Help, middle two fingers don’t stay on bow

Edited: January 8, 2019, 9:05 PM · I noticed today some things that I do with my bow hand that I might need to fix? Mainly that when I’m using the lower half closer to the frog, my middle and ring finger start to “float” off and basically leave my thumb, index, and pinky holding up the bow for the most part. Even then my index finger is barely holding on sometimes.
I think I remember my teacher saying it’s the opposite way around, so it should be mostly my middle two fingers and my thumb. I’m wondering how I can fix this problem and keep my middle two figers on the bow more. Also, if I do fix it, will it help my finger flexibility when bowing?

Sorry if this didn’t make any sense.

Replies (4)

January 8, 2019, 9:37 PM · You just have to practice some slow studies like K2 in front of the mirror to watch your bow grip and pay attention to the feeling of contact with the fleshy parts of your middle and ring fingers. Even though you might be an advanced player, watching Todd Ehle's "bunny grip" youtube might actually be useful. The underlying cause might be elsewhere too. Might want to consider what's happening with your wrist and elbow for starters, and whether any adjustment there helps your finger issue.
January 9, 2019, 4:54 AM · Super-glue, or double-sided tape. ;-)
January 9, 2019, 9:15 AM · Super-glue can damage skin should you need to separate your fingers for maintenance, say, to fix a nasty nail crack. Go with the double-sided tape. >g<

Seriously, most bowing can be done with zero effort from the middle and ring fingers. The pinky, most times, does no work except on upbows, and there it is mostly to prevent the bow from wandering at an angle to the strings, and when you need to lift the bow.

Advanced players use these finger for various techniques. Ask your teacher or do some youtube research. But I would not stress about those two fingers. When you need them to contact the bow, I bet they will.

January 9, 2019, 9:57 AM · In my opinion, the proper bow hold is the one that allows you to play most naturally given your physique (including shoulder, collarbone, neck, jaw and arm structure - and the health of your joints). That is a lot of different factors.

If your arms are long or short the angle at which you hold the violin should be different and this will affect the angles, relative to your body, at which you bow. This in turn will affect the way the bow should most naturally fit your hand. But, since evolution did not direct us toward violin playing, differences in arm muscles, ligaments and tendons do not fit a single way to hold things and we must adjust. Some people seem to be "naturals" but the rest of us have to figure it out.

The place to analyze the problem is where your right-hand technique fails you. What can you not do, what music can you not play properly? Work on those things and engage the fingers as necessary. I think a good teacher should be able to work with you on establishing why you are having problems by looking at it a different way.

I was in my 30s when I worked on developing an entirely different bow hold - it took about a month. Apparently in my teens, after I started cello lessons, my violin-bow hold changed to a cello-bow hold shape. I didn't even notice it until a conductor pointed it out in my mid 30s. It was pretty hard to play violin during the month of my "conversion," but I managed. Now in my 80s my right-arm tendons won't even stretch to use a proper violin-bow hold -- so it's back to the cello-bow hold --- it works well enough!

Along these same lines, I think that as many experienced violinists age, they have to make accommodations in their technique to overcome physical changes that have occurred due to injuries and simply aging. (Maybe at some point they just give up and teach!!!)

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