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Cello Lessons: Right Hand Bow Hold (Intermediate)

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The important thing to keep in mind
with your bow hold is to stay flexible.
It's gonna be changing all the time
depending on where in the bow you are or
what string you are or
if you're playing fast or slow.
So the important thing is to not
feel like there's one bow hold.
However, I do wanna talk to you
about some good defaults to have so
that we always have good
habits to build on.
We do want to put the thumb where
the frog meets the stick of the bow.
And it is important to
keep the thumb bent so
that it has some flexibility,
so that it has some give.
If you keep your thumb straight,
then what you're effectively doing
is actually just pushing the bow
away from the hand with the thumb.
And when you do that while
the bow is on the string,
what that means is that you're actually
pushing your arm away from the cello.
And basically any arm weight that you have
you want it to go into the cello, and
if you keep your thumb straight it will
prevent it from reaching the cello.
So with a bent thumb that'll bring
the bow closer into our hand.
And we wanna have natural
relaxed finger spacing.
It's common for people to try and
extend the first finger forward with
the idea that you can press just a little
extra bit to get a little harder sound.
But again, whenever you press
on the bow with the finger,
what you're really doing is
pushing the arm away, and
so it's gonna prevent your arm weight
from getting fully into the string.
The pinky placement is also
something that can change.
Often times I'll actually play
with my pinky on top of the stick
when I'm doing a lot of stuff at the frog.
Maybe with a lot of bow changes, or
when I'm chopping, even sometimes.
[SOUND] If you put the pinky
on top of the stick,
that changes the balance.
And instead of the tip
feeling like it's gonna fall,
it keeps the bow balance
a little more stable.
However, I don't really ever do that
if I'm playing towards the tip, because
that way you get all your arm weight into
the cello by keeping your pinkie down.
Depending on whether you're
playing really rich,
melodic music with a thick sound or
sort of a wispier, more sensitive sound.
That might change how
low your knuckles are.
If I'm trying to project and
I have a slow melody with which to play
I'm gonna keep my knuckles really flat so
that I'm really sinking all of
my arm weight into the cello.
However, if I want a lighter sound,
or if I'm playing faster,
I might actually come up a little bit and
let the bow kind of hang from
my fingers a little bit.
I'm literally holding my arm weight so
that not all my arm
weight goes in the cello.
If you want lift in your sound,
you have to literally lift
a little bit of your arm weight.
Because if all of your arm weight is
in the cello, is going into your sound,
it's going to be very, very loud.
That being said you want not
lifting to be your default.
You don't want to practice lifting
because that holding, that tension,
that is required is something you
want to be able to turn on and off.
So that's why we want our default
to be with a low knuckle so
we're really getting a lot of
arm length into the cello.
As we pull a really long bow from the frog
to the tip we're gonna need to pronate.
Remember, pronating is when
I'm angling my arm in.
And that is gonna send all of
my arm weight into the cello.
Watch the angle of my hand,
when I'm at the frog I'm gonna be
kind of square with the bow stick.
And as I go to the tip,
I'm gonna start to angle in.
Pronation is a key to playing with a full
sound and
sustaining all the way to the tip.
If by chance you look in the mirror and
your hand looks kind of like this,
this is called supanation.
And this will not help us do, well pretty
much anything that I can think of,
because what it's doing is it's
sending all of our arm weight out,
away from the instrument and you're gonna
lose a lot of finger flexibility and
you're not gonna have as much control
over your bow as you would like.