Jessie and I have had lessons for the past 2 summers, and this summer, we’re really going for a solid, efficient left hand. What she has going here is an interesting overcorrection; I cautioned her against playing with flat/smashed fingers, and in the effort to maintain a curved shape, her fingers are now all acting separately.

I see a lot of things like this. Teachers need to thread the needle between describing the nature of a large gesture (arm to elbow to wrist) and correcting minutiae that don’t function well during those gestures (decompress your fingers and go for a curve). What often happens is that they lose the larger gesture and end up with a whole series of nearly correct postures that do not work together at all! Something to consider when your teacher offers a technical correction is that it is in addition to everything that was said thus far.

These pictures were taken a week ago, and we have another lesson today, where we will see what kind of shape (literally) her hand is in. Some of the elements we’re working on are:

1) a relaxed wrist that is in a simple line with the rest of the arm

2) moving the arm forward to help the pinky stay curved. (it’s a small move for the arm, as opposed to the huge effort required if you try to bridge the gap by straightening the pinky)

3) moving the entire hand closer to the cello, so it looks and works in relation to the neck and the fingerboard, rather than “types” above and on top of the instrument

This change should feel like a redefinition of the whole left hand concept, so we might pass through some interesting attempts on the way to a better technique, but I thought it would be cool to have a look at all of the steps and hear from someone doing such major renovations to their approach.