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Odd violin grip?


Tofuzzle

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Hi guys,

 

I'm really confused by my bow grip. My tutor told me to have my thumb on the rubber/leather pad, quite far up it, to the point where my thumb is almost on the divide between the pad and the metal coil/strip thing, rather than having it between the frog and the pad, as most guides tend to advise. Is this a viable bow grip that people do use, because I can't find any reference online to anyone else using/teaching this method?

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To some degree, it depends on what sort of music you're playing/learning.  What kind of music are you learning?  I have seen some traditional American and European fiddle players hold the bow in that spot and heard fine traditional music come out of it; I have assumed this was either because they were using clumsy bows, or perhaps the practice has been passed down for a couple of centuries from when the shorter "baroque" bow was used, and they are just comfortable with the shorter reach.  I can't imagine trying to play classical European music in this way, and as someone who plays a variety of traditional fiddle styles, I see no reason not to use a conventional bow grip if you are using a decent bow.  It makes things easier, you have more options...it really is better in every way.  I suspect that players who do this nowadays are trying to look more "old time" or something, but, really...why?  I guess if someone likes holding it some other way, then--sure, whatever, suit yourself--but I'm a little mystified why someone would teach it.

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Well I'm a beginner and I've only had about 8 lessons. My tutor's running me through the ABRSM syllabus, so we're on the Bronze book at the moment. I'm going to ask her on Wednesday why, it just struck me ass odd as I've not seen it documented anywhere else. Most people tend to use the Russian or Franco-Belgian or German method - or, at least, that's what most people suggest using when you're learning.

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So, this is indeed classical European music.  Then I'm really mystified. 

 

It will be important to ask your teacher this person why they are doing this.  Do they play that way?  If so, then I can imagine a whole bunch of other questions...but maybe it's a way to get started and focus on your left hand or something.  As I said above, I am mainly a traditional fiddle player, but the way I hold the instrument and bow is pretty much the classical standard method and wouldn't dream of teaching anything else.  Hopefullly someone with more experience in classical European violin pedagogy will participate and explain if this is legit or not. 

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I just went to a Master Degree recital at Julliard last week. The violinist played Bach with the bow held higher than normal....like an old time fiddler might, and then played the rest of the program using a conventional (lower) bow hold. I'll try to ask her about it. Perhaps not as daft as it may sound, although it does seem a bit unusual to start off learning that way. I'll be interested to hear what your teacher has to say about it.

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Well, playing Bach like that would fit with the baroque bow theory, though as we recently explored on another thread--why not just get a baroque bow and gut strings if you want that experience?  It will be interesting to hear what that violinist has to say about her Bach interpretation, too.  These things were made to be held at the frog!

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A funny story about bow/violin position...Back in the 80s I had an odd gig where a television production company making commercials would call me in to advise them on musical questions, I was "hand talent" once, etc.  So, they had these goofy guys who for this one commercial were supposed to look like they were fiddling.  For $500 and a really nice catered lunch, it was my job to show these guys how to look the part.  So, I showed them the standard bow grip and how to hold the violins under their chin, and after about ten minutes they were looking pretty good.  The director took one look and said, "No, no, no!  They have to look like they're fiddling!"  He had them grab the bows up at the winding and put the violins down in the crook of their elbows and dance around like monkeys.  "Now, THAT looks like fiddling," said the director.  Easiest and weirdest $500 I ever made.

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If you have a plush, functional leatherette on your bow, you can comfortably rest your thumb upon it and do anything with the bow that any great player can do. All it takes is 20 years of practice and a really nice bow. >grin<

Technically, thumb position along the bow affects the bow balance at this "fulcrum" point. A bow is over 700mm long. Moving your thumb a few mm near the end so it nestles softly in the leather will not affect the balance in any way you can notice or take advantage of.

MUCH more important is the position and use of the index finger and to a lesser extent, the pinky, for balancing and manipulating the bow. Stop worrying about the thumb as long as it is comfortable and pain free.

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Hi guys,

 

I'm really confused by my bow grip. My tutor told me to have my thumb on the rubber/leather pad, quite far up it, to the point where my thumb is almost on the divide between the pad and the metal coil/strip thing, rather than having it between the frog and the pad, as most guides tend to advise. Is this a viable bow grip that people do use, because I can't find any reference online to anyone else using/teaching this method?

 

My suggestion would be to find yourself a good , competent teacher. It's a good suggestion.

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Technically, thumb position along the bow affects the bow balance at this "fulcrum" point. A bow is over 700mm long. Moving your thumb a few mm near the end so it nestles softly in the leather will not affect the balance in any way you can notice or take advantage of.

.

I would agree with this except for the fact that the OP says:   "quite far up it, to the point where my thumb is almost on the divide between the pad and the metal coil/strip thing"—and that is about 17mm, more than a few mm.  And that WOULD change the balance and also shortens the usable hair a bit.

 

As for the usual place, south of the leather and north( or east/west, if you are holding the bow horizontally) of the "thumb projection" of the frog (the term used in the recent IPCI book), while there is nothing religious about that point, very few people to my knowledge place their thumb anywhere else.  It has not arrived as the favored location for no reason at all; it has been arrived at by trial and error over a hundred plus years.

 

BTW, one ought to have a darned good reason for bucking Galamian, page 46; or Flesch, page 53, vol. 1, IMO.

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FYI: I spoke to the woman who gave the Julliard Graduate recital. She said although there is no name for the technique, she held the bow higher for the Bach piece to imitate the balance and sound of a baroque bow. The resulting lighter bow contact is less likely to sound "romantic", which is not so appropriate for the Bach piece.

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