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Cello Lessons: Hand Postion: Octaves

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The octave major scale hand position, when
we started exploring in thumb position,
is bookended by a third finger and
thumb articulating the octave.
That hand shape is one of our most
useful and movable tools on the cello.
And we can take that octave hand shape,
move it through all sorts of scales and
And it's gonna show up in
a lot of compositions, and
also it'll come in handy in improvisation.
So how do we practice octaves?
Well let's start with a B major scale.
I'm gonna put third finger on B,
on the D
then I'll lift the thumb
and put the thumb on B and the G string.
I've kind of got
my three fingers in half steps.
B flat and A,
right here at the top of the octave
hand shape.
And you'll notice I'm lifting my arm and
my elbow so that even though my
arm is really high, I'm sending all
of my arm weight into the cello.
So that I'm not relying just on my
finger muscles to push the strings down.
So once you get these two notes in tune,
you can simply play a scale one octave up
and down.
It will sound like this.
You want
to make sure to
release while
you're shifting.
This exercise is particularly
prone to chronic holding of tension
particularly in your thumb muscle here.
And so you want to make sure that you're
not just squeezing and holding but
that particularly when you're shifting,
you're using that as an opportunity to
And we'll be using our arm arcs that we
talked in our shifting principles video.
In addition to exploring major scales,
we can also practice chromatic octaves.
So if I stated with my third finger on A,
bring the thumb
for A on the G string a chromatic octave
practice might sound like this.
The thing that
this chromatic exercise
is really good for
is tracking.
As you move up the finger board the notes
get closer together, so
this octave frame is gonna slowly,
shrink as I get higher and higher.
When I get here,
I'm at a certain distance,
but when I'm at the first
position I'm probably about this big here
and then halfway up
the smaller, and it keeps getting smaller.
All the way.
So now like all the fingers
are touching by the time I'm up here.
So it'll help you track,
you know, the breath of the octave
frame as you go up the cello.
You can try this,
you know, on each string.
But the octave exercise is going to be
really good for developing finger strength
and also solidifying our thumb
position octave hand shape.
That's going to be so
important as we're playing in
the upper positions of the cello.