I just started playing the violin a few days ago. I looked at a few videos here an there before and after my first violin lesson, and of course, the spider exercises came up a few times (including during the lesson).

After practicing it on my own a few times, I noticed I can't seem to slide my thumb down the bow (when going against gravity) if it touches the bow too much.

From what I understand, when holding the bow, only the very tip of the thumb should be touching the bow. Unless I do the same thing in the spider exercises, the friction won't let me slide down my thumb. If the thumb slides just a tiny bit inwards, the friction is too strong.

Didn't really see a reference to this point anywhere. Should I be able to do it even if it's not just the very tip of the thumb touching? Or do I just need to make sure my thumb doesn't slide a little bit inwards?

1 Answer 1


The main point of the exercise is that you are working on keeping the thumb in a curved position, not having the first knuckle lock inwards, which makes the thumb muscle engaged.

Understanding why the exercise is used will be more helpful to you than mastering the exercise itself.

Ultimately what you are working towards in your bow hold is to have the hand nearly completely relaxed, with little to no muscle engagement throughout the hand, and the weight of the hand laying against the first finger, with no pressure from the back fingers.

One of the most common events when learning the bow is that the thumb clicks inward and presses against the stick, especially on the extension when playing to the tip. The thumb then stays engaged with pressure on the stick on the return stroke, and the back fingers automatically press against the stick towards the thumb.

If muscles are engaged in the hand, this creates stiffness in the wrist, making it harder to learn to keep the wrist flexible and relaxed. Getting the wrist to disengage and stay relaxed is one of the main challenges in bow technique, as we automatically lock up our wrist when grasping things.

  • Curved? do you mean away from the bow (like when you give a "thumbs up") or just a little bit bent towards the bow, just not too much to cause tension? (And of course, thank you!) Commented Aug 4, 2017 at 7:23
  • 1
    curved as it is if you touch the side of your first finger to make an "O" shape, or an "OK" sign with your hand. Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 3:25

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