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Rhythmic & Chordal Playing
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Cello Lessons: “You Are My Sunshine”

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You Are My Sunshine is
a great American folk song.
We're gonna play it in C major.
This is a new scale for
us on the instrument, but
it's one of my favorites
to play on the cello.
Because the lowest note in our instrument
[SOUND], is the root of the scale.
So we're gonna get a lot of resonance, and
a lot of deep rich sounds
out of this scale.
We're going to learn this melody,
there's three pickups to the first phrase.
And a pickup, that's a word that means
a note that comes before the downbeat.
So, because we have three
pickups before the downbeat,
we're going to start almost
all of these phrases up bow.
We start at every other melody down bow
because a lot of our notes started on
the strong down beat.
With pickups, we are gonna start up bow.
Repeat after me.
Ready, play.
That's open G.
0, 4, 0, 1.
Repeat, again.
Good, so
we're just going to add
one more note on that.
Let's play that whole phrase, ready?
Now the tricky part is we're ending
the phrase up bow, and
we're gonna start the next phrase up bow.
So it's two ups in a row.
Then the next phrase.
One, one,
four, four.
Let's play that together, starting up-bow.
Ready, go.
So these two short phrases
make the first large phrase.
I'm gonna play them both together, and
I want you to sing along with finger
numbers, then we'll play
together the second time.
As we play this melody,
you can vibrate some
particularly on the long notes,
a nice relaxed vibrato, and again,
we're gonna wanna smooth
sound with our bow arm.
We don't wanna have a stiff bow arm or
a raised bow arm that sounds like this.
We wanna loosen everything up.
The next phrase
goes like this.
one, two.
Let's play that together.
Then the next phrase.
Just a walk down
scale from A
to E.
Now, because we are in C major,
we have F natural.
So it's the second finger on the D string.
Listen one more time and
then we'll play it together.
Both of these halves are starting up-bow,
remember, so
we have two ups in a row in the middle.
Let's do it one more time, three, play.
So that's the second big phrase.
The third big phrase is
exactly the same but
we're gonna add two
cadential notes at the end.
Sounds like this.
We're just continuing
the scale all the way to C.
Let's try that, the whole third
phrase with the extra two notes.
On that last little lick there
if you wanna sound like maybe a little
pain and a little more blue-grassy.
Your gonna actually slide back.
You do a little short extension
with your first finger.
And it would sound like this.
So you slide back and
then release to hear the D.
Let's try that.
Let's hear it sounds,
the whole third phrase,
let's play it together.
Three, four.
The last phrase, the fourth big phrase,
is actually the only one that starts
down bow, because we only have two
pickups instead of three pickups.
If you have an even number of pickups,
you would still start down bow,
so that the down beat is also down bow.
Let's break that up.
Repeat after me.
Four, one, two.
Four, one, two.
And then, the last three
notes are slurred, up, down.
One, four.
I'll play just those three, starting
up-bow, we have to start near the tip.
Let's play just those three, ready, go.
Let me put it all together.
Sing along the whole fourth phrase.
Up, down.
Down, up, down, up, down.
This scale is actually really easy on
the cello, because all of the resonance,
and there's no extensions
within the scale itself.
Let's play the whole melody
through from the beginning.
If you want to sing along and then go back
and replay it to play along, go ahead.
I'll play it once.
Starting up bow.
One Two, three.
Now that we have
the whole melody,
I'm gonna add a couple
drone strings to
help flush out
the harmony when we
play the melody.
For the most part,
I'm gonna be adding the open G string.
It'll sound like this.
right there.
Play that phrase, it's open G.
Ready, play.
And then for the next phrase,
I'll add the C string.
Make sure you get your fourth finger
in tune, matching the string.
One other thing we can do is
we can start to add ornaments.
I'm gonna add what's called
a hammer-on on the first down beat.
That really quick D, E.
O, 1, that's called a hammer on.
Listen one more time.
We can add that, actually,
wherever you like.
Ornaments are one of those things that
there's no real set way to do it, and even
if you play the melody through a couple
times, you can change where you put them.
But on these down beats, I think they're
gonna feel pretty good each time.
So let me keep going.
Open C.
Another hammer-on with the G string.
You could even do a hammer on into that F.
And that's our slide.
And then let's leave a G
drone through this one.
So we have a hammer on.
And we leave that G string.
One actually other thing we can can do,
I don't know if it has a name.
But we could do a hammer on with
the bow instead of going like
hammering with the left hand.
We can rock the bow from
the C string to the G string
so that they sound slightly apart.
That's a nice way to separate
a harmony note from a melody note.
I'll play through the whole song
with all of these drone strings,
and some of these ornaments.
Try that
on your
And I think before we leave this song,
I actually wanna teach you the chords, for
the very first time.
We're gonna put the bow down, and
we're gonna strum chords to this song.
C major is gonna sound great
pizzing chords on the cello.
The first chord is C Major, and
a chord is made up of the same
notes in an arpeggio.
So, we know that in a Major scale,
the arpeggio is the root,
the major third, and the fifth.
In the key of C Major, if you count up
from C, we have C, it's the first degree,
D and then E is our third,
F, G is our fifth.
So we're just walking up the scale to
identify the root, third and fifth.
So now we just have to find where in first
position on our instrument do we find a G,
an E, or a C?
Well, this open C string
is perfect to use for
the C,
which is coincidentally next to an open G.
So both of those notes we can use.
We can't use open D, cuz that's not
in its root, third, or fifth, but
if we put down first finger.
That's our third.
And that's actually all the notes we need.
That's gonna sound really nice for
C Major.
Try strumming O, O, 1.
If we want a fuller, four-note chord,
we're gonna add our second
finger on the A-string.
It sounds like this.
O,O, 1, 2.
That's gonna be our C Major chord.
Repeat it with me.
O,O, 1, 2.
So, we can actually strum
this in a quarter note beat.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
Let's do that.
You are my strumshine, my only strumshine.
You make me.
Now this is where we get to change chords.
This is gonna be an F Major chord, which
if you count up from C, is the four chord.
But, from that fourth scale degree,
we're still gonna pick the root,
the third and the fifth.
The root is F and the third,
if you count up from F, F G, A.
Remember, we recycle the octave at A.
And the four is B and then five is C.
So, we have F, A, and C.
We're gonna find the same three
notes now in first position.
Again, we can use our open C.
Then, we can't use G, but
we can put down first finger for an A.
On the D string, we can play second finger
for an F, and we can actually just use
our open A string for the A again on
top so we can strum all four strings.
So, the fingering is O, 1, 2, O.
Let's strum that in one big strum.
We're gonna strum it also, in quarter
notes, and it's gonna last two bars.
And it goes to this part of the song.
You make me happy when skies are grey.
I'm actually strumming half notes,
two strums per bar,
so it's not actually quarter notes.
Let's strum the chords to the first
two phrases of You Are My Sunshine.
I'm actually gonna sing the notes of
the melody with the letter of the chord,
so it'll sound like this.
C, C, C, C, C, C, C,
C, C, C,C, C, C,
F, F, F, back to C.
We repeat that phrase now.
And then we go to F, F, F, F, F, C, C.
So, the second and
third phrase are the same.
We just need to learn the chords
to the fourth phrase.
And those, it's gonna introduce one
more new chord, the G Major chord,
which in the key of C is the five chord.
The one chord, the four chord and the five
chord are the only chords we need for
this tune, and those are,
as we learn more songs,
gonna be your primary chords for
all songs.
So, a G chord, let's actually play just
a three note chord starting with open G,
[SOUND] open D, [SOUND] and
then first finger on the A.
Let's play those together, O, O 1.
We're gonna go to that just for
one bar in the fourth phrase.
It's gonna sound like this, C, C,
C, C, G, G, G, C.
Let's do that together.
One, two, three.
C, C, C, C, G, G, G, C.
Good, I'm gonna play the whole tune and
I'll keep calling out
the chord names in the melody.
And you can strum with me.
We're strumming two strums per beat.
Sorry, two strums per bar,
which makes them half notes.
One, two, three.
C, C, C, C, C.
C, C, C, C, C, C, C,
C, F, F, F, F, F, C.
C, C, C, F again, then back to C, C.
C, C, C, C, G, G, G, C.
Very nice.
You can even start to sing the song
if you know the lyrics, and
I hope you enjoy playing
You are My Sunshine.