Well, no matter what crazy antics I’m up to , there’s always room for Cello.
Since I’m not sure if this is going to make it into my book, I thought it might be cool to post some pics here. All of the pictures here exemplify at least 80% of what I ask for in a bow grip. You’ll notice one has their pinky behind the stick, a position I call “Pinky Probation”. I have them place it there because of tension, and especially the kickstand tendency.
If you’re looking at these and wondering what I ask for, here are a few guidelines:
1) Most importantly, a single gesture. A hand that is draped as opposed to a series of maneuvers performed by individual fingers. The bow hand is much, much more than the sum of its parts.
2) A “flat” wrist. Looks different that you thought, eh? At the frog, the wrist does bend upwards a little bit (as if it’s been lassoed and is hanging there). It does this as a function of its flexibility (not floppiness) and also because at the frog, particularly on the A, you need to avoid banging into the side of the cello! The wrist flattens more truly in the middle to the tip of the bow. Keep in mind also that if the top of the arm/wrist is flat, then there will be a little curve on the underside, because we’re built like that.
3) A slightly curved thumb. Some of these students are really bending, and that’s corrective action. I’d rather have a huge bend than a jammed, straightened, hyperextended thumb. To tell the truth, my thumb is constantly moving to accommodate my hand’s comfort. Not a lot, but it is. Think of it like the springs on your car: they’re continually moving with the road. Unless, of course, you’re like one of the people who calls Click and Clack, and have not maintained the car. Then the bow/spring analogy kind of implodes upon itself.
4) A practically useless pinky. Yes, there are exceptions, but if you’re doing a revamp and have had pinky tension issues, don’t practice with an exception in mind.