Tips for Playing Cello

When you're playing cello, there are a few things you can do to dramatically improve the sound quality. While nothing will make that cello rental sound like a Stradivarius, paying attention to your bow, frets and technique can get the best sound possible out of any cello that you use.

Cello Bows
Better quality bows produce richer sound. There are four different characteristics of cello bows: weight, strength, balance and flexibility. The heavier the bow is, the more effort you need to change direction. A heavier bow's balance point is closer to the tip, which makes the bow much harder to maneuver. Lighter bows are more maneuverable, but sustaining a forte requires more effort. 

For concertos, you might want a heavier bow. For complicated, intricate pieces, use a lighter bow. If you can only afford one bow, choose a bow with good balance to play both types of music. 

A stiff bow has tight hair and makes the sound from the strings a bit empty. A softer bow allows more hair to touch the strings and has slower response, but gives a fuller sound.

Taping the Frets
When learning how to play the cello, it makes practicing easier if you tape the frets. A cello fingerboard does not have frets like a guitar does, so you have to learn where to put your fingers. You can learn much better by taping the fingerboard where your fingers should hit. After you practice enough to know how far apart your fingers should be on the fingerboard, you can remove the tape.

If you do not want to tape all of the notes, tape the first fingering, where the B is on the A string. Tape the position for the fourth finger. You can also check if the pinky finger is hitting in the appropriate place by checking the notes. The fourth finger on the A string is a D. This D is an octave higher than the open D string. If the two strings are in tune with each other, your fourth finger is hitting in the proper place.

If the first and fourth fingers are hitting the right places, most likely the second and third fingers will hit in the right place. The taping also helps when you are learning thumb position and for tuning.

Playing with Your Arm
Instead of just moving your wrist when you are playing, use your whole arm. The arm has more strength than the wrist; using your entire arm will not only enhance your playing, but will prevent your shoulders from getting too tired.

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