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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Effective demonstration for left hand position

I was reviewing position with my students last week and I noticed that I have a few students who still try to play with collapsed knuckles in the left hand.  We do finger exercises to strengthen the knuckles, but there are always some students who struggle and try to play with collapsed knuckles....especially cellists.  This causes many problems with technique and intonation.  I always nag students to fix position and keep the hand rounded, but I thought of this little demonstration to help them realize the importance of proper position and the importance to play using finger-tips.

First, I told all students to pretend their right arms were cello or bass fingerboards and to hold their arm in front of them.  With their left hand, I asked them to demonstrate a correct cello position on their arm...only with collapsed knuckles.  I reminded students about how we never want to squeeze with our thumbs, and how we 'pull-in' with our arms to add the necessary weight to get the strings down.  Students were able to feel that their thumbs were loose...and they could feel the lack of effectiveness of their collapsed knuckles when sinking in.  We then did the same exercise...only with a rounded hand with fingertips on the arm.  Wow...right away, students could FEEL the difference with the fingertips sinking into their arms.  There was more focus with the finger-tips and students could see why it was so much more effective to play using a rounded hand with strong finger-tips.  This demonstration really helped students have the desire to fix position and play correctly.  I saw them checking their own position frequently throughout the lesson and I immediately heard a huge improvement in tone and intonation.  Try it!

Collapsed knuckles
Rounded hand on fingertips

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