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Cello Lessons: Minimal Bow Hold

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The bow hold is probably
the most complicated thing
about playing a string instrument.
There's so many different ways that your
fingers can actually get in the way and
do damage to your technique.
I remember spending a few years in
high school being secretly proud
of how far my first finger was extended,
and how strong I could push
down with just my first finger.
But, now in my older age,
I've appreciated the importance
of really just letting your arm weight
sink into the cello as much as possible.
So, the more your fingers push up,
the more you're simply pushing your
arm away from the instrument and
compromising all of the sound
potential of your arm weight.
So, I like to practice what
I call the Minimal Bow Hold,
and basically I'm gonna let the string
of the instrument hold the bow up.
And I can do this by
only using two fingers,
my first index finger and the thumb.
My other fingers are not
even going to touch the bow,
because frankly they're not necessary.
If I let the cello hold the bow up,
then all I really have to do
is keep the bow from falling.
And so my fingers, the thumb and
the index finger are simply gonna guide
the bow to keep it on the string.
And I'm going to play a scale.
I'm gonna play the E major scale
with only two fingers on the bow.
What this is gonna require
is all of my arm weight
getting directed through the fingers.
The fingers can't squeeze,
they can't push, they can't lift.
All they can do is keep
from dropping the bow.
As I'm doing this, I can already
feel my arm weight sinking into this
string because there's
nothing getting in its way.
You can actually do a lot
with just two fingers.
The fingers are not required for
power in your bow sound.
They're required for sort of like
subtle quick nimble little things, but
you want your arm weight
to be creating the sound.
And so I would recommend exploring
this feeling of only using two fingers
with the bow and letting the other fingers
just kind of naturally hang out there.
And that will really show
you how useless they are and
how much you can focus on directing
your arm weight into the bow.