Adrian Anantawan is an accomplished violinist, an educator, and an advocate for musicians with disabilities. I talked with him to learn more about his bow adaptation, which he calls a spatula.
At first glance, the adaptation does not look complicated, and that is intentional. Adrian encourages beginning violinists to start with something simple. The spatula is very light, which allows Adrian to use his own arm weight and sensitivity to press down on a string. “The natural weight of the arm is enough to create a strong sound,” Adrian said. If the adaptation is too heavy, it pushes down on the bow hair too much. Adrian’s spatula places his arm directly over the bow, which gives him the greatest amount of control.
Adrian can use about two-thirds of the bow as he moves it with a sawing motion that begins in his shoulder. His bow traces an arc on the strings. Although Adrian does not have a wrist and therefore cannot make wrist movements like typical violinists, he uses his bowing style to his advantage to explore tone colors.
Adrian’s spatula was originally made with a plastic cast and the rubber part of a shoe. An engineer at the Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto created a metal piece to hold the spatula. After unscrewing the end of the bow, they slipped on the metal tube. The tube is light and durable, as it is made of aircraft grade aluminum. This adaptation was created in AutoCAD, and you can access the file here: Bow Holder File
Adrian was quick to note that while the spatula works well for him, every person is unique. If someone has a shorter or longer arm, the best adaptation for them might look a little different. Regardless of the individual, the adaptation that is best is the one that gives the player the most control and freedom.
Thanks, Adrian, for sharing your bow adaptation!