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How to Move Your Hand and Fingers while Bowing

Zlata Brouwer

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Published: January 15, 2015 at 10:06 AM [UTC]

In this episode we answer a question from viewer Sarah:
Hi, I am realizing that to bow straight, your wrist, fingers and arm do things as you bow from tip to frog and visa versa. On most videos, you don’t get to see what the hand is doing - especially when the bow is at the tip. Do you have a video addressing what your fingers and hand are supposed to do? What are the bowing ‘postures’?

Nope, I didn’t have this video, but here it is! However, I have posted a video entitled "How To (and should you) Bow Straight on the Violin or Viola?” It might be very useful to watch that video in addition to this video.

In this video I will dive right into the movement of your hand and fingers while bowing straight.

There are two movements you make while bowing and in the video I show you why it’s necessary to make these movements.

Your wrist and lower arm make a round shape when you move from the left to the right and back. You draw a circle.

As we want the bow to go straight to produce a good sound, we need to compensate this round movement into a straight movement.

This is exactly the same we do when we throw a ball in a straight line. The movement is more natural than you might think. Just analyze the movement of your wrist and fingers when you throw away a ball in one direction to understand what is going on.

When you don’t move your wrist and fingers, the ball will not go straight, but will make a circle and end up behind you. When we would bow in this way, your bow will go all over the place and you will produce an ugly sound.

Now.... what does this mean in practice:

The first movement:

When you bow at the frog your fingers are round like a claw. When you bow to the tip, your fingers will stretch and in some cases your pinky will leave the bow. However, don’t straighten your fingers all the way, because they will lock and going up bow will be difficult. There will be a little shock in your bowing.

Up bow: bend your fingers

Down bow: stretch your fingers

The second movement:

In the video I show you the ‘window wiper’ exercise in which you train the movement from pinky to index finger.

At the frog your pinky does a lot of work.

At the tip your index finger does a lot of work.

Practice this very slowly with the whole bow. In this way you can control the movement and analyze what your are doing. 

This is just one of many exercises to improve your bowing technique.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

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