Cello Left Hand

Anne Brennand said: Dec 6, 2016
Anne Brennand
Suzuki Association Member
Cello, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Boulder, CO
55 posts

Hi cello teachers. Can you help me with a little cellist’s tension problem? He is growing strong and adept at curved fingers on tapes, with curvy thumb. However when he focuses on that, the fingers on the D string pull that string toward the A string. When I ask him to release his thumb from the cello, the fingers stop that pulling, but as soon as the thumb is back on the neck, there is the same squeezing of the string.

I’ve tried Woodpecker finger motions, playing one thing each day with thumb off the cello, stopping to notice the pulling with the fingers—I’m at a loss for more ideas. —Anne

Anne Brennand, cellist and cello teacher

Will Hayes said: Dec 8, 2016
Will Hayes
Suzuki Association Member
Cello, Bass, Viola, Violin
Mechanicville, NY
1 posts

Have you tried taping a green grape on the left thumb and playing without making grape juice? Feel the grape as you play, but don’t squeeze it.

Will Hayes
(518) 242-0561
[javascript protected email address]

Carey Cheney said: Dec 8, 2016
Carey CheneyTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Salt Lake City, UT
10 posts

Hi there! I think it is incredibly helpful to have right from the start shifting activities that help to train the sensation that it is in fact the left arm/wing that is responsible for depressing the strings all the way to the fingerboard. So use of half-string harmonics or other harmonics in simple substitution exercises or perhaps in Pre-Twinkle, just bowing the open strings with each Twinkle rhythm at the half string harmonic can be a helpful start. I also am vigilant that the left thumb is soft and curved, placed on its tip under the A string side of the neck to aid impossible squeezing, as well as focus on the bow rather than any looking at the left hand (exacerbates squeezing because left wing drops when child turns to look at fingers.) A simplified adaptation of Carey Beth Hockett’s Countdown using just first position fourth finger on D alternating with the G string half string harmonic could also be a helpful “focuser” on the sensation of using the wing to play with the left hand rather than individually placing fingers on a single string. You could invent your own shifting activities that might be wonderful warm-ups to install a feeling of connection to the left wing and of course, the back.

Dr. Carey Cheney
SAA Registered Cello Teacher Trainer

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