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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hand Position Week (aka Bow Hold Week)

This week we will celebrate our hand positions on the instrument. I usually call this bow hold week, but bow holds only apply to stringed instruments. For other instruments, the hand placement plays an important role in how well the student can play the instrument. So, I have changed the nomenclature to "hand position week."

If your child plays a stringed instrument, focus this week on how well your child holds the bow. Make sure the finger placement is correct and that there is no unnecessary tension in the bow hold. I say "unnecessary" because with stringed instruments it is important to maintain a strong thumb and to keep the thumb active and engaged rather than "turned off." Every finger placement is important; incorrect placement of one finger may lead to a deterioration of the bow hold in general.

Once you make the necessary corrections and stay on top of this, you will probably also notice a marked improvement in the student's sound and playing in general. Messy bowings or uneven tone production will usually clean up because the student is now able to maintain a straight bow and make the proper contact between the bow and the string.

For pianists, proper hand placement will include the curvature of the fingers. Many students today have double-jointed knuckles, and it is imperative to encourage the students to maintain a rounded, "natural" hand placement. This task also includes watching the angle of the wrist, elbow, and shoulders to the instrument.

Because we work to build good posture habits, I find that we can practice building a habit by holding the proper position for a certain length of time. I have a little egg timer sand "hour" glass that measures the span of one minute. My students will practice a good bow hold while we watch the egg timer measure out the one minute. Sometimes my students ask to do this for two minutes. Just imagine how easy this habit would be if the parents had the students practice this one minute bow hold or curved hand position several times a day.

I find that if I periodically announce such special focus items, such as hand position week, that my parents do a better job of being vigilant at home. I hope that you will have an opportunity to join us in the week's focus.

Happy Hand Position Week!

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