How to hold the bouzouki

Welcome to the first video in the Bouzouki Blog. In this short but important lesson we’ll be going over how to hold the bouzouki. Since the bouzouki has a bowl shaped back it can be quite tricky to hold without it moving around everywhere as we play. Holding the bouzouki properly will allow you to play with more ease and with a relaxed, natural posture. Playing with an effortless and efficient technique allows us not only to avoid injury but also to focus our attention on the music so that we can play more freely and expressively.

Although it may seem like an impossible task in the beginning, by following a few principles, you will be able to hold a bouzouki comfortably.

First, adjust your seat height so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees and your hips should be at about the same height from the ground. If you don’t have an adjustable seat then you can simply use a cushion. Having your seat at the wrong height will make holding the bouzouki much more difficult.

Second, place the bouzouki on your right leg with the bowl of the instrument touching your torso.

Next, hold your left hand out in front of you in a “hand shake” position and place the neck instrument on your left hand just in front of the base knuckle of your first finger. Make sure that your arms and shoulders are relaxed and your elbows are hanging (i.e. not held out to the sides).

Now, find the balance point

In this position, find the balance point where the instrument will safely sit on your right leg and left hand without having to keep it in place it with your hands.

The bouzouki should be angled with the neck pointing diagonally forward (not sideways). So, your left hand should be above your left knee.

From this position, the left thumb simply rests on top of the neck. Be sure to keep a gap between the neck and the crook of the left thumb joint.

The right forearm rests lightly against the side of the body of the instrument. Too much pressure from the right arm will cause the bowl to slide of your leg so make sure to only use minimal pressure.

Now, it will take a little time to get used to it so be patient and keep checking on your playing position regularly. With some practice it will become second nature and you can focus on making music.

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