Friday, April 5, 2013

How To Adapt a Cello Bow For Disabled Cellists

A little while ago I posted Adaptability Trumps Disability about how I adapted my bow to make it easier to hold. I have weak muscles in my hand and I kept dropping my bow, until I figured out how to adapt. This morning I received an email from a cellist who has a disability. She wanted to know how to adapt her bow, so here goes…

What you need before you start:

2 orthodontic pacifiers
Instrument polish, or furniture polish
Cotton swabs
A clean rag.

1. Purchase 2 orthodontic pacifiers. The orthodontic shape is what makes this adaptation work. For a cello bow I use the 6 months and older size. Make sure you use cash. If you use a credit card you will receive an assortment of coupons for your new baby and several parenting magazines. Ah, the joys of modern living and data mining.

2. Take the screw out of the end of your bow. It comes all the way out.

Remove the frog from the slot. Be careful not to touch the horsehair or get it tangled. Set your disassembled bow aside.

Cut the silicone part off the pacifiers. Trim any rough edges.

Cut a small hole in the top part of each pacifier. You want that bump for your thumb rest, so don't cut through it. Pinch the top of the pacifier and make a small snip. This can be tricky. Here is where you want to cut.

Test to see if your hole is large enough to put your bow through. Adjust the size until it fits.

Line up your pacifiers together like this. Cut sides together.


Starting with the left pacifier part... Dip your cotton swab in polish. Polish the inside of the silicone piece.

Polish the bow stick. Do not get polish anywhere near your bow hair.

Thread the bow through the hole you cut into the top of the pacifier, then through the larger hole in the bottom. 

Slide the silicone piece on your bow all the way up to the winding.

Repeat with the other pacifier part.

Wipe your bow clean.

Reassemble your bow by putting the frog in the slot and putting the screw back in place. Tighten your bow.

Slide both parts of your bow holder down toward your frog. Carefully wipe away any remaining polish.

Hold your bow. Adjust the fit.

Go practice because practicing makes you happy!

I hope this helps. If the silicone is too mushy, you may have to try a cheaper brand. Unlike a baby, we want a stiff pacifier, so you may have to experiment with different brands. You can slide your thumb adapter higher on the stick if it makes your hand more comfortable. Remember, adaptability trumps disability. Always. And remember to practice because cellos are the best. Here's proof:

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I am not a doctor. I do not have a medical degree. Nothing on this site qualifies as medical advice. These are lessons I'm learning at the University of Catastrophe. What I find to be correct answers in my classes may not be the right answers for you.

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