starTape On Your Fingerboard

Does anyone have any thoughts about the use of tape to mark the 'frets' on the cello for child or adult beginners. I'm an adult beginner and my teacher uses tapes when teaching childern using the 'Suzuki' method. I've found it helpful to have tapes on the first three 'frets' and at the octave but don't want to get too dependent on them.

Any other suggestions for learning where to put my fingers to make the 'right' notes would be appreciated. Looking foward to hearing from you. Keep up the good work.


The use of tape is a great technique for learning where the notes are. One you get a feel for how far apart your fingers need to be, and once you get your ear trained so that you can tell when something is out of tune, then the tapes can come off. The tape saves you frustration and the teacher agony. :)

My answer below is based on the assumption that you are learning first position right now.

You might try taking all the tapes off except the first one, where the B on the A string is. In a sense, the first finger is the most crucial, since, if it is out of tune, your other fingers are virtually guaranteed to be out of tune too. If your first finger is sharp, the more likely event since gravity pulls our arm down the fingerboard, everything else will be sharp too.

The next most crucial finger is the 4th finger (the pinky). If this finger is flat, you will be squeezing your 2nd and 3rd fingers flat too. The great thing about the 4th finger is that you can always check it with the open string below. For example, the 4th finger on the A string is D, which is one octave above your open D string. If your 4th finger is in tune with the open string below, you are in great shape.

If your 1st finger and your 4th finger are in tune, your fingers in between are likely to be in tune too, since the hand is sort of naturally in tune, up to a point at least :)

The tape at the octave is nice to have for string tuning and for learning thumb position. But it isn't really necessary since there is a natural harmonic at the octave, also known as the half-string harmonic. This harmonic provides a nice check point for playing in tune up there. But you may not have gotten to this point on the cello yet.

Tim Janof

jet bulletClick on the jet to return to the main tips page.