starTension in the Right Arm


I am a cellist by night and anatomist/neuroscientist by day who discovered the ICS via the usual circuitous netsurf route. I wonder about point 5 on bowing in your master class report. Physics would suggest that the wrist alone has a lot less mass than the whole arm, therefore the same muscular force can provide more acceleration necessary to stop and change direction. I have noticed that as I play faster, I shift toward more use of the wrist while keeping the forearm relatively still. Far be it from me to argue with a master class presenter, but more discussion of this might be interesting.


Great question! Naturally, this depends on how fast you are going. I don't think this would apply to tremolo, for instance. :)

The goal of Ms. Chuat/Mr. Starker's method is to eliminate all points of unnecessary tension. Hold your right arm out as if you are playing with the bow. Move the wrist rapidly from side to side as if bowing, keeping the rest of the arm stationary. Do you notice a tightening in your shoulder? I definitely do. This is not good.

The goal is to free up the arm so that you minimize tension that can eventually lead to injury, and also to free up your technique so that you can express yourself without the cello "getting in the way." Your arm should be in motion at all times, it should flow, it should feel like a wave. Be ever vigilant of tension in your shoulder.

Moving with the whole arm gives one more power too. The wrist is relatively weak.

Tim Janof

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