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.

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4 Responses

  1. OK, I have to ask. What kind of a camera / editing software are you using for these pics. It seems as though they have been “softened”. Thanks.

  2. I used my new Canon PowerShot and iPhoto. One of the pics has not been altered with the exception of cropping, and two of them have had the temperature warmed up because the flash went off and made her look like a ghoul!

  3. hahaha – I’m practically crying from laughter over here! Maybe too much coffee today. I had to correct my previous comment. I had written ‘vibrator’ instead of ‘vibrato’. Who knew that it was only 1 letter difference. Anyway…just trying to keep your blog PG! Here it is again…

    Hmm…I definitely have a smashed pinky. I think it got straighter and straighter when I needed a wider vibrato and then it just never went back to the curved position. What is the pinky position when vibrating on that finger?

  4. My teacher had me practice your #2 – using my arm to place my fingers down and not think so much about ‘typing’. For some reason that helped me immensely and also gave my fingers a lot more support. Thanks for the post! My teacher has pointed out the same things!

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