You may want to start playing violin as a new hobby during the Covid-19 pandemic with some of you here. In the past, you might think just grab the bow and play it right away. You guessed it wasn’t that hard, right? However, when learning the technique, you realize that you don’t know how to hold a violin bow.
As a beginner violinist, you find that it is relatively difficult to control the strings bow. For your information, managing your violin bow is the top priority task you need to do before trying to master playing the violin. If you don’t focus on improving your bow hands, consequently, they will be hurt a lot after practice, and you don’t seem to get the right sound you want.
Therefore, a correct bow hold will not only protect your hand, wrist, fingers from getting hurt and stiff after hours of practice but also improve your playing level.
Now, when you know the importance of the hand bow, let’s see which advice we will give you to benefit your violin playing.
The main content of the article includes:
- What Are The Parts Of A Violin Bow?
- The Bow Speed And Pressure
- The Correct Position To Hold A Violin Bow
- Common Mistakes
- How To Practice Holding A Violin Bow
Firstly, before talking about the technique, we want to show you the violin bow parts. While reading our demonstrating, here’s a picture to help you reach a better understanding.
What Are The Parts Of A Violin Bow?
We will show you the parts from the above to the below. Firstly, we will talk about the tip.
With people who haven’t researched the violin, you may see some authors refer to the tip as the point when reading documents. However, you don’t have to be confused and think it is two different parts. The point is simply another name of the tip. For your information, the tip is where the hair attaches to the bow.
You may ask yourself: “What’s the hair?”. Therefore, let us give you the answers.
Looking at the picture, we are sure that you may already know what the hair is. However, for more information, we will give you the definition.
The hair is the horsehair strands stretched across the bow that press from across violin strings to produce music. A single violin bow uses 160 to 180 strands for your information, and only straight hairs are used.
As we can say, the stick remains an indispensable part of the bow, the main component to create the bow.
About the material, the stick is usually made of wood. There are two primary wood choices that many manufacturers use, they are Pernambuco and Brazilwood. However, some manufacturers still choose carbon fiber as the material for their sticks. And it’s still excellent.
The bow grip is where the hand holds the bow; there is a leather padding and a metal coil.
For your information, the frog is the hair attaches at the bow base on an engraved wood piece, generally ebony. If you accidentally find another wood material for frog, it is okay. It’s just according to our research; the manufacturers usually use ebony. Also, it includes the bow’s toughening and loosening operation.
The eyelet is a tiny brass component placing inside the frog, allowing you to operate the tightening and loosening function with only a screw turn. Sounds easy, right?
Finally, here’s the final bow’s component. The end screw is used to toughen or loosen the bow hair.
Since you have already known the violin bow parts, we will move to the next part, where you should know some basic definitions related to the controlling violin bow technique.
The Bow Speed And Pressure
When hearing the name, we think that you may somehow know the function of this feature. The bow speed refers to how fast you change the bow; the bow pressure refers to how hard the bow is pressed on the string.
The bow pressure doesn’t mean that you use all your muscle strength to place on the string; on the other hand, you should only use your arm’s weight to put on the string in this circumstance.
You may ask us: “What will happen if I move the bow speed fast and the bow pressure more tightly?”, some of you may ask the opposite, the slow bow speed and less pressure on the bow.
You need to know that you need to move the bow faster to avoid scratching if you place much pressure on your bow. In contrast, the less pressure you put on your bow, the lower you have to move your bow. With any technique, you can still achieve a great sound.
We think it is the right time to move the most crucial part of this article: holding a violin bow. This section will show you the correct position for your fingers, your thumbs, the contact point.
The Correct Position To Hold A Violin Bow
The Thumb Position
As you can see from the picture, the first thing you need to do is to bend your thumbs to an angle of 90 degrees. Just remember, do not place your finger on the notch of the frog; instead, you should put the thumb in the section between the leather part of your bow grip and the frog.
You may ask yourself: “How do I know it’s the proper position for my thumb? I feel so confused when it comes to the position”.
Don’t worry; you simply know that when your thumb is in place with the metal coil that is holding the bow hair, and you can feel the metal, that’s when you hold it correctly. Additionally, you should feel some of the bow hair under your thumb.
We think that the thumb position will be one of the most challenging movements when you practice holding a violin bow, besides the contact point. Therefore, the finger’s role is relatively easy, effortless, and not too complex.
The Finger Position
As we’ve mentioned above, the finger position is undoubtedly simple to learn. Your finger will naturally curve into the correct position. Therefore, we think that you shouldn’t worry too much.
The Pinky Finger
Now, let’s talk about this accordingly, start with your pinky. It should not touch the bow; you should only keep it rest on the bow top. You also need to remember to bend the pinky and keep it away from the customizing screw, specifically the tightening and loosening screw.
The Ring Finger
Next, let’s move to the ring finger; you should drape it over your bow. The correct position is when you sense the stick is opposite to your finger’s joints. Moreover, you should see that your fingertip should cover the whole middle dot of the frog.
The Index Finger
Like the ring finger, you also need to drape it over your bow with the index finger. However, the only difference is that the joint should feel the metal coil of the bow grip instead of the stick.
Your index finger should be placed to allow it to wrap the entire violin’s body, and the fingertip is responsible for contacting with the grip’s leather part. For your information, you should never enable your index finger to be straight during the session. The index finger will be the one doing a lot of hard work while practicing. That’s a reminder we give you guys.
Create Spaces Among Your Fingers
Finally, place and try to maintain equal space among your fingers. It’s okay that the space between your index finger and your middle finger is relatively more expansive than other spaces, but other spaces should be equal to each other.
The Contact Point
You may see that we mention a lot about the contact point; however, we know that many of you still don’t know about it yet. The contact point talks about how you should place your bow between the bridge and the violin’s fingerboard.
We will introduce you to three positions your bow can place between the bridge and the fingerboard.
The Hard Mattress
You may wonder why we talk about the first position as the hard mattress. We think that put an example of jumping on a mattress will help you understand better, according to the violinists winning the Grammy Award, Itzhak Perlman.
The hard mattress refers to the area next to the bridge, and you guess in that area, the string will have the most or minor tension? Of course, the most tension. If you place pressure on the string next to the bridge in this area, your finger won’t move much. Moreover, the bow will face difficulties vibrating with this string.
The Soft Mattress
The opposite effect of the hard mattress is the soft mattress. With this placement, your string will be near the fingerboard, and it will have minor tension. Consequently, you just have to place a little pressure on the string; your finger can quickly move. And when your string is loosening like that, your bow will easily distort the vibrations. And we both know that it’s not an ideal position for you to play the violin.
The Ideal Position
The string will be near a fingerboard or a bridge without balancing the two components from the two positions above. Therefore, it causes unbalancing tension and giving. The best solution is that you place your bow in the center of the fingerboard and the bridge. In this way, there will be enough tension and giving for your string to vibrate to produce a great sound.
Now, we will list six steps on how to hold a violin bow following the fingers, the thumb. In the above, we separate the position of the fingers and the thumb so you can imagine better. Now, we will combine them for a perfect violin bow.
Seven Steps On How To Hold A Violin Bow
Step 1: Relax Your Hand
This step is crucial because if you don’t enable your hand, finger, thumbs, and wrist to be relaxed before the session, it will be more difficult during the session, and you will get hurt and stiff after the practice.
Step 2: Make A Bunny Face
You will understand the name after you know what you have to do in this step. And believe us, it actually looks like the bunny face.
In this step, you will need to curve your thumb, middle finger, and ring finger into a round shape, and the thumb tip should be against the middle and your ring fingertip. And you can see the bunny face, right?
Remember that your pinky and your index finger should be independent in this process; simply point forward to make the bunny ear in the next step.
Step 3: Make A Bunny Ear
You have already had the bunny face, right? Now, let’s complete the bunny with the ear. You simply have to curve the pinky and the index finger and raise them a little bit forward. And that’s it!
Step 4: Position Your Thumb
The thumb is still curved, remember! You will place the thumb between the stick and the hair next to the frog ends!
Step 5: Relax The Middle And The Ring Finger
Now, your middle finger and your ring finger should fall into place. The middle finger will be against your thumb; your ring finger will be right next to it!
Step 6: Position Your Pinky Finger
In this step, all you have to do is position your pinky finger a little bit away from the ring finger. Remember to keep it still curved! We know some of you may forget and straighten your finger; however, this is not the case!
Step 7: Place Your Index Finger
Finally, keep your index finger resting and place it on the stick. Usually, the index finger will touch the leather part of the bow grip to maintain balance while playing.
We must emphasize that your index finger is still curved in this situation; you should never straighten the index finger; it is the most crucial finger while playing.
Here’s a video to help you understand easily about this process and more tips to help you practice more easily:
Here are the seven steps to hold violin bow, simply keep practicing and reach the perfect level of bowing your violin. However, you will make several mistakes during that process, and such errors will improve your technique sooner or later!
In this section, we want to list some common mistakes that every beginner will have to experience at least once.
Put Pressure On Your Arms And Wrist
For many beginners, relax the arms or wrist may be the most challenging task they need to do. However, if you don’t relax your arms and wrist, your hand soon feels tired and stiff after practice. And this tiredness will prevent you from keeping playing the violin simply because your hand is too exhausted to carry the violin.
In general, your finger should be relaxed, and most of you have accomplished this lesson. Therefore, this is the time that you should hold your arms and wrist relaxed, too!
Maintain The Exact Violin Bow Hold
We know that all beginners are struggling to maintain the exact violin bow hold. And this situation is normal! You should understand that any professionals had to spend years practicing to master the bow hold, not feel tired while maintaining one position for a particular time. You are new to this field, so don’t worry too much!
Instead of worrying, keep practicing, and eventually, your hand will learn how to adapt to your bowing position.
You hear some noises while playing, and you wonder why? The problem may just because you don’t place your bow straight on the string. Simply put it straight on the string, your issue will be solved. One last thing to remember, the bows need to be on the string and in the middle of the fingerboard and the bridge, as we’ve said earlier!
Bend Your Wrist
You should always keep your wrist in a relaxed and flexible position! Do not bend it just because your hand is not used to holding the bow.
We know sometimes you don’t remember your mistake until you perform in front of other people. However, are you happy if we say that there is another way for you to identify your errors by yourself?. That’s why we want to show you some options for record players to assist you in improving your technique!
Since because of the mistakes, you may want to keep practicing holding your violin bow; however, sometimes, it is pretty inconvenient. You can’t just hold your bow while watching TV or while you are at work or in class during the break. Therefore, we will give you an alternative tool to help you practice, and that’s the pencil!
How To Practice Holding A Violin Bow
All you need to prepare is a pencil. With this exercise, you need to hold your pencil like when you hold your bow. Your pencil can be in any position; it is up to you! It can be straight up or down, depending on your preferences!
The next step is to have your fingers, particularly your thumb, flexed. Then loosen your fingers and let your hand fall from your wrist. Our purpose with this exercise is not to drop the pencil. And if you can do perfectly with the pencil, you will face less struggle when moving to the bow. And the best part is that you can practice every day, every time you like. Nothing can stop you now!
Here’s a video of a violinist teaching you how to practice bowing with a pencil; we think that you should check it out for more knowledge. Our exercise is just one recommendation among hundreds of suggestions on the Internet.
Here’s our advice on the violin how to hold bow. We hope that after this article, you will find it much easier on how to hold a violin bow. Since because you are an adult violin beginner, your hands and fingers may need more time to get into the proper position.
However, you shouldn’t worry too much about it! There are hundreds of beginners worldwide trying to play the violin every day, so you are not alone in this journey. Just keep practicing, and you will realize your bow hand is automatically holding your bow violin correctly, and you can’t even remember how to hold violin bow in the first place.
We know that during your practice or in your daily life, you may need to listen to music to play the instrument. And violin is not an exception. Therefore, we think it’s best if you check out our article about Bluetooth earmuffs for a high-quality practice session. And it is also suitable for listening to music daily.
Now, this is the end of our article. See you in our next article for more advice on different instrument techniques! Good luck with your research!