The Cellist’s Shoulders

Although definitely appropriate in some exceptional situations requiring additional engagement, raising the shoulders creates (and requires) muscular tension and as a general rule should be avoided. Keeping our shoulders low, at the cello and in normal life, does not however mean letting them collapse: we need muscle tone and postural alertness, but what we don’t need is the permanent state of tension, alarm, over-alertness and over-engagement associated with permanently elevated shoulders.

A significant number of professional cellists have an early end to their playing career because of cumulative trauma damage (repetitive strain injury) to their shoulders. This tends to affect most often the right shoulder, which is not surprising when we think about just how many bowstrokes we do in our cellistic lifetime.