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Cello Lessons: Beginning Thumb Position: Introduction

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You may have noticed that playing
high notes on the cello
is frustratingly hard.
This can be compounded by
the fact that our thumb,
which is usually comfortably hanging out
on the back of the neck of the instrument.
Suddenly, gets stuck when we hit this
portion when it meets the body of
the instrument.
There's only so far you can reach
while leaving your thumb back there.
That is why we created thumb position
where we actually bring our thumb out and
we start using it as a finger becomes
a fifth finger that when we're
playing high we're gonna use.
The primary use of the thumb is
what they call a movable nut.
See this, you may remember is the nut of
the finger board and the nut is stopping
the strings, like a guitar player may
think of their thumb as a movable capo.
And basically,
this is gonna be our new open string,
our thumb as we play in thumb position.
So our new open string,
we're gonna actually go exactly halfway in
between the bridge and
the nut to find our middle harmonic.
[SOUND] If you just touch the string,
but don't press it all the way down,
you can get harmonics on the instrument.
And this middle harmonic is an octave
higher [SOUND] than the open string.
And on this middle harmonic, we are gonna
put our thumb sideways like this.
Just, you know, put a thumbs up,
rotate your arm and
[SOUND] badda bing,
you've got thumb position.
So we're actually going to our default
hand position for thumb position is
gonna be with the thumb at this harmonic
on both the A and the D strings.
So you don't even have to
press the string down.
In fact, it's actually quite hard to
press the string down with the thumb.
So you're just gonna let the thumb touch
the top of the string [SOUND] to activate
the harmonic.
[SOUND] If I had to show
you like where on the thumb
are the strings contacting my thumb?
I've got one string that hits me
kind of right here on the nail and
then the next one,
the A string's hitting me like right here.
And so the point where the nail ends is
kinda like right in between the A and
D strings for me.
[SOUND] We've got now,
a D and a A harmonic.
We can think of these as
our new open strings and
we can play a D major scale way up here.
So I'm gonna use thumb for open,
then on the first finger, second finger,
that's actually a high second finger for
F sharp and then third finger.
[SOUND] Just do that walk up with me.
You're gonna have to sort of keep your
elbow high, so
that you're really angling all of your
arm weight into the string to
help push the string down.
Just keep walking up and
down a few times to get used to this.
And just like we did in first position,
you're gonna leave all of your
fingers down once you're walking up.
So I'm leaving the first finger down,
leaving the second finger down.
So on the third finger,
all the fingers are down.
Let's do this same exact
walk-up on the A string now.
It's the same exact
hand shape on the A string.
And now we have the full D major scale.
[SOUND] I'm gonna play you this
scale one octave up and down,
just so you can see and hear it.
And like we also talked about in
the beginner's curriculum about
the oblique hand shape,
we wanna really make sure [SOUND] that our
palm is facing kind of like towards
the bridge and the floor, so
that our hand is twisted backward for
Check out the D major
scale in thumb position.
Harmonic at the end.
I can't stress enough how the fact that
you don't have to press the string
down with the thumb, you can just
touch the string at the harmonic and
it really gives us a nice analogy
to our first position open strings.
Once you get used to this hand shape,
we're gonna explore playing some of
our beginner tunes in the next lesson.