How to Make the Cello An Extension of Your Body

How does this relate to cello playing? 

Regarding the natural physiological laws of string playing, Dounis said…

“The body is more important than the instrument.The instrument is an extension of the body.”  

Dounis would conform the instrument to natural bodily motions. He made the cello fit you.This is how you make your playing completely natural.

How did Dounis do this?

Dounis made you consciously aware of your natural movements like walking, picking up objects, touching things and so on.  Then he fitted these natural movements to your playing.  This awakened the instinctive approach to technique.The result is everything feels comfortable and easy, while being efficient. 

Dounis was always working to get rid of tensions…

He would teach you how to accomplish the rigors of playing with maximum efficiency and minimum effort.  He said, “If it is not easy, then it is no good. It has to be easy.”  The ultimate effect is to loosen you up and get rid of tensions. 

How did Dounis get rid of tensions?

Dounis loosened you up by reawakening your native instincts. Your native instinct is to be relaxed and feel comfortable when you play.Your native instinct is to play with ease. If it is not, then your instincts must be reawakened with remedial exercises.

Is it just about changing your attitude toward playing?

No, it is not just that. It is awakening your instincts relative to all the basics of playing like holding the bow, changing bows, crossing strings and so on. When all the fundamentals are instinctive and conformed to your musical voice, then every part of your playing is easeful, and you experience great freedom.

So is it all about learning these basics or fundamentals?

Yes, absolutely. Everything thing is there. Freedom, comfort, ease, naturalness and most importantly, expression.

Let’s sum up what we have learned.

  1. The key to natural playing is to conform the cello (or violin, viola) to inherent motions of the body
  2. You do this by using instinctive movements for the basics or fundamentals like changing bows, shifting and crossing strings.
  3. Using your native instincts will completely loosen you up.
  4. Then the cello (or violin, viola) feels natural like an extension of body.
  5. All of this serves your musical expression.