Cello Scales for Beginners: G Major 2 Octaves

This is part of a series of cello scale videos designed to help beginner students learn them by visualising the fingerboard and watching a slow demonstration.

G major is similar to C major in that both scales share the same fingering pattern for the first octave*, and both scales use closed fingering patterns throughout. Because G major starts 1 string up from C major, the 2nd octave exceeds the range of first position, which means that the highest 3 notes must be played in fourth position, as shown in the diagram and later on in the video demonstration.
If you have not tried playing outside the confines of first position, you will no doubt find the change of positions awkward at first. There are countless exercises that introduce and develop this vital technique – here are some to get you started.
Do not rely exclusively on the scale, as it presents only one of several ways in which you might move from one position to the other.

*In fact, C and G major 2 octave scales can share identical fingering patterns throughout both octaves: C major can use fourth position on the D string (1-3-4) instead of first position on the A string (0-1-2) for the highest 3 notes. It is worth familiarising yourself with this fingering variation

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Cello Scales for Beginners: C Major 2 Octaves

This is the first of a series of cello scale videos designed to help beginner students to learn them by visualising the fingerboard and watching a slow demonstration.
C major is the first scale most cello students learn. It covers most of first position (from the open C string to 2nd finger on the A string), and uses both basic closed position fingering patterns (0-1-3-4 and 0-1-2-4), which makes it an important technical foundation for the left hand, and an equally important means of building coordination between the left hand and bow.

In the demonstration video (2nd pass of the scale), pay attention to the left hand strategy when open strings are being played. Instead of allowing to the fingers to float above the strings, leave them resting on the previous string in the ascending scale, and send the 2nd finger (or 2nd and 3rd fingers*) across to rest on the next string as soon as it has played its note on the current string, sending the rest of your fingers across just as you begin playing the open string in the descending scale.

*When playing on the G string, the fingering pattern is 4-3-1-0 as opposed to 2-1-0/ 4-2-1-0 on the A and D strings, so you’ll need to send your 3rd and 2nd fingers across to the C string. It sounds more complicated than it is! I’ll be posting a short tutorial to demonstrate this very useful technique soon.

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Cello Fingerboard Map: First to Seventh Position (Updated 2020 Version)

Whether you’re finding your way around first position or you’re venturing into the tenor and treble clef registers, an understanding of the note layout is essential. The more demanding your repertoire, the more you need a detailed internal ‘sat-nav’ to find your way effortlessly through challenging passages. The less you have to calculate your route map, the more you can focus on musical shaping, phasing and interpretation.

The map below is a visual aid to indicate the location and content of each position from first (including half) to seventh. You’ll notice that some positions go by 2 names (e.g. upper first/ lower second), and some of the notes on the fingerboard include enharmonic equivalents (different letter name for the same pitch). Positions are named according to the note names they accommodate. For example, the notes in upper first position on the A string are B#, C#, D and D# – predominantly the same letter names as those in first position, while lower second position – C, Db, D, Eb share the letter names of upper second position. As a rule, positions with the upper label tend to favour sharps, while those with the lower label favour flats.

Cello Fingerboard Map 2020


Further posts on cello positions:
An Overview of the Neck Positions
An Introduction to Stretch Position
An Introduction to the Three Finger Positions

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Pairing Positions: Fourth and Seventh

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