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Cello Lessons: Stretching Before & After Playing

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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]
Playing cello is a very physical exercise.
You have to get all of your body involved,
and if you're gonna play for
many hours at a time, or if you're gonna
be playing really difficult stuff,
you can actually hurt yourself.
And so, it can be beneficial to think of
playing cello kind of like an athlete.
An athlete stretches before practice or
before a big game, and
you wanna loosen up your muscles and
really make sure everything is not
getting tight with chronic tension.
And so,
I just wanna show you a few stretches.
That I like to do before, or
after I practice, or perform.
One good stretch I like to do,
that kind of stretches the back muscles,
is I'll give myself a big hug and
sort of grab my shoulder blades and
kind of pull out with my arms.
It kinda looks like this.
[SOUND] Really stretching the muscles
behind the shoulder blades.
As I'm doing that I'm actually also, kind
of, like pulling down during that stretch.
For all of these stretches you might
wanna hold it for 10, maybe 15 seconds.
You don't wanna over hold any stretches,
and you really wanna actually make sure
that you're exhaling that you're breathing
fully during all of these stretches.
Some other basic stretches I
like to do are sort of the back,
the back median of the arms,
I'm gonna lock my arms here, and
then pull down with my left arm and
try and keep both arms kind of vertical.
And then I'll switch arms, I'll kind
of inch my right arm up the back,
grab the fingers, and then once they meet,
I'll pull down with my right arm
while extending up with my left arm.
Some other arm exercises is,
this one comes from yoga.
I'm gonna sort of lock my arms like
this and then pull my right arm over, so
that it stretches this
part of my shoulder.
Looks like this.
[SOUND] I kind of pulled down
through that stretch, as well.
You always wanna do these arm
stretches on both sides, so
I'll do it again on my left.
A lot of what we do on the Cello and
in life actually involves doing
a lot of downward motions with the hands,
so it's good to sort of
do some inversions of that motion like
this, kind of stretching the palms up.
You can kind of push against the hand,
sort of feeling the pressure
at the base of the palm.
You can even kind of extend
your fingers a little bit.
You kind of feel a stretch maybe
in your thumb muscle there.
And then, you wanna balance that
stretch out, do the opposite.
And again,
kinda push the arms against each other.
Shake everything out.
One other good stretch, because a lot
of what we do goes in like this with
the hands, just a general
extension of the palm out, and
then kind of doing some like
swan like motions with your arms
while keeping the palms
extended like this.
These really help balance
the muscles in your arms.
See if you can keep them
extended all the way down.
And then release it.
Other than a lot of these arm
exercises I might kind of like
pull my neck in different directions.
I like pulling it down.
If I pull my head down and
then push back with my neck,
that kind of really helps
stretch the backside of my neck.
Again, with cello playing,
we have a tendency to hunch down.
So you want to kind of like find
all these different stretches to
reverse that feeling.
So what else can we do?
Yeah, we can sort of stick our
your arms behind our back.
I don't know that's a longer
way to pick it up, but
every time I do that my back kind of pops.
And that helps me know
that I'm doing it right.
I also do maybe a few leg stretches.
I like just pulling the legs
behind my back like this.
These are all just sort
of basic stretches, but
it really helps to get circulation going
and warm up your muscles before you play.
And then also just some back bends.
[BLANK AUDIO] For this one,
when I grab the back of
my ankle I'm actually
going to sort of pull against myself.
So I'll be kind of pulling forward with
my arms and pushing back with my legs.
[BLANK AUDIO] And it's also good
to do some squats here and there.
Particularly when we're standing
while playing, our legs and
knees become much more of a consideration
than when we're just sitting.
So it's good to keep everything loose,
it's not really rocket science,
but these are some of
the stretches that I like to do
when I'm playing, and
I hope they help you too.
[MUSIC]