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Checkpoints for Home Practice: Cello

By Phyllis YoungMusical Instrument.

General Position

  1. Are you sitting erect with some weight on the balls of your feet?
  2. Are your shoulders relaxed and not twisted?
  3. Is your body balanced, so that you can easily rock sideways with your cello?
  4. Is the C peg string peg somewhat near your left ear?
  5. Can your left hand easily touch the fingerboard nut and the bridge? Does the fingerboard look like | and not / to someone facing the cello?

Bow Arm and Hand

  1. Are the spaces between your fingers about the same as when you hang your hand?
  2. Do your fingers and thumb have a clingy sensation when they hold the bow? Is it as though you could “feel” through the bow?
  3. Is your bow cutting the string in a line parallel to the bridge?
  4. Is your bow about halfway between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge?
  5. Is your index finger making contact with the bow stick slightly on its side and about halfway between the first and second knuckles?
  6. Do the large knuckles form a line that runs parallel to the stick?
  7. Do you have a different arm level for each string?
  8. Is your thumb curved and not tense?
  9. When playing at the frog, do your hand and arm form a curve? Is your wrist higher than your hand? Does your elbow point down?
  10. When playing at the point, does your forearm pronate? Is there a direct line from your elbow to the bow?
  11. Does your bow sink into the string? Is the string vibrating freely?
  12. Is there fluidity in your motions?

Left Arm and Hand

  1. Is there a direct line running straight from your left elbow through the big knuckle of the fourth finger and down to the fingerboard through the finger pad?
  2. Is your elbow positioned so that you can quickly slide up and down the fingerboard?
  3. Is your thumb straight and opposite the second finger pad? And not pushing up?
  4. Do your hand and fingerboard form a tunnel?
  5. Are your finger pads spaced evenly when playing in close spacing? And are fingers curved?
  6. Is your first finger tilted back slightly toward the fingerboard nut?
  7. Is the energy flowing through the “playing” finger only, although the “supporting” fingers are also on the string?
  8. Does it feel as though there is suction in the fingerboard?
  9. Does your hand show a nice profile when viewed by someone to your right?
  10. Is your elbow free and loose?
  11. Can you lift and drop your fingers quickly from the base joints? Does the action feel springy?
  12. Have you checked your “springs”? Is every joint flexible?

Are the fingers flexible at all times?

  1. Are the thumb and little finger curved? (Important for flexibility)
  2. Does the bow cross the forefinger between the first and second knuckle? This is slightly different for each hand.
  3. Are the second and third fingers wrapped around the frog? If there is a dot on the frog, cover it with the fingers.
  4. Are the hand knuckles soft at all times?
  5. Does the little finger sit on the top of the stick and not hang over? On the up bow, does it have the feeling of pushing the bow up?
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