Left hand technique can be a tricky subject. Cellists who are new to the instrument often find themselves squeezing the neck of their cellos between the fingers and the thumb. This can create all sorts of problems that include an inability to shift smoothly and in tune. As many of my students are finding themselves in this predicament, I felt this would be a good place to talk about how we can avoid "choking the cello." The sensation you should be aiming for is almost like a hanging off of the fingerboard, similar to the sensation of hanging on a set of monkey bars at the playground. The weight of our bodies is perfectly adequate to hold down each string, without the thumb! Now, this does not mean the thumb has no job and can just hang free and be lazy. The thumb is our place keeper when extending, and serves to keep our left hand balanced. When a cellist reaches a point where he or she can play without squeezing (assuming this cellist is playing in tune), it is time to graduate to vibrato.....also known as that "shaky thing." But while we are on this subject, can we all agree to quit calling it the "shaky thing"?? :))
A big shout out to these string camp cuties. I pushed them hard last week and they met the challenge with grace and gusto!