‘Begin with some finger push-ups’ - Technique: Left-hand finger independence

Ransom head shot

How to build strength and flexibility for a truly agile left hand with Adriana LaRosa Ransom, professor of cello and string project director at Illinois State University, US

For cellists, finger independence is a critical skill to develop actively – it won’t necessarily just evolve on its own. Without it, you will struggle to play chords and fast passages; you will also have trouble with left-hand agility, intonation and left-hand pizzicato; and you will struggle to produce a beautiful vibrato on every finger. To develop independent fingers successfully, you will need to work on left-hand mechanics and finger strength, with really round, arched and strong fingers and a relaxed thumb.

Finger Strength

To build up basic finger strength, begin with some finger push-ups. Resting your fingertips down on the string or on a hard surface such as a table top:

  • lift one finger from the base knuckle, curved and poised to strike the string or surface
  • release the finger so that it strikes the string or surface with strength and precision
  • repeat with the other fingers, focusing on the pulling and releasing motions…

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