Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bow Hold 1: Relax Your Wrist, Dude!

You have to be an artist in multitasking when you play the violin. You have to concentrate on your hand grip, where your fingers must press, your intonation, your tone production, and your posture while making sure that your bow stays on your ring tone and maintains a straight bowing motion.

The first thing my previous teacher concentrated on while I was having my lessons then in a multipurpose hall in the University of the Philippines (no, it was not an official U. P. course) was my bowing. My bow will go on an angle and skid over the strings like a threadbare tire on wet asphalt. And the main issue why I can't keep my bowing straight is because of my wrist. Yes, my wrist.

Focusing on Your Wrist

I was mainly worried about my broken pinky, thinking it would cause a problem with my bowing. Lo and behold, my main hurdle was actually my wrist. Many beginning violinists have problems with their wrist action when bowing because their wrists act like they were encased in cement. And it is expected because it's your body's instinct to keep every single part in proper alignment.

The natural tendency when you are gripping on to something and trying to balance it at the same time is to keep your wrist straight and rigid. You have a lot of things going on with your violin bowing that relaxing the wrist becomes second issue. Neglected even at times.

By maintaining the straight angle of your wrist when you're at the tip, middle, and frog, your shoulders and arms will be the ones moving along with you.  As a result, your bow is crooked, you don't stay on the ring tones, and your bow is just all over the place.

Wrist Angles - Flex Up, Extend Down

Your wrists should have varying angles in different positions of the bow.  It is the only way for you to get straight bowing techniques, and it will be one of your saving graces for good intonation. Opposites will play a major role here: Bow moves up, hand goes down. Bow moves down, hand goes up.


When you bow up the strings, your hand should go down - as if you're dribbling a tennis ball or dropping a dart on the floor. The fingers are all straight, with the pinky finger keeping the bow pressed 

As you drag the bow down the string, you must keep in mind to extend your wrist so that your hand and fingers are in a plane that is relatively higher than your arm - as if you're saying hi to someone.  Your pinky must be relaxed, and your index finger extended as well without curling around the bow. This is to avoid tension, causing further stiffness in your bow arm.

Below is a really detailed explanation of Beth from for solving your issue with a stiff bow arm. Please click like on the video and subscribe to her channel for more violin tutorials on straight bowing as well as other violin tips. 

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