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Bow Set-Up

All bows are marked with quarter marks outlining four sections of the bow. This sets a visual geography for the bow to be used lifelong. Violinists and violists have a pinky house fitted before beginning with the bow to help with the correct placement of the pinky finger.
In the beginning, using a pencil rather than a bow will enable the students to see the finger relationships clearly. Encourage the students to make a circle with the right hand thumb and middle finger, and then relax the other fingers over the pencil.  Check the thumb for flexibility. (This will be checked for years to come.) Tap the fingers individually and in varying groups to maintain relaxation.
Violinists and violists will rest their pinky on the top of the pencil.
Cellists and double bassists will let their pinky rest over the stick. 

Bow games establish correct and free bow arm motions. Moving the bow through space before attempting to create a sound on the instrument develops free and relaxed motions.  Children love to play the Rocket Ship, Pinocchio, Unicorn, Stir the Soup, Windshield Wipers, and any other motions you can dream up!

Shoulder Bowing with Kodaly Syllables

Clip Title:

Preparing the Bow Position


Shoulder Bowing and Bow Games




Toilet paper tubes aid in establishing the correct bow motion with a minimum of noise and maximum results!  Students can hold the tubes with their left hands while moving the bow through the tube with their right hands. 

Violinists and violists can hold the tubes on their left shoulders or slightly in front of their bodies.  To begin, they will use the upper half of the bow (middle to tip) isolating the forearm motion while the upper arm stays relaxed and quiet.  They can take turns with partners gently touching the elbow of alternate players observing that the upper arm remains still. 

Cellists and double bassists will hold the tubes in front of themselves, approximately where the bow will track when they hold their instruments. They will start near the frog of the bow (the 2nd quarter of the bow - Tape 1), again isolating the forearm motion.

Rhythms will be taught using Kodaly Syllables or words.

Twinkle Rhythms

Tiri Tiri Ti Ti
Ti Tiri Ti Tiri or Grasshopper Grasshopper
Tiri Tiri Tiri Tiri or Mississippi is a River
Ti Ti Bend Ti

Violin / Viola
Cello / Double Bass
  • UH using forearm (Tape 2 to tip)
  • Tape 1 to Tape 3 using the forearm

First have the children say and sing the rhythms using the Kodaly Syllables or words. Then  play the rhythms with the bows in the toilet paper tubes.  Circulate amongst the children, adjusting their positions and assisting them with correct bowing motions.

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