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Cello Lessons: Left hand Position

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We spent a lot of time working on
the right hand, the bow hold,
and playing a bunch of rhythms,
now let's talk about the left hand.
What do we do with this?
Well the left hand,
we're gonna use each finger,
to press the string
against the finger board.
And when we do that,
it stops the vibrations of the string.
And by shortening the string length,
the note we hear is higher.
I'll just demonstrate.
We have an open A.
[SOUND] But I use my first finger and
what we'll call first position.
[SOUND] The note goes higher.
And if I just keep sliding up,
[SOUND], we can get really high.
So, the left hand is just there to stop
the string, and that's how we get all
these different notes,
that we'll want for melodies and stuff.
But before we put the hand on the cello,
let's just identify the parts,
all the fingers and everything.
So obviously, we have the thumb, but we're
gonna give all the other fingers, numbers.
So my index finger will be,
first finger, then the next one is,
second finger, third finger, and
the pinky is called, fourth finger.
And I'll be using these numbers
a lot when teaching you melodies.
And I'll say put the first
finger on D string.
And then, you'll know to play this note.
[SOUND] But we'll build up to there.
But let's just review these fingers,
really quickly, so we have them moving on.
The index finger.
Is what finger?
Correct, first finger.
Then I add the next finger.
That's second finger, third finger.
And what number is the pinky?
Correct, fourth finger.
And which number is the thumb?
Yes, that's a trick question.
We don't have a number for the thumb.
We just call it the thumb.
We don't really use the thumb
in a lot of our cello positions.
Maybe in advanced stuff, we'd get
into something called thumb position.
Don't even worry about it.
So we'll just have first finger, second
finger, third finger, fourth finger.
And we kinda want to approach
the cello like you would
when you were typing on
a computer keyboard.
If you're typing on a computer keyboard,
you know, you wanna keep the angle,
like the, a slight curve in your fingers.
You don't wanna type with like flat
fingers like this, you wanna keep
everything curved, so that they can just
activate up and down really comfortably.
And so, we're gonna want to have that,
while we're playing the cello too.
So, curl your first, second, third,
and fourth fingers in a little bit.
And then, we're gonna bring our
thumb over to the second finger.
We're gonna kinda create a little C
between the thumb and second finger.
That's, surprisingly enough,
called our C shape.
And as we play on the fingerboard,
we want the thumb to always kinda
stay behind the second finger.
Let's see if I can show you.
Right here,
the thumb is behind the second finger.
If I move my thumb up,
it goes behind the first finger.
Obviously, if I move it down,
it goes behind the fourth finger.
We wanna keep it in
the second finger range.
So that our hand is balanced,
right there in the middle, of the palm.
So let's actually take
all four of our fingers.
We'll put our C shape together.
And let's put our first finger just to
touch the A string, anywhere is fine.
And we're gonna let the thumb
gently just sort of rest
against the back of the neck,
the back of the fingerboard.
We don't wanna squeeze with the thumb,
it's just gonna touch the back
of the neck for reference.
So, once the first finger
is on the A string,
you don't even have to push it down
right now, just touch the A string.
And then, we're gonna, finger by
finger just, put the other strings,
sorry, the other fingers on the string,
until all the fingers are down.
This, you want your fingers to just
comfortably land wherever they will.
We'll sort of learn the spacing of
where the notes are in first position.
But, in general, you're not gonna try and
spread your hand out, or even try and
bring it in really close, just like
we talked about with the bow hold.
It's generally gonna be a sort of
even spacing, comfortable spacing.
So, let's figure out where
to put the first finger.
Where do we put our hand?
The cello is divided up into
what we call positions.
So, the open string,
if you don't have any fingers,
that's where the nut is
stopping the string.
If we slide the first
finger up from the nut,
we're gonna find the note above A,
which is B.
Which makes sense,
if you're a fan of the alphabet.
I'm gonna slide up [SOUND] until I find B.
Can you put your first
finger on the A string?
And slide it up from the nut,
while playing the sound with the bow hand,
until you match the note
that I am playing.
[SOUND] You don't wanna go too high,
you don't wanna sound like here.
And you don't wanna go too low,
you wanna go right here.
[SOUND] That is a B, and
that is our new home.
That is where our first
finger is gonna hang out for
the majority of our beginner's
multi style cello curriculum, and
basically, for
the rest of your life as a cellist.
This is our home base.
First finger on the note B,
on the A string.
Find it one
more time [SOUND].
If you're out of tune,
it may end up sounding
like this [SOUND], or like this [SOUND].
If the sound that you're playing, along
with my note, makes your face go like
this, or if you feel like making
a bad face, then it's probably wrong.
So let's just really
make sure we're in tune.
[SOUND] Find that b.
[SOUND] And if we're in tune,
we'll make our happy face,
cuz it all sounds good.
And now we're gonna start using our other
fingers without moving the first finger.
We're gonna leave the first finger down,
and we're gonna add the second finger, and
if the spacing is right I
want it to find the C note.
So we've walked up from the open A string,
to B, and now to C.
And that's gonna sound like this.
[SOUND] Find that note with me.
I'll hold it for you.
Make sure it doesn't make you wanna
do a bad face, but
that it sounds identical to my note.
Very good.
Let's alternate between first finger and
second finger.
I'm actually going to leave my
first finger on the whole time.
So all I'm really doing,
is lifting my second finger, and
then putting my second finger back down.
Lifting my second finger, and
then putting it back down.
It'll sound like this.
I'll put it down first.
[SOUND] Now I'll lift my second finger,
but leave the first finger.
[SOUND] Let's try it again,
I'll put down the second finger [SOUND].
Then I'll lift the second finger, but
leave the first finger down [SOUND].
Now we've got these two notes.
And for what it's worth,
I'm changing my bowing with each
note change of the left hand.
So I'm always changing the direction
of my bow when I change the note.
Let's add the open string to this mix,
so now we've got three notes,
we're gonna alternate between.
I'm gonna leave my fingers down and
start on C, which is second finger.
And I'm gonna lift second finger to B.
And then,
I'm going to lift the first finger to A.
And I'm gonna sort of walk up and
down, and I want you to join me.
C, second finger.
Now lift the second finger.
[SOUND] Let's go back.
Let's really make sure we've
all found second finger.
Find the pitch.
[SOUND] Now let's go,
lift the second finger.
Let's find the pitch of the first finger,
now, we'll lift up the first finger for
the open A.
[SOUND] Let's see if we can put the first
finger down in the right place again.
Find B.
[SOUND] And put C down again.
Many beginning cellists prefer
to actually put down little
tapes to signify visually
where these notes will be.
They can totally be really helpful.
And if you get some horizontal tapes,
you can put those in yourself,
when you find the right notes.
It's sort of like simulating
the frets on a guitar which is,
as we know, frets are cheating, because
they make the intonation perfect for you.
With cello, we don't have frets, so
we have to listen to
the intonation of our note.
Intonation means,
wether it's in tune or not.
Whether it's sharp or flat.
Let's add the third finger now.
So I've left my second finger on
the string, with the first finger,
for I also have C [SOUND].
I'm gonna add my third finger,
which is actually not gonna be D,
it's actually gonna be a note called
C sharp, it sounds like this [SOUND].
Find C sharp, with the third finger.
Notice, I've left my first and
second fingers, down.
My hand does not look like this,
I don't have all my fingers raised.
I've kinda kept all my fingers relaxed and
resting on the string.
[SOUND] Let's do a walk down.
We'll lift the third finger,
then we'll lift the second finger, and
the first finger, and then, we'll walk
back up all the way to third finger.
Let's find C sharp again, third finger.
[SOUND] Okay, let's lift third finger, and
because second finger is already there,
we'll get a C.
[SOUND] Again, this only works
if all of your fingers are down.
You wanna keep all of your fingers down,
below the note you're playing.
So first finger and
second finger are down.
Now I'm gonna lift second finger.
Now I'm left with just
the first finger playing B.
[SOUND] And actually, I'm just changing
the bow wherever it's comfortable,
you don't have to line it up
with the left hand right now.
Now I'm gonna play an open A.
[SOUND] And notice I've left my
thumb on the back of the neck.
That's my reference point.
Even though all of my fingers are hanging
up in the air, I know where I'm gonna
need to put them back down,
because I left the thumb where it is.
So now I'm going to put
first finger back down.
Let's walk back up from
A [SOUND] to first finger.
[SOUND] Now the second finger.
Third finger.
And let's see, if we can now add,
fourth finger.
The fourth finger is our smallest,
shortest finger.
So we'll actually mabye need to
change the angle of our hand,
bring our elbow forward, to support it,
so that I can touch the string, as well.
See if you can find fourth finger
[SOUND] playing the note D.
[SOUND] Okay, let's
take a deep breath.
We've got all four of our fingers down,
they are all what we
call a half step apart.
All that means,
is that we're not stretching any
extra space between the fingers.
Where they naturally lie, is a half step.
And you can see you know there's
space in between the fingers,
like we had in our bow hold,
just a natural space.
Let's start at D.
We'll do a full walk down
from D on fourth finger.
We'll lift fourth finger and
we'll still have third, second, and
first finger on the string.
So when we lift fourth finger,
we're going to hear a C sharp note.
Then we're going to lift third finger,
we'll hear a C with the second finger.
Then we're going to lift the second
finger and we're going to hear a B.
And then we'll hear the open
A once we lift all the fingers,
while leaving the thumb
on the back of the neck.
Then we'll walk back up.
Let's try that together.
With fourth finger.
Find the note first.
Okay, now let's lift
fourth finger and find C sharp.
You can move your hand around in order to
match my note.
To match the intonation.
Now we'll
lift third finger.
This is the C note.
Once you find the intonation,
I'll lift the second finger and
we'll be left with B.
Now that you found that note I'm
gonna lift my first finger, but
leave my thumb on the back of the neck.
And that way, now that we are about to
walk back up,
our hand hasn't moved out of position.
So let's put our first finger back down,
Second finger.
Leave both fingers down.
As we put the third finger
and finally the fourth finger.
That fourth finger can be tricky.
The pinky is our shortest finger and
it's actually also the weakest finger.
So you'll wanna make sure that you're
kind of pushing your arm forward.
Your left elbow, you'll move it
forward to support thepinkie,
otherwise it won't even really be
able to reach because it's so short.
we've got all four fingers now and
we've got them all a half
step apart on the A string.
Let's find those same exact notes in
first position but on the D string, okay?
So let's start with our open D.
the open D
As you can see,
I let my thumb just kind of move.
So now I don't know
where first position is.
But I'm going to slide up
from the nut in order to find
the note E.
Above D, the note we want
first finger to be on is E.
So why don't you do the same and
match this note.
Once you've matched that note,
we're gonna add the second finger
while leaving the first finger down.
Find that note.
Make sure it's in tune.
You can keep changing the bow,
whatever is comfortable.
We're gonna add the third finger now,
while leaving the first and
second finger down.
This note is,
the pitch is called an F sharp.
Second finger was an F.
And third finger is F sharp.
Now we're gonna play fourth finger again,
which would be the note G.
>> [MUSIC]
>> So now that you've found G,
let's walk down and up again.
We'll have all four fingers
down on the string.
And I'll lift up fourth finger.
Then third finger, second,
first finger, until we get to open D.
lift third finger.
This is the note F,
played by second finger.
We'll lift second finger now,
to play E with the first finger.
And then we'll
lift the first finger,
so we have open D.
Notice again I've left my thumb on
the back of the neck so
that I'm still in first position.
I haven't lost my place
on the finger board.
Let's walk back up: first, second,
third, and fourth fingers.
All right.
Find first finger again.
Let's add
second finger.
Again I don't want your first finger to
come up when we're playing second finger.
We're gonna leave first finger down.
And we also don't want
our pinky sticking up,
we want our pinky to stay relaxed and
slightly curved.
Just like that.
Now we'll add third finger.
Make sure your first and
second finger are down and
that your pinky is not straight.
If your pinky is straight
then your pinky is tense, and
we don't want to have a tight tense pinky.
We wanna release it so
it has a slight curve.
Now we'll add the fourth finger.
>> Get it in too.
All right, so we've learned all four
fingers on the D and the A string.
And while you're practicing you can, I
would say just sort of do that walk up and
that walk down that we did a couple
of times on each string and
just get use to it.
And you can do it along
with the D drone or
the A drone that we used in
one of our tuning videos.
Or, you could just watch this video
again and match my pitch directly.
When you're playing against the drones,
you would end up playing different
pitches than the actual drone.
The drone would just be for
the open string note.
But you can practice this walk up and
walk down.
And we'll be using some of these notes.
In the first piece of music
that we're gonna play,
called Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,
which will be in the next lesson.