The Two Finger Bow Straightener

As a teacher, I think it's incredibly important to be open-minded: inspiration can come from anywhere!  One concept I've struggled to communicate to students is how to play with a straight bow.  Playing with a straight bow is critical to bow control: if the bow wanders up and down the string, it's impossible to play with an even tone!  I've tried many methods to get my students to play with a straight bow, with limited success.

Recently, my youngest student, Cami, came in to her lesson and sounded great!  Her bow was moving parallel to the bridge and she was getting an excellent sound.  I asked her Dad, Keith, what had changed.  He told me that his father, who is an amateur violinist, told him that getting the correct bow angle on the string was difficult for him. 

Keith came up with a brilliantly simple method of getting Cami to play with a straight bow: while she's practicing, he holds two fingers up (like a football goal post) near the left rib of the violin.  The only way Cami can play without hitting his fingers is to play with a straight bow!  Genius!  I joke with Keith that his method is patent-pending, but feel free to steal it! 

This device accomplishes bow straightening as well, but my hunch is that it's not nearly as fun as having a friend/parent helping you out!

My students and their insights teach me something about learning the violin/viola on a regular basis, but it's great to know I can learn from a parent too!   

Any other teachers out there that had an "A-HA!" moment from a teacher/student or an unusual source?