sometimes you need puppets

Bow hold.

Two words every string player hates to hear, yet knows is coming.

HandmpuppetThe fact that a cello bow hold is meant to be natural yet due to our bodies feeling insecure, worried that we will drop this delicate (and expensive) bow we overcompensate. We add weird angles. And unhealthy tension.

Enter: hand puppets.

By drawing two simple dots by the 1st finger’s base knuckle and making a fist (with the thumb loosely inside) we now have a fun new partner that encourages us to open up our bow hold, add flexibility to all parts of the hand, and naturally lift the base knuckles which can be in danger of caving and causing the dreaded steak knife bow hold.

I assign students homework of having puppet conversations with their practice parent. Usually they love this, but if for some reason they feel too silly I will ask them questions that require one word answers or even begin by having the puppet blow air kisses.

When I thought about trying this technique I thought it would be good for thumb position only, but the more I use it the more benefits it gives ALL of my student’s bow holds, even advance students have improved their flexibility with their little buddy.

Have you heard of any other funny little games to play with students to work on the dreaded bow hold?


bow holds and coffee cups

Coffee cup

A bow hold is never done, and even professions need reminders now and then to prevent bad habits from creeping in. Check out CelloBello’s video¬†presenting Paul Katz and his philosophy of a flexible bow hold: