Many people have complained that it is hard to remember where to put our fingers on stringed instruments and have compared a cello as harder to play than guitar because there are no frets to help them out (a fair enough discussion: guitarists are cheaters-go!) As we know everyone learns differently, then it makes sense that just talking about how the spacing of our fingers works is not usually enough for a student to grasp the concept. So I thought, lets give them a real life version they can interact with off of their cellos! And then I thought, WAIT – let’s make it larger than life for a bigger impact! And thus the giant cello strings on my wall were born.
Surely we can agree that it is lovely to look at and entertainingly confusing when people say “you are missing a line on your staff!” but it is also functional when discussing fingergboard geography and showing when in 1st position our 2nd and 3rd fingers are not glued together as some initially pretend. Students can actually show me what they know and think about our playing in a new light.
To make this wall for your own string studio you need:
- 4 different sizes of ribbon to represent the varying string sizes
- mounting tack (typically used for hanging posters)
- washi tape
- card-stock paper
Step 1: Enlist a friend to help you cut the ribbon to the desired length and secure the ribbon to the wall with the mounting tack (four eyeballs are better than two when it comes to spacing.) I spaced my thinnest string on the right to represent my A string to allow students to see this in the same way they view me when I am modeling a passage for them.
Step 2: Once you have both ends of the four ribbons placed, I used washi tape to represent where the nut of the cello is. I spaced it almost halfway on the strings as I have a lot of little tiny cellists that can’t reach very high.
Step 3: Cut out 10 circles on card-stock to represent fingers and positions. I have a set for the A string and D string that have finger numbers on one side and letter numbers on the other, allowing for a circle to represent open strings. I did make a little pocket that I taped to the wall as well to keep the extras in when I don’t need them.