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Cello Lessons: Hand Position: Dexterity Exercise

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[MUSIC]
Our finger independence is an important
skill to develop when playing the cello.
There's a really great series of
exercises by Cossman that works
specifically on this and on dexterity.
And I'm gonna show you my
favorite one that I used to do
a lot when I was developing strength and
independence.
Starting here in fourth position on
A string with the first finger on E,
I'm gonna play a pattern that goes one,
four,
three, four, one, four, three, four.
[MUSIC]
Followed by one, four, two, four.
[MUSIC]
Followed by one,
three, two, three.
[MUSIC]
And then I'm gonna shift back a half
step and play those same pitches at two,
four, three, four.
[MUSIC]
Then I am conveniently
a half step lower than I started.
And I can do all four of those
finger patterns over again,
starting from E-flat.
[MUSIC] One, four, three, four. [MUSIC]
The important thing I want you to think
about while working on this
exercise is not completely to
have your fingers isolated
in their movement,
but actually support
each one with the palm.
So, when I play this exercise you're going
to see my whole forearm and palm rotating.
So look, every time my fourth
finger is used I'm actually placing
the finger down with the weight of
the forearm and the whole palm.
I'll put on the metronome at 60, and
I'm gonna play through this exercise.
Starting here, and I'm gonna go
all the way down the A string.
Okay.
And I want you to look particularly at my
palm movement.
[SOUND] Two, and, three, and, four, and.
[MUSIC]
Notice how
much I'm rotating
with my forearm.
So every time I put a finger down,
my whole arm weight is moving through it.
[MUSIC]
This is what it looks like to
support your fingers.
Now I'm modulating.
[MUSIC]
One,
three, two,
three.
[MUSIC]
Now two, four, three,
four on the same pitches.
[MUSIC]
And now I'm starting from D.
[MUSIC]
I'm changing bow
every four notes using the full bow.
[MUSIC]
As you do this exercise
make sure you're breathing fully.
[MUSIC]
And dropping your shoulders.
[MUSIC]
One other
important thing is
to remember to not
tense up your left thumb.
You don't want to squeeze with your thumb.
You want it to be like a loose fulcrum
that you're sort of oscillating around.
[MUSIC]
You want to be as relaxed as possible.
[MUSIC]
Notice how much
my elbow's moving.
[MUSIC]
I'm really supporting every
time I put a finger down.
[MUSIC]
And I'm really actually using the elbow to
lift the weight off every
time I lift a finger.
[MUSIC]
Almost done
with the A
string.
[MUSIC]
Keep breathing.
[MUSIC]
Really support
that fourth finger.
[MUSIC]
And
now, finish
the A string.
Let's shake out your hand.
This exercise, I should warn you,
is dangerous and infamous,
because if you practice this exercise and
you're not really focusing on relaxing,
particularly the muscle in your thumb,
this exercise is just continuous.
There's not a lot of opportunity for
relaxing.
So you can get yourself into trouble and
start to tense up a lot.
I would say even going from all
the way there [SOUND] all the way down
the A string is a long time.
Try doing just a couple
positions at first.
You really, really don't want to
do this exercise for too long.
There's been a couple ill-advised
days where I did what you just saw on
all four strings.
And then you start to question your
choices in life after you do that.
Because it can hurt and
you know this kind of repetitive
stress type of exercise
can lead to injury.
So be careful.
And this would be a good one to show
me a video of you working on so
I can be sure that you're
doing it healthfully.
Also, ultimately, once you build up some
strength and you're able to do it for
five minutes or so you're gonna
want to do it at different tempos.
And, I just want to say when
you're doing this at a fast tempo
the exaggerated arm movement I
was doing to constantly support
my finger movements is
going to be minimized.
So if I did this twice as fast, I'll
put the metronome on again, and you'll
notice that it'll be mostly rotational and
my arm won't be moving as much.
I will demonstrate this on the G string.
[SOUND] Dooka-dooka
dooka-dooka dooka-dooka dook.
[MUSIC]
My motion is
much more understated.
[MUSIC]
But I'm still thinking about
the rotational support of my forefinger.
[MUSIC]
And how hard it is to talk
while doing this exercise.
[MUSIC]
These
are the first
exercises in
the Cossman book.
There are, you know, oodles and
oodles of variations on this, and
some with double stops that can make your
life slightly miserable, but they're
really good just to sort of core physical
strength training and dexterity exercises.
And we'll include the full book as
a download from this lesson but
this in particular my favorite
exercise from the Cossman book.
[MUSIC]