The shoulders of the cellist

  • By Berichard - travail personnel d'après Gray's Anatomy public
  • Levator scapulae
This subject is a must for a professional cellist (and not only)!
Athletes have a shorter performance career than musicians, but we are the one who talk the less about muscles, joints, pain and injuries.



The shoulder has a very wide range of motions. Flexion, rotation, elevation. 
No matter if you are a solo performer, chamber musician,orchestra player, or teacher, you will have to seat for hours with your cello, play, carry it... 

By having a good support and good use of your shoulder you can...


  • Tendinitis 
  • Tendinosis
  • Back and neck pain


  • Your sound: when your arm gets a good support, you get a lot more weight and power on your bow, without adding tension.

  • The mobility of your arm and fingers, the technique of your left hand.

  • Your technique will improve drastically, I have experienced it myself, and all the cellists who came to work with me on that topic.


Understand the motions of the shoulder


Scapula winging happens when your scapula does not have good muscles support. It leads to a loss of power in your arm, sometimes causing tendonitis in your elbow, or shoulder, it and can be the source of considerable pain, headache and pain in your trapeze and neck.




From 0:00 until 0:08 : No winging scapula, back support.
From 0:08 until 0:28 : Winging scapula, inner rotation of the shoulder.
You probably heard teachers say: "keep your shoulders down". I agree with the idea but this is not "that" simple... you might end up with pain in your trapeze and tendonitis in your elbow.

Be careful, with scapula winging... 

Of course lifting too much your shoulder is not good, but if your shoulderblades don't have good support, putting your shoulder down can be as bad as the opposite.

Your shoulder blade must find support from your back muscles because if not, you might get pain in your trapeze and neck. Your sound will not project as well as because the weight of your arm will end up in your elbow. It often causes tendonitis
and also pain in your wrist.

Having great support from your back muscles doesn't mean your scapula will not move. If the scapula is attached by surrounded muscles and not a joint means more possibilities in movement.  
Once you built good muscle support, you can add as much weight as needed on the string, your whole body is connected, from your feet to the tip of your fingers.

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