Technique: Left-hand lightness for cellists


Richard Tunnicliffe on how to develop healthy and sustainable habits in the left hand

Cellists frequently use too much energy in the left hand, whether or not they are playing modern or Baroque instruments. This is possibly as a result of a quest for security in shifting, or clarity of articulation; or it may be a habit that creeps in from trying to be accurate in terms of timing. This overuse of the hand has negative impacts, both from a musical and a physical perspective. From a musical perspective, and this must be the starting point, percussive left-hand movement results in the production of unnecessary accents that interrupt the musical line and militate against playing legato. There is also a related tendency for the fingers to pluck the strings in a lateral movement in descending passages, which has a similar musical effect…

Already subscribed? Please sign in

Subscribe to continue reading…

We’re delighted that you are enjoying our website. For a limited period, you can try an online subscription to The Strad completely free of charge.

  • Free 7-day trial

    Not sure about subscribing? Sign up now to read this article in full and you’ll also receive unlimited access to premium online content, including the digital edition and online archive for 7 days.

    No strings attached – we won’t ask for your card details

  • Subscribe 

    No more paywalls. To enjoy the best in-depth features and analysis from The Strad’s latest and past issues, upgrade to a subscription now. You’ll also enjoy regular issues and special supplements* and access to an online archive of issues back to 2010.


* Issues and supplements are available as both print and digital editions. Online subscribers will only receive access to the digital versions.