The bow hold

Small ideas to hold the Cello bow properly

1. Dip your right hand in an imaginary bucket of water.

There are no towels : youíll have to dry it by shaking off the water. Look how your hand is hanging ! The space between each finger is the correct spacing for your fingers when you hold your Cello bow.
: When you shake off your hand, the fingers fall into the most natural position possible. It is important that the fingers on the bow are not stretched too far apart or that they are not too close together ; this could create tensions in your hand.

2. Pick a juicy strawberry.

Pretend to pick some imaginary strawberries using the thumb ( nice and round ) and the second finger. The strawberries are ripe and soft and you are holding them firmly, but you are careful not to squash them. This is the way you feel when you hold the bow properly. 
: Try not to squeeze the bow too tightly with "iron" fingers, but do not hold it too softly so that it might fall over.

3. A little help from the left hand.

When you practise at home and you feel that your hand has slipped out of a good position holding the bow, donít try to change it while playing : instead stop playing entirely. Leave your bow on the string and, with the left hand, support the bow some place in the upper half. Now shake the water from your hand, pick a strawberry with your second finger and thumb and try your bow hold again.
Notes : When you shake your hand, tilt it slightly to the right, so that, when you try your bow hold again, the little finger will stay on the white dot you have on the frog and will not go too far down, away from the dot.

4. OK Guys !

Apart from the strawberry picking, there is another good way to show how nicely thumb and middle finger go together. Without the bow, make an " OK " sign in the air with the tip of your thumb glued to the first joint of the middle finger : watch out ! Your thumb has to be really round and make a nice "O" shape !
Notes : Our hands are naturally round, so if you keep them round, your playing will become more flexible and your sound will also become rounder and smoother. This OK sign is also good for your left hand around the neck of your Cello.

5. The upside down bow hold ( quite a technical explanation ! )

Follow these instructions !

  1. Make your hand floppy and relaxed, with the palm of your hand pointing to the ceiling.

  2. Your left hand holds the screw at the end of the bow.

  3. The bow hair points to the ceiling.

  4. The tip of the bow points to your right

Now :

  1. First put just your round thumb between the beginning of the heel and the leather : the nail should be pointing to the tip

  2. Then put your middle finger opposite the thumb on the metal bit

  3. Let the other fingers take their natural place next to each other, wrapping the bow as it where a Christmas present

  4. The last joint of your little finger will be on the white dot you can find on the frog of the bow ( heel ).

  5. When you feel that it is all nice and round and all in place...CAPSIZE the Bow and you are ready to play !

6. Super Glue !

When you hold the bow, imagine your hand sticky with glue : feel your fingers wrapping up the bow, without leaving any holes between the wood and the fingers. If someone tries to take the bow off you, the super glue will not allow it !
Notes : You donít have to squeeze the bow too tightly : your fingers are already glued to the bow !


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Copyright © 2000 Westbury Park Strings
Last modified: February 26, 2000