Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Playing Thumbless

After yesterday's thumb problems, I skipped my weekly Cellocracy practice last night and didn't practice this morning before today's lesson.

We spent today's lesson focused on my left thumb. For the next two weeks I'm not supposed to use my thumb at all [except when needed to move my hand to certain positions - and then immediately let it go]. While my thumb is dangling free, I'm supposed to consciously wiggle it slightly while playing. I'm supposed to think of letting the weight of my hanging arm pull my intonating finger into the string; instead of pushing the finger down onto the string from above. I'm supposed to center the weight on the finger that's playing the note. Any other fingers [as appropriate] should only lightly rest on the string.

As it turns out, when I think about vibrating that note, I'm doing it right.

We played through a few new pieces she'd given me last time and then worked on the Vivaldi piece. I played everything slowly, and at all times, thumbless. My teacher had to remind me, frequently, to let go of the thumb. By the end of the lesson, though, it seemed to be working.

No thumb pain tonight!

I shall be following your thumbless efforts with great interest. I tend to use my thumb to generate the force necessary for good intonation and as a result it is usually sore first thing in the morning. Each evening when I start practice I remind myself to not use my thumb but almost immediately I find myself squeezing with it again.

I'll have to try the conscious wiggling while playing to see how that works. I need to do something as unlearning bad habits takes far longer than learning good ones.
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