Left Hand Position

Gerhard Mantel

In positioning the left hand for "first position," the thumb rests under the neck, and the second finger approaches the surface of the fingerboard and string generally opposite the thumb. Thus, squeezing the second finger and thumb together enables the cellist to press down the a string, and play the note "middle c." The thumb must remain under the neck, and not hang off in mid-air while the cellist is playing.

The left elbow should be raised away from the body a few inches, but not straight out like an airplane's wing! This will become more important later as the cellist's technique enables finger positions on the fingerboard over the cello's body. In these higher positions the thumb is no longer kept under the neck, but comes over on top of the strings, and acts like another finger. The left elbow must be held relatively high while playing these "thumb positions."

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