Cello LH Pain (If any cellist can help)
Disclaimer: I know I this is a violin website, but I also know there are some cellists on here, and I’ve been trying to find some general answers online to my problem without much success. I’ve purchased a cello technique book which will be coming in the mail in a couple days.
Background: I have been practicing violin for a couple years. I had a teacher up until a couple months ago. I bought a cello from Shar back in 2015 just for fun, and I take it out every once and a while just for fun as well. I’ve never taken cello lessons, but I have done some research online as to basic principles and theory behind posture and playing. I haven’t sat down to play the cello seriously until a couple days ago, like actually practicing scales to a metronome and doing long tones. I wanted to start making my own music and would love to be able to incorporate cello as a middle voice instead of something like a guitar.
Problem: Any time that I’ve ever played cello, I start experiencing pain in my left wrist. Sometimes it almost feels like the circulation in my arm is being cut off. I know to keep the hand in line with the fore arm as much as possible, and I focus on that while letting the weight of my arm drop to hold the finger down to the string, but I know that there’s more to it than that. I used to have some strain in my right hand as well, but lately it’s kind of disappeared. I think I’ve learned how to really relax and sink my weight into the bow, but maybe I’m not managing the same with the left hand?
I know a video would help. I’m typing this from work since it’s slow, so I’ll try to work on that tomorrow if I can. I’m looking into finding a teacher currently through friends, but until then I still want to be able to practice and use cello in my musical projects.
If any of you on here are cello players and have basic LH posture/principles that you could share with me, even with crossing strings or the position of the thumb, or anything at all, I would GREATLY appreciate it.
At this stage you can think of your left arm as hanging by the finger that is stopping the string from the fingerboard. We generally do not play the cello with all our fingers in place on the strings as we do on the violin. The palm of the left hand is kept parallel to the cello's neck - well, except for sometimes when playing with the index finger in 1st position.
Thank you for the advice, Andrew.
Fingers square to the board, not slanted back like a violinist. Also don't cock your fingers and wrist backwards. Your fingers should be cupped forward, not splayed awkwardly backward away from the palm.
Not a cellist, but will say that if you feel any numbness, tingling or lack of blood supply, you ought to stop playing and search professional help.
Michael, thank you as well for you feedback. I was going to post a video earlier, but I've been watching others cellists playing and I'm starting to see more about the fingers sort of hanging there awkwardly. I'm thinking my thumb needs to be a bit more centered on the back of the neck. I feel like most cellists have just a bit more room between the palm and the neck than I'm allowing for.
Yes, cellists put their thumbs on the back of the neck, not resting the neck in the crook of the thumb.
Speaking for myself - I've been playing cello for 70 years:
Your life will be easier if you don't try to "nail" the strings to the fingerboard to get a good solid sound. In fact Victor Sazer's book recommends placing your finger tip in the fingerboard to the right of the string you are stopping - it works! The real pain will come to your left thumb when and if you start playing in thumb positions and you try to stop the string with the side of your thumb. But with a teacher you will work it out.
First, I am glad you have a teacher. I hope this person plays well, and can teach you effectively.
A good teacher is a great investment. Well done.
Beware! Don't get too stuck on the idea of staying on the tips of your fingers, it can be the source of a lot of pain. Watch some videos of Rostropovich!
Andrew, I find this to be quite staggering information (warning about fingertip pain).
Graeme, I agree with you completely.
This is incredibly interesting. However, I should have clarified that my teacher wanted me to stay on the tips of my fingers for now to help promote a properly bent base knuckle whereas I was continually bending in the opposite direction and essentially collapsing the whole hand frame. Especially in the first and second fingers.
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