In Packet 4 we learn a lovely lullaby song called Aura Lee. This marks something special in our cello development, our first venture into the Key of F Major! F Major is one of the most beautiful keys to play on cello, and its first Flat Key that we learn!
Exercise  Play C Major across 1st Position
For C Major across 1st position, we use 3rd finger on the Low Strings (G & C) and 2nd finger on the High Strings (A & D). C Major is our home key on cello and the home key for the Circle of 5ths (harmony). C Major has no sharps or flats and is the easiest fingering system to do on cello. There are no extensions (forwards for sharps, backwards for flats) and it is the most balanced key we get in 1st position as we get to use both of our “middle fingers” (2 and 3) on 2 strings each. Pretty great!
Exercise  “Bump” C Major fingerings down a 5th/string to find F Major fingerings
Because F Major (1 flat) is “down a 5th” from C Major (no sharps/flats) on the Circle of Fifths, we can bump all of our fingerings from C Major down a string! Now we will automatically know F Major fingerings for 3 out of our 4 strings! Pretty cool, huh?
Lets go ahead and play all of the fingerings we know from bumping the fingerings down. (see notated example for ex ).
Exercise  use G string notes to find A string notes
We know the notes on our G string in F Major are: G (G0), A (G1), Bb (G2), C (G4), D (D0). Now lets take that up an octave and start on 4th finger G on the D string to figure out the notes and fingerings for the A string: G (D4) A (A0), Bb(1x), C (A2), D (A4). Hey look at that notation, we need to extend our first finger backwards on the A string in order to play a proper Bb! Don’t forget this, in fact we will practice this over and over in the next example. Extending your 1st finger backwards is a very difficult habit to form at first, but it’s something you need to get used to.
The more Flats you add to the Key Signature, the more Backwards Extensions we do with first finger. The more Sharps we add to the Key Signature, the more Forward Extensions we do between 1×2 (in order to “extend” 4th finger).
Please note the special notation notes about extending first finger and anchor notes! When doing a backwards extension with 1st finger, keep 2nd, 3rd & 4th finger down on the lower string as “anchor” fingers. Then all you have to do is straighten your first finger (not all the way… there will still be some curve to it) until it reaches the proper spacing to gain an extra half step. Now 1st and 2nd finger should be a whole-step apart, instead of a half-step. Your first finger will make contact with the string/fingerboard on the “back side” corner, so that it is a bit rolled back instead of flat-on-the-pad.
Exercise  5 note scale runs from Do to Sol
Ok! read the notation carefully for this one, I have created these 5 note scale runs specially for you. Notice there are some common Melodic Cadences (marked with Solfege: do re me fa so la ti do) and Chordal Cadences marked with Roman Numeral chord symbols. Whenever I am learning a new Key or Scale, I love to just run a bunch of variations on the first 5 notes, Do through Sol. Enjoy these melodic variations!
Exercise  Play F Major across 1st Position
Now that you’ve had a chance to practice playing with an extended 1st finger on the A string, it’s time to run F Major across 1st position on all four strings! Please read the fingerings in the notation carefully and notice when you need to be closed vs extended, and when you need to use 3rd vs 2nd finger. You can see that already just adding 1 Flat to our key signature has made the fingering system a great deal more complicated than it was in C Major. By learning, exploring and playing in this method, we are playing in a Major Key, across a position. This is much more useful then simply memorizing a scale….
I hope that this initial exploration of F Major has been helpful to you. Remember to relate any new key to a neighboring key that you already know! You can use this sheet as a template, and repeat it’s process from Key to Key. If you are adding one more Flat to the key signature, you can “bump” all of your fingerings Down a string/5th. If you are adding one more Sharp to your key signature, you can “bump” all of your fingerings Up a string/5th.
Enjoy the lovely sounds of F Major! ~ Brian
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