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Tina Guo Cello Tutorial: CELLO BASICS

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hi guys welcome to the very first

episode of my new cello tutorial series

thank you guys so much for joining me

here so I wanted to start out the very

first lesson with the absolute basics of

absolute foundation so whether you play

classical cello or you play a different

type of cello like an electric cello

crossover music I still personally

believe that starting with a very strong

classical foundation is super important

to make sure that you build the right

technique the read the right foundation

in your left and right hands so I'm just

going to start out assuming that the

people watching for those of you who are

watching that might have some experience

playing cello you might find it

interesting to maybe listen to and

witness my personal ideas on how I think

the body is best balanced while playing

the classical cello but again all of our

bodies are different so please keep that

in mind in the end you have to do what's

right for you but for those of you who

have absolutely no idea how to play the

cello this video is just for you and

this is my I guess my collection of

knowledge that I've gotten from my two

cello teachers that I've had in my life

the first one he taught me cello from

the time I was seven until I was 18 and

that was my father my dad daddy glow oh

and then while I was in high school I

started taking I believe it was weekly

lessons in Los Angeles with my dad's

cello teacher who was the amazing

Eleanor Schofield who later became my

professor at USC when I studied

classical performance there okay so

ladies and gentlemen this is a cello

there are four strings and the strings

are a D G and C so you have the highest

string which is over to my left going

moving to the right it goes lower and

lower and lower in fifths so the very

first thing we're just gonna put the bow

to the side and not worry about that

right now so all we're going to worry

about is the correct position for the

cello to be in alignment with our bodies

to make sure that we are well balanced

that we can play later on when we get

all emotional and excited and we play

fast up or whatnot we have to make sure

that we have a solid core foundation

that we're working from so the best

thing to do first is that when you're

sitting find a seat for me I like to

have my legs so that they're I'll show

you a different camera angle so I like

to have my legs so that they're just

slightly tilted towards the ground it

gets a little tricky because I also have

to calculate the chair height and the

height of my heels if I'm wearing heels

but in any situation you never want your

legs to be like higher going this way up

so it needs to be either parallel to the

ground or slightly tilted down which is

what I would prefer for various reasons

but also so that you don't hit yourself

with a bow because if your leg is like

up here obviously it's gonna be in the

way the books so that's not good so make

sure your legs are tilted down a little

bit you're seated on a chair

I'm just seated on that actually a very

inexpensive keyboard stool that I got on

Amazon my favourite site for like $25

which works perfectly fine I practice on

this chair you can use any other chair

that's fly and the right height but

without sides it can have it back but

not the side the side arms because again

the sides will get in the way so I sit

up straight

you put the cello in between your legs

so you open your legs okay

and then for me because I am a female

and males and females have slightly

different body anatomies I put my my

right here this part of the cello goes

right I would say it's right below where

the middle of my bra is so it's just

underneath my chest right here but I've

seen a lot of different cello players

playing with different positions for me

that's why I like to hold it so it's out

of the way but it's balanced and then

for your legs the rest them not don't

clench super super tight just kind of

let them rest in a soft but sturdy way

to hold the instrument in place so it's

not wobbling back and forth right okay

so legs are parallel slightly tilted

down to the floor

your back is straight your shoulders are

back and you feel in your core and your

stomach that that's where the center of

your body is so this is a lot like yoga

I guess so in the center okay

now we're not gonna have that we're not

gonna involve the right hand yet we're

just gonna worry about the left hand

which is the hand that fingers that

plays the notes on the instrument so

this is called the fingerboard just like

a guitar or a bass or a violin the

fingerboard right the notes the higher

okay it's I remember when I started

playing the cello

I would got really confused because

higher meant lower on the cello so when

you move towards the ground the notes

are actually getting higher so just

think backwards

okay so when you when your fingers go

towards the ground down the notes are

actually getting higher so


haider lower right okay so in the very

very basic foundation of cello playing

we're just gonna worry about the very

first position that you start to learn

with when you start the cello so first

position you want to take your left arm

wiggle a little bit everything has to be

loose very loose no gripping no tension

no tightness and you're going to put so

imagine there's like a golf ball in your

hand a soft golf ball a bouncy golf ball

so it's kind of just like rounded right

so a natural rounded position and you

want to just take that and put it onto

your fingerboard now for those of you

taking cello lessons your cello teacher

probably has put tape on your

fingerboard which is how I also started

and that helps you mark where each

finger goes so after time don't don't

get a patient be sure to start with the

tape because it really helps to make

sure that you can develop muscle memory

so you remember exactly where your

fingers go without looking but when you

start you really need to be patient and

leave the tape on so we would have a

tape here for the front for the first

finger right so you want your fingers to

be nice and rounded so everything is

rounded and relaxed okay

and your the position of your forearm

your left forearm is not like this it's

not against your body like this it's

just like kind of out or relaxed I don't

know what ankle that would be but just

kind of relax at the side again no

tension just wherever it kind of falls

naturally but allows you to have a

completely straight line from your elbow

all the way up you don't see my wrist

bent like that or like that it's

completely straight everything is in

alignment everything is straight okay

next I'm gonna take this bow okay so

when I started playing the cello I

remember I thought you held it like this

so this is not how you hold a bow you

don't want to grip it so again

everything is super loose now from when

you reach

I guess a point to where you're

comfortable with the bow you will want

to hold it like this like this so where

your thumb is kind of tucked into this

little cubby here but for now since

we're just working on the absolute basic

foundations for me I played with my

thumb underneath the Frog here for a

good I would say six months when I

started just to build the balance

because it is kind of heavy and you do

get tired when you first start playing

so what we're gonna do same thing as the

left hand you're gonna take your right

arm relaxed wiggle it out be really


okay wiggle wiggle now you're gonna just

drop it like it's not dead weight but

just very relaxed drop it okay I'm gonna

show it one more time let's do a

different angle okay so it's very I'm

holding it with this hand just to make

sure I don't drop it okay

so it's very very loose but if you have

it here very very very relaxed and if

you're holding it in this position I

have the stick on top this part the top

part of the boat is in between what is

this my big knuckle big knuckle here big

knuckles so I have it like this and my

fingers are not clenched I see some

students that play with a very very

tight clench it or this is not we're not

you know claws are not little monsters

we want to relax right so keep in mind

though that when you have the bow on the

string here gravity is gonna push it

down me up but the strings are there to

hold it up right so you don't need a

grip there's no reason to grip super

super tight so you're just gonna hold it

like this


damn bow and up bow this is something

that really confused me a lot when I

started playing the cello so I wanted to

tell you guys about the way that I found

was the easiest to remember so down bow

and up Oh are just simply directions

that the bow is moving in and Dumbo is

to your right so to our rights right up

bow is to the left down bow just to the

right up bow is to the left now what is

an easier way to remember turn your bow

90 degrees is that 90 degrees yes 90

degrees right which way is up up down oh

that's easy

okay so up down now slowly turn your arm

while you're still doing that if you get

confused up down up down up down

oh yeah up down left right left right up

down and I would do that over and over

because I would totally forget oh my

gosh which way is up bow a bow is the

symbol that's a little V down bow is a

symbol that's like kind of like a square

without the bottom and I'd be like Oh

what is that bow so up down up down

oh yeah so that's a little trick about

how to remember which way is up and

which way is down for your bow hand

another super important foundation basic

is the direction of which your bow arm

and your bow moves when you're playing

that very slightly on each street okay

so when you play on the very outside

string which is the a string you want to

move this is the Frog right the Frog is

where your hand is so it's a heavy part

of the boat that you hold you want to

move it away from your body when you

play on the a string

your your chest is opening


we play it this way not only does it

look super awkward the direction of the

bow is gonna start slightly it gets a

stream and doesn't sound very good so

you want to go outward so when you play

go ah right

okay one more time


just one long boat and that is a down

bow down boom okay the D and D are in

the middle so those are kind of like you

can do it just do a kind of

perpendicular to the string right so

right across

save a g-string



now can you guess what we're gonna do

with the C string that's right the

complete opposite of the upper string so

the C string is the lowest string the

thickest one and what we're gonna do is

take the boat and we're going to draw it

towards the Frog instead of going out

like the top string we're gonna draw it

so it's like this right so we're gonna

draw it in towards our buddy



now this might be something that you

want to worry about a little bit later

in your cello studies but one tip that I

do have that I thought I just might

mention right now because it really

changed my cello life and the tone

production and the power and the sound

from the bow it's this so instead when

you try to play loud when you try to

make a big sound again it's not about

clenching it's not about tension because

you get a really ugly sound if you press

really hard so if you're pressing hard


disgusting sound right and we don't want

that so how do you get a smooth sound

that is sonorous if fat and loud you

want to first of all again you never

press with like tension in your bow arm

right the gravity the weight of gravity

so if you just like put your arm on your

other arm and completely like give a

dead weight your arms are really heavy

you really don't need a push anymore

than the actual weight of your arm

already if you're fully relaxed into the

instrument so


now the trick


Schoenfeld taught me and i did not learn

this until i was I think 18 or 19 years

old and it was like an epiphany right

she said use your entire body when you

play so use your body weight it's not

just about your arms and your fingers

and your hands clenching you're trying

to move around you have to use your

whole body so when you're pret when

you're drawing down this way if you're

playing at the lowest string


what can you use as kind of a

counterbalance to that you use your

chest use your body to kind of press

forward so you're pressing the strings

forward as you're drying it down and

what happens you get a bigger sound

without actually pressing your arm down

like that right so



one more time

so sometimes if you see jealous or let's

just talk about me you see me moving

around a lot

some of it is emotion I do care it get

carried away but a lot of it is actually

I guess you call it

cello dynamics aerodynamics when you

move when you play when you're doing

something that really isn't natural

you know like I'm literally holding well

this is not wood this is carbon-fiber

but holding a stick of carbon fiber wood

with horsehair yes this is horse hair

dyed pink whoo-hoo

in your sign against pieces of metal

string attached like a box of wood for

hours and hours every day that is not

natural that's not natural for everybody

so we have to find a way to continue

moving and to try to use our bodies so

that we're not just clenching in one

area to try to get to try to play the

cello so try to relax and


and also for example when we're playing

the very outer stream what I like to do

I like to tilt in a little bit so I see

I'm tilting in out in and it just really

kind of you know in addition to I think

alleviating getting really tired from

like just being super stiff it's sitting

still and they're just like you only

have your arms and your shoulders moving

everything else is like a robot just



and later later down the line when you

play when you've been playing for a

little bit while and you're kind of

going into higher positions this kind of

leaning forward thing is actually

necessary so that you can reach the

higher notes right okay when we play the

cello we use all five fingers on our

left hand to do the fingering so it's

not like piano because on piano or

thumbs or one right so for those of you

that play the piano don't get confused

sorry I know it's a little confusing I

got confused myself because I actually

started playing the piano so when I

switch to cello I had to kind of like

move all my fingers over one so 0 1 2 3

4 and it's a little bit easier to

remember because of the position that

your hand is on the fingerboard your

your thumb is kind of like invisible

right it's underneath

so just remember 1 2 3 & 4

and those are your fingers now when do

we ever use a zero later down the line

when you start going past position here

we will start using our thumbs the side

of our thumbs that's why mine looks a

little wack hope to press down on the

strings so like this just so you guys

don't right so we have a little bit



and then on sheet music you'll see like

that little zero with a little line

underneath it kind of like like that so

we're using the thumb okay well

hopefully that was educational and

somewhat helpful for you guys a little

bit for those of you who are starting to

play the cello who might be interested

in learning how to play the cello

I will be doing more videos and if you

have any suggestions or if you have any

particular things that you want to learn

about please do comment below and let me

know some of the ideas that I have for

upcoming ones will definitely include

very specific techniques for those of

you who are not absolute beginners so

things like smooth legato shifting how

to play very smooth shifting when you're

shifting really really big distances on

the fingerboard building speed tone

production vibrato my favorite one all

the different types of Roboto Armour

about arm vibrato wrists from Prato

finger vibrato because they're all

different it shouldn't be

one-size-fits-all salamu vibrato fits

all and musical interpretation

performance and so anything that

anything that you guys have questions on

and it also doesn't necessarily have to

be specifically cello related maybe you

play a different instrument maybe it's

about the music industry so please leave

your comments below and let me know what

you would like to learn about and I look

forward to seeing you guys soon bye