How to hold a violin bow

Knowing how to properly hold a violin bow is essential to produce a beautiful sound from your violin that is in tune. When placed on and across the strings, the bow is directs the type of sound through speed and varying degrees of pressure on the strings. In order to achieve the desired sound, a relaxed bow hold is important to keep in mind.

Practice violin bow hold without the bow

This may seem strange at first, but practicing your violin bow hold without the  actual bow will help mold your fingers.

  • Hold your right hand sideways. Your thumb will face left.
  • Curl your fingers and thumb toward each other so that the tip of your thumb meets the tips of your two middle fingers. Allow your index finger and pinkie to follow the natural curve of your hand.
  • Turn your hand and wrist 90 degrees to the left without disrupting the curved position of your fingers. Keep the wrist flat.

Practice violin bow hold with the bow

  • With your right hand, hold the bow horizontally with the tip pointing to the right and the bottom, or frog, pointing toward the left.
  • Place your left thumb in the frog, between the hairs and the stick. The tip of your thumb should be on the stick.
  • Curve your two middle fingers on the stick, close to the first joints of both fingers. Let your middle fingers curve over the stick toward the thumb, almost touching.
  • Place your index finger on the stick, curved slightly. Place a curved pinkie finger on the wood of the stick so that only the tip of your pinkie touches the stick.

Violin bow: getting a feel

  • Move your arm from the elbow only and “airbow” by drawing the bow across the front of your body as if you were playing an invisible violin. Keep the wrist flat and fingers curved with each bow stroke up and down. When you are completely comfortable with this movement, it should merely feel like an extension of your arm.

This is an excellent video by violinist Pete Cooper, demonstrating how to hold a violin bow:

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