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How to Hold the Bow

How to hold the violin/ viola bow

Learning to feel comfortable with the bow in your hand is one of the most important aspects of playing the violin or viola.  The way you hold the bow can completely transform your tone and allow you to produce those magical sounds that make playing a stringed instrument so immensely pleasurable.

How to hold the violin bow

Developing a soft and responsive bow hand is also the key to unlocking all those challenging technical bow strokes from martelé to collé and spiccato. The most important thing to remember is that a really good bow hold grows out of a balanced hand shape and soft, springy and supple muscles.

Start by forming a circle with your right hand thumb and second finger. Holding the bow horizontally with your left hand, place the right hand thumb tip either into the gap between frog and the leather bow protector or on the leather itself. The thumb should remain curved. The 2ndfinger falls gently over the stick to sit opposite the thumb.

Allow the third finger to sit over the stick, the little finger to sit on top of the stick (keeping a nice rounded shape) and the first finger to sit on the stick approximately in line with the second knuckle. Roll the right forearm slightly towards the tip so that the knuckles form a V shape with the bow stick.

How to hold the violin bow

Remember the fingers and thumb should remain curved and flexible at all times. The strength and confidence in your bow hand comes from a sensitive, responsive balance of counter-pressures between the fingers and thumb. When you get this right it will almost feel like you have sticky fingers—think of Spiderman’s or Spiderwoman’s ability to climb walls.

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This post was written by Stylus writer, a former professional violinist/ violist who has taken his gift for phrasing and tone into the world of words. You can learn more about his work at https://styluswriter.com/

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