CelloBello Lessons with Paul Katz: Eliminating Left Hand Tension

CelloBello Lessons with Paul Katz: Eliminating Left Hand Tension


I often hear people talking about making their
fingers strong? I actually think it’s not necessary to think
that if you’re playing the, for some people it is, but not if you’re playing the cello
a couple of hours a day. If you’re playing the cello two, three, four
hours a day like most serious people are, your hands are going to be strong enough. So what you want to do is you want to think
about loosening them, not tightening them, right? What you need is speed. The speed of the strike and the looseness. Speed and looseness replace muscle. You can practice it with the bow, without
the bow. And the hand should feel very loose and very
alive. Right. So do a scale once. Right, and I liked what I saw because there
was a little bit of forearm movement, you feel how you’re…good. So very quickly, go up here into thumb position…and
do this and feel the fingers from the forearm, back from the forearm, raise…right. That makes your finger very strong. Student:Is that rotating like that? Paul: Yeah, I don’t quite have…it’s more
sort of like opening and closing a door. Like do this in the air once. You notice how you, if you…that’s a reflex,
you can just throw it and it bounces back? That’s it. See how strong your fingers…they’re not
tight, are they? That looks good. And what happens with that is as you throw
your fingers you have instant vibrato. Like a dart. Bing, like a dart, yes. Without your hand being tight. OK, very good. If we go back down to here, when you’re throwing
your fingers, just do that a few times, and kind of get an awareness in your thumb. What does your thumb feel like? It feels loose right now. Good! Right? That’s good. Because, here, I love to have people do this. I was…just hold up your hands like this. I was taking a Tai Chi lesson a long time
ago, many years ago, and my Tai Chi teacher said “your hand is tight because your thumbs
are tight.” And I said “what?” And it immediately started to sound like a
cello lesson to me, and it was. It like, you tighten up your hand, your thumb,
your hand feels tight. Think of loosening your thumb, your whole
hand goes loose. Right? Yeah. Right. So that goes for right and left hand, if we
squeeze too hard with the bow, then our fingers lock. Right? So we don’t wanna have…if you loosen your
thumb on the back of the frog, then you will have a natural motion from your fingers here,
right? Same thing here. If you, you can be releasing your fingers
but if you’re squeezing then you’ve tightened up your whole hand, so you wanna, that was
nice when you said that you felt a looseness on the back. Yeah, it doesn’t usually feel like that so…. So you finger, your thumb is touching the
back isn’t it? Yeah. Yeah, that’s good, that’s very healthy because
some people are trying to loosen their thumb so they take their thumb off. They can have their thumb in the air and it’ll
be tight. Right, so it’s a great reference point, it
helps us know where we are, but not…little kids particularly get the strings down by
squeezing there and right? So instead, you want to feel more like we’re
hanging the weight of our arm on a finger, right, and our thumb stays loose on the back. OK, good.

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