‘We should always listen carefully to the quality of our tone’ - Technique: Working on open strings


Cellist Denis Severin provides exercises to help you build up a strong, reliable right hand, with a consistently beautiful sound

Open-string exercises help us to build a stable, quick and efficient right hand that remains effective even when we later introduce complicated material in the left hand. When we practise these exercises, we should always listen carefully to the quality of our tone and play with a beautiful, meaningful sound. By doing this, we are acting in a similar way to a quality control team in any production process. To produce shoes, for example, we have to know which fabric to use; to make chocolate, we must mix the right ingredients. We then have to test the fabric, or taste the chocolate, before it goes on sale. If the end product is no good, we have to throw away what we have produced and start again. Similarly, when we produce sound we have to use the right ingredients, including good posture, effective bow distribution and controlled bow changes, to play consistently beautifully. If the sound quality is not good enough, we have to start again…

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