In my series of blogs on the technical aspects of cello playing, I have been focusing on various parts of the body and how you can best use them to play cello in a healthy, efficient way, and to create the best sound. In my previous blog, how to use the left hand in cello playing, I talked about the angle of the left hand and how to shift freely and effortlessly. Here, I will talk about a not so often discussed aspect; the importance of balance in cello playing.
In most sports, athletes rely heavily on their sense of balance to channel power and strength to the places they need it most, as in a golfer or baseball player’s swing. Not only does balance contribute to your sense of confidence, but it helps establish some of the most important strength needed in cello playing: core strength. With any good technique, the bigger muscles we can use to draw strength from, the longer it will take for us to feel tired and weak, allowing us to have peak performance and endurance even through long rehearsals and performances.
Many of the big muscles that we will use for cello playing are found in our core; specifically the oblique and abdominal muscles. In order for those muscles to function at their best, we must be balanced in a healthy way from the ground up. This means flat feet, even sit-bones, and right-angles at our knees and waist. To feel this, try rocking side to side on your sit bones, shifting the weight back and forth between your feet. After you come back to center, try feeling your core as being balanced over your feet and knees.
Next, try working through a scale with all of your weight on one foot or the other. This will undoubtedly feel very uncomfortable, and your endurance will most likely be a fraction of its optimal value. In open string work, try to expand your sense of balance by shifting your weight away from your right foot and towards your left for a down bow, and vice versa for an up bow.
This will make pulling to the tip feel easier, and maybe even make your bow feel a little longer!
The importance of balance in cello playing is an aspect that must not be overlooked, and naturally leads to better posture, more endurance and better sound.
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Vibrato in Cello Playing
Advice on understanding and adding vibrato effect to your cello playing.