There’s No Guessing in Cello

Do you ever feel like you’re guessing at where a note is?  Or where you are shifting to? I’m a firm believer that there is no guessing in cello, even when I’m playing ridiculously high notes. (Past the end of the finger board- yes, there are notes there too!)   I had never seen a fingerboard chart that shows all the notes on all the strings and it took me a long time to realize that WOW the D on the A string is right next to the G on the D string.   And it took me even longer to realize that this continued up the fingerboard.  So I go back to my original premise, that there is no guessing in cello.  There is a place where the note rings true and if you practice going to that place, that note will be there.   Shifting is a common culprit in this endeavor.  You are playing “The Swan” and there is a big shift … you’re going “somewhere” up there.  Not sure where and after a while you find the note.  The trick is now to stop.  Go back to your starting note and make your shift, remembering that it’s the arm that does the motion and then the finger lands on the note.  You have to practice doing the shift on one bow stroke from the lower note to the destination note, then back again on another bow stroke.  And you have to do this many times, over and over, so that your muscle memory will learn where your note is.   You have to pay attention to how your  arm feels as it starts and how it feels when you get to your destination note.   You have to be the teacher of your arm and your shifts because there really is no guessing in cello.

2 Replies to “There’s No Guessing in Cello”

    1. I think we all guess until we figure out where we’re going. When I want to practice getting to that B flat, I practice the shift to the A harmonic and then play the B flat. After many practices back and forth to my starting note, I can eliminate the A and just get to the B flat. I usually shift on the finger that is already down, so if on a 1, I’d shift on 1 to the A and place 2 on the B flat.

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