Improve Shifting Consistency

  • To use the same hand alignment in thumb position as in lower positions.
  • To move the elbow in a way that does not change the angle of the fingers.
  • When shifting up the cello from the 4th to 1st finger, 1 goes under 4, and the angle (trajectory)  of the 1st finger continues to point down the fingerboard.
  • Momentary changes in the finger angle can destabilize a shift and cause the hand or finger to feel off-balance when arriving.
  • When shifting from 4 to 1 (or 4 to 2, 4 to 3, 3 to 1, 3 to 2, 2 to 1), begin by rotating back to transfer your weight to the new finger, and shift under the old finger.
  • Changing the angle of the finger changes the sound of the vibrato, so a consistent angle from the top to bottom of the fingerboard will help create a uniform vibrato.
  • If your hand feels off-balance or unstable, either during a shift or upon its arrival, check that you are maintaining the same angle of trajectory during the shift.
  • The choice of angle and the positioning of your fingers will affect the sound of your vibrato. This is demonstrated in the video “Vibrato: Hand Position”.
  • If your vibrato sounds too slow and you have to force your hand to speed it up, slanting the hand position as demonstrated in this video  (instead of squaring it) can help speed the pulsation. Watch “Vibrato: Hand Position”.


When repetitive motion is rigorously and carefully trained, it leads to reliability, security, mastery. Paul Katz

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