Yet Another Bow Hold

January 8, 2017 at 10:51 PM · In an effort to keep both my little finger joints bent (the proximal one locks on FF tremolo) I'm placing the little finger a little below the outside of the stick. I then attempt to curl it pushing the frog towards the body whilst the index finger, touching at the nail joint crease, pushes back - a stable hold where tension is dynamic.

Anyone recognise that hold? or did I just make it up?

Replies (63)

January 8, 2017 at 10:59 PM · What does your teacher say about it ?

January 9, 2017 at 02:35 AM · Do you have any flexibility in your hand at all when you do this?

January 9, 2017 at 02:35 AM · I really wish v.com would get rid of the hair trigger double post.

January 9, 2017 at 08:43 AM · Do you have any flexibility in your hand at all when you do this?

That's why I say 'tension is dynamic'. Initially, in the single stroke, the index/pinky tension stabilizes the bow then, quite instantly, relaxes somewhat. Obviously the quieter the dynamic the more flexible the hand is overall.

My teacher has the little finger on top of the stick as you do.

January 9, 2017 at 11:15 AM · May I ask why you are holding the bow like this ?

January 9, 2017 at 12:02 PM · In an effort to keep both my little finger joints bent...

January 9, 2017 at 12:05 PM · If it feels comfortable and lets you execute various bowing techniques, then it is irrelevant if anyone approves or has tried it before.

Bending the pinky is irrelevant. There are any number of youtube videos where master players use stiff or bent pinkys!

The Sassmanshaus website talks about the _function_ of each of the bow fingers. Any finger position that lets one execute those functions is going to work.

As already mentioned, tension in the pinky, and to a lesser extent the ring finger, will tend to lock the wrist and reduce flexibility.

January 9, 2017 at 12:12 PM · My pinky's proximal joint reduces to a certain level of flexion and then with pressure locks in hyper-extension. That's not good (what ever masters may do). Thanks Carmen, I'll check out that website.

January 9, 2017 at 01:31 PM · It seems to me, that if (at times) both pinky and index are hooked over the stick, then the thumb is pushing it from behind: unwanted tension!

I don't "hold" my bow, I "hold it up", with the thumb's corner somewhere under the stick. Then my fingers can "guide" the bow, and if necessary transfer the weight of the arm to the tip etc.

To guide the bow, my ring finger is over the stick, and the pinky slightly behind it, and thus often bent..

Sassmanhaus' site is brilliant, but you can also watch videos of different artists on u-toob.

Just my 2 centimes d'Euro..

January 9, 2017 at 03:14 PM · It seems to me, that if (at times) both pinky and index are hooked over the stick, then the thumb is pushing it from behind: unwanted tension!

That's interesting but in fact the thumb is the pivot - it's just supporting the bow. The pinky pushes in on the right of the thumb causing the bow on the left of the thumb to push out unless the index (hooked over) pushes back.

Then my fingers can "guide" the bow...

I do get so tired of hearing that one. It's great for beginners and those who don't require any tone!

January 9, 2017 at 03:46 PM · Sounds to me like tension in the bow hand - that's not good. Fingers do not "guide the bow" - your shoulders, arm, and wrist do that.

You have a good idea to use the thumb as a pivot. The thumb should be bent because its flexing adds articulation when you need it. Hold the bow with the long middle finger - that's all you need. You may need to bring the bow closer to your palm - sounds like you have extended fingers, and that's not good either. With the bow held by the thumb and middle finger, the 1st joint of the index finger and the tip of the pinky control balance and articulation. In a nutshell, that's the physics.

Work with your teacher. Bowing is one of the most complex physical movements the body can make. Go with a teacher's experience.

January 9, 2017 at 03:52 PM · " I really wish v.com would get rid of the hair trigger double post."

Mary Ellen - I've noticed a few double posts by you and others in the past. It may be more of a combined problem. Some websites have a built in buffer disallowing more than one post in so many seconds, and I'm guessing this site doesn't have that. But the actual double post is more likely initiated on your end, with multiple submission triggers due either network latency or a click issue. Common click issues are overly sensitive buttons for the user, or even a driver/hardware issue. On my laptop, if I use the touch pad to click, I often get a running series of 8-10 clicks, which is related to a driver issue. The network latency issue is caused when you submit but nothing appears to be happening, so you click twice or three times. Eventually the latency dissipates and all the submissions complete. So you may want to take a closer look at how you're triggering your submissions.

January 9, 2017 at 03:52 PM · Thanks Mike, good things to check. But: Go with a teacher's experience.

Where would we be if everyone did that?

And yes, Bowing is one of the most complex physical movements the body can make. agree 100%!

January 9, 2017 at 04:26 PM · Eating soup is also one of the most complex physical movements the body can make. If we all had to be taught how to use the spoon properly, most of us would be useless at accomplishing the task of moving a spoonful of chicken noodle soup from the bowl to our mouths.Only the soup eating prodigies would do this efficiently. Think about it.

January 9, 2017 at 05:07 PM · Think about it!? Why it's exactly what I teach as a piano teacher! Yes, 100% agree.

January 9, 2017 at 06:18 PM ·

Mike, if only the wrist, arm and shoulder guide the bow, it suggests to me that the hand is too rigid. Many good and great players have very mobile fingers.

Bud, as I tried (unsuccessfully?) to suggest, I find (and observe) the pinky should be either on top of the stick, or on the first facet behind it, never hooking over it. The ring-finger and pinky work as a pair to balance the bow's own weight, but also to "steer" the stick by stretching or curling. When playing at the heel, all four fingers seem to pull (not press) downwards; at the tip, it will be the index producing the tone. Plenty of it, rest assured!

January 9, 2017 at 06:33 PM · the pinky should be either on top of the stick, or on the first facet behind it, never hooking over it.

Actually it's the fingernail 'hooking' onto the outside facet. I'm not so sure about the place of 'shoulds' in pedagogy.

When playing at the heel, all four fingers seem to pull (not press) downwards; How can the pinky pull if it's on or on the inside of the stick?

January 9, 2017 at 07:46 PM · Oh dear, I'm not doing very well! My pinky is on the first, sloping facet on my side of the bow: if my nail needs trimming, it may go slightly onto the top facet. But even without the nail, it can indeed exert a downward pressure, in combination with the ring(3rd)finger.

I do apologise for the word "should". But I did add "my 2 centimes d'Euro" in my 1st post...

January 9, 2017 at 07:47 PM · @Leif, I'm not the only one with a double posting problem, but it would all go away if there were a way to actually delete a post instead of merely erasing it.

January 9, 2017 at 07:52 PM · Lief, I appreciate your explantion; but this problem was much less frequent with the old layout.

The other minor iritation is that I can now no longer choose whether the Return key leaves a gap or not, so my neat, lucid lists sprawl down the page..

January 9, 2017 at 08:47 PM · Actually Bud, you've stumbled upon the very way to use the fingers to guide the bow. If I understand you correctly your action will apply a horizontal rotation to the stick, so that on an up bow the tip wants to rotate to the scroll and the screw wants to rotate towards you. Of course there is no actual horizontal motion because of the friction of the hairs against the string. On a down bow you want to apply the opposite horizontal pivot. This is a good way to get the bow to track the string without actually angling the bow. There are plenty of people who have odd bow holds. I think both Shumsky and Francescatti let the pinky cross to the other side, and don't care much about keeping a curve in the pinky. But I'm not sure 'dynamic tension (good term by the way)' is the best solution to keep the joints from collapsing. I would guess you exert too much pressure into the stick, from the thumb or fingers or both. Also you may be pressing 1 and 4 simultaneously rather than allowing them to alternate as in a see-saw. You don't really need the pinky when playing on the string in ff, tremolo or otherwise, only to counterbalance the weight of the tip, i.e. when playing in lower third, off string, or sudden string crosses.

Edit: I take that back. Try feeling a spread in your fingers without letting them spread to stabilize the stick. So third and pinky spread toward the screw and forefinger spreads to tip, but use just enough friction to keep them from sliding. When applying pressure to the bow from the fingers you want most of the force to be applied along the stick rather than into it. For the pinky (and 3rd finger) horizontal pressure will keep it from pressing down into the stick too much. Also, think of leaning against a wall with one arm. You can push your arm into the wall to support yourself (concentric) or simply resist the fall of your body to the wall (eccentric.) Counter motions with the pinky should be mostly eccentric (for the intrinsic muscles of the hand.) You only need concentric contractions for sudden and very forceful strokes.

January 9, 2017 at 08:58 PM · I don't think I'm reversing on the down bow but maybe I should. I'll try it out. Thanks for reading the first post so carefully.

January 9, 2017 at 09:59 PM · You can push your arm into the wall to support yourself (concentric) or simply resist the fall of your body to the wall (eccentric.)

Not quite. The concentric motion will push you away from the wall.

January 9, 2017 at 10:26 PM · Isotonic concentric (I suppose I'm thinking of reaching an equilibrium between contractile force and weight, since you can regulate contraction. I think it feels different from an isometric contraction but I don't really know.)

Either way, you don't want to push the pinky into the stick to counter the weight of the bow, just resist it, unless you mean to flip the bow.

If you do push the pinky into the stick without flipping the bow, the forefinger will be countering the push of the pinky. Your pinky will lose that battle every time.

Edit: is there a reason you're holding the stick so shallow (and presumably square)?

January 10, 2017 at 08:25 AM · If you do push the pinky into the stick without flipping the bow, the forefinger will be countering the push of the pinky...

I pull the screw towards me with the pinky whilst preventing the movement happening by also pulling in with the 'hooked' index. At mp I don't, at mf there's little tension, at ff quite a bit. The point is to stabilize the bow under what can be quite the extreme force as you get to ff. As I've said I'll try reversing it on an up bow.

January 10, 2017 at 11:20 AM · Isn't this like reinventing the wheel ?

January 10, 2017 at 12:01 PM · More like adjusting the spokes.

January 10, 2017 at 12:25 PM · Yep. I meant as a general way to keep your pinky from collapsing. Simultaneous 1-4-thumb pressure is an internal tension you don't want. In many contexts you don't need horizontal dynamic tensions either.

Brian, though inventive, it's not a new idea. I was taught similar technique. You won't find it described in many books, probably because it's difficult to convey. The most prominent text is Capet's Superior Technique. Primrose alludes to it in his "thumbless" bow hold exercise, though he may have viewed it as a party trick, which you can read about in Dalton's Playing the Viola. I don't remember if Menuhin prescribed such finger action for use while playing, but he certainly promoted many finger exercises for the bow hand in various combinations and oppositions in his 6 Lessons. Some people talk about the 3rd finger being important for tone production, which implies some kind of action taken by the ring finger and which I think suggests internal oppositions within the hand.

I describe what my teacher taught me in more detail in this old thread: http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?id=10254

January 10, 2017 at 01:28 PM · I have only read Capet's remarkable book in the original French, but as with Jeewon's decriptions, it's very difficult to disentangle facts from impressions (a bit like "weight vs pressure"..)

BTW "tirer" means playing a downbow, since one "pulls" the bow away from the violin; "pousser" means playing an up-bow, as one is "pushing" it back again.

But should spreading the fingers imply friction on the stick? And when no sound is being produced, should there really be a "static" tension (other than just holding the bow)?

Thankfully, Galamian, Fischer, and Menuhin have descibed their own approaches with consumate clarity....

January 10, 2017 at 02:35 PM · BTW, I knew someone who visited Menuhin about 25 years ago. On his way out he said to Lady Menuhin "You know, he's playing the violin quite wrong."

January 10, 2017 at 02:57 PM · A bit like my using the word "should"!

Menuhin had to try and recover the easy talent of his childhood and youth. His deep analysis of motions and sensations made him a remarkable pedagogue.

January 10, 2017 at 03:00 PM · Yes, as I've said, it's difficult to convey in writing. But, as collé motion is a tangible action when used for articulating an arm stroke, these actions without motion are more than impressions. I suppose we tend to interpret everything through the lens of what we already know. So when I read a somewhat ambiguous idea in Capet, I interpret it through my own experience.

I'm not certain exactly what Capet meant, but I'm quite sure he was proposing more than mere impressions (or fiction as Adrian implies by contrasting with fact.) From First Part: Technical and Philosophical Explanation of the Different Bow Strokes, Chapter 1: Signs and Abbreviations

3. ...[the index finger] counterbalances, in general, the effect of the 4th finger which pushes on the stick while the index finger pulls. ...

4. The result of the effort made by each side, presenting the struggle between these two opposing forces, determines the profound influence of the fingers on the stick and of their independent control. ...

6. The movement of simultaneous pressure in opposite directions, resulting from the 1st and 4th fingers... could be called horizontal movement, the 4th finger pushing on the stick toward the fingerboard and the 1st toward the bridge, without the hair leaving the string. This horizontal movement will be the basis of all heavy and strong bow strokes. [sounds a lot like Bud's idea, though in the opposite direction, and Capet places the pinky on top of the stick]

Then he goes on to describe vertical movements and their role in light bow strokes, and states, "[t]hese two movements [horizontal and vertical] are necessary to obtain unity of style in all parts of the bow."

13. The role of the little finger is very important. Its sensitivity must be in the two direction: horizontal and vertical.

14. In summary, the superior--or interior--life of the bow, whichever one wishes to call it, is the result of different pressures, or strengths of the fingers, in the different directions. First, in principle, by two pressures: horizontal and vertical. But in order to bring these forces to life and develop their subtlety, it is necessary to divide and subdivide them in infinite ways by a mutual collaboration.

So, internal opposition among the fingers has more implications for his "Technical and Philosophical" explanations than mere 'tirer' and 'pousser.' But even within those basic concepts, which are lacking in the English downbow/upbow, you can take it to the level of actions within the hand. To pull with the fingers implies a slight pivot in the hand, so that the the fingers are curled (or for some, fingers 2,3,4 curl, 1 extends,) and the thumb curls, hooking sideways, by the pulling action of the arm. A simple pronation and leaning of the fingers into the forefinger is a press not a pull. And to push with the fingers implies a pushing of the 1st finger against the stick, both horizontally and vertically, the latter action, so that the finger has traction and doesn't slip, but engages the stick. Pushing of the 1st finger in such a manner results in a counter pressure from fingers 2,3,4, which curl and pull the frog in response. Such action was more important in the original French school, in which pronation of the forearm and leaning of the hand was forbidden (at least according to de Bériot, one of the original Belgians.)

Spreading the fingers doesn't 'imply friction.' Friction, a slight vertical pressure, is added to keep fingers from slipping as they spread, but no more than is necessary to prevent slipping. It's purpose is to regulate vertical pressures, especially to prevent excessive vertical pressure which can lock joints. As Bud said it's a dynamic tension, because it's easy to reverse, and removing a single opposing tension causes motion, an instability, in that direction. It's kind of like a ready stance in many sports, which can neither be too tight nor too loose, which enables quick action in any direction. Static tensions are difficult to reverse, and make it difficult to launch into action.

January 10, 2017 at 03:25 PM · And here's Menuhin from Six Lessons: 'In the down-bow the first finger will pull towards you, while the fourth finger pushes away against the inside of the stick.'

Now I was doing just that for quite some months as I thought it came from Corette. Then I put the pinky on top for a few months as standard, now I've got it pulling in from the outside. The reason? I think Menuhin is wrong to use the extensors of the pinky but flexors for the index AT THE SAME TIME. What I'm doing is using only flexors.

Capel seems to agree with Menuhin:

'6. The movement of simultaneous pressure in opposite directions, resulting from the 1st and 4th fingers... could be called horizontal movement, the 4th finger pushing on the stick toward the fingerboard and the 1st toward the bridge, without the hair leaving the string. This horizontal movement will be the basis of all heavy and strong bow strokes. [sounds a lot like Bud's idea, though in the opposite direction, and Capet places the pinky on top of the stick]'

Thanks Jeewon [my bold]

January 10, 2017 at 03:33 PM · "What I'm doing is using only flexors."

Then how do you produce the dynamic tension?

January 10, 2017 at 03:34 PM · By having my pinky on the other side of the stick.

January 10, 2017 at 03:40 PM · Yes, but it was Menuhin who ended up agreeing with Capet, being 57 years his junior. Thanks for the Menuhin quotation, I haven't read his book in a while.

I understand you're pulling the handle from the outside, but I suppose I don't see what you're pulling it against to create the dynamic tension, which I understand to be established by an opposition.

January 10, 2017 at 04:17 PM · Your quite right, I was confused. My 'system' has the pinky's pull opposed to the index's pull through the action of the thumb as pivot. That stabilizes the bow for 'heavy and strong bow strokes'. In Capel and Menuhin's 'system' the string is the opposition that stabilizes.

January 10, 2017 at 04:26 PM · Here's Menuhin:

January 10, 2017 at 04:32 PM · Jeewon, I never said "mere" impressions. Impressions are vital, (especially in singing), to produce the desired but invisible physical result.

But Bud, why on earth do you persist in using your pinky the opposite way from so many great players and teachers? Why give it the task that belongs to the ring finger? You are denying a vital component of the bowing hand..

January 10, 2017 at 04:53 PM · Adrian, I must confess I'm the one who wrote "mere" because you juxtaposed impressions with facts. Not sure if Bud wrote that anywhere. But as you consider them vital, I'll take that back and take you to mean impressions are difficult to convey. I agree, but that doesn't mean we can't try. Edit: I see you fixed that.

Bud, I don't remember what Menuhin says, but Capet also considers the thumb to be the pivot and suggests the fingers pull and push in opposition about that pivot.

January 10, 2017 at 05:28 PM · Yes, in opposition to each other, not in oppsition to the thumb, as our friend seems to want..

Impressions are sometimes not phyically true, as in Weight vs Pressure, but are often more useful than Facts..

January 10, 2017 at 05:33 PM · But Bud, why on earth do you persist in using your pinky the opposite way from so many great players and teachers? Why give it the task that belongs to the ring finger? You are denying a vital component of the bowing hand.

I do believe my ring finger contributes. You take any good teacher and they will always show you where 'so many great players and teachers' go wrong. Go figure :) I've tried pinky in, pinky on top, now it's time for pinky out. At any dynamic less than forte it hardly matters but a forte tremolo is a different creature. God knows how many violinists I sit next to who can't do them, instead some insipid semi-quaver thing comes out (I'm talking Wagner here!).

Yes, in opposition to each other, not in oppsition to the thumb, as our friend seems to want.

No! Capel and Menuhin are pulling/pushing in the same direction. As Jeewon says, in opposition to the thumb (though I'm sure it's the string). Mine are in opposition to each other.

January 10, 2017 at 06:52 PM · Any good teacher will not find a great player or teacher "wrong", just interestingly different.

For a fortissimo tremolo, most of us lift the pinky and ring finger off!

Menuhin's drawing and description do not agree with your definition of "direction".

I really have the impression that you are introducing parasitical tensions which then need imaginary corrections. I feel that the static postural tensions should be feather-light, leaving stronger sensations for movement and depth of tone.

January 10, 2017 at 09:55 PM · Ah, I think I finally get it! You're not allowing the horizontal rotation by opposing the curling of the pinky by resisting it's action with the index. Is that correct?

Whereas Capet and Menuhin say pull with one and push with the other, resulting in the same rotational direction of the stick. And that's why you mention the hair of the bow being in opposition to the single rotation produced by the fingers, and mention you are curling both pinky and index, rather than pressing vertically down. Aha...

I would still consider that a radial pressure into the stick, rather than pressures along the stick, and but will chew on that some more.

I don't know if you've read the old thread I linked to above, but my old teachers idea is similar but the oppositions are created among the fingers themselves, much like Primrose's thumbless bow hold, which has the advantage of leaving the thumb out of it. If you'll momentarily go back to placing the pinky on the top inside facet, get the pinky and index to spread without slipping, pull and curl 2,3 so the stick rests on their pads. Let the hand hang from the wrist so the stick is falling onto the pads and is being supported with the pinky on the other side, and also the index somewhat, and you've got a thumbless bow hold. Add the thumb and you can do all sorts of crazy articulations. But, like I said before, I wouldn't use this for ff tremolo either.

January 10, 2017 at 09:58 PM · So, which 'interestingly different' detail does the student choose from? Thanks, I'll try an ff tremolo sans pinky and ring.

January 10, 2017 at 10:01 PM · Yes Jeewon you've got me bang to rights! The trouble with Primrose is his school is all bow weight - nothing added.

January 10, 2017 at 10:27 PM · The viola is something else. The strings vibrate more widely, but can be hampered by any stiffness in fingers, wrist or arm. Viola tone is best produced by seeming to pull the bow down, not pressing down from above (impressions again..) Primrose's thumbless hold is to teach clinging fingers, and bow-hair that clings to the string. Some of the Russian greats mention a "hanging" elbow: even a high elbow can feel as if it's hanging (impressions again..)

Fortissimo tremolos? In Schumans 3rd symphony these can last 10 minutes, so it is useful to change techniques as you go; floppy wrist and hanging arm, then stiffer wrist and forearm motion.

January 11, 2017 at 04:01 AM · Interesting to read about great players over analyzing simple strokes. Or as Lee Trevino once said (about golf), "Practice a mistake often enough and you become a great player."

The physics of a down bow is very simple. One can place the thumb on the bottom and finger 1 on the top and perform the gentlest of pinches. With no other fingers on the stick one can draw a smooth, sweet tone with no bow drift at all.

The reason?

The resistance force of the string on the hairs will self-correct any bow drift, if only we would let our fingers get out of the way of a simple motion.

January 11, 2017 at 04:44 AM · "The trouble with Primrose is his school is all bow weight - nothing added."

Not quite sure what you mean by that Bud. Primrose promotes a low elbow, flexibility in all the joints, and use of arm weight. I don't think he would've ever considered himself as having started a school, though when pressed he might've admitted to belonging to the Franco-Belgians, through Ysaye, as much as his wry Scottish sensibilities would allow.

January 11, 2017 at 06:00 PM · I am hunting through my Dalton which I've not read in a few years. Page 66 has Primrose: 'Once more I have to wheedle and cajole, even importune, that there should never, never, NEVER be any thought of pressure in viola bowing!' Nearly ever page he rails against it. pg 75 - '...the grievous fault - as far as viola playing is concerned - of pressing with the index finger.' It seems the 'weight of the hand on the bow' is the prime factor for Primrose. No index finger pressure? That really isn't going to work on violin.

January 11, 2017 at 06:53 PM · This is the kind of thing Adrian is talking about, Bud, how it's difficult to "...disentangle facts from impressions..." and the example he used was this very issue: weight vs. pressure.

You have to consider the context Primrose is coming from. He disagrees with the bow hold and consequent arm posture created by the permanent leaning and pronated hold. The elbow is always above the wrist and so Primrose concludes pressure is being applied from above. As Adrian also mentions, many violinists who bow this way would probably counter Primrose's conclusion by saying they do not press from above, but rather hang the whole arm from the shoulder so the bow is 'flung.' I think that's the way Flesch described it. Nonetheless, I think Primrose (Adrian also) has a point regarding the viola. Because of the thicker, longer strings, you can't 'fling' the bow from a suspended bow (which is more like using only the weight of the bow) and pull a decent tone. Primrose also wonders if those violinists who do bow 'from above' would've had a better tone had they bowed 'from below,' like Ysaye, Kreisler and Oistrakh (I think those were his examples.)

So when Primrose admonishes us never to press, he's not disallowing weight applied from the arm.

The way I see it, weight is applied by eccentric lowering of whatever part of the arm you want to use. Let your arm drop with dead weight. Raise it with concentric contraction, then, without fighting that concentric contraction by an opposite contraction, release the raising contraction, thereby applying the appropriate weight of the arm for the context. I think Primrose mentions this also. Pressing occurs when you try to bow with a high arm, that is, you press into the string while at the same time the arm is lifting away from the string.

In the chapter after your p. 66 quote, they talk about arm weight: Chapter 7, More on Bowing and Tone Production, p. 92

Dalton: What functions do the forearm and the upper arm assume in bowing?

Primrose: The upper arm must adopt a role of quietude and repose. It should rarely range beyond an arc demanded by the level of the four strings. Tightening or over-use of the upper arm is detrimental to bowing. In the basic stroke, the forearm acts off the elbow like a hinge. A very important function of the forearm is its weight, not pressure, and the consequent coefficient of friction applied to the string. But decorous discretion must inform this function.

Later when Dalton asks about whether and how the rest of the arm and back come into play, Primrose replies, "[i]f I were conscious of that, I would be distracted. If I were an anatomist, I probably would identify still other muscles in the back of the neck, in the shoulder, and in the spine that were involved. But I would never be conscious of them. The trouble with many treatises on pedagogy is that they become overanalytical. If you are a golfer, and as you address the ball you start to think of the dozen procedures you should follow in a proper golf swing, you will never hit the ball, let alone propel it."

I would add that the involvement of the upperarm depends on size and proportions of the arms. Primrose had long arms and big paws.

January 11, 2017 at 06:59 PM · Thanks for taking the time to post that. I can't see the weight of the forearm alone is going to do much beyond the heel. As he seems to say re: the anatomists, he's obviously aware there is more than just weight going on.

January 11, 2017 at 07:27 PM · Yeah, I'm pretty sure Primrose is taking a jab at the 'anatomists,' and the 'overanalyzers,' people like you and me :) and probably Dalton too. He's not very interested in accurately describing actions. I think he even talks about the importance of impressions, or images, or something...

Dalton protests, "[c]ertainly, but a fledgling golfer, unless he has a natural gift, usually has to think of a dozen things before he can develop a swing." To which Primrose counters, "[s]o do most of us in bowing. But the sooner we get rid of these preoccupations, the better. Unless the student is gravely at fault, I would restrain myself in mentioning too much, for fear of making him self-conscious. ..." And goes on to brag about what a great golfer he would've been had he started younger, and talks about the importance of imitation, etc..

I haven't read his book in a while either, but it is a wealth of information about bowing technique, albeit of the Franco-Belgian tradition. But I guess there is a lot taken for granted which, without that F-B background, might make many things ambiguous.

Re. your point about mostly using weight of the forearm beyond the heel, if you have long arms relative to the bow, that would make immediate sense to you. If you have shorter arms, then you have to use the upper arm. It's a reminder we have to take everything everyone says in context and translate that information to our own situation.

I don't remember if they talk about pronation, but Primrose changes it, supinating at the frog, pronating at the tip, and so he does transfer weight to the tip through leverage. I think he also talks about the wrist not being too loose which to me implies he uses the hand as a lever, at the wrist, to raise his arm weight onto the bow. Facts vs. impressions again...

January 11, 2017 at 09:09 PM · I kicked off a thread on Weight vs Pressure a few years back. It's worth looking it up, not for my posts, but for the lively discusion which ensued.

It's a textbook case of Impressions being more useful han Facts. If I think of pinching the index as a cantilever against the thumb to play loudly towards the tip, I may play more stiffly than if I tell myself that I am transfering the weight of my arm via the index & thumb: a more global, less analytical idea. Our golfers may put aside the dozens of instructions they have recieved, but they can still feel their whole bodies participating in the swing.

January 11, 2017 at 09:28 PM · I'm all for 'impressions'. Trouble is too many teachers aren't aware when they're talking impressions as opposed to when they're talking anatomy. Both are essential. When I teach singing I teach both where the diaphragm is and how to breath deep into the abdomen.

January 12, 2017 at 01:05 AM · Imagery is a wonderful shortcut, when it works. Demonstrating through touch is also effective, but I doubt it can be used anymore. Eliciting imitation is also great when the student is able. But these tactics are most effective in person. And explanation and dialogue has to fill in the gaps when other means of communicating fail (of course the reverse is also possible.) Also learning styles are as varied as noses (is that how you would put it Adrian?) In the extreme case how would you teach someone with aphantasia through imagery?

But more to the point, when communicating through written words, how can you leave out analysis and explanation? Should we write in verse and use metaphors alone? When we write about imagery, how do we know whether we have a common image in mind without description? Granted definitions are difficult enough to agree on, as we've experienced in this thread, but what's the point of a text based forum without written discourse? How can anyone, even the great Primrose, complain about a treatise being overly analytical? What's the point of a treatise?

It's a good thread Adrian, but I don't see a consensus for impression over fact: http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?id=22443 If only everyone had argued through imagery!

As for the difference you mention:

"If I think of pinching the index as a cantilever against the thumb to play loudly towards the tip, I may play more stiffly than if I tell myself that I am transfering the weight of my arm via the index & thumb: a more global, less analytical idea."

There is a clear physical difference. Index against thumb can cause one to press the fingers from the base knuckles, thus stiffening the springs of the finger and compressing tone. That is how I would define pressing the sound. Focusing on transferring weight through the fingers, while maintaining their springs (a good image for flexible baseknuckles,) offers a better tone, but it's the ability to leave the baseknuckles flexible that frees tone. Pressure is what the string feels from the hairs of the bow. I agree with Bud, you need both, all, means of communicating.

January 12, 2017 at 05:45 PM · Thanks for the link. I skimmed through that thread. Yes, Primrose with his denunciation of pressure was way up there with the deluded. All 'impressions', when stated as such, are helpful though.

January 12, 2017 at 11:32 PM · Jeewon, "Should we write in verse and use metaphors alone?" I think not, since we end up using words and images in a very personal way. Look at your own heroic (and successful) efforts to sort out what was very clear in bud's mind! :)

Singing teachers, for ewample, are very prone to use use images which are total rubbish from a physiological and acoustic point of view, but which may (or may not) help the singer.

My own contributions to "my" old thread tried to clarify and differentiate between scientific and poetic (?) uses of the same words. I like both uses, but it is so easy to slip from one to the other and leave the reader/teacher/student guessing.

January 12, 2017 at 11:32 PM · Oops!

January 13, 2017 at 07:44 AM · Would that be a scientific or a poetic Oops!?

January 13, 2017 at 05:00 PM · I guess we'll have to agree to agree!

Posting on this forum (over 12 years! where has the time gone...) has made me think about my presumptions and want to root out dogma. I'm pragmatic, so I'll take whatever helps a student. But for the sake of documentation I think it's important to be precise, even at the risk of pedantry and annoyance ;) whether on a forum or in a treatise.

January 13, 2017 at 09:43 PM · well I guess I'll have to agree to agreeing with that!

January 15, 2017 at 09:52 PM · Touch? Here in France folks shake hands and give pecks on the cheek, and I can still touch a hand without being arrested! But I always ask if it's OK. Elbows are limit, shoulders are out..

But we can develop a sense of pressure, grip, pull and push etc, by moving the student's bow in various directions and asking the student to resist the movement.

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