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Cello Lessons: Advanced Thumb Position: Grutzmacher Etude No.1 - Performance & Analysis

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[MUSIC]
This
etude
is the
first
etude
in the
second
book
called
The
Technology
of
Cello
Playing
by
Gruetzmacher.
Which is a very overwhelming title and
name, but
it's the second book, so
it's actually etude number 13.
But this etude is an incredible etude,
because starting with our thumb on the
middle harmonic, it pretty much explores
every different hand shape that we could
ever possibly play in this position.
And actually a few hand shapes
that we never actually might need,
but I'll get to that in a second.
But what I do wanna say is that you
should spend a lot of time playing in
thumb position before you
start working on this etude.
We talked about the fundamentals,
and you can explore all of the tunes
in the beginner curriculum through
all the different keys and
scales that the beginner
curriculum explores.
I want you to go through all
of that in thumb position
learning all of those melodies
before you dive into this etude.
After you've done that, and you feel
like you're ready for a challenge.
Let's get started on etude number 13,
the first in this second book of
the Technology of Cello Playing.
So [SOUND] our thumb's gonna
stay on this middle harmonic for
the entire entire etude.
We're gonna start with our really
basic default, D major hand position.
[MUSIC]
And already,
[MUSIC]
we're adding a fourth finger to that.
[MUSIC]
To play an E on the A string,
that's actually an uncommon technique.
I love this etude because
it helps engage and
develop the use of fourth finger in
the thumb position, which is not
completely standard, but Gruetzmacher
was hip to it way back in the day.
[MUSIC]
So it's basically just rolling up and
down these scales,
all in the D major hand shape.
It should feel pretty comfortable.
It does go into a little bit of
a mixolydian vibe in the third line.
[MUSIC]
To explore that low two hand shape, and
pretty soon it eventually
cadences in a B flat major.
[MUSIC]
And explores that hand shape.
If so,
there's a bunch of different keys and
hand shapes that are explored
all in this position.
The second page of this etude book has
a couple of different bowing's that
are written out.
[MUSIC]
Long and then two short separate bows, and
then another long up bow
with two short bows.
Those bowing variations are actually
really good to do in the first page
of the etude as a practice exercise.
You could play the whole
first page of the exercise.
[MUSIC]
And
so on.
And so a couple of those other
bowing variations in the second
page you can apply to the first page.
Another good one is this one.
[MUSIC]
And,
[MUSIC]
as I go run Jimmy, run Jimmy bowing.
And then there's even a slur on
the middle notes of the four note cell.
[MUSIC]
Practice the coordination of all
those even in the first page.
Also, I do want to say a little bit
about the use of the fourth finger.
Particularly as it starts to modulate
in the second page of this exercise.
[SOUND] Grutzmacher's
fingerings look like this,
like on the third line on the fourth bar,
[MUSIC]
it has that fingering.
One, two, three, four.
That's incredibly awkward, and actually,
I can't really think of any specific
piece where we would use that hand shape.
Actually in my performance video,
I shifted up from one, one, two, three.
That's a much more common hand shape.
[MUSIC]
[SOUND] And
then shifting back to two there.
So I'm gonna include a download of
this etude with some recommended
fingerings for you.
And mostly they involve in skirting around
some of the use of the fourth finger,
although you can explore these.
I like this etude specifically because
it does engage the fourth finger,
but not all of the hand shapes
it has are completely practical.
When you're starting to learn this piece,
the bowing's may feel a little unrealistic
as well and they have really long bows.
Two measures per bow on the first page.
[MUSIC]
It's hard to make the bow last that whole
time, so especially if you're playing
this etude at a slower tempo.
So first just start with like four
notes per bow as you're learning it.
[MUSIC]
And only when you get up to faster tempos
can you,
you can then try eight notes per bow and
then eventually 16 notes per bow.
Basically don't worry about the bowing,
the focus of this exercise is
really on the thumb position.
And the bow distribution is
sort of a secondary skill
that you can worry about once
you're playing in it at tempo.
Speaking of which, I definitely want
you to practice this with a metronome,
and you can even put on a D drone for
the whole thing to really make
sure that you're playing in tune.
But with a metronome at like 70,
you can go through the whole
piece just note by note.
[MUSIC]
Just really focusing on
building these hand shapes.
And eventually work it
up with the metronome.
Play it faster and faster.
But really I want you to start slow so
you feel comfortable with
each of these hand shapes.
Eventually, our performance tempo,
you actually want it to be fast enough so
there's a flow and
a shape to these phrases.
I don't want you to end up
performing this etude for
me in your video submission robotically.
[MUSIC]
Where everything just
sounds perfectly consistent.
Actually, what's great about etudes,
is not only are they developing technique,
but they're developing
it in a musical context.
So these shapes, these scales,
we want to be phrasing with them.
[MUSIC]
So, a really great default way to phrase,
in addition to the dynamics is to simply
grow when the notes get higher and
decay when the notes get lower, so
that each phrase kinda has an arch to it.
The opening might sound like this.
[MUSIC]
There's
a lot of shape there.
And so that's the kind of thing you
eventually want to be able to bring out,
despite the complicated technical
aspect of the left hand.
Eventually I want you to be able to phrase
and make shapes with the bow as well.
Start slow with this etude, and
maybe the first time you submit a video,
it can be at a slower tempo,
just four notes per bow.
And I just want to see that we're
thinking about intonation and
that we're staying relaxed and
not getting too tense.
I don't want to see any pinkies sort
of sticking out in the straight air,
if your pinkie starts to get tense,
work on keeping it relaxed and
in line with the other fingers.
And once I hear you play it at a slow
tempo then I'll give you some advise and
ultimately you'll be able
to perform it musically and
it's gonna develop all of these shapes in
thumb position to a really high level.
[MUSIC]