missing 2 fingers on bow hand

Beth said: Oct 28, 2011
 
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Viola, Violin
Chittenango, NY
5 posts

I have a 5-year-old student who wants so badly to play violin, and learns quickly and easily. She is missing the pinky and fourth fingers of her bow arm, has no elbow movement, hand is not in a position to put the thumb on the frog and the fingers on the bow stick (when she plucks, she has to put the index finger on the fingerboard and pluck with the thumb). Shoulder moves fine. When I put the “Frog” from “Bow Hold Buddies” on her bow, she can hold the “Frog” between her Thumb and the next two fingers. We’re trying to figure out some sort of device that might give her the necessary opposing “Thumb power” , so if anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them!
THank you.

Irene Mitchell said: Oct 29, 2011
Irene Mitchell
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Dallas, TX
111 posts

hi Beth!
Hooray for your student, and hooray for you for being willing to look outside the norm for answers!
Viol bows were manipulated so that the musician actually touched the hair to adjust the tension on the string… maybe you could fine someone to make a (miniature) German bass bow if her arm can rotate out; but a psaltery bow might also be a possibility. It’s more of a ‘bow’ shape, and the hand could go inside and pull down on the bow hair. Here’s a youtube of a psaltery player:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3cm8l9vYwQ
Best wishes to you all!
Irene

Irene Mitchell

Jennifer John said: Oct 29, 2011
Jennifer JohnViolin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
1 posts

I agree, I have a four year old son who had conjoined digits on his left hand at birth. They have been separated however he has limited function with his pinky on his left hand. He really wanted to start playing cello and after a few lessons with James Fittz in Denver, a wonderful, performer/teacher, he decided to switch Henry’s cello around so that he could finger with his right hand and bow with his left hand. Henry could not be more excited.

I believe kids especially at that age can over come most anything if adults allow for them to create outside the box. Try anything and trust your instincts!! As long as the child is having fun then why not!! Happy Halloween! Jennifer and Henry

Jennifer John

Barb said: Oct 31, 2011
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

At about 30 minutes into the DVD Nurtured by Love, there is a young woman who plays the violin using her right hand. Her left hand was deformed from birth making her 2,3, and 4 quite short. The fourth is long enough to use the bow, but not curved, so her bow hold of course is not the standard hold.

She met Dr. Suzuki by accident at her sister’s lesson, and of course he knew “every child can,” so took her to a violin teacher. She had spent her life up to that point hiding her hand, and it was more or less useless, but in learning to bow, it gained strength, and she became less self-conscious of it.

There is also an accomplished violinist, Adrian Anantawan, who bows with a prosthetic “hand” (he calls it a spatula).
There is a better view of his adaptive “spatula” here and footage of him performing here.

If you search violinist and prosthetic you will find other adaptive devices, too for those with no hands.

I am confident something can be worked out with your student.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Beth said: Oct 31, 2011
 
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Viola, Violin
Chittenango, NY
5 posts

Hi, Barb~
Well, you have changed everything! I can’t thank you enough for sending
along the information about Adrian. My little student’s mother will be so
excited to see this, and I have even more hope and ideas than ever. You
are an angel.
With much appreciation,
Beth

On Mon, Oct 31, 2011 at 8:25 PM, SAA Discussion
wrote:

Barb said: Oct 31, 2011
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

You’re very welcome. I hope you also saw the other responses here. It is encouraging to hear Jennifer’s story, and I thought the idea of a different bow such as Irene mentioned might also work. For some reason I didn’t get all responses emailed to me on some of my subscribed topics lately, so I wanted to make sure you got those, too.

I’m glad I remembered him and could find some links for you! I hope you will keep us posted on how things work out.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Lisa said: Nov 1, 2011
Lisa Hollis
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
Dorchester, MA
21 posts

When I was at Northern Arizona University, Karin Hallberg was teaching a little girl who had only two digits on her left hand. She switched the violin and bow hands and was experimenting with devices to allow her to hold her bow with her left hand. This was several years ago and the last I heard the girl was in book 7! You should try contacting Karin at NAU to see if she has advice for you.

Jeremy Chesman said: Nov 3, 2011
Jeremy Chesman
Suzuki Association Member
Organ, Recorder, Voice, Harp
Springfield, MO
24 posts

You might see if you can find an occupational therapist who might be able to devise something. If there’s an OT program in your vicinity at a school, it might be a great project for the students to work on in collaboration with a faculty member.

I saw a harp student at institute this summer who was born without a significant portion of her right brain hemisphere. The first day her exercise was to move her LH thumb. On day two, she had practiced enough so she could do it. The teacher was thrilled, and explained to the rest of us why that was such a big accomplishment. The students mother said that if the only thing she gets out of harp lessons is being able to use the left side of her body, that’s enough. Just keep going back to the beginning and remember every child can, and you’ll find a way to make it work.

Beth said: Nov 3, 2011
 
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Viola, Violin
Chittenango, NY
5 posts

Very well stated! Thanks to everyone for the great ideas and
encouragement. As we get closer to a solution, I will try to keep you
posted on our progress.

On Thu, Nov 3, 2011 at 1:20 PM, SAA Discussion
wrote:

Cynthia Faisst said: Nov 10, 2011
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts

Wow. Where was this conversation when I was working with a student who also had missing fingers. We switched the violin and bow hand. He also was missing an opposable thumb.

This was one of the few times I actually found a use for the Bow Buddies. Don’t be afraid to experiment and slide them on backwards or upside down. What ever works in terms of comfort and control. We added mole skin and elastic headbands where needed to keep the remaining fingers from slipping.

These children should be encouraged to be innovative and continue to refine their own unique solutions.

Ms. Cynthia
Studio:
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

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