Fantastic Finger Guides
Thanks for watching our video reviewing the Fantastic Finger Guides! Without frets or any visual reference, learning where to place your fingers on the cello and how to change positions has always been down to muscle memory, and occasionally dots or stripe tapes for beginners.
Now, Fantastic Finger Guides has a product that helps you go deeper with visualizing where the notes go. While it, as any guide, is best eventually graduated from so that you can listen more than look, let’s see how helpful it can be in establishing fingerings!
One of the important things when practicing your early scales and working on your left hand position is to develop a mental/physical concept of the distance on the fingerboard between different notes.
When you shift up so your first finger is where your second finger was, that is low second position. Shift to where your third finger was in first position, that’s second position.
Switching to fourth finger is third position, and moving your first finger all the way to where the neck bends is fourth position. So, definitely fantastic cello guides helps you find these positions more quickly initially.
Another aspect of cello that can be tricky for intonation is that the curved neck means your arm is always at a different angle, and your hand in a slightly different position, for different strings.
So although it is easy enough to say, “imagine a grid on the cello,” in reality you are looking at a low angle at a grid; it is skewed not even. So it can be nice to more easily see where to guide your finger as you change strings.
In this video I try a product called Fantastic Finger Guides, which is a product clearly made with love by music teachers who want beginning cellists more easily find their notes and be able to shift in low positions.
It has not just the locations but the names of each note, with a reference for sharp and flat and position names. It is cleverly designed so some text only appears on the side, to the perspective of the cellist.
Overall I find this a great product if you’re a beginner and struggling with finding the notes consistently!
Two small things I noticed about it. The material of the tape and the slightly raised noteheads mean more finger noise than is normal on the fingerboard, and possibly some buzzing could occur because of the raised noteheads if the action of your strings is low.
The biggest thing to look out for with the Finger Guides – any finger guides – and one that they address in their own description of the product – is that you don’t want to rely on looks for music, you want to rely on sound.
You are not looking directly at the fingerboard when you are playing anyway, and you don’t want to over trust a visual over the sound of intonation, or ignore what your bow arm is doing because you are busy distracting yourself looking at your left.
It’s important with any guide to use it to establish muscle memory, and then to use that and your ears to guide further. Eventually, playing cello will become more and more natural, and you will have more to pay attention to as you are playing, making guides not that important.
One way that I would recommend getting the best use out of the Finger Guides while also keeping your posture intact is to practice in front of a mirror.
This will allow you to look ahead, and while also checking that your posture is correct, you can see your fingers hitting the dots. This will no doubt help you build the muscle memory for different hand positions, an instrumental stepping stone in playing repertoire.