Right hand thumb problem

Arndis Gunnarsdottir said: Dec 30, 2017
 2 posts

Dear fellow Suzuki parents,

My son is 10 years old and has been playing violin since he was 4. After all these years we are still struggling with the thumb on the bow hand, as he finds it very difficult to keep it relaxed and bent, and has a strong tendency to keep it straight, which inhibits free movement of the bow-hand, reduces the agility and is affecting his playing at this level.

Do you have any secret tricks to practicing the soft thumb, or good excercises, other than just reminding him every 2 seconds to relax the thumb, because that’s how long it takes for him to straighten out the thumb after me reminding him to keep it bent, which is just frustrating for the both of us.

Thank you!

Sarah Cote said: Dec 31, 2017
Sarah Cote
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Nashville, TN
11 posts

In my studio, we pass a tiny hat back and forth on the tips of our bows. The game is:. Could you please pass the hat? Every time it is passed, we check the thumb.
With a ten year old, I would also practice making jellyfish motions with the hand. 1. While not holding the bow. 2. While holding the bow upright. (Tip pointing to the ceiling) 3. While bowing on the string, tiny bows, traveling from frog to tip. 4. Reviewing perpetual motion, singles then doubles. I would do this work as “random acts of jellyfish” throughout the day, without the bow, during school, etc etc.

Sarah Cote

Lois Reiter said: Jan 5, 2018
Lois Reiter
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Gatesville, TX
13 posts

It’s important to know one of the main reasons for this is that our hands want to do the same thing. If you try to hold your hands in the air in front of you and have one thumb be soft and relaxed (left hand) and the other bumpy you’ll see what I’m talking about.

For younger students I do challenges, a favorite being first note, last note challenge with something like 30 songs, no more than 3 a day (to build the habit). I have a box of challenge prizes. For a 10 yr. old I might make a deal for their favorite candy bar. The prize doesn’t matter. The goal is to build a habit and have them watching for it and trying to keep it to the end of the piece.

Hope this helps.

Edward said: Feb 9, 2018
Edward Obermueller
Suzuki Association Member
Morris Plains, NJ
73 posts

See these practice tips, and have your son try them:

Thumb Vacation

The Water Hose

The first one addresses the left thumb, which is one way to get at the right thumb, through cross-body sympathy. The second one involves actually taking the right thumb away from the bow, really an interesting technique.

Hope these help.

Happy practicing,

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Free Game: Leprechaun Practice System --> Works for online teaching!

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