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Cello Lessons: Left Hand Position (Intermediate)

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Let's talk about our left hand position,
at a higher level than we did
in the beginning lessons.
Again, we want our shape to be oblique,
not square.
A square hand position is where you hand
is perpendicular to the strings, and
it gives you sort of
like a boxy square shape.
The problem with that shape is that
you're gonna end up trying to squeeze
sideways with the webbing of your fingers.
And it's hard to actually
stretch the hand that way.
When we stretch this way we don't really
have any strength to our fingers so
we want to stretch up and
down with our fingers.
And in order to apply that to the cello we
have to turn our palm forward like that,
so that the fingers hit
the cello at an angle like this.
So you can see,
this is what square looks like,
it's actually really
hard to do an extension.
And if I twist my arm back like this
then my pinky is able to stay curved and
actually, my fingers actually
look straight down at the ground.
That's where you're gonna
have gravity on your side.
If your fingers are directed
directly toward the ground,
rather than directly
towards the instrument,
that's gonna give you the most strength
and flexibility in your left hand.
We also talked about
the Suzuki C shape before.
And, so we always want to have
the thumb behind the second finger.
So as you can see,
whether I'm in closed position,
or if I'm in extension,
the thumb stays behind the second finger.
So the important thing to keep in mind,
is if you're gonna extend to like a,
A major scale [SOUND] So
that you can play that major third.
That thumb is gonna move with your
second finger as you do the extension.
The other thing to keep
in mind about your thumb,
is you want it to have the same depth
of your hand through the whole neck.
So if I'm playing on the A string,
you want the thumb to be
under the A string as well.
You don't want your thumb
to be under the C string.
If your fingers are on the A string,
because then you end up kind of
playing on the inside of your hand.
And you want your fingers to always kind
of be aligned with the end of the thumb.
That's again, where they're gonna have the
most strength, and the most flexibility.
So on the A string the thumb will be kind
of towards the left end of the neck.
And as I move across the finger
board down the strings
my thumb is gonna move with me.
So my thumb is moving all the way
to the C string to the A string.
So that no matter what string I'm on
it's always behind second finger.
I also wanna say again that, every time
you do an extension, you're gonna need to
bring your left elbow forward in
order to support the fourth finger.
You never wanna play with the fourth
finger when it's flat and
straight, because you
won't have any strength.
When your fingers are straight,
they don't have strength,
so in order to keep your pinky curved
you have to bring the arm closer.
Also, when you're moving from
the A string over to the C string,
you have to do the same thing.
I'm actually a little exaggerated,
more than most players, I think.
But on the C string I bring
my elbow really far forward.
I'm actually like resting it
on the edge of the Cello here.
And if I'm not in
extension on the C string,
I really wanna support that
fourth finger with the arm.
So look how far my elbow will adjust.
When I go from an extension
on the C string.
Now I release the extension.
Now I'm gonna move to the G string,
the D string, and the A string.
So there's a range of motion of the elbow
and you wanna be conscious of this
as you're playing notes on
different parts of the instrument.
One way to be sure that you're using
a good oblique shape is that you're
actually gonna end up playing kind
of on the side of your first finger.
I kind of play sort of where the nail
meets the right side of the finger.
If you're playing with a square hand
shape, you're actually gonna be playing
kind of on the meaty part of
the finger a little more.
And so that's a sign of your angle and so
as you build your calluses you very
well may be building it right there.
If I press really hard into the hand,
you'll even be able to see an indentation
where the string is contacting my fingers.
When I lift my hand,
notice how far back to the right of my
first finger it's contacting the string.
[NOISE] It's not in
the middle of the finger
at all because my hand is slanted.
[NOISE] Everything I've
been saying about left hand position,
applies mostly to melodic playing,
where we're gonna wanna you know,
cover the full range of the cello and
have the fingers moving a lot,
and have a lot of flexibility.
When we're playing a lot of chords
however, all of those rules may not apply.
So often times when you're pressing
down all four strings at the same time,
it can help to throw your
thumb out around the neck so
that you can really use your arm
weight to pull all the strings down.
Otherwise if you're relying just on
your fingers' muscle strength to press
all the strings down, your hands going to
get really tired and tense and you'll even
start to develop pain and you could injure
yourself if you squeeze for too much time.
So you really want to use arm weight if
you're going to be pulling the strings
down for chords and
that can be easier if you bring the thumb
away from the second finger and
around the neck.
When you're practicing scales,
that's a good time to be thinking
about your left hand position.
I'll definitely be looking at your left
hand position whenever you send me
a scale routine video submission.