How to help a stiff bowing wrist

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Emily Anthony said: Jan 13, 2017
 Violin, Viola
Jamestown, RI
10 posts

I would welcome some ideas on how to solve a stiff bowing wrist. The student in question is a 5th grade girl who has studied for a year and a half. She practices on her own with no guidance from a parent so I need a way of getting her to to self-correct. I have loaned her a Bow-Rite but of course she finds it frustrating. I have thought of asking her to play all her simplest songs in the lower half of the bow only, in order to encourage a vertical motion and get away from the horizontal elbow swing that she likes so much. But I don’t think she will do this on her own at home, and I have no other ideas. Is there a way to get her to visualize what she needs to do?

Emily Anthony

Sue Hunt said: Jan 14, 2017
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

Have you tried videoing her in the lesson? This is always a revelation. Then, I think that setting her a choice of straight bow exercises to do BETWEEN practice tasks could do the trick.

One that I like, is marking the bow path on the string with a sharpie and putting markers on the bow. Start with 3, top, bottom and middle. Every time you reach a marker, you check that the bow hair is on the bow path.

It’s also important to do straight bow exercises away from the instrument, so that she can focus on the mechanics without being distracted by the sound. My favourite is balancing an M&M on the back of the bow hand and pretending to be an elevator in a department store. The wrist has to be flexible to stop the sweetie from falling off.

There are a lots more which engage all the senses, in 40 Great Games to Teach Straight Bowing.

Ronda Cole said: Jan 29, 2017
Ronda ColeTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
McLean, VA
11 posts

Without holding either instrument let your arms hang by your side. Then shake your hands floppily around. Continue this while stiffening your thumbs and see what happens to your ability to be relaxed and floppy in your wrist, fingers and arm. If the thumb is stiffened, (whether bent or straight), it will cause the wrist to be stiffened.

Ronda Cole

Edward said: Jan 31, 2017
Edward Obermueller
Suzuki Association Member
Morris Plains, NJ
73 posts

I have several students who have similar issues, so I came up with a way to help kids practice the bendy wrist, called the Candy Bracelet:

You’ll see it’s a three step process, starting in the air, then bowing on the shoulder, then bowing on the string. There is also a video you can send her home with.

Let me know if this helps!

Happy practicing,

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