Like everyone new to cello, I struggle with intonation. One of my “handicaps” is that I have short fingers. I see cellists with long fingers and I am a bit jealous because long fingers definitely give you an advantage when it comes to string instruments.
About 4 months playing with inconsistent intonation, I came across this YouTube Video of Paul Katz teaching vibrato. About the 45 second mark, Paul discusses the two different left hand positions and this was a revelation to me because in my mind there was only one, the square position. Never considered the other position where the Finger Nails are pointed to the bridge (nails to bridge – borrowed term from Amit Peled).
After focusing on nails to bridge left hand position and an upright cello position (so I could better use the nails to bridge), something clicked and there were dramatic improvements in my intonation and shifting.
Here is the reason why:
This photo shows my hand in the square position. I have about 3.5 inches of reach.
This photo shows my hand in the Nails to Bridge position. I have about 4 inches of reach. As you know .5 inches is huge when it comes to intonation.
There is one drawback. Since with Nails to Bridge position my fingers are not square to the strings, I have to make sure I square my hands on all chords.
So if you have small hands or short fingers and are having intonation problems, you might want to give this a go.
Related – If you have a Facebook account, I recommend watching this video. About 48min 15 sec mark, Amit discusses why the nails down position is good for shifting.
Big thanks to my daughter, Allison, for taking the photos for this blog entry.