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How to Bow Comfortably and Fluently (with Arthritis or Fibromyalgia) | Violin & Viola TV #205

Zlata Brouwer

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Published: October 27, 2015 at 3:56 PM [UTC]

In this video I will give some advice to one of our viewers based on the photo’s he sent me.

First a little disclaimer: I’m just a humble fiddler and not a doctor. This is general advice, not specific advice for your individual situation. If your doctor tells you otherwise or if your body tells you otherwise, feel free to not follow my advice.

Taran writes...

Hi Zlata! I've been watching your videos on youtube and have found them very helpful. I got my violin back in December and have been playing for about 4 weeks now.

Do you have any tips or advice on playing comfortably for people with arthritis? I've heard many people say that your bowing hand should feel relaxed and not feel tight or strained, but with the arthritis in my wrist, it's hard to pinpoint whether the pain is coming from my playing something incorrectly or if it's another factor (which can even include the weather!).

I want to make sure I'm not developing any bad habits early and want to catch them before I get too set into my ways. Thank you in advance for your help!

Kindest Regards,

Taran J Hook

Please watch the video to see a couple of shots of Taran’s playing. In this you see that the bow hand looks quite tensed with straight fingers. Probably (correct me if I’m wrong) he holds the same position and doesn’t move his wrist or fingers while bowing.

I think you can work a lot on bow ‘hold’, movement and relaxation... the souplesse of your bowing. This is something every beginners needs to work on. Certainly adults want to do too much, with too much tension and with a fixated hold. The bowing is stiff. This can be heard in your sound, but can also cause injury.

The bow hold that is optimal for your sound and playing technique, is a very strange hold. If you do this in a tensed way, your muscles can’t do it very long. Every beginner, certainly if you have arthritis or fibromyalgia, should work on the movement in the bow hold instead of focussing on keeping a strained hold.

In the video I demonstrate the effortless movement of using your wrist and fingers as a spring system. Violin playing shouldn’t cost a lot of effort in a short time. It should be refined, fluent and relaxed. In the end of the video I show you a jellyfish exercise.

What I notice is that Taran pivots the bow with the hair in the direction of the scroll (see video). If you pivot the bow, the hair should face the bridge and not the scroll. Otherwise you will unnecessarily strain your wrist.

I hope these tips will help all beginners, but specially those who have something like arthritis.

I think playing the violin is possible in a lot of cases, even if it’s just 10 minutes in a row.

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 & Viola TV episode to answering your question!

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