest artist is to combine the greatest technique and greatest art and make it look easy.

There is no doubt a certain component that at this point he can say he has committed to 'automatic pilot' - initiated a bowing technique or run or intervals or phrase etc, and memorising a passage, due to repetition and careful practise; but everything has been planned for performance. Even spontaneous is planned, even if just as he is playing. That's why they are so good at what they do. They have so much more to draw on that makes it look easy. You can't afford to 'cheat' and not listen to a teacher at this stage.

July 29, 2013 at 01:09 AM · With massive strength, comes infinite control.

Polio of the legs, causing the necessity of using crutches, has caused Itzak to increase the strength of his shoulders, arms and hands to the equivalent strength of our legs. Then on top of this structure, pile a life time of intensive violin practice and a little more muscle development.


July 29, 2013 at 01:18 AM · Also, it is very helpful to look up his own YouTube video in which he answers the question of how to practice. Slowly, carefully, and not more than I think 5 hours a day he says. After that, he claims you don't gain much, which some may debate.

Also fitting would be a quote from Pinchas Zukerman from an 80s video of him directing a chamber group; He tells his musicians, "The more discipline you have, the more freedom you have" Never forget; Perlman can take the liberties he does with his technique BECAUSE he has tremendous discipline in that technique..

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Business Directory Business Directory Guide to Online Learning Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine