Arm Hold in Violin Bowing: do you deserve a slap on the wrist? | Violin Lounge TV #384

by | Sep 30, 2020 | Bowing Technique | 12 comments

Should your wrist be straight when playing the violin?

Or is there a way to a better sound and more freedom of movement?

“Elbow up! Wrist down!”

I guess a lot of violin students have heard this from their teacher.

If you’re a bit further you might have heard about the Galamian square.

Must we maintain this square with a straight wrist at all times in our violin bow arm?

Somewhere online I saw a discussion about whether to hold your wrist straight in violin playing. Quite fired up… as discussions online always tend to be, haha! One person said that it’s impossible to play with your wrist up and that his violin teacher used to slap his wrist with her bow when he did that. Another person argued that the straight wrist could be too stiff and you can’t bow freely and fluently with a rigid hold.

Well, the answer is a bit (as often) in the middle.

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Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.

In the video above I show you examples of how you can get more freedom of movement and beautiful dynamics by dropping your elbow a bit.

How is this for you?

Do you hold your wrist straight or a bit up?

What difference do you notice in your sound when making changes to this? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Kerry

    I had to quickly look at the video I just sent you to see where my wrist is relative to my arm (if I deserve a wrist slap, so be it!). I’ll try and notice this during my practice later on today.

      • Elena

        Thank you, will check my right wrist and arm.
        As to the left arm and wrist, how straight does it need to be? My teacher wants it straight and I ordered a “wrist aide” but sometimes keeping the wrist straight doesn’t feel natural or hurts. I play viola.

  2. Dixie Oswald

    Love photos of your darlings. Enjoy hearing them in background of some of your tapes. I really appreciate the lessons. Just need to practice more.

  3. Rand Lyons

    Maestro Jacques Thibaud used to play with the scroll down leaning to the left with his shoulder, arm and wrist bent high ( and with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and the ashes falling into the sound hole ). Of course we would not assume to council this fellow on how to hold the violin but it’s good for us newbies to see all of the proposals with the explanations as of why. As for the slap, well you just slap me darlin, (all due respect to your loving hubba of course).

  4. Lawrence Young

    Thank you! Very well explained – as always!

  5. Suzanne

    This is a very helpful video. I just found your website yesterday and am exploring it today. I started playing the violin about a year ago using Suzuki. I am improving for sure but still need to work on my bowing. Thanks for this video.


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