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Cello Lessons: String Changing Exercise: At the Frog

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A big part of increasing our technique on
the cello is learning
which muscles to use when.
We wanna use big muscles for long,
big strokes, like a full bow.
But for small movements,
we want to use small muscles.
So when we're changing
strings right at the frog,
we actually want to do this almost
completely with the fingers.
We don't want to use the arm,
necessarily, right at the frog.
So one exercise we can do and
work on to develop this,
is gonna require us to put our
pinkie on top of the frog.
And I'm just gonna do a series of down and
up bows to work on changing the string
between C string and G string.
So I'm gonna go down
[SOUND] on the C string and
then up [SOUND] on the G string.
I'm going to push the pinkie so
the bow goes back to the C string.
And I'll do another down [SOUND] and
then up [SOUND].
What you don't want to do actually is
hold the bow too tightly in the air.
Every time you go to a new string you
want to release the weight of the bow.
So I think of it like a
down, rest, up, rest, down, rest, up,
rest, down, rest, up,
rest, down, rest, up, rest.
So I'm not engaging my arm at all.
I'm really trying to do
this all with the fingers.
You can practice this on each
pair of open strings, and
it's gonna require a slightly different
angle of adjustment from the arm.
On the A and D string,
it would look like this.
Down, rest, up, rest, down, rest,
up, rest.
It's also important to
reverse these bowings.
So we start up bow,
cuz that's gonna require a slightly
different motion from the hand.
I'll do this on the bottom strings.
Now we'll start with
up, rest, down,
rest, up, rest, down, rest.
Every time I rest, I'm resting on
the next string that I'm gonna play.
This is actually very important, cuz if
you rest on the next string that you're
gonna play,
then you just have to release it.
If however,
you rest on the string you just played,
then you have to move the bow before
you can play the next string.
And you wanna eliminate that motion,
so always rest on the next string.
Practicing down, rest,
up, rest, and up, rest,
down, rest can get kind of
boring with just open strings.
So we wanna give ourselves some
intervals to play as well.
We can do our D major
diatonic thirds going up,
like we just learned in a previous lesson.
And we can alternate between the two
notes with this string changing exercise.
It would sound like this.
Down, rest, up, rest,
down, rest, up, rest, down,
rest, up, rest, down, rest, up, rest.
If I keep going, I'm gonna work through
all of the different pairs of scales.
And on the way down,
I would wanna reverse the bowing.
So, I would start
up, rest, down, rest, up, rest,
down, rest, up, rest, down, rest.
Up, there we go.
I should say that
we don't want to have
a strong resting noise.
We don't want to be chopping here.
Chopping is something we'll
get into in different lessons.
We actually want our rest to be
as silent As possible while still
releasing all of the weight
of the bow into the string.
So when I rest, I'm really pretty
much not holding the bow at all.
[SOUND] In addition to practicing adjacent
strings, we can also practice strings.
Going between strings
that aren't adjacent.
So if I wanted to practice strings
that were two strings away,
I would do a down on the C string,
and then a rest on the D string.
Before I go up on the D string.
Let me show you what that would sound like
between the C string and the D string.
I'm trying to use just my fingers.
I should say that,
because of the curvature of the bridge,
we actually,
in order to do these string crossings,
we're actually gonna pull the bow
forward and backwards with our pinkie.
We don't wanna do these string
crossings just by like lifting.
We don't have to go up and
down for string crossings.
We actually need to go forward and
backward for string crossing.
So I go forward for the D string,
backward for the C string.
And that way our bow follows the curvature
of the bridge, and stays straight.
Now I'm doing up, rest, down, rest, up,
rest, down, rest.
If that gets boring,
we can add intervals for
these strings at the tenth.
So we would have a C,
and then an E [SOUND],
that's a tenth,
ten scale degrees separated.
And if I wanted to walk
up the C major scale,
it would sound like this.
And of course on the way down,
I could reverse it and go up,
down, up, rest, down, rest,
up, rest, down, rest.
This exercise is going to
really strengthen your hand.
And also make it much more flexible.
There's only one last
pair of strings to do.
After you play C and G,
you'll also do G and A.
And then the last one
is the outer strings,
C and A string,
this is the farthest distance we can do.
And so, this is gonna sound
like this on the open strings.
Down, rest, up, rest.
I'm doing a lot of forward and
backward motion.
If I took it away from the cello,
my hand probably looks like this.
Boo, C, A, C, A.
The tip of the bow is moving a lot.
I'm not doing it by going up and down, but
by going forward and backwards.
Practice it down, up, and up, down.
You're gonna want your arm height to
be sort of adjusted for the higher string,
so that the lower string is
accessed mostly with the fingers.
If you have your arm height
at the lower string,
you'll barely be able to
reach the higher string.
If we want to do intervals on the outer
strings, we'll do them in two octaves,
So I'll walk up the C major
scale on the outer strings.
the bows on
the way down.
Give this practice
a try for you know,
a couple weeks.
You're gonna notice
a big difference in your
flexibility to change strings
very quickly near the frog.
And do send me a video submission.
I want to check it out and
make sure you're not getting tight and
you're not holding the bow too hard.