This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
on every string in tune without anxiety? If someone
named a note, could you play it on all four strings in
all four octaves with all five fingers?
Obtaining and maintaining pitch accuracy is a life-long
quest of string players. The aim of The Seven Points
is to aid the cellist in this quest. Playing in tune
is a major concern for both amateur and professional
cellists. While tone production and bow technique are
of importance, much of the focus while playing is di-
verted to pitch accuracy. The purpose of this method
is to help give the cellist a framework that will en-
able him or her to play accurately in tune in all the
positions of the instrument.
There is great value for a new approach to mapping out
the fingerboard. For the past three hundred years,
cellists have been taught by learning first position
first. After staying in first position for one to two
years, the cellist is then allowed to slowly ascend
the fingerboard, mastering one position at a time. The
highest positions are reserved for the most advanced
players. As a result, many cellists are insecure in
the upper positions. This traditional approach can be
a handicap to amateur and professional cellists alike.
In order to avoid fear of the upper positions, cellists
of all skill levels should be given the opportunity to
explore all the regions of the fingerboard. Through
a comprehensive and logical approach, The Seven Points
provides a methodology that will help cellists to
The Seven Points is based on a simple concept: If a
cellist divides the string on the harmonic points of
one-fourth, one-third, one-half, two-thirds, three-
fourths, five-sixths, and seven-eighths, then all other
pitches can be based in reference to these fundamental
points. In other words, if the cellist can confidently
play these seven harmonic points on each string, then
every other note on the fingerboard can be found in
relation to these points.
The Seven Points
The purpose of any map is to help a person to know where
they are going. Another benefit of a map is to divide
unknown territory into definable sections. The finger-
board is unmarked, unfretted territory. Dividing it
into sections based on landmarks makes it more approach-
able. If you know with certainty where your landmarks
are, then you won’t get lost. For the beginner this map
provides the means to explore new territory. For the
professional it provides a stable framework for left-
Most beginners start with tape on the fingerboard to
visually mark the landmarks in first position. The
seven harmonic points share this purpose by acting as
“tape” in the mind of the cello player.
Although this method is subtitled A New Proportional
Approach to Cello Playing, the concept is a rather old
one. The idea of dividing music into a system of pro-
portions can be traced back to the time of Pythagoras
(c. 582-507 B.C.E.). Through dividing string length
into ratios, Pythagoras devised a system of musical
intervals that characterized his tuning system. His
approach of dividing the string into proportions can be
applied to any string instrument to create landmarks.
In volume one of this method, each of the seven points
has multiple pages of exercises which follow a progres-
sion from easy to difficult. In volume two, the points
are then combined together in a similar progression.
Volume two also contains etudes for each point.
The concept of learning by repetition is built into this
method. The notes and fingering patterns presented in
the opening exercises of each section are drilled in
many different rhythms and sequences.
Below are a few excerpts from the opening chapter, which
introduces the Seven Points.
The following examples demonstrate the progression of
the exercises. Each point begins with introducing the
notes associated with that point. The open string an
octave lower can also be a pitch reference for the one-
fourth point. In one-fourth and one-third, either the
open string or the harmonic can be played (not both at
the same time).
After learning the notes in sequential order, the notes
are mixed up in random order (or “randomized”) on two
strings, and then on all four strings. The unison open
string can also be used as a pitch reference for the
After gaining accuracy playing the harmonic point and
transitioning to the solid note, the harmonic is
dropped and just the solid note is played.
The primary goal of the exercises is not only to learn
the notes associated with each point, but also the whole-
step/half-step combinations (or “shapes”) associated with
each point. Below are examples of “shapes” exercises.
The next step is to silently play the reference point
before each note. This continues to train the left hand
to anchor itself on the reference point.
Five-Sixths: (4 string version)
The Five-Sixths and Seven-Eighths points include a four
string version (which completes the map of the entire
fingerboard), and a more practical version which maps
these points only on the A and D strings.
By this point in the progression of exercises, the
cellist can now look at any note on the instrument and
know which harmonic point or points serve as a reference
for that note. Below are three examples of the final
Seven-Eighths: (2 string version)
The Seven Points can be a catalyst for quick techni-
cal growth. If you commit to learning the map, it will
change your approach to the fingerboard while maximizing
pitch accuracy. Learning this map is a commitment. In
order for it to be an effective tool, the exercises have
to be repeatedly drilled. Since there is great amount
of repetition involved in the exercises, you must main-
tain concentration while practicing in order to rapidly
improve. An advanced player may be able to accomplish
this in four to twelve months, while it may a take a be-
ginner many years. After completing this method, it is
advisable to use this method for warm-ups and as a ref-
erence tool. George Crumb once said, “Music might be
defined as a system of proportions in the service of a
spiritual impulse.” This method will give you the sys-
tem of proportions, thus enabling your spiritual impulse.
The Seven Points, Vol. 2 features exercises which mix
the exercises together. These “combined” chapters
are more difficult than the previous chapters due to
increased shifting. Below are four examples from the
One-Fourth, One-Third, and One-Half Combined chapter.
Also included in volume two are etudes for solo cello,
which serve to reinforce the harmonic points in a musical
context. The etudes, which often make use of new extended
and non-classical cello techniques, may also have interest
to cellists looking for unaccompanied performance pieces.
The following are excerpts from three of the etudes.
Etude for One-Fourth:
Etude for One-Half Thumb Position:
Etude for 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, and 3/4