Help bow thumb stay bent

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Pam said: Oct 9, 2015
Pam Hatley (Hunter)
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools
San Jose, CA
12 posts

Does anyone have ideas to help students’ bow thumbs stay bent and on the side of the tip?
Some of my students still struggle even tho we’ve put a dot on the side of the tip, keep going back to the pencil, walked around the room seeing how relaxed and natural the hand shape is then putting bent thumb on the crease of the middle finger, hand is a bunny and the “carrot” is fed to the bunny, saying the bow is like a butterfly, touch it softly. They will get a bent thumb but lose it immediately. your thoughts?

Pam

Louise said: Oct 9, 2015
 6 posts

Pam, check out the amazing bow hold teaching tool called Bow Hold Buddies.
Designed by a Suzuki teacher, it addresses exactly the challenges you describe—including directing the thumb tip correctly to the bow, and even the part about having a relaxed hand. The accessory set stabilizes the bow hand, while still allowing for finger flexibility. While best left on a student’s bow over a period of time, even passing one or two accessorized bows around the class may help!

Caitlin Maeline Fahey said: Oct 9, 2015
 
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
San Diego, CA
2 posts

This is a cello perspective, but I have been experimenting lately with a small cork (tapered corks of varying sizes) snuggled into the arch on the thumb side of the hand. We talk often about “keeping the bow tunnels open” and I find that the presence of a physical object there prevents the hand arches from collapsing and therefore the thumb from hyperextending. I like it as a temporary tool to bring awareness to this area and to help the surrounding musculature develop strength in the desired shape.
For children with smaller hands or really tight bow hands, I’ve also been trying out those large triangular makeup sponges since they are malleable and yield a bit when placed in the little thumb pocket. (One of my mothers even crocheted a small cylindrical cushion for her daughter so that it was a custom fit!)
I got the cork idea from Tanya Carey, who sometimes uses it in teaching the bow hand shape for spiccato, but I’ve found that it has nice applications for those who are at the beginning stages of their learning, too. :)

Caitlin Fahey Crow
San Diego Suzuki School of Music
www.crowcello.com

Caitlin Fahey Crow

Rose Lander said: Oct 9, 2015
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
55 posts

hi,
try having the student keep her pinky kneeling on the bow. in that position, it is virtually impossible for the thumb to straighten!
best, rose

Pam said: Oct 10, 2015
Pam Hatley (Hunter)
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools
San Jose, CA
12 posts

Awesome idea! Thank you I’ll try it!!

Blessings,
Pam

Pam

Pam said: Oct 10, 2015
Pam Hatley (Hunter)
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools
San Jose, CA
12 posts

Thank you! All these ideas sound wonderful. I can’t wait to try them out!!:)

Blessings,
Pam

Pam

Elise Winters said: Oct 10, 2015
Elise Winters
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Austin, TX
37 posts

It is easier for the little ones to hold the bow on the thumb pad than on the tip. So it is a natural problem. :)

My beginners do lots of exercises (”flap your wings”) on a pencil, extending the pinky (and allowing the thumb to extend), then re-curving the pinky (and thumb). This replicates the motions of the fingers as the bow is pulled toward the tip and back. They can see their thumb bend on the pencil; the visual feedback is really essential for young children. They practice until they’re no longer “log-rolling” (ending up on the thumb pad). During this process they are literally developing more sensory connections for their fingertips, so they can feel it and no longer need the visual feedback (cool article here).

Once they can “recover” the pinky & thumb curve on the pencil, they are ready to try it on open strings, from middle to tip, on the violin. Each time they return to the middle, they check their pinky & thumb. Once they can do this consistently, they do “rocket bows” (martele) from middle to tip, again checking their pinky & thumb each time they return to the middle. The rapid stroke forces the brain to store the finger movement as an automatic motion (muscle memory).

Most of the corrective devices immobilize the thumb and/or pinky. This isn’t necessary if you have a good preparation process … and it has the down side of preventing the correct thumb/pinky flexibility moving from tip to middle and back, which for me the is the foundational bow skill.

Pam said: Oct 14, 2015
Pam Hatley (Hunter)
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools
San Jose, CA
12 posts

Thank you Elise. This is fabulous information!
I agree with the negative effect of apparatuses.
Your games are sheer genius. I put them in the notes section on my phone :)

Pam

Blessings,
Pam

Pam

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