The right hand bent thumb
What is the reason(s) for bending the right hand thumb?
The following are the musings of an amateur.
A bent thumb allows one to instantly change the bow tilt, the angle that the hair meets the string. If the bow hold starts with a straight thumb then the important right fourth finger is also straight, maybe locked, at the side of the stick, and can't do its' job of pushing down on the bow, With a straight thumb it is too tempting to hold the bow with the finger-tips of fingers 1,2,3. With a straight thumb the hand is flat instead of round. We want the bow to feel like it is inside the hand, rounded, like holding a baseball.
the bent thumb also functions as a shock absorber.
A straight (stiff) thumb is just waiting to let the bow slip out of your hand at the worst time. I learned this the hard way at my grade 6 RCM exam years ago.
That’s a good question Bruce. I’ve always wondered this myself. My teacher Sidney Harth, who used a very pronounced ‘Russian’ bow hold, actually collapsed his thumb the opposite way, at the top joint, while applying downward pressure. He was able to draw a very robust and beautiful sound this way and also had one of the best upbow and down bow staccatos I have ever seen.
Before contact with the string, I don't "hold" the bow, I "hold it up" with a curved thumb under the stick, balanced by the ring finger over the stick, and the curved pinky on the facet just behind (Galamian). I can even raise the index and middle finger!
This has been my philosophy:
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