What is it this bowhold?

August 8, 2019, 9:58 AM · Just saw this boy i a concert and I started wondering about the bowhold (played beautifully and the bowhold worked very well)
This is the only picture that can be found, so how would you describe this bowhold? Is it russian or franco-belgian?


Replies (15)

August 8, 2019, 11:04 AM · Picture and name of the kid is not visible without a subscription.
Edited: August 8, 2019, 11:17 AM · This is the URL of the actual image:

Picture of boy playing violin

No idea what the name of the hold is though......

August 8, 2019, 11:20 AM · Russian. Fingers close together, bow held deep in the hand, index contacts bow at the second knuckle.
August 8, 2019, 11:21 AM · Looks like the Russian grip to me.
August 8, 2019, 12:00 PM · Ok, thanks. The thing is my girls bowhold is very similar though she has been taught a franco-belgian, it just doesnt stay franco-belgian but goes just like this bowhold. What would you think better in regards of the next teacher (we are going to change after this year anyway as her teacher is advicing so) to try to find one with this bowhold as it is what my girl naturally seems to develop- or not ?

I dont like the traditional russian armhold when it is done the elbow high but this kid played the elbow low. And are teachers usually strict with teaching the bow hold they have got? Even if the hand seems to develop to the other bowhold quite naturally?

August 8, 2019, 12:01 PM · And thank you Tony for finding the picture, I wouldnt have known how to find it :)
August 8, 2019, 12:16 PM · I would try to find a teacher who isn't locked into one particular hold, but knows how to fit the bowhold, and everything else, to the individual.
August 8, 2019, 12:22 PM · Looks like the Franco-Russian hold to me.
August 8, 2019, 2:08 PM · If you try to use a Russian grip without the higher arm you'll end up with the disadvantages of this hold without its advantages. It doesn't have to be super-high (I've seen some very extreme flared arms in Soviet-trained players) and should still be relaxed, but it will be higher than someone who uses a Franco-Belgian or Galamian hold.

The bow hold influences your physical technical approach to different strokes. One of the reasons that teachers normally insist pupils use an identical hold is that it's very difficult to instruct technique when your hold and the corresponding arm geometry is too different from the student's.

Edited: August 8, 2019, 4:08 PM · The first thing I noticed when I tried the Russian hold for the first time, after years of the F-B hold, was the bigger, more solid tone. The second was better overall bowing. I'm not aware of any drawbacks in the Russian hold, but I have retained my relatively low right arm. I haven't seen any reason to use the F-B since.

How many violinists do I know personally who use the Russian hold? Not many. One that comes to mind is a former CM of one of my symphony orchestras, a retired pro who once performed the Bruch with us. Another is a pro folk fiddler whom I've worked with in gigs on occasion.

I must also thank Tony Leatham for providing the original photograph. A subscription to get behind the paywall of a Finnish publication for a one-off view of one photo just wasn't on!

Edited: August 9, 2019, 12:37 AM · The reason I have a problem with the high elbow hold is that it is not beneficial for the shoulder joint. I have also read that it is not beneficial to the wrist either, and one can understand it very well when looking extreme russian bowholds. But the thing is that people have different hand shapes and there are different degrees of russian bowholds.

My own wrist starts hurting in the russian bowhold position but I have a very different hand shape than my daughter. But with kids starting very young Im sure the muscles and ligaturas develop differently as they are used differently from early on. The same goes with playing without or with the shoulder rest, the arm muscles surely develop a bit differently according to the style of playing.

Now it would be very interesting to read a study about the arm and wrist problems of professional violinists, would there really be a difference according to the bowhold type and violinhold type? Anyone ever seen any papers on this?

August 9, 2019, 2:00 PM · Higher elbow does not mean raised or tense shoulder. Quite the contrary. Look at how relaxed someone like Milstein or Heifetz or Oistrakh is (though Oistrakh has significant elements of the Franco-Belgian in his bow arm and hand).

The Russian wrist is relaxed and fluid.

Any bow hold can be done incorrectly. A heavily pronated Russian-style hand can be a flaw in a player whose fingers are locked inflexibly on the bow.

August 9, 2019, 8:51 PM · You know, I just realized my bow hold has evolved over time into the Russian grip. I technically learned the FB hold, but comparing with pictures of Heifetz, my hand looks much more like that now.

Funny how that works.

Edited: August 10, 2019, 3:46 AM · Lydia, the reason why I dont like the high elbow is That when the elbow is high there is pressure against the bursa under the acromion in the shoulder joint and the muscles tendon over it can shorten in time creating problems that are some times even operated. It also dpends on the shape of the acromion whether problems arise or not but it is a risk.

Shoulder joint is not ment to be used continuoustly in a position where the elbow is high. So it is not about whether the hand is tense or not it is whether the persons bone and tendon structure can handle the playing position, and one knows only after one gets into trouble, sadly. And then it may be too late, one cannot go back.

August 10, 2019, 2:50 PM · This is a misunderstanding of how high the elbow should be. Raise your arm and pretend your elbow and arm are resting on a table and the wrist is dangling off the edge of the table. The arm is heavy and the shoulder is totally relaxed. Nothing is compressed.

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