Has your bow hold evolved or changed over time?

December 11, 2017, 2:08 PM · Hi,
I have recently changed my bow hold a little bit, but noticeable, after 2 years having one that I thought was the "definitive" bow hold, the right for me. I've changed the position of my index and middle finger, where they touch the bow and their shape.

I've been working on this new bow hold for two weeks and now it doesn't feel strange anymore.

So my question is:
Has your bow hold changed over time?
Did you think you had the definitive bow hold and suddenly one day you realized there was room for improvement?

Or even further... do you think the perfect bow hold doesn't exist and we must always find new ways to improve it?

Replies (20)

December 11, 2017, 3:56 PM · Yes my bow hold has changed over time.

No, it is not definitive....yet.

I think as I get better and learn more about the nuances of the violin then it will change to make what was not possible or even considered - possible. As I play, I know there are certain techniques I have yet mastered.

Keep in mind I am an advancing amateur and not at that 'level' (I consider the standard to be for me equivalent to having majored in violin and graduated from a decent school). So I would imagine that a pro's perspective where his or her bow hold has matured and put through the paces will have a different point of view and say it has been 'perfected'. But what do I know? My teacher had said my bow hold was fine and maybe I just need to use it properly.

I'm also curious to hear from others.

December 11, 2017, 5:03 PM · I was taught a beginner bow hold where the thumb rests on the outer edge of the frog (can't explain it any better) for a reason I don't understand. Then, my thumb had to be moved between the stick and the hair. My bow hold has also become more flexible. So yes, it has changed.
Edited: December 14, 2017, 3:53 PM · I had the same experience as Ella, but I have gone for several years without a teacher to correct me, I'm Sure it has changed from what I was originally taught.
December 11, 2017, 7:15 PM · No one spoke to me about bow hold for the entire time I had been hacking away up until my current teacher.

I followed his directions and made the changes (still making some of them, habit is hard to break) and am reaping the instant benefits. It's even removed the stutter I have at the bounce point in my bow, which is how I know I'm doing it correctly.

unfortunately it's still 80/20 incorrect/correct, for now.

December 12, 2017, 6:34 AM · It's so exciting to adopt the attitude that every aspect of one's technique can be improved . Practising never gets tedious if you adopt an analytical and researching approach.
December 12, 2017, 6:41 AM · Yes. I now hold it at the heavy end.
December 12, 2017, 8:21 AM · Yes - several times.
I was initially taught to hold the bow in a way that allowed me to keep my elbow close to my body (and I was too young to know or care what the name of that hold was). It evolved over time into a bow hold that allowed my elbow more freedom. But when I started cello lessons just before I was 15, my teacher saw me holding the cello bow like a violin bow and corrected that at the first lesson. (I was also angling my left hand on the cello like a violinist and that got fixed at the same time - I reverted one more time - at the 2nd lesson - and that got corrected and fixed in my mind forever when he whipped my hand with his bow.)

So then I had two bow holds - one for each instrument. Apparently that changed, because ~15 years later when I was CM of our community orchestra and thus right under our new conductor's nose, he said that my playing was fine but I held the bow kind of "funny." I had not noticed, but I took a look and realized I had morphed into a cello-bow hold on violin. So I set about changing to a bow hold more in line with Galamian's recommendation. It took about a month to be able to play as well holding the bow this way but it worked and i kept that bow hold until I was 80.(I still hold a cello bow like a cellist (well some of them, anyway.)

Now over the past 3 years my life-long hand tremor has been affecting my violin & viola bowing (especially long upbow strokes) and I have found I can get more control when holding the bow like a Suzuki beginner, with my thumb under the frog. I have also added one of those devices that thickens the region between the frog and the thumb leather (the greater the distance between my thumb and fingers, the less tremor effect - cello bow is virtually no problem most days). I will also move my thumb around, if the tremor effect lessens while I am playing, I will hold the bow more conventionally. The Suzuki-baby bow hold is kind of risky, it is hard to keep a consistent hair angle on the string and there is always a greater risk of the bow becoming airborne.

December 12, 2017, 11:14 AM · More relaxed and supple by the day. Even if you're holding it well, you can always be holding it better. It's really like that about all things right hand/arm and the violin.
December 12, 2017, 10:35 PM · Which one? Oistrakh and others often varied within a piece. I find it useful although at this point, I don’t necessarily think about it as much as it’s automatic and depends on how I want to sound.
December 12, 2017, 10:39 PM · Yes, the main one was when I got my first serious teacher - she quickly spotted problems with my bowing and part of the solution was to change the bow hold.

Since then there's no doubt it's evolved but I'm sure she would've noticed if it needed to be corrected.

December 13, 2017, 11:10 AM · My bow hold has never been stable (As in like, staying the same)
December 14, 2017, 9:34 AM · VK, If you haven’t yet, try embracing the Belgian, Russian, baroque, and other holds one at a time for long enough to be comfortable with them and learn their advantages and sounds.
Like in martial arts, then you can enjoy them all and use the ones you want when the music calls for it.
Embrace the diversity!
December 14, 2017, 1:05 PM · It might be a mistake to ever call it a bow "hold" - it will be different at the frog, tip and middle. If anything, it probably needs to evolve to be more changeable. Also, the more bow strokes you learn, the more the various finger positions on the bow make sense. For example, the ability to be able to hold up the bow with the pinkie is very important, but it doesn't quite seem so important until you start doing things like spiccato, and for some students, that is when it starts to evolve better.
December 14, 2017, 1:14 PM · I keep going back to Simon Fischer as a reference for finger and hand flexibility, position, and control. IMHO a very good resource - both Basics and Bowing DVD.
December 14, 2017, 3:29 PM · Has my bow-hold changed? Oh Yeah! Age, injuries, and what feels like arthritis have changed the way I hold the bow, play the violin as well as other aspects of my life. Unfortunately, the right hand just isn't what it used to be. I still get a decent tone but,...
December 14, 2017, 3:40 PM · OK, there are some of you that have changed the bow hold because of age/injuries. I mainly asked this question for those bow hold changes that are not caused by accidents or age, but because you decided to.
December 16, 2017, 9:48 AM · Am I going to jinx myself if I answer? On cello and French bass bow (German trained), I currently have to use a rubber frog cover because of an as of yet underdeveloped thumb that gets really tired playing multiple hours. (It’s a muscle development issue as I’ve been recently trying to get cello technique up to my violin/viola level of reading)
It’s not really a change of hold, but it might provide some more friction to improve issues with arthritis and other muscle or structure issues.
December 20, 2017, 4:20 AM · Yes, I changed style slightly 2times in half year. From almost academic franco-belgian to more free franco-belgian with little-bit suzuki child method thumb :)

And it is funny because when I was playing with my wife I realized she is using almost pure russian hold :) She was taught like a small child with classical czech teacher influenced by russian style.

So we have absolutely different bow holds

December 20, 2017, 8:55 AM · It's not a bow HOLD, it's bow dancing....

December 22, 2017, 6:50 AM · "It might be a mistake to ever call it a bow "hold" - it will be different at the frog, tip and middle. If anything, it probably needs to evolve to be more changeable"

As Laurie wrote, I found my bow "hold" changed recently -- to be less of a hold and more flexible. This happened with little or no conscious effort on my part, just as a response; adapting to what I've been playing or how I've been trying to play. So in this case, less trying to make it be this or that "hold" is better, and moreover, the focus is not on the hand, but on the bow, letting it do what it needs to do.

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