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One of the best supplements for a beginner violin student is a pinky holder. I used one as a kid, and I have seen them help my own students time and time again!
In case you don’t know, a pinky holder is a device you slide on your bow that provides a secure spot for your pinky to rest. For beginners, it is so easy for your pinky to just slip off the top of the bow stick, as there is not much friction to hold your pinky in place. Plus, most pinkies are quite small at the tip of the finger, making placement of the pinky even more precarious.
This makes the pinky holder an amazing aid, sort of like training wheels on a bike! And there are many pinky holders out there to choose from. Let’s take a look at which ones have the best design for correct violin technique!
My favorite: the PinkyHold
I was so excited when I first saw these pinky rests! Finally, an inexpensive and well-designed violin pinky holder had hit the market.
Notice how my pinky is in exactly the same spot in both pictures (right above the dot of the frog). Thus, the PinkyHold (if fitted correctly) places the pinky perfectly on the bow. This enables beginners to grow accustomed to the feel of a proper bow hold with ease. Unfortunately, some pinky holders do not slide this far onto the bow, which can result in students learning an incorrect bow hold. The pinky holder I was given as a kid had this exact problem, and sadly, I eventually needed to correct my bow hold!
I also think the price of this holder is great at around $5. However, the only downside is that you do need to pay for shipping in most cases, which can make it less cost-effective.
Here’s where you can buy the PinkyHold. Of course, it’s always great when products come in a variety of colors!
Runner up: the Hold Fish pinky holder
Next up is the Hold Fish. As you might guess, this one is shaped like a fish! Kind of cute, and definitely likely to be fun for kids.
Like the PinkyHold, you just need to make sure this holder is pushed on enough that the pinky sits directly above the dot of the frog.
Overall, the Hold Fish has the same function as the PinkyHold – it keeps your pinky in the right place. The biggest drawback is that it’s a bit pricey. It’s also not quite as streamlined as the PinkyHold but, again, the fish design does make it fun for kids!
You can check out the Hold Fish here on Amazon. It also comes in different colors!
How to place a pinky holder on the bow
After acquiring a violin pinky holder, it is important to learn to place it properly. If the pinky holder is incorrectly positioned, your pinky will be, too! (Important: For instructions on how to position your entire bow hand, check out this article.)
As I have already mentioned, you want to place the pinky holder to position your pinky directly above the dot of the frog (see pictures). For the bow pictured, the pinky holder is positioned correctly when it is slid on as far as it will go. While not everyone’s pinky finger will need to sit exactly in this spot, it is a great starting point. For example, due to their larger hands, men sometimes need to place their pinky slightly more towards the screw. As always, it is crucial to work with a private teacher to determine what is the best technique for you specifically.
Additionally, you’ll want to make sure the pinky holder is placed so that its hole is directly on top of the bow stick, not off to the side.
Who should consider buying a pinky holder?
After reading all of this about how wonderful pinky holders can be for beginner violin learners, you might be wondering if you need one yourself!
The truth is, I don’t always recommend pinky holders. I will usually try to see if a student can learn the bow hold without one. But if they are really struggling to keep the pinky on the bow, I will often encourage the parent/student to buy the PinkyHold. This is usually the case with younger children, who have less focus and strength in their hands. In their case, pinky holders are lifesavers!
However, I can’t say that having a pinky holder is ever a bad thing in the beginning. No matter your age, it is likely to be a great learning aid and support. Eventually, you’ll be holding your bow so naturally that you’ll be able to take it off, just like with training wheels. The bow hold is a very hard thing to learn correctly, so anything that makes the process simpler is a huge relief!
In addition to beginner students, pinky holders can be a great help for anyone struggling with maintaining a proper bow hold. So many of my mid-level students still need to work on their bow hand pinkies. They often struggle to fix their pinky position because it requires continual correction and focus. If you are one of these people, please know that a pinky holder can be a game changer! You likely won’t need it for long, and it will serve as a constant reminder to maintain the new position.
Violin pinky holders are arguably one of the most crucial practice aids out there. I hope this article has served to provide you with a good resource for the different types of holders, as well as an idea of whether or not one is right for you.
Do you have experience with pinky holders? What are your pinky difficulties? Let me know in the comments below, and happy violining!