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Cello Lessons: Block Position Major Scale: Fingering for Improvisation

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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]
An important step in our path as
an improviser is to learn all the notes
we can hit in a scale without shifting.
Some people call what
we're about to learn,
scales of convenience or even windows.
I learned it as block fingering,
which actually has nothing to
do with me or my last name.
But the principle of this scale
fingering is to find all of the notes,
let's say in D major, that I can access
in one position, without shifting.
This also will not use any open strings.
So in the key of D major,
I would ask you to find all
the notes that you can access in
first position without shifting.
I want you to pause the video, and just
take five minutes to find them on your
own, and then you can press play again.
Pause.
Okay.
Unpause.
Now that you spend a moment to explore
this on your own, you probably discovered
that all the notes in D major
[MUSIC],
that you can hit in first position,
sound like this.
No open
strings.
No shifting either.
So I've got one extent to four,
one extent to four, one, three, four,
one, three, four.
Whenever we're playing a major scale
with the root on first finger,
on the C string,
we can use this pattern of fingerings.
[MUSIC]
Explore that slowly,
a few times up and down.
[MUSIC]
You can press pause to do that.
I'll keep moving on, and
if I shift up a position to
second position, and
I have first finger on E.
I want you to, then again,
find all the notes that you can
hit in second position in D major.
After you figure that out,
I will confirm that they are,
[MUSIC]
one, three, four.
One, three, four.
One, two, four.
One, two, four.
[MUSIC]
So we're in second position,
and these are all
the notes in the D major.
You may notice that the bottom
two strings in second position
[MUSIC]
are not only the same fingers, but
the same pitches, as the upper
strings in the first position.
[MUSIC]
It's just down an octave.
And the same thing is gonna happen,
as we move from position to position.
The upper two strings in second position.
[MUSIC]
Become the same fingerings on the lower
strings of third position.
[MUSIC]
And then, we'll keep moving.
Extend one back.
[MUSIC]
And
then,
[MUSIC]
once we've gotten here,
we've actually landed with
the root on first finger.
[MUSIC]
Which is coincidentally where we started.
[MUSIC]
Two octaves lower.
So what we've got,
is we've actually recycled the pattern.
We've gotten all the way back to
the beginning of the root on first finger.
And so, we're sharing these pairs of
hand shapes on the upper strings and
lower strings,
every time we shift up a position.
Let me play through, maybe, the first
five positions with the metronome, and
you can join me.
And you'll see what it sounds
like to play block fingering.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Now I'll shift
up to second
position.
[MUSIC]
You can do
this with a drone too.
So we really hear ourselves
rooted in the key.
[MUSIC]
Keep
shifting up
now to fourth
position.
[MUSIC]
I'll
stop
there.
You could keep going up the finger board,
although it gets, you know,
a little more awkward as you keep going,
obviously.
The best thing about these hand shapes is,
because they keep repeating, and
we're not using any open strings,
it's the same patterns in every key.
So, once we learn these shapes,
we could play it all in D flat major, and
it would all be the same fingering.
So let me demonstrate
[MUSIC],
I'll call out the fingerings, and
we'll do the same thing in D.
[MUSIC]
If we shift down a half step,
we have D flat.
[MUSIC]
So I want you to explore these block
fingerings in D major first,
and there's a download that
includes the written out
fingerings in each position,
and then you'll start to
apply them to other keys.
After you simply identify and
explore these hand shapes,
the next step is to start applying them in
our continuous rhythmic improv exercise.
It's gonna really, really help when
you're trying to play you know,
continuous eighth notes,
to be able to know all the notes you can
access without having to constantly shift.
So once you get use to these patterns,
they're really start to help
you in that CRI exercise,
and also any other
improvisational situation,
where you wanna be able to stay in
the key, without having to shift.