One of the questions that cellists may ask themselves while they’re learning the cello is, what is technique? Sometimes you can make the mistake of thinking that technique is how you play different pieces, but it is not. Technique is how easily you play the instrument. It has to do with comfort, seating, position of the hands, use of the hands. The better and more comfortable your technique is the less time you have to spend to make progress when you’re playing.
Sometimes looking at your technique can be very worthwhile. Instead of spending many hours practicing something and making very little progress, you can try to find out a different way of doing things that will make a passage or a piece of music easier to play. A lot of this is based on intuition. You can somehow tell when something is not comfortable and awkward. You can also tell when things feel right.
There is another area of cello playing in which you can make things more comfortable. Aside from physical movements and positions, you can work on picking a better bowing or fingering. This can really make a huge difference. A passage played with an awkward fingering or bowing can be awkward sounding and unmusical. An incorrect bowing or fingering can take away the energy, fluidity, and sense of a passage of music. Picking fingerings and bowings is almost an art form. It is something you get better at the more you do it. I sometimes found myself spending several hours just on one line of music trying to decide what the best fingering for it is
Sometimes you also have to make compromises. There may be no perfect fingering or perfect bowing. Composers sometimes put slur marks over several notes in a row. Sometimes the melody doesn’t fit any comfortable fingering. And so you make a compromise that preserves the music as much as possible. You also try to pick something which is technically stable. You want a fingering that, when you get nervous, will still be useful. Sometimes a more solid stable option is the better way to go.
There is one more side of bowings and fingerings that I find fascinating. Sometimes bowing and fingering can look wrong on paper, but be very comfortable when you’re actually playing the cello. Or the opposite can be true. You can have the fingering which looks great on paper. It fits certain positions. But when you actually try to use it it just doesn’t work.