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Heavy bow pressure?? Clumsy bow arm


nickia
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Hello I've found out that I've using too much to pressure from my right hand because the middle joint of my index finger becomes red literally after a playing session. I think i've read from somewhere that no pressure should be injected from the index finger when playing anything other than Forte. So I try to lighten up the bow arm by relaxing the hand but the bow just glide through the string especially near the tip. My teacher also tell me constantly to play louder but I can't do it without pressing the index finger.

Should the right hand feel like the bow is literally going to fall out of the hand?

My teacher is gone to visit her sicken relatives, so I'm out of a teacher for 1-2 months.

any insights?

thanks!

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I wonder whether your rosin use or your bow or violin are part of the problem here. It would be good for you to have someone else try your instrument and bow out.

The right hand fingers should feel springy, not completely loose. (Although sending the bow sailing through the air at the end of an upbow is an exercise done by some teachers-presumeably with students with cheap bows.)

Have you tried increasing your bow speed for volume?

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To borrow a line from one of my favorite movies:

quote:


"It's an egg. Hold it like it's an egg."

It's really that simple. You know how to hold the bow as far as the bow hold. You just need to be firm but gentle with it.

If you doubt this in any way, go to your kitchen, get an egg out of the fridge and try keeping it intact with your current bow holding death grip. Messy, huh?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
nickia

Hello I've found out that I've using too much to pressure from my right hand because the middle joint of my index finger becomes red literally after a playing session. I think i've read from somewhere that no pressure should be injected from the index finger when playing anything other than Forte. So I try to lighten up the bow arm by relaxing the hand but the bow just glide through the string especially near the tip. .....

How long have you been playing?

It appears you can only do two extremes right now - press too much to make sound, till it hurts, or when trying to relax, put too little pressure and the bow goes all over. Which is very normal for beginers.

With experience you'll figure out the correct amount of pressure. But your teacher should have helped you with this bow problem from your first month, even before any sight reading, or any other significant progress with your violin materials. It is OK initially if you can't sight read well, something too much emplasis is often placed on, but you're simply not a violinist if you can't make a good sound from your bow. The left hand can be worked on later.

Learing to bow on open strings, with the right pressure is such a basic but boring and difficult exercise for most, that usually not much work is done there. Just bow open strings, try to regulate volume by bow speed/pressure until you find a good clean sound that you're happy with - this will be the basis of 'your sound'. It is not that hard, but needs a lot of work before you can, at will, play loud, play soft and be happy with your good clean tone.

You can/should hold off on moving forward with repertoire, since it makes no sense to progress, in my opinion, without a decent sound that you can comfortably produce.

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Although it probably doesn't make much sense from a pure physics perspective, always thinking "arm WEIGHT" rather than "pressure" seems to be psychologically very useful. And think of the hand and fingers as a delicate arrangement of springs that's modulating that weight while transmitting it to the string.

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Historical note:

The egg analogie is how GV discovered vernice bianca. Seriously though pressing i.e. bow pressure and grip are to different things. If your thumb is back by the frog you can effectivly create more pressure at the tip by increasing your first finger distance with less of a death grip. Too much of anything is not the idea, don't over do it.

Mike

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One thing that has helped me is to think of arm weight instead

of bow pressure.  When you concentrate on adding pressure

to the bow, instinctively you press down with your index finger.

 I try to imagine my arm, esp my elbow gets heavier instead.

 Also check to see if your elbow is too high or your right

shoulder is raised up.

Vincent

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A lot of good suggestgions here. I agree with what Vincent is saying.

To me, however, it is a question of balance rather than pressure. The way you hold the bow when it is off the strings is not the way you hold it when it is on the strings. The weight of the arm can act on the bow through the index finger (torqued around the thumb) when playing in the upper half of the bow. In the lower half of the bow the index finger pressure is reduced and it is helpful to actually support the violin bow somewhat with the hand - but it depends on what you are trying to do.

If you held an egg as loosely as you can hold a bow you would probably drop it - or it would fall off your thumb - so turn your hand over. I instruct students to work on their bow holds (violin or cello) by holding up the middile of the bow with their left hand and then gently rest the right hand on it and put the thumb under - then move it to the strings - you only need to tighten you hold (a little) up if you take the bow off the string.

For upbow staccato, index finger pressure can provide the needed impulse (inst4ead of jerking the forearm) and for downbow staccato, the pinky can provide the impulse - ant that tells almost everything about apportioning the forces for all your playing.

I have found it interesting to observe some young players (the young Sarah Chang, for example) who appeared to wrap their index fingers around the bow and really be holding tight and pushing hard - and then compare that with how they play as teenagers and adults, when they have learned to use natural balances of their body.

Andy

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andy, agree with those observations, that young players then to

overdo it and then let go with more years and experience...

i do believe that one should be able to hold the bow in air (palm

down) as comfortably as it is on string.  one needs the right

mix and amt of finger touch and balance to hold the bow in

air.  if not, the problems will come out once the bow is on

the string.  i ask my kids to hold the bow in air and then

learn to imitate the motion on string with finger and hand joint

movement.  i let them watch an entire movie holding the bow

and moving it around, so that they are not mindful of the bow and

learn to hold it as light and efficiently as possible, as an

extension of their hands,,,,because some jackie chan movies are

quite long.

nikia, watch how perlman does it.  do you have his videos or

dvds?  

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MrLucky, I can't say that I agree with you.

When I start new students I give them a wood pencil (I have both "cello" and "violin" pencils) and I ask them to practice a feather-light hold on those rather than on the much heavier bows (even though they only weigh 2 or 3 ounces for full-size violin and cello, respectively).

Holding a real bow without the support of the strings adds about 1/'10 foot-pound of torque that must be supported by the smaller fingers of the hand. If a hand gets used to applying this force it will be less agile and sensitive when the bow is on the strings.

Andy

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andy, i respect your prof opinion
and it is not easy to disagree with your experiences.


 


and  i have no problem with
your using the pencil as a start, for a little beginner to get
"some" idea on the proper hold since it is light and
balanced.  but, in my opinion, the pencil exercise is quite
limited because a whole different set of muscles are engaged 
holding a real bow which is heavier and not "balanced". 
there is a big gap between the pencil and the bow in motion. many
people fall into the gap and have problem getting
out .


 


no teacher complains,
 never even once, that student is holding the bow too
loose.


 


always the opposite:  loosen
the grip, easy on the thumb, easy on the index finger,
etc....


 


give the strongest person on
earth the pencil, then give him the real bow.
immediately, the death grip. tip of the thumb goes
white.


 


WHY?


 


the issue is not the weight, but
the management of the weight,.... in other words......balance and
control.  it is not heavy, just seems and feels
heavy.


 


can we learn the use of chopsticks
well without enough practice and understanding?  in
a chinese restaurant, pay attention how we
hold chopsticks vs how native holders
do. 


 


the next table holds them like an
extension of the fingers.  with minimal exertion.  once
they grab onto that cube of kungpow chicken, it is going into their
mouth without a diving detour.  grab it too high, it slips
down, grab it too low, it pops up and out, grab it too
loose, you are not hungry.  grab it too tight, that
is what we do.  we try hard, but the contact is weak and
unpredictable, so by the time the chicken is over the soup
bowl, a splash follows.  


 


same idea:  figure out how
and why least amount of work actually get the job done with least
amount of risk.


 


the other thing is
this:


 


if one can manage to hold the
bow in air with total relaxation, one can translate onto
string. just add the arm weight and move.  if you
can run 2 laps, you can run 1.


 


if one can manage to hold the bow
on string with total relaxation, can one do it in air? not
necessarily.


 


and because of that, the rate
of progress will be limited.  the bow hold is not
in total control.  staccato is not even. having
difficulty in direction change.  having difficulty
playing a long passage of single bow 16th notes because the
forearm freezes from fatigue.


 


it all comes from a poor grip and
that  the entire arm has never been completely comfortable
with holding the bow. 


 


in fact, one should not grab the
bow.  rather, let the finger skin get in contact with the bow
and let friction support the bow in place. and let
everything else in hand go limp.


 


the bow- in- air to me is a
 very good learning process.  relax whereever is tired or
sore, until it is not.


 


people should have problem
accepting this, because it is not in the books. i made it
up.
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i agree with both of the viewpoints presented by andrew and mrlucky...

in regards to mrlucky...

galamian had steinhardt practicing the violin....with only his bow and no violin. in this manner steinhardt could develop and refine his bowhand muscles.

zukerman talks about managing the weight and balance of the bow...

in regards to andrw...

from kato havas i picked up the notion of how we are a very thumb-centric species...after all it is our opposable thumb that defines us. in this manner, if the bow is resting on the strings, we can actually guide/direct/balance the bow with only the thumb and no other fingers.

when one realizes the full potential of this concept....it really really really frees up the entire bow hand....and arm with it...and left arm/hand with that...and....

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con, you always bring up good and balanced points.  i am not

very well versed in violin literature, so thank you for sharing

that.

i want to clarify my point one more time on bow- in- air...

between holding the pencil and someone practicing bowing motion in

air, i simply want my kids to hold the bow and watch tv (come watch

some tv...oh, bring your bow).

i want to condition the hold from conscious to unconscious

awareness.  

because genetically we are programmed to react with the  fight

or flight instinct, if we are aware that we are holding the bow, we

tend to recruit many more muscles than we need.

do we think that telling someone to relax really work?

why just hearing the word relax makes

people more tense?  because that is how we are wired.  we

need to rewrite the software.

when the attention is on kung fu fighting on the screen (where you

can appreciate rhythm and spontaneity), the muscles in the hand

become more selective and efficient.  they become lazy and

inactive, doing only the minimum necessary. the hand

and bow get to accept each other naturally on their own terms.

this development of unconsciousness awareness should be started

early, as early as possible.  you learn something

without someone yelling: now listen up, i am  going to teach

you something, you pay attention.

when starting late, we have to go through painful de-program.

 you should see how i play golf.

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MrLucky,

"when the attention is on kung fu fighting on the screen (where you can appreciate rhythm and spontaneity), the muscles in the hand become more selective and efficient. they become lazy and inactive, doing only the minimum necessary. the hand and bow get to accept each other naturally on their own terms"

Thats an interesting point you're making.

That would men that the best way to learn how to use the chopsticks is to eat while you watch TV

Gabriel

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The problem may be the violin also, your teacher may be asking for more sound, you ask it for your violin but it may not have it to give it to you... You may be making a tremendous effort to produce a volume your violin perhaps cannot give. A narrow dynamic range is a problem in many many instruments.

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Does your teacher play your violin? Lots of teachers will reach over and bow to demonstrate the tone they want on the instrument you have and to see what is possible, also that way you can hear the desired sound projected from your instrument. I would think that if your teacher doesn't bow your instrument while you are holding it, you could ask for him/her to use your violin and bow a little bit to see what is possible.

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Pencils are good, but wooden spoons are even better:

they're round,

they're wood,

they're not slippery/shiny

they come in all sizes and lengths and weights,

they're cheap so no one ever worries about dropping them,

and if you start with the first finger right up by where the bowl

of the spoon starts you can do those vertical "clock" and

"windshield wiper" and "timberrrr! type games without any effort at

all, since the bowl curve keeps the spoon from sliding

downward.

Plus, they're long enough to have an easily-sensed balance point.

If you start with the bow hand-shape (I don't say hold or, god

forbid, grip) there and then gradually move down, the little finger

can get a sense of increasing weight/responsibility much like that

of a regular bow.

And you can sand off a flat place for the pinkie to park, too, if

you want. Or stick on a corn-pad "nest" without worry.

Let's watch some kung fu, bring your spoon...

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there you go, now we are talking, the evolution of a pencil.

 

how about putting a bowl of jello (sugar free) or popcorn (light

butter of course) and tell the kid to use the bowspoon for some

indulgence while watching TV?  

what is any meaningful event without food!

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on unconsciousness awareness...

may be others can testify with other examples, but it is scary how

i manage to drive to work for close to an hour, thinking about

everything, cases to deal with, cases of yesterday, weekend, the

piece on the CD, a sip of tea of coffee here and there....

and i manage to get my car from point A to point B like a pro,

without even trying or any awareness.  and the entire highway

is full of nuts like me, some busy putting on make-up, eating

breakfast with 2 hands, reading newspaper, and of course, gabbing

away on the phone.

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I think my car has even been hit by some such "unconcious awareness" practitioners! (Not that I don't understand and haven't practiced that concept.) I thiink such behavior is usually called "habitual."

And now I drive with my headlights on (day and night) after finding I'm otherwise a "target" for such folks.

And here I thought it was some exotic "Zen" thing you were talking about.

Andy

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Hi all,

If you (or anyone) practice every days for years, your playing is like your walking,

your scratching your back, when you need to do it and you will do it amazingly natural.

Sign reading is easy than to read a novel (or a letter). In short "practice does make perfect"

Trust me. Better yet, ask any world class player whom can be surely trusted.

Happy violinst, play with confidence.

I know you all are very good players. I have not said anything astonished. Thank you.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
MrLucky
there you go, now we

are talking, how about putting a bowl of jello (sugar free) or

popcorn (light butter of course) and tell the kid to use the

bowspoon for some indulgence while watching TV?   what is any

meaningful event without food!

Mr. Lucky, popcorn is completely unmeaningful without butter

(melted down 1/2 and 1/2 with good olive oil, with a shot or two of

Tabasco) and fresh grated parmesan (smoked if you can get it.)

And who the heck eats jello with a wooden spoon? You're supposed to

make it with 1/2-the-H20-called-for so you can eat it with your

fingers.

Your children are living narrow, constricted lives.

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