Maintaining a bow hold that is flexible yet firm can be quite the trick for a young musician!
Teachers often refer to a ‘play-dough’ hand when they work with little children’s bow holds. “Can you make your hand soft like play-dough while you hold your bow?” Referencing a squishy, familiar substance helps little ones to loosen up their bow holds.
We recently made our own squishy dough, and decided to call it “Bow Dough.”
During our practice sessions, I can pull out the Bow Dough and let my kids knead or play with it for a moment if they are getting tense. I also use Bow Dough to demonstrate what their thumb palm muscle should feel like. If the thumb palm muscle is hard like a rock, I remind them that it should feel soft like Bow Dough.
Here’s how to make Bow Dough:
1 – Dump equal parts hair conditioner and corn starch (I started with 1/4 cup of each) in a bowl. The hair conditioner that we used smells SOOOO good, my kids kept smelling it!
2 – Mix with a spoon or spatula.
3 – Adjust. If the Bow Dough is too crumbly (dry), add some more hair conditioner. If it looks too much like frosting (wet), add some more corn starch.
4 – Knead until it forms a flexible ball.
5 – Add food coloring by forming a nest, dropping two or three drops in, and then kneading further.
Store Bow Dough in a plastic bag in your child’s instrument case. Bow Dough can double as a stress relief ball before a lesson or performance too!