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Cello Lessons: Visualizing the 3 Dimensional String

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This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Multi-Style Cello with Mike Block. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Cello Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

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[MUSIC]
In order to play on the A string without
hitting the D string accidentally,
you have to find the right
plane of movement.
[SOUND] If my plane of
movement is too low,
I might accidentally hit
the adjacent string.
And this is true for
all four strings on the cello.
However, this plane of
movement is not a fixed line,
there actually is some room for
exploration within each plane.
And this is illustrated by the fact
that the string itself is not a line,
it's a three-dimensional cylinder.
If you took a cross section of the string,
it would be a circle.
And you don't always have to
play on the top of the circle.
You can play on the right side or
the left side of the circle.
And you still won't hit
the adjacent string.
So let me demonstrate a little bit of
that, what I mean on the D string.
Here is sort of a right on the top
of the circle bow placement.
[SOUND] Now if I rock back and
forth between the right and the left side,
which I kinda think of as the bottom and
the top of the string.
Look how much motion my bow can explore
without hitting the adjacent strings.
[MUSIC]
There's a lot of room to play
on the right and left sides of the circle.
And the reason,
this is gonna come in really handy is when
we wanna talk about smooth bow changes.
If you are only playing at the top of
the circle and like the strict back and
forth line, there's actually no way that
you can physically create a continuous
bow when you change directions.
You have to stop and
then go back the other way,
that might sound like this [SOUND].
However, if you do a little figure
eight at the end of each bow.
If you go up to the left side of
the string at the end of a bow and
then when you start the next bow,
you come to the right.
You start the next bow on the bottom,
you'll get a little figure eight,
a little small bow circle at the end.
And that actually enables you to have
continuous motion as you change direction.
Let me demonstrate that.
So, starting on the bottom of the string.
[SOUND] Now towards the tip I'm
gonna go to the left side and
then drop with a new bow.
And I do the same here, lift to
the left and then drop to the bottom.
It's just a little bow figure
eight right at the end.
You can think of it as a bow circle, too.
And that enables me to have
the bow be moving continuously
as I change directions.
So away from the cello it
kinda looks like this [SOUND].
I always start the new bow on the bottom.
This is actually gonna be a really
important field for you to explore.
Let's do it in an F-sharp major scale.
I'll play
with the drone and
just watch
my bow circles
as I play
one octave
up and down
[MUSIC].
As I'm changing strings, it is
important to realize that as I go up,
If going from here to here
I have to change strings.
By going up at the end of this note,
it actually sets me
a perfectly the start right at
the bottom of the next string up.
Watch that one more time
[MUSIC],
so I go to the top of the C string which
just leads perfectly to
the bottom of the G string.
So it can help your string changes also
be smooth by being sensitive to this.
Explore this feeling through scales.
You can try this F-sharp major
scale in two octaves and
start applying this to any
other practice you're doing.
And you'll start to also feel
that it expands your phrasing and
expressive capabilities.
When playing melodies to
have this smoothness and
this ability to start every note,
even if it's just [SOUND] a repeated note.
To start each note from that sinking,
relaxed,
rooted feeling similar to
what we were going for
in a previous lesson about breathing and
always dropping the shoulders.
This little drop [SOUND] at
the beginning of every note,
of every string change, or every bow
change is gonna help you feel relaxed and
give a really nice, smooth sound.
[MUSIC]