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Cello Lessons: Adjusting the Block Strap

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Adjusting the block strap, so
you can feel as comfortable
as possible while standing,
can take a little bit of experimentation.
But let me show you the main
features in the strap,
that you'll want to think about.
The first way to adjust the block strap,
is with this sliding adjuster
here on the bottom extension.
If I pull the slider down,
it tightens the cello and raises it.
If I pull the slider up,
it loosens the cello and lowers it.
The next adjustable slider is found
up here on the neck connector.
If I raise the slider,
the cello will loosen and go lower.
And if I lower the slider,
the cello will get higher and tighter.
This primarily effects where
I feel first position.
So, I think different people feel first
position up here, or maybe even down here.
Just put your finger where you want
first position to be, [SOUND] and
then you can adjust the height of
the neck connector slider accordingly.
Apart from those two sliders,
the chest cushion is gonna be possibly,
the most important component
in adjusting the strap.
So if you open the chest cushion,
it's gonna come with three
foam padding inserts.
I personally only use two of them.
I've got one full pad insert
across the back of it, and
then I fold the second one and
I put that on one end of the chest cushion
to help provide a nice
angle to the chest cushion.
One side is thicker than the other.
And I'm gonna place the textured part
of the chest cushion against the back
of the cello.
That helps grip the instrument and
keep it from sliding, and
I often use the chest cushion vertically,
and if I place it sort of in the middle
to left side of the instrument,
it'll give me a nice rotational angle.
You can also place the chest
cushion horizontally.
And then you'll still
get a rotational angle,
due to the angle in the chest cushion.
But it can also just sort of
distance the entire instrument,
maybe another inch or two from your body.
And the chest cushion is gonna be the most
personal part of adjusting with the strap.
If you move the chest
cushion up just an inch,
it's gonna actually make the cello kind
of fall forward and feel more vertical.
And if I pull the chest cushion down a few
inches, it's gonna support the back of
the cello and the cello will be a little
more horizontal, and so you can
really adjust it to your comfort level and
what you're used to playing while sitting.
I know there's a wide range
of preferences for cellists.
What else?
Well, you can see my
bottom extension here,
is currently on the front
side of the cello,
kind of looped around the tailpiece
before it attaches to the endpin.
Sometimes I'll actually loop it on
the side rib of the instrument, or
I won't put it on the other
side of the tailpiece.
And even, whether you put
the bottom extension here, or
just kind of put it on the opposite
side of this corner here,
they can all change subtly
the angle of the instrument, and
the more you have the strap to the side,
the more room your bow arm can have.
Although I do find that this this set
up tends to feel the most stable,
and sort of help with my rotational angle.
Up here on your shoulder,
you can also adjust
where the top end of the main body
of the strap lies on your shoulder.
I personally like to have it
really close to my neck, and
I kind of have the cello
really vertical and centered.
But some people,
especially if you still have your C peg,
then you might wanna pull the cello
slightly away from your neck, and
let the strap lie sort of on
the outer edge of your shoulder.
Another way to adjust the vertical or
horizontal feeling of the cello is,
you can pull this strap to the back of
the shoulder for a more horizontal feel,
or if I pull it to the front of
the shoulder it'll be more vertical.
So again,
you can adjust this to you preferences.
And the fascinating thing I've found with
the strap, that actually isn't really
possible with an endpin, is I can
make these adjustments within pieces,
or between phrases, or
definitely as a concert progresses.
Depending on what I want to feel for
a certain type of tune.
And it's pretty easy of just adjust
things, you know, kind of quickly.
And, you know, for big melodic sustained
sounds, I often want a different
set up then I might want for
some really tight rhythmic stuff,
and so I do feel like you can have
that flexibility with this set up.
Maybe one thing lastly I would
say is this neck connector,
you definitely want to run it
over the A string tuning peg.
So that it can stay parallel
to the side of the neck and
it will stay inside the C
shape of your left hand.
And there's really no tension on it, so
you can just still go
wherever you need to go.
But don't try and
like loop your thumb around it.
But what I was gonna say
is that if you loop it,
like I actually have it looped around
the D and the A string tuning pegs.
And that actually just changes the angle
in where the instrument is being leveraged
from just a few inches further back.
And subtle differences like that
can make a big difference in how
the cello actually responds,
when you're putting your weight into it.
If you start experimenting with all
of these features, please do send
a video submission of you sort of playing
and saying what you think works for
you and if there's anything you're still
struggling to find comfort with and
I am definitely excited and
happy to help you.
So I hope you enjoyed playing standing up,
and I can't wait to see you play.