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I've been practicing slurred bows in 1/8th notes on cello for Pachelbel's canon, and there are many places where there is a string crossing in one bow either from fourth finger on the D string to the open A string or the other way around. Every time I cross strings this way, I can't help but produce harmonics from my pinky barely touching the A string or D string while going to the next note.

Is there a way for that not to happen? I'm always confused with those kind of problems on the cello as I also play violin, and never encountered this type of problem. One thing my teacher mentioned a while ago was to pre-place the fourth finger while still playing the open A string so that it doesn't touch the A string at all, like as if playing a chord, but I just can't make it work :/

Thanks in advance!

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This is a matter of left-hand shaping. You are by no means alone in this difficulty with the pinky finger. What you want to practice is keeping your fingers and hand in a "high arch", while not raising your elbow too far. Keep your fingers, as much as possible, curved. Concentrate as well on letting your left hand "lean" a bit towards the bridge, which will make it easier to keep the pinky curved rather than flattening out.
And finally, remember to let your left hand and arm move as a unit from left to right so your arched fingers are always above the string being fingered.

It takes a lot of practice and observation, so give it time. One thing I do on occasion is to play, e.g., simple passages on the D-string while double-stopping with the A string. If I hear a clean "A" I know I'm ok, but if the pinky harmonic pops up, then I know my hand position has strayed.

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  • I will add that having strong finger muscles helps you maintain this shape. There is a reason you see cellists carrying one of those small spring-loaded finger strengtheners and squeezing them. – Alexander Woo May 12 at 19:20
  • Thanks for the answer and the ideas of things to work on. Having a curved pinky is definitely something I struggle with on the violin as well, as soon as I press down with some precision or strenth, it doesn't flatten out, but gets straight and only the last phalange bends... I'm not sure if it's because it's naturally shorter than the other fingers, or just me having trouble getting the same curvy shape as with the other fingers. I'll give that double-stop exercise a spin! – Florian Poujade May 12 at 22:07

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