Flexibility/Freedom of Arm “Hinge” (Elbow)

Edited: October 7, 2019, 5:23 PM · After one point in practicing, I felt that the “hinge” between my upper and lower arm became much more relaxed and free. My fast bow strokes, spiccato, string crossing, ricochet, and tone improved tremendously. Every bow change became very fluid. However, the “hinge” area of my arm is not always this free and is sometimes tender than usual. Does anyone know any exercises to keep or improve this freedom at the hinge? Thanks.

I don’t mean this in a “beginner” kind of sense (in other words, this is not a “my lower arm and upper arm are locked together” type of problem), but rather, I am an intermediate/advanced student trying to improve that aspect so that my playing can reach greater heights.

Replies (11)

Edited: October 6, 2019, 8:04 AM · Raise your elbow and lower your shoulder. It's the best way to increase flexibility from the arm to the knuckles, in my experience. Just don't overdo it.
October 6, 2019, 3:45 PM · Thanks for the advice. Are there any specific exercises I can do to improve this aspect?
Edited: October 6, 2019, 6:58 PM · Just be conscious of it and use a mirror when you practise.

If you have a problem with raising your right shoulder (worth checking if your right hand feels stiff / weak) you can hang something heavy off of it to help kick the habit. A handbag full of water bottles or whatever else you have laying around.

October 7, 2019, 2:49 AM · What tips I came across, natural shoulder mobility is important especially with the lower half of the bow. Rendering it immobile would go against this. Perhaps post a video so the experienced teachers on this site might be able to help.
October 7, 2019, 11:05 AM · I think that hinge is called an "elbow" (:-). Because of the anatomy, it only moves in one plane. If you let the whole arm go completely straight you will lose some control of the bow. All of the other arm motions come from inside the right shoulder, which is a much looser joint. But the shoulder itself does not appear to move, it stays down, relaxed.
October 7, 2019, 11:07 AM · Cottonn - and it looks great too :D But IMO I don't think it improves flexibility really; what it does do is radically improve string contact.
Edited: October 7, 2019, 5:27 PM · Thanks for all the advice. What about more controlled lower arm motion when playing at faster speeds? (I know that at the fastest speeds that the wrist is primarily used, but I mean in the sense of a fast detache on the string).
October 7, 2019, 5:35 PM · Elise,

when your elbow droops, your hand does lock up, because the weight of your arm pulls down on your wrist and leaves your knuckles with a smaller range of motion. Or is that just me? Maybe other people have a lot of extra tendon spooled up in their hands.

Really, you're always moving your arm from the elbow when you play---you just do it less the shorter a stroke you want. It wouldn't be possible to play without using your whole lower arm.

October 8, 2019, 7:12 AM · How can I achieve maximum precision and fluidity when there is such a fast elbow motion?
October 8, 2019, 8:42 AM · Now you're asking questions that some Joe on an internet forum isn't going to be able to answer adequately. You need a teacher.
October 8, 2019, 2:01 PM · You may be telling your elbow to do too much of the work. The fingers can act like small shock absorbers, control the bow, and move very fast, but only if they have a light grip on the bow, not rigid, or too spread out. The position of the elbow is controlled from the shoulder.


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