Review - Bow Hold
This is one of the trickiest elements of cello playing, so have patience!
The fingers are curved and relaxed, not gripping the frog too tightly.
There is a natural space between each finger; they are not squeezed together nor are they forcibly stretched out
The thumb is curved and its tip is touching right where the stick meets the frog (there is a natural “corner” that the thumb sits in)
The pointer finger is bent at the second knuckle and is curving around the stick of the bow. The pointer is your “steering” wheel; it will help the bow stay straight and create volume.
The other fingers (middle, ring, pinky) are just naturally draped over the frog. Don’t overthink their position too much; they are just along for the ride and should stay relaxed.
How to practice: Pencil hold and lift reps
Practice holding a pencil with the bow hold grip. See below:
Make the “C” shape with your hand, fingers spread
Grip the pencil lightly in your fingertips
With your left hand, take the pencil out of your right hand and replace it with the bow.
Put the bow down, relax your hand, and repeat ad nauseum (at least 5-10 times)
Bow Grip reps
Once you’ve practiced the pencil-to-bow exercise 5-10 times (or until you’re ready to quit this class because cello technique is the worst), practice shaping your bow grip directly on the bow.
Hold the stick of the bow in your left hand (contrary to what this picture indicates, it’s not a good idea to touch the bow hair as that can make it rather dirty over time)
Drape your right hand over the frog and carefully make the bow grip. Take your time to make sure that each finger is curved and where it needs to be
Take your right hand off, relax it, and repeat
Once you’re feeling comfortable, try releasing your left hand and just holding the bow with the bow grip. You’ll feel your pinky act as a counterweight to keep the tip from dropping. Do not squeeze! It may feel like you’ll drop it but you won’t, I promise. If it does drop or slip, repeat the exercise above, making sure your fingers are where they need to be.
We practiced long tones, which are long, slow bows on the open strings. This is one of the most fundamentally important exercises we’ll do. If you practice nothing for the next 8 weeks, practice long tones. That’s a joke, please practice everything, but ALWAYS start your routine with these!
Place your bow on the D string. Your bow should be equidistant from the bridge to the fingerboard. Note that your bow will be at the correct angle on the string if you see a cross-hair shape form between the string and the bowhair. See pictures below:
First practice bow glides: Place the bow on the string near its tip. How the bow tip with your left hand. Keeping the bow grip intact, glide your right hand along the stick back and forth. Observe how your right arm needs to move to follow the straight line of the bow stick.
Once you've tried that a few times, now place the bow on the string near its frog. Lean into your index finger so that you feel a little pressure build up between it and the stick.
Pull the bow across the string!
Move with a medium-ish speed, don’t be tentative
Watch that it stays straight - you’ll need to adjust your elbow and wrist as you bow to achieve this.
Apply a little more pressure with the index finger as you move out to the tip. Lighten it back up when you return
Repeat several times. Let your ears be the judge to adjust speed, pressure, location, etc. Feel free to explore with the sound!