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I was just mucking around and for fun I tried the "russian" bow hold and found that it seemed to make bowing easier and felt more natural and comfortable! So now I'm curious as to what others think about it, i.e. the pros & the cons. I figure there must be more cons that pros because from what I've observed, most violinists seem to use the franco-belgium hold.

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I think, first of all,  it's a matter of what seems most natural to your hand/finger size and lengths of your arm segments. If you find bow holds that work for you on your instruments, who cares what names they have been given.

If I take a clue from your pseudonym here, mine would be FromViolinToCelloToViola. So I guess I have 3 bow holds (more or less) and so far I've been at this game for 83 years of my life. And, of course, parts of some music require variations on whatever bowhold one thinks they use.

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It is worthwhile to do a search on bow holds. This has been discussed many times and there are lots of videos demonstrating the pros and cons of the most popular holds.

There are, and have been, world class violinists that have used all the common bow holds. If one of these holds feels natural and comfortable to you, then that is the one to use!

 

 

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I’m in my third year of learning Irish fiddle. I started late in life.
A constant problem I’ve had was that my wrist action wasn’t smooth and would bend to the left as I worked closer to the frog, loosing proper contact with the strings.It seemed no matter how much I practiced, how much awareness I used while bowing, taping my wrist, using support,  I just couldn’t overcome it. I tried many variations I’ve seen other fiddle players use. No difference. I was at the point of giving up. I’ve recently switched to the Russian hold and my bowing form has vastly improved. For me, it’s the only one that works.

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21 hours ago, Andrew Victor said:

I think, first of all,  it's a matter of what seems most natural to your hand/finger size and lengths of your arm segments. If you find bow holds that work for you on your instruments, who cares what names they have been given.

If I take a clue from your pseudonym here, mine would be FromViolinToCelloToViola. So I guess I have 3 bow holds (more or less) and so far I've been at this game for 83 years of my life. And, of course, parts of some music require variations on whatever bowhold one thinks they use.

thanks Andrew, good advice as always! And I've been doing research on the subject matter and apparently the name "russian" bow hold is incorrect anyway...which of course further emphasizes what you said about who cares what names they have.

Speaking of names, I must say I'm impressed with your possible pseudonym of "FromViolinToCelloToViola", and also with the number of years of experience you've got. If I can get anywhere near that I'll be very happy indeed!

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and thanks ctanzio for your thoughts, yes I've started researching about the "Hungarian" bow hold on the internet and of course there are lots of very different opinions about it...although I did notice that one opinion did seem to keep popping up, and that was that apparently spiccato is easier to do with the Franco-Belgian hold.

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L.Colburn that was very interesting to hear how the "Russian" hold saved you from giving up, a few months ago I also felt like giving up because my 4th finger was always flat (in pitch), but thankfully I got some great advice from this forum and thus my enthusiasm for the viola was rejuvenated! And who knows, this so-called "Russian/Hungarian" hold might further inflame my viola passion.

 

 

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I am certainly no expert on spiccato. But a relaxed grip, especially with the thumb, is all I need to get the bow to bounce lightly, and a slight U-shaped motion of the bow hand. My impressions is that it is quite independent of the type of bow hold one uses. 

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Just an observation that

1. If you can make the sounds you want to make and nothing hurts, that’s probably the technique to use and who cares what it is called or how it might be categorized.  (I mean, pay attention to what has traditionally been taught obviously - but there’s a lot of space between those lines.)

2. Nothing really except force of habit keeps your hand or fingers in a particular shape.  You can move stuff around quite easily if you want or need to adapt things to particular situations.  I know I adapt what my hand is doing to the music or what string/part of the bow I’m on.  And I’m pretty sure I’ve seen serious classical musicians make small alterations as they were playing.  Your bow hold can be dynamic and respond to different situations.  It doesn’t have to be “this finger goes here and so it will always remain.”

 

Unless of course you have already signed the Covenant of the True Russian School in your own blood. 

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On 3/9/2022 at 12:23 PM, Bardan said:

Unless of course you have already signed the Covenant of the True Russian School in your own blood. 

God help you if you have... lol

JK - if it works (and doesn't hurt), use it! Just like he said. 

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On 3/8/2022 at 2:56 PM, L.Colburn said:

A constant problem I’ve had was that my wrist action wasn’t smooth and would bend to the left as I worked closer to the frog, loosing proper contact with the strings.

I think I know what you're describing would look like but I'm not sure.  Make part of your practicing playing an open A string for five minutes.  Up and down, at normal speed, using the whole bow.  

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On 3/9/2022 at 9:59 PM, FromBassToViola said:

"If I take a clue from your pseudonym here, mine would be FromViolinToCelloToViola."

By the way Andrew, forgive my curiosity but which of those three would you consider to be your favorite instrument?

Or maybe it changes depending on your mood, or what repertoire you feel like playing?

At the moment I would certainly say I'm enjoying the viola more than the double bass, mainly for the sound and the repertoire, and also after so many decades on the bass it's nice to have a change.

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On 3/10/2022 at 6:28 PM, Bill Merkel said:

I think I know what you're describing would look like but I'm not sure.  

It’s called radial deviation, I have it in both wrists but was unaware there was an issue until I really started looking for the root causes of poor bowing and left hand position. So for my 15 minute warm up, I hold a small rock in the palm of my left hand that will tap the neck if my hand begins turning, and use the Russian hold to bring  my wrist into better alignment. I’ve been doing single bow arpeggios and I’ve notice a vast improvement. I’m also doing some light PT off the violin.

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On 3/14/2022 at 1:14 AM, Andrew Victor said:

FBTV - to answer your question it depends on the repertoire and or ensemble available to play with. During the COVID pandemic I have mostly practiced violin.

it's certainly a great situation to be in - to have all those choices and opportunities at hand!

I would love to be in that position, if I were, I think I'd record Haydn/Mozart string quartets all by myself on multi-track.

I hope that the ensemble playing starts getting back to its pre-pandemic proportions again.

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