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pain in little finger using german bow

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by mike_odonovan, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. have been bowing a lot lately and have felt a gradual rise from discomfort to pain and swelling in my little finger.

    i think it is the pressure of the weight of the bow being balanced on this finger.

    i am not seeing my teacher for a bit as he is on tour so what am i doing wrong or what should i do? just rest?

    everything else about my bowing seems to be going from strength to strength so this is a real hassle.
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You're maybe clenching the bow? The weight of the bow should be on the strings, not on your pinky. Try playing some just touching the bow with your first finger and thumb ( I have an octagonal stick, this might be a little tough with a round or oval). The other fingers just give you the angle of the frog and some feedback on what the stick is doing -- the way I do it, anyhow.
  3. The second finger holds up the bow; the first finger transfers arm weight along with the thumb.

    The pinkie only determines the slant of the bow; ie if the hair is going to be flat on the strings or angled. If the pinkie is clenching, or otherwise trying to contol too much, you lose flexibility and "gain" pain.

    As Ray suggests, try playing for a while with no pinkie contact, just to "re-group" but I think you should definitely keep the second finger in contact, doing it's job.
  4. LaurenBell


    Aug 10, 2004
    Cincinnati, OH
    I play French bow, but I was becoming very frustrated with my bow technique because I wasn't able to obtain the kind of sound I wanted out of my bass. I became so frustrated I got a German bow to experiment with. I realized how different the bow felt in my hands and how much lighter a touch I had with the German bow, so when I went back to my French bow, I could try to recreate the same feeling, so I guess my suggestion is to try the other type of bow to feel what it's like and try to reproduce that same feeling on your original bow. Hey you never know you might discover you prefer the other one. Each has their benefitd and consequences.
  5. I have rested - took a couple of days off playing. my finger seems to have gone down. i am now playing again but letting my little finger rest in with my ring finger (german bow) and this seems to give it the rest it needs. i also have been going thru the Streicher book one and he seems to advocate putting the middle further forward along the stick than i previously had done. i have now adopted this and it takes more of the weight.

    i had been using the german grip where you hook the thumb over the top that my teacher uses after doing the more Karr like "holding a baby tomato" approach. This i like but Streicher also hooks the index finger over the stick going the other way and this seems to be helping me too.

    any comments?

    anyone going thru the Streicher method?
  6. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I saw a picture of Streicher with his thumb over the bow and did that for a while. It was nice to have a free wrist, but I eventually went back to putting the thumb on the stick a la Gary Karr...cause I liked his reasoning for it and didn't have a good reason not to do it. I worked for a free wrist with the thumb on the stick, finally got it, and now I have the best of both worlds.

    But that's just me.
  7. or me Johnny it was that with my thumb on the stick, the big joint always kind of stiff and awkward. this is probably me just having funny joints (joints are fun!) as i had arthritis in my hands in adolescence.
    anyway i will try going back to this as you said once i have got my wrist action really sorted.

    cheers for your replies
  8. pat.p


    Nov 20, 2004
    Poland, Poznań
    Hello from Poland.
    Although I've never tried the Streicher technique, I think that it is not a good idea. I play German bow and try to keep the bow very lightly. When I feel vibrations of the sound in fingertips- it's ok and enough. And I try to pay attention on the shoulder- it must be suspended (don't draw it up). Then you can use the weight of the shoulder to create huge sound, and don't need to play by any pressure (especially on fingers which are relatively weak).
    Sorry for my English, try to observe russian cellists (how do they use shoulders) and bassists (Rustam Gabdulin- he is a monster).
    Keep bowin'
  9. seeing as someone has taken in this post again i thought i would post an update. basically i went to the streicher thumb over the stick hold for a couple of months and it sorted out any pain in my little finger. i seem to have learned a lot in this time and was able to go back to the more traditional cradle and it is all good now. i think i was neglecting the role of the middle finger which for me supports most of the gravitational weight of the bow. i think i needed to really think of the bow just being stopped from falling to the ground by the hold that the hand has on it rather than gripping it. it is all a learning curve and i think it is really hard to not have some dead ends/pitfalls along the way. thanks for you tips.
  10. oh and although i haven't stayed with striecher hold sometimes seeing how someone elso solves the main physical challenges of playing can give you great insight into finding your own approach. streicher is definitely worth checking out and i found his books a real breath of fresh air in that he didn't say THIS IS THE WAY TO PLAY but more this is how i play - maybe you can learn from it.
  11. AllegroConBasso


    Apr 3, 2005
    I'm not allowed to post here anymore. When I learn not to act like a child, I might be able to return.
  12. AllegroConBasso


    Apr 3, 2005
    The little finger should only keep the bow from moving in any way that is not pependicular. Be careful that the little finger is not tense and that it merely is there as a sense of perpindicular guiding. And maybe a distribution of hair on the bow.
  13. When I switched over to the German hold several years ago I experienced similar pinky discomfort but it went away after I developed more strength. I find that I use the pinky to reduce the weight of the bow on the string for very quiet passages so I can very the amount of bow weight by adjusting the relative pressure of my thumb and pinky. Also it is vital to holding the bow in proper position when it isn't in contact with the string for certain off-the-string things where the bow has to be lifted after the stroke like consecutive up strokes with atack and ring (I don't know what this stroke is called but it came up in Shostakovich 9 recently. One can't do this if the pinky isn't coming up perpendiculur with the bottom of the frog.

  14. hey this thread has kicked off again.

    i don't have the pain anymore and it is pretty much the story that jon relates. i just think i needed to build up strength. i think with such a physical instrument the body does go thru a few tweeks and little discomfort/pain. but obviously not prolonged or severe, otherewise i would really think about what it is that is going wrong.

    oh and my mum said she thinks i broke this finger when i was a kid playing football so that may have something to do with it