The hands of the cellist


Before talking about the posture of the hands and the technique, it is important to understand the functional position of the hand. 

One finds the strength of the hand through the arches and the palm of the hand.




No matter where you place your hand on the bow, the basic posture of the hand is the same.

The first finger is important for the balance of your hand but it is not responsible for the forte... the weight comes from the weight of your arm transmitted through the middle and the ring finger.

The middle finger

  • Transmists weight 
  • Connected to the hair of the bow (even more when playing baroque)

-> The arche formed by the middle finger and the thumb is very important, it gives strength and stability to your hand.

The ring finger  

  • Many cellists tend to think that the most important fingers are the index and the middle finger, this is a mistake. The arche Thumb/Ring-finger is the most important in your bow hold, without it, your little finger will be tense, your thumb might get too tense, your bow changes up down will not be smooth.
  • It transmits weight with the middle finger and "works" with the little finger during the bow changes up/down in order to keep direction and stability.

The little finger

The little finger is very important in the bow changes "up --> down" 

>The arche thumb/little finger, gives you stability for your bow changes.

The little finger doesn't hold the bow... it can put weight on the stick for stability of the hand. It hads weight at the frog to counterbalance the weight of the tip.

The thumb is connected with each of the fingers through the arches of your hand:

  • thumb/first finger
  • thumb/second finger
  • thumb/ring finger
  • thumb/little finger 

Strong arches will allow you to have a relaxed and efficient bow hold, and will prevent muscle and tendon injuries.


In front of the mirror...

difference of perspective...




A good posture on your left hand will allow you to learn easily the positions, it will make shifting easier, and can prevents tendinitis.

Basic rule

In the first 4 positions, it is recommended to keep your thumb under the 2nd finger.

The arche thumb / 3rd finger is the most important arche to have a strong hand and good articulation.

Your fingers are like little hammers, moving from the first articulation. 

  • Good articulation comes from strong arches of your hand, not form over lifting your fingers.
  • The weight you need on the strings comes from the weight of your forearm
  • Feel that your left thumb is connected to your elbow






When you start practicing octaves, begin with 5 mins a day (or twice a day) in order to build muscles without hurting yourself. Slowly increase your time of practice, but never practice in pain or for a long period of time without good arches. Be patient!

A good posture gives you strength and good intonation


Your wrist, your elbow and the tip of your fingers are most of the time on the same line.

If your elbow is too low you will try to transmit weight throught your wrist, it will become painful, you will not have a good sound because you won't have enough weight on the strings. 

The weight of your arm needs support from your shoulder/your back

--> Be careful with the posture of your shoulder-blades, it is a lot more important than what you think...



Wrist injury: Carpal tunnel syndrome.

This syndrom occurs due to constant/repetitive pressure and irritation of the carpal tunnel. Surgery can be performed to treat carpal tunnel, but it can cause the carpal tunnel to fill with scar tissue, increasing the problem instead of solving it.