Double Jointed-ness

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My fingers and thumbs are double jointed. Not so unusual, but it makes it difficult to hold the violin bow properly and some fingering motions are not as easy as they should be. Until a week ago I was pretty satisfied with my bow hold even though it doesn’t match any of the line drawings in my books, nor does it look like anything I could find on the web. I wasn’t worried about it – I want to play the fiddle, and therefore I will play the fiddle and not be too concerned about what my hands look like while I’m doing it.

Except. Sigh. Some motions are just not as easy as I think they should be. I didn’t come to the fiddle with any preconceived notions, but something just ain’t right here. My right thumb is the main problem (the left thumb to a lesser degree,) and has been from the beginning. Wayne Erbsen says, in big, bold letters, “Your thumb should be bent.” Jim Tolles shows very clearly with line drawings that the bow hand thumb must be bent.

This is the way my right hand wants to hold the bow –

Note the collapsed thumb.

Better view above – the weak pinky doesn’t even want to stay on the stick and the thumb is quite contorted! It seemed to work pretty well, but consistently getting good tone was impossible.

After I made a video in response to Lora of Red Desert Violin on YouTube she sent me a nice note and directed me to this post on her website about exercises to correct double jointed-ness and to this video on the advanced bow hold –

I’ll admit that I’ve watched other videos on holding the fiddle bow, but none of them made as much sense as Lora’s did. Oh, it’s not easy (yet) but I’m working on it every day and this is how I try to hold the bow now –

It’s very easy to slip back to the old way and the reminder is instant – total disintegration of tone! The bow goes crooked and all of a sudden I’m torturing cats again.

Still needs work, but it’s becoming much more natural.

Here’s a link to Sarah Wallin Huff who does a bow hold comparison of some of the violin virtuosos of our time. It’s as much Art as Science, but as Lora says, you have to know the rules before you can break them!

Red Desert Violins

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A Holiday weekend is the perfect time to go surfing about on YouTube. The same videos never seem to come up twice, and you never know where a search will take you, even if you’ve done the very same search many times. It’s incredible, really. So, I was surfing around and ran upon this video from Lora at Red Desert Violin. I really, really want a digital recorder, and the chance to win one was too good to pass up. (The contest is over now but a winner has yet to be announced – cross your fingers for me 🙂

Anyway. Lora was nice enough to comment on my response video (which I’m not linking here because it’s not exactly a work of art and I’m not ready to unveil my playing yet) and direct me to her website and a couple of other very helpful videos, like this one about colle movement exercises –

Which really made the wrist/finger movements make sense to me as a beginner. Lora’s language is accessible for someone who doesn’t speak Classical Violin, yet she never condescends.

If you are an adult beginning violinist (or any other sort of violinist) you need to head over to Red Desert Violin and check out the articles, tutorials and videos. Lora has a wealth of information on the site and she’s so enthusiastic about the violin that it’s contagious.