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Holding the nyckelharpa bow

Here is a basic description of how to hold to bow, as described by Matt Fichtenbaum in one of his ANA newsletter columns “Spela Bättre!”.

The shortcut to holding the bow is to have someone show you whose playing you admire. Lacking the near presence of such a person, you can read the following, which describes what I think I do when I hold the bow.

1. Make a circle with the thumb and middle finger, so that the thumb’s tip touches the middle finger at the first (outermost) knuckle. Both thumb and finger should be relaxed, which means naturally bent (yes, it’s difficult to make a circle without bending your fingers).
2. Separate the thumb and finger just enough to fit the bow stick between them. The tip of the thumb should touch both the bow stick and the end of the frog, and the bow hair should rest lightly against the top of your thumb.
3. Let the other fingers drape over the stick, relaxed and natural. Their function, when you play, is to control the bow’s angle and thus its pressure on the string, so their position will adjust to do this.

For more details about holding the bow and bowing, see the page “The right hand & bow” under “Tips > Improve your playing“.