Thumb position for bow hold
Do you put your thumb bent on top of the leather or near the curve part of the stick ?
I put my thumb on the curved part, not sure if it’s right but it feels most comfortable there.
I'm not sure what you mean by "curve part of the stick." Do you mean higher up in the bow, or are you referring to the frog?
I used to jam my thumb between the frog and the leather like most people seem to, but I decided that was dumb and uncomfortable and moved up to the middle of the leather. It is called the "thumb grip" after all.
Most teachers will tell you to place the thumb on the leather, and slightly bend your thumb. There are some players such as Aaron Rosand who stick the thumb into or close to the mouth of the ebony frog. One of my teachers who was concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony, held the bow in the old Russian manner, and collapsed his thumb at the top joint, especially when applying pressure. It seemed to work out for him. He also had one of the greatest upbow and downbow staccatos I’ve ever witnessed. I place the thumb on the leather, however I cannot really bend it because I have freakishly long fingers. There’s more than one way to peel an orange.
The thumb typically rests between the edge of the thumb grip and the thumb projection of the frog. As to whether to bend or not, that depends on the style of the hold—if you use the more common Franco-Belgian hold, the thumb should be curved. If you use the Russian grip where the fingers are stretched out and the bow is held at greater distance from the palm, the thumb tends to be straighter. The key is for the thumb to be free to move and not locked; a locked thumb will make the bowstroke clumsy and inarticulate.
The thumb goes in the gap between the leather and the frog.
Then there are the many varied bow holds that fiddlers use playing old-time or Celtic fiddle music, as well as other folk fiddle music from around the world.
I am referring to the frog @ Mary Ellen Goree
There are a few correct ways to hold the bow and an infinite number of incorrect ways. I would suggest googling “Franco-Belgian bow hold” to find images and text describing the most commonly used.
I agree with Mary Ellen: I had the gap she mentions, and over the years the corner of my thumb nail has worn a dent in th stick..
This is why you put your thumb on the leather! My anecdote shows how much damage you can do to the stick over time. The leather is easily replaced, even at home by an amateur.
This is really interesting I was searching YouTube and online and there are so many people that say the thumb goes in the gap?
The placement of the leather on the bow is determined by the position of the frog’s thumb projection when placed on the stick with the eyelet in the top of its track. As hair stretches, the gap between the leather and the thumb projection becomes greater, especially with higher humidity. This is why it’s good to have your bow rehaired regularly.
I think as long as my hand is flexible and comfortable on the bow it should be fine? It’s a lot more comfortable for the thumb to sit on the leather than cramped up on the gap
Todd Ehle has a YouTube video on bow hold. I suggest watching it.
Nate Robinson made reference to Aaron Rosand sticking his thumb into the "mouth" of the frog. Sadly, I was only 19 when I inherited a F. N. Vorin bow from my father, who had owned it for less than 20 years. At that time the bow had to have been at least 70 years old. The "mouth" of the frog was so worn by prior players that I was able to stick my thumb in there too, so that was the way I used it. It was one of only two bows I had for the next 30 years so I played it a lot.
Here are images of my bow hold. I put my thumb on the black curve.
Jo J, That's probably the thumb position that wore down the frog of my Vorin over the 70+ years before it became mine.
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