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Cello Lessons: Shifting Principles

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Your first principle for
shifting cleanly and smoothly is to make
sure to release your
weight off of the string.
You can see you know, I'm holding
the string against the finger board, and
I can release the string off of
the fingerboard without moving my finger.
It's in this point of release that
I'm always going to be moving, so
I'm sliding on the string
above the fingerboard.
If you leave the string down while you're
sliding, it's kind of like dragging your
feet while trying to walk, and
you're going to get kind of stuck.
So, I'll shift just from
first finger up a half step.
[SOUND] Now I'm going to
practice that release.
if I keep bowing through the shift,
you'll hear a brief like
ghosty sound while my
finger is not pressing the string down.
And now I push it down again.
Now I lift, and push it down again.
That little transition, you're probably
going to hide it when you're playing
music, But that's often what I'm
thinking about when I'm shifting.
The other thing we want to start
thinking about is our arm.
And so a shift is sort of like when
we talked about the bow circles,
with the three dimensional string.
Shifting is not a matter of just moving on
a single plane, but actually we're going
to create a little circle and
a little arc with our elbow as we shift.
So let's say I want to
shift from here to here.
I'm actually going to sort of get
a little loop going with my elbow, and
I'm going to do an arc.
Above, like an over arc
in order to shift higher.
And that little arc is going to help
me lift the finger off the string.
And it's also going to help
me land when I get to my destination.
Let's try it again with me.
So my elbow is going sort
of like a down-up, down.
Kind of goes down-up, down.
Now when I'm shifting lower,
when I'm shifting back,
I'm going to do the opposite.
My elbow is going to do a concave dip,
so I'm going to go down, and
then I'm going to pull it back up
when I finally let my finger land.
It'll look like this.
Watch my elbow one more time.
If we go back and forth,
you'll have this sort of like double
opposite arc action happening in your arm.
Check out what that looks like.
I'm actually also, you know,
doing a slight drop before I do my arc up,
and I'm doing a slight lift
before I do my arc down, just so
you have some place to lift or drop from.
Also, one really important
thing that cellists do when
we're practicing shifting is
these really [NOISE] long,
slow shifts where you hear
all the notes in between.
The more you practice shifting slower
than you might want to perform a shift,
[NOISE] the more you get used to hearing
all of the little intervals on the way to
your destination, the better you're going
to be able to hear your shifting goal.
So i often practice shifting like this.
Kind of sounds like an ambulance siren,
but that's a good sign for once,
to sound like an ambulance siren.
The last important consideration
is which finger do we shift on.
You can either shift on the old note or
the new note.
So let's say like if I'm shifting from
here to here, if I'm changing this
finger from the origin to the destination
of the shift, I have two options.
I can shift on first finger,
until I get to the destination position,
or I can shift on the new finger.
I can shift on the fourth
finger immediately.
When I shift on the old finger,
that's called an over shift.
Because the new finger is going to kind
of come from over that first finger.
So I'm actually only shifting here and
then putting down the fourth finger.
That can help give like nice clarity
to the end of a shift.
If I shift on the new note,
which is called an under shift,
there's less clarity, but
it kind of has like a reaching quality.
[SOUND] If I was going to
perform with a shift like that,
[SOUND] It allows you to kind of slide
into the note a little more smoother.
And so, often times when you're
developing an interpretation of a piece,
you might plan out which shifts
are over-shifts on the old note, and
which shifts are under-shifts
on the new note.
These are some principles to keep
in mind regarding shifting, and
I'm going to show you a couple specific
exercise routines in the next lesson.