Wrist Exercises For Cello, Any idea?!
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Wrist Exercises For Cello, Any idea?!
Aug 23 2004, 07:39 PM
I was just wondering if any cello teachers out there had any ideas or exercises for helping to losen the right wrist particularly for developing bowing. I have a pupil who finds it very difficult to keep her wrist, hand and fingers from being locked and bows from the shoulder a lot. I've tried everything I can think of so I'm throwing the floor open!!
Any help would be gratefully received.
Sep 5 2004, 01:07 PM
:D I know of a set of short wrist exercises which may help reduce tension and relax the muscles and tendons of the wrist; I once suffered from RSI or something akin to it (Carpal tunnel syndrome was another option), in my left wrist from playing guitar with bad technique and over-practising. For the past two years I have had no reoccurence of the problem following a break from playing, some serious research, and discovering a form of martial arts which contained, (oddly enough) wrist strengthening movements which I now do daily.
First of all, encourage your student to assume a prayer position with each hand pointing up at the ceiling, then have them take hold of one hand (which remains pointed up) and push back gently as if wishing to bend the backs of the fingers toward the forearm area. This should cause gentle stretching of the tendons in the arm, and care should be taken not to overstretch; push until the sensation of 'stretching' builds up a little so that it is mildly 'uncomfortable' or 'tight', and hold for approximately 30 seconds. Then repeat this on the other arm, and once this is done, reverse the maneouvre so that you push the wrist in the other direction; as if wanting to touch one's thumb to the underside of the forearm (where the tendons are located). It is difficult to put into words but this provides a good basic stretch which can be done several times a day at random intervals, but particularly after playing, and ideally before as well, of course.
The other exercise is slightly more complicated, and derives from a set of movements used in Wing Tsun - a highly studied, developed, efficient and popular chinese martial arts system. This is perhaps the best way of increasing wrist flexibility I have ever come across (as yet) - it involves doing a movement known as a 'huen-sau', (spoken 'when-sau) which is best described as follows...
stretch your whole arm out in front of you to full extension, with your fingers pointing away from your chest, and your palm upright (facing the ceiling) and parallel to the floor. (It should almost look as if you are demanding something such as food or money!) Now, gently try to raise your fingertips toward the ceiling - almost as if they were being dragged toward you by imaginary strings; do this whilst attempting to keep your elbow fixed and unmoving - there is a tendency to bend at the elbow to accomodate the wrist movement. Do this until you feel the same mild discomfort described before, (until you cannot bend your wrist any further) and at that point, start to pivot your hand inward to the opposite side of the arm being used, (So to the right for the left wrist, and the left for the right wrist) until your fingertips are at a right angle to where they started out. Now the tricky part; start to curl your fingers into a fist, and as you feel the tension build, continue pivoting your wrist around until your knuckles face the floor - so you have now completed an approximate 180 degree turn to the starting position. Now allow your fingers to complete the fist and straighten your wrist up so that u are essentially holding your arm out as if punching someone.
It's very difficult to describe this accurately, but I assure you that with regular, gentle practice, it can work wonders for an inflexible or tense wrist - over time of course. If done correctly, you should feel the after effects immediately, and your wrist will feel stretched. Be wary of over stretching or forcing your wrists of course - string players of all types tend to have shortened tendons and a great deal of tension in the wrists + backs of the hands - the stretches may feel very uncomfortable at first.
Give it a go anyway and see what you think - it's one of many suggestions!
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