Fast Playing: Exercises and Repertoire Compilations
There are so many fast passages in the repertoire to choose from and use as practice material. I hope to have time one day to make some proper compilations, which could be organised into some basic categories (outlined below) following an increasing order of difficulty. Of course, most “fast passages” (or any repertoire excerpts, in fact) don’t fit neatly into any one category which is why these categories have very loose boundaries. For “pure” examples of the different types of fast-playing problems in isolation, see the pages “Fast/Tricky Passages” and “Tips For Practicing Fast/Tricky Bits“.
1: PURE, SIMPLE, FAST FINGER ARTICULATIONS IN ONE POSITION ON ONE STRING:
The simplest, easiest note changes are those that occur between notes in the same position and on the same string. Of these, the easiest figures are those in which our fingers follow each other consecutively, allowing our hand to “roll” in the direction of the finger sequences. We can actually play all of these little exercises (finger sequences) without the cello, simply drumming our fingers on any surface (arm, table, bench etc), respecting the extended and non-extended finger spacings. We can experiment with playing these patterns (on the cello or on any surface) with and without this “hand roll”, to see how the rolling movement helps the finger articulations but also helps to keep the hand loose and flexible. In thumbposition, the thumb acts as an anchor and the hand will tend to roll much less than when the thumb is off the fingerboard. Initially, we will play everything with long slurs in order to concentrate on the lefthand. Then we can make our slurs shorter and ultimately eliminate all slurs, which brings us to a maximum degree of lefthand/righthand coordination difficulty.
Fast: Hand In One Position On One String: REPERTOIRE EXCERPTS
2: FAST FINGER ARTICULATION WITH SMALL SHIFTS ON THE SAME STRING
Now, we will add shifting (only small shifts) but still stay on the same string. Once again, we will play everything initially with long slurs in order to concentrate on the lefthand. Then we can make our slurs shorter and ultimately eliminate all slurs, which brings us to a maximum degree of lefthand/righthand coordination difficulty.
Fast Finger Articulation With Small Shifts On The Same String: REPERTOIRE EXCERPTS
3: FAST FINGER ARTICULATION IN ONE POSITION WITH SOME SIMPLE STRING CROSSINGS TO NEIGHBOURING STRINGS
In these types of passages not only are we working on our fast finger articulations and releases but also on their rapid horizontal displacements across the strings. With the addition of fast string crossings, life becomes much harder for the bowarm now also, especially if, as in the above example, the string crossings are frequent. We would be well advised, in these cases, to practice the string crossings on their own, with only the open strings. See also the pages dedicated to the subject of String Crossings.
4: SCALIC PASSAGES ACROSS STRINGS WITH SHIFTS AND STRETCHES
Here, we are looking at passages in which the string crossings are well separated from each other
1.5 NON-SCALIC PASSAGES ACROSS STRINGS WITH SHIFTS AND STRETCHES
Here, because the passages are non-scalic, we are looking at passages with more frequent string crossings and shifts.
Non-Scalic Passages Across Strings With Shifts And Stretches: REPERTOIRE EXCERPTS
FAST BOW (WITH LESS LEFTHAND DIFFICULTIES)
Sequences of fast bowchanges on the same string and with occasional string crossings are included in all the fast lefthand examples when they are played with separate bows. Fast passages with a lot of string crossings, however – both separate and slurred – are looked at in the String Crossing section.