Flexible right hand

March 28, 2019, 11:15 PM · I am particularly facing problems regarding my wrist movements of my right hand. To produce clear tones, as I understand, I must have flexible wrists. Any particular study / etudes for this?

Replies (14)

March 28, 2019, 11:32 PM · Is your right hand completely stiff?

Can you draw flowing, straight bows at a reasonable speed on an open string?

What level are you?

These kinds of things can be hard to diagnose without actually seeing you play.

March 28, 2019, 11:48 PM · Ryan: Yes, I can draw flowing, straight bows on an open string. Thus, my wrist is not exactly stiff, but it tends to be that way. At least I need to improve vastly on that.

PS: I'm on Grade 7 level.

March 29, 2019, 12:10 AM · What exactly does grade 7 mean? What pieces and technical studies are you working on?
March 29, 2019, 1:20 AM · Ryan:

Currently, I'm working on Kayser No 13, 23, 10 and 19.
Kreutzer No. 2,3,4

Edited: March 29, 2019, 4:04 AM · These studies are sufficiently complexe to make it difficult to concentrate on sensations - unless we take a very short fragment and analyse the motions very, very slowly.

Two tips: I find that the bow-hold must permit zero tension in the fingers and thumb between the bow strokes, and also think of long notes as flattened curves rather than straight lines.

A simple exercise: imagine gathering up a very soft, ripe peach from the table by curling fingers and thumb, then rotating it in the hand (fingers and thumb again,) before adding wrist motions. And without squashing the peach! Then gently replace the peach on the table by extending the finger and thumb. This combination of softness and precision is suitable between every single bow stroke..

Just my two centimes d'Euro..

March 29, 2019, 4:32 AM · Suggestion to play Kreutzer 2 or similar very close to the frog, but still trying to produce a smooth sounding detache.
March 29, 2019, 6:32 AM · Just to add that my "ripe peach" trick only works if both the pinky and the thumb are usually curved.

My own preference is a "cat's paw" hold at the heel, and slightly elongated fingers & thumb at the tip, but many colleagues do the opposite!

March 29, 2019, 11:11 AM · Among my students, the major cause of a stiff, locked wrist is the straight, locked 4th finger, which I see in lower grade students using the "Russian" hold. The antidote can be to do some baroque era, or fiddle tunes, entirely in the upper half, with the 4th finger completely off of the stick. After the wrist starts moving, then the fourth finger can go back on the bow, lightly, curved, next to the 3rd finger, not on top, but on the next facet over.
March 29, 2019, 12:18 PM · Joel, what do you mean "on the next facet over"? On the far side of the stick or on the near side closest to the body? Thanks!
March 29, 2019, 12:41 PM · Catherine, he means the side that faces the body.

Joel's advice is good, although I find that if the pinky is tucked behind the bow stick and allowed to relax, it tends to work better than simply lifting the pinky above the stick, as that can encourage a different type of tension. Tucking the pinky also gives a feeling of control because the pinky is still touching the bow, which prevents the "grasp" from occurring if the bow starts to wander.

Edited: March 29, 2019, 3:27 PM · Very often what I see in players at that level are bow holds that are too finger-tippy. A fingertip bow hold might work for Josh Bell but I think an intermediate student is better off with the bow further into the hand, that is to say with the gesture and ring fingers farther over the bow. Just push those two fingers another quarter inch to half inch farther over the bow. When you do that your pinky will land where it's supposed to be for a nice Franco-Belgian hold. It seems counter-intuitive that a deeper hold will be more flexible but I have found this to be the case. (Note that my hands are nothing special -- medium sized but rather fleshy and fairly powerful.)

I also agree with Adrian that slow movements and paying attention to sensations is very important. I would only add that is is useful to watch those movements in a mirror too because your eyes will see things that you don't feel.

March 29, 2019, 8:00 PM · continued,- Yes, "next facet over" would be the one closer to the body, and when the bow is slightly tilted, the fourth finger feels like it is on top, ready to push down when needed. And yes, it is better to tuck it into your hand when doing that experiment, rather than raising it in the air. Thanks to all jq
March 29, 2019, 11:21 PM · Thanks everyone, for their important inputs!
March 30, 2019, 1:03 PM · My suggestions: 1. Get off the computer (mouse). 2. See the Julia Bushkova bowing videos - at least #2 and 3.

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