improvisation for classical musicians















Videos on Left Hand and Arm Technique

The Left Hand: Using Weight and Balance I

The left hand can so easily become tight and even cramped while playing.  The urge to grab and to squeeze, especially when we are mentally tense, seems to be built deeply into human beings. We can't play with good facility if the left hand is tight.  The solution?  Use arm weight, balance, and good finger articulation.

Segment 2: The "Level Palm," Pulling the Elbow Back, and Using the "Falling Forearm" Here I discuss more fully the idea of a "level palm," also mentioned in the original video, this time referencing Gerhard Mantel's book Cello Technique, where I first learned the conceptMantel's suggestion to pull the elbow back is and play with the left fingers more parallel to the string is explored, and I also describe how I use what I call the "falling forearm" to get left-arm weight on the fingerboard.

Segment 3: The "Hanging" Arm and the "Floating" Arm  Many cellists and cello teachers recommend "hanging" the left arm from the fingerboard.  This works well, and I explain a common pitfall I've observed in less-experienced cellists trying to use this approach.  I also discuss how and why I sometimes "float" my left arm.

Right Arm/Hand Videos