We have added two new sections to our ICS Library: Master Classes and Cello Books. Just click on the book called "Master Classes" on the ICS Library bookshelf and you'll be taken to, you guessed it, master classes reports. Cello Books, an extensive list of cello-related books, can be found by clicking on the book called "Reference Works" on the ICS Library bookshelf. If you attend a master class, be sure to send us your notes and we'll add it to the library. If we are missing a cello book, please let us know about that too.
Last week as I perused the forum posts, I was most impressed by the great care that went into composing messages! There are 44 thoughtful replies to Bobbie Mayer's post "Who we are -- a new little survey?" If you have been to other Internet bulletin boards or newsgroups you know that this attentive approach to posts is the exception, not the rule. In a time when we are all overwhelmed with the colossal task of coping with more and more information, it is refreshing to see such eager talk between cello friends, encouraging words, and chit chat about the refreshing world of music and the cello. I believe we have reached a more meaningful and immediate level of communication among cellists! The Internet Cello Society indeed would not have come alive so quickly without the help of a few dedicated ICS Staff and the voluntary activity of so many members.
I see that Tim Finholt has recounted some of the history of the Internet Cello Society in a "Cellist by Night" forum thread. As current editor of TUTTI CELLI and as author of numerous ICS exclusive artist interviews, Tim continues to lead us in collecting new quality content for ICS. I also would like to acknowledge a member MaryK who has been the only member to contribute to the Internet Cello Society on a monthly basis! ICS has required a lot of financial resources and much more volunteer time. Before the world comes to an end with Y2K, please be sure to send your generous donation to the Internet Cello Society! See http://www.cello.org/callforcontributions.html for details.
If you are a poor student, there is still an exciting way to generate funds for ICS! Just listen to cello music at the mp3 websites below. $100 was contributed to ICS last month!
Thanks to you all!
John Michel, ICS Director
Luis Alejandro Sardá
>> Just a note to tell you how valuable your site have been for me. I am a violist (no jokes, please!) who was recently hired by a music store to teach strings. My first student wants to learn cello, so I've begun re-learning the "Strings Methods" cello course I took in college. But your site has given me SO MUCH MORE solid info!
>> Thank you so much for putting this information on the internet. I am a first year orchestra teacher in Western Canada. There are very few orchestra programs here and therefore very few courses available about teaching orchestra in the schools. I am a violin player and do not know nearly as much as I wish I did about the cello and bass. This is a great resource.
>> Hello. I am 15 and I just started playing the cello about 7 months ago. I worry that may I have started too late. I would like to grow up and become a professional cellist. Do you think that I have started too late? Also, I am having problems shifting from first to any other position. What do you recommend doing?
Bob Jesselson (ASTA President) replies: Thanks for your message. I am the cello professor at the University of South Carolina. You may be interested in the fact that I started playing seriously when I was 21 years old. I had played earlier, but never seriously, and did not have lessons. So, it is possible to get a late start and still have a career. But it does take a tremendous amount of dedication, single-mindedness, and seriousness. Once I decided to do it, I practiced about 10 hours/day for 5 years. I had a fabulous teacher who knew exactly how to guide me. But, it is only possible if you want it badly enough; it means sacrifice and self-discipline and dealing with frustrations. But, if you want it, it is possible!
As far as shifting, the "mantra" is "preparation and release" -- preparing the shift with the elbow and releasing the fingers (especially the thumb). That is the story in a nutshell -- you need a teacher to demonstrate and show you what to do. Good luck!
>> I'm a 44 year old male that has been listening to classical music since I was a teenager. I have been been thinking about the cello for about 15 yrs, and I have decided to take cello lessons. Would I be better off learning with younger students or older students, or should I concentrate on the instructor's traits? I'm a very motivated person and can achieve almost anything. It might take some time, but I'm persistent.
Rajan Krishnaswami replies: I have taught many adult beginners like yourself. The degree of success depends entirely upon the motivation of the student. It is also very important to have a teacher who really understands technique, who is very patient, and who LOVES to teach!!!!
Many adult students take lessons for a while, find out how incredibly difficult it is, and quit. Others stick to it longer and some end up being excellent amateurs. These are the ones that have tremendous patience and persistence. If you are as you say, it sounds like you could be one of them. I currently have an adult student, around 60 years old, who started with me after many years of bad habits. It has taken a long time, but he has changed. Limitations exist only in the mind. So, good luck, keep at it, and keep in mind that mastering an instrument it is VERY difficult. Don't expect to conquer the world in a few short months.
>> I was planning, with some trepidation, to rent a cello today from the Monicals in Staten Island. The sound of the cello has the property of sitting right inside my ear. I hope that I will be able to make a few pleasant noises.
Age is the two-edge sword of perception and reality. When we are young we are made of air ... so light that we scarcely notice how we slip into time, gravitation, and clay.
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by Tim Finholt
TF: You studied with the late Karl Fruh in Chicago prior to studying with Janos Starker. Did Starker have to undo a lot of Mr. Fruh's teachings?
GH: No, it was more a matter of becoming completely aware of what I was doing. Karl Fruh was a fantastic teacher and had many good students. He was an outstanding cellist himself, and was often referred to as the "Midwestern Leonard Rose." He established a solid foundation in his students, both musically and cellistically, and taught us the fundamentals of good instrumental playing and music making. He did this in a non-idiosyncratic way, which was a great way to start off, since we didn't bring much "baggage" with us to our next teachers.
When studying with Janos Starker, I didn't so much undo my previous training as work on becoming more self-aware. For awhile I felt like I had lost my bearings because I was questioning everything about my playing. I played in a much less instinctive way during this period and felt at times like I was becoming overly self-conscious. Obviously this was part of an important internal process that had to take place in order for me to attain and maintain a professional playing level, for which I am now very grateful.
TF: We all know that Starker spends a lot of time developing his students' technique. Did he also discuss musical matters?
GH: He discussed both. There are some teachers who are thought of as only talking about music, and there are other teachers who are thought of as only discussing technique. Starker doesn't fit either of these descriptions, since he integrates both in his teaching.
It is very important to him, however, that his students understand the principles of good cello playing, so there is a heavy accent on the technical side. He firmly believes that musical ideas can't truly come through until you have freed yourself of technical limitations, so he considers it of the utmost importance that you can actually play the cello. As he likes to say, "One of the twenty things you need to be able to do in order to be a successful cellist is to play the cello well."
This is a reflection of the way he feels about himself and his own development. He has said many times that he had reached a point many years ago where he felt like a bird who didn't know how he flew and yet he needed to know how he did it. This realization has carried through to his teaching, because he feels that his students need to know how they fly, if in fact they are flying.
TF: Some think of Starker as a "cold" player. Do you agree with description?
GH: No. A cold player is somebody who doesn't express any true emotions or feelings. His playing is full of genuine emotion. He certainly doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve and he's definitely not an extrovert, but he is an emotional person, though he holds his emotions in check. I've heard him play with great enthusiasm and freedom and with obvious emotional involvement, and I've heard him play in a more reserved manner. It just depends on the circumstances of the performance and the piece. Some days one feels energetic and inspired, other days one doesn't. This is true of any artist.
(Click here for the complete transcript)
If you were to search through the ICS Photo Archives, you would find a clown playing a cello. That is me, or should I say, my clown "Charlie". There you can see me at my best.
As the darkest and shortest kid in a town of Scandinavians (Portland, Oregon), music helped me to be somewhat accepted. I started on the trombone, but could not reach seventh position (I still have a problem with that). After denting my slide I almost quit, but the director said he needed a tuba player. So I would slide my small self into a sousaphone stand, where my feet could not touch the floor. I must have played okay, because he soon handed me a solo, "In the Hall of the Mountain King". Wow, I know this!
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by Tim Finholt
(Click here for the complete transcript)
by Carole Gatwood
In light of all the brain research that has recently been published, which connects music study with higher test scores/SATs, complex thinking skills, visual-spatial skills, etc., and the endorsement from the business community of the specific skills that an arts education builds (see Business Week 10/28/96 "Educating for the Workplace through the Arts"), one can see the importance of inspiring young potential string players. By exposing them to cello playing up close, we can help to develop in them a respect for the arts, build future audiences, and open the door to some for their own musical journeys.
(Click here for the complete transcript)
by The Omnipotent Critic (T.O.C.)
The following does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Internet Cello Society or its representatives. It is the opinion of an individual ICS member.
Koch International Classics
Works of Lou Harrison
Suite for Violin with String Orchestra
Maria Bachmann, violin
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
James Sedares, conductor
A Collection of Piano Pieces
Michael Boriskin, piano
Suite for Cello and Piano
Nina Flyer, cello
Josephine Gandolfi, piano
Suite for Cello and Harp
Nina Flyer, cello
Dan Levitan, Harp
Total time: 50:37
Lou Silver Harrison is an American icon. This octogenarian from California studied with Henry Cowell, worked with John Cage, and was a champion of the music of Ives. Like many from the left-coast (as Lush Rumbaugh would say) he has always been a rebel. After much experimentation with the new music forms of the twentieth century, he rejected them and went in search of other voices and flavors. In his excellent liner notes, Ken Smith quotes from the biography Lou Harrison: Composing a World, written by Leta Miller and Frederic Lieberman. "'Harrison's musical pot was set on the stove many years earlier. Into it he threw whatever ingredients intrigued him at the moment. The Indonesian gamelan appeared early, as did the Chinese theater and modern dance. Schoenberg and modernist New York added a different seasoning, soon to be peppered by the cross-disciplinary influences of Black Mountain College and studies in Korea and Taiwan.... There has been a constant taking out to taste and a constant putting in to modify. But whatever ingredients the musical soup has at a particular time, the resulting brew assumed a distinctive flavor, reflecting the aromas of its component parts but carrying a unique taste of its own.'"
(Click here for the complete transcript)
by Tim Finholt
Seattle was treated to a performance of the Dvorak Concerto by Janos Starker and the University of Washington Symphony, with Peter Eros conducting, on December 7, 1999. The eager crowd waited politely for the fine performances of Liadov's Enchanted Lake and Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet Suite to end so that they could listen to one of the greatest cellists of the century perform one of their most beloved works. There was an incredible sense of relief when he finally walked out on stage after the intermission; the Dvorak · at last! (I must confess that even the opening tutti seemed endless this time. What is a soloist supposed to do during this unusually long intro?).
I almost skipped this concert since I had heard Starker play the Dvorak a few years ago with the Seattle Symphony, and I expected that he would deliver yet another performance in which he kept himself out of the spotlight, letting the music speak for itself. Yes, he was more demonstrative in the Brahms Double at his 75th Birthday celebration, but I figured that may have been a result of the celebratory energy that enveloped him. After all, this is the guy who had told me, "One can put on a show any time. I played in the Metropolitan Opera for a long time, so I know all the tricks. I know how to make the audience cheer and yell and do all kinds of things. But I don't do it because I don't think that it's my job · I'm not an actor. I am a musician and I am more interested in the art of music making. I allow the piece and the composer to set the emotional tone of the experience, whether it's Beethoven, Brahms, or Tchaikovsky."
(Click here for the complete transcript)
"The American String Teachers Association with National School Orchestra Association promotes excellence in string and orchestra teaching and playing. ASTA WITH NSOA's mission is important in contemporary America because playing and teaching of string and orchestra music adds to one's quality of life in a unique way."
**Please notify Tim Finholt at firstname.lastname@example.org of interesting websites that you would like to nominate for this recognition in the future. Websites will be selected based on their content, cello relevance, creativity and presentation style!
Why is there such a lack of famous female cellists?
This question resulted in a lengthy discussion on Cello Chat. The answer to this question is, of course, multi-faceted. Rather than quote the numerous responses, we'll let our readers come up with their own answers. Pat White's reply was particularly striking:
"When I studied with Leonard Rose, he blurted out in one lesson, 'I don't know why I bother with you...you are just going to grow up, get married, and spend your life in a kitchen somewhere....'
>>Racism in Music
I was very intrigued by the threads dealing with famous women cellists. I think it's important to also question the lack of ethnic minority cellists. How many of you out there have EVER been in orchestra with an African American cellist? How many of you have ever been in a chamber music group with a Latino violinist? The lack of African-American and Hispanic cellists, and STRING PLAYERS, for that matter, is depressing. I went to an elite boarding prep school, in which, for all 4 years, I was the ONLY black instrumentalist in the orchestra. And now I go to an Ivy League institution where the case is the same; I'm the only Afro-American member of the orchestra. In fact, I'm the only African-American classical musician in the whole school. At first it was extremely difficult to be in a room with 85 people, all of whom were Asian and Caucasian. Often times, I feel like an outsider and face disapproval from my own ethnic community for venturing out into a typically White and Asian activity. I don't mean to tell a sob story at all; in general I'm quite happy doing what I do. However, we must realize that not only do women face barriers against success in orchestral playing, but us racial minorities do to an even greater extent. And the situation is MUCH more encouraging for women thanks to du Pré and the other few women cellists who have achieved outstanding success. As an African American, I have NO ONE to admire that closely resembles who I am. Instead of complaining about that fact that most of the famous cellists are males (Caucasian and Asian), we should do our best to help the young ones in our communities who are the most under-represented to discover how glorious classical music is, to give them confidence, and to strive for success.
This is my INTONATION RECIPE. When you make a recipe, it contains a variety of ingredients. You include a bit of each ingredient, in varying amounts. If you forget an ingredient, your recipe does not turn out very well! So, every ingredient is an important part of the recipe. Here are the ingredients for good intonation:
Pitch Recognition is a two-part process:
1) Make sure you know WHAT NOTE you are playing. This sounds elementary and simplistic, but sometimes I discover that a student knows what finger they are playing and what position they are playing, but not what note!
2) If a pitch occurs more than once in a short amount of time in a piece, especially if it occurs with a different finger, make sure you make the pitch sound the same each time you play it! Recognize that you have played it before, and match the pitch!
Interval Recognition is an essential ability that musicians need to have. An INTERVAL is the distance between two notes. If you are playing one note, you should be imagining how the next note will sound. Try to sing the next note before you actually play it. Force yourself to imagine how the note will sound, then when you play it your foreknowledge of how it should sound will direct you to play it correctly!
Placement Recognition is something that naturally occurs over time. For example, do you know where first position is? Yes! But were you born with that knowledge or did you pick it up somewhere along the line? The answer is that you were taught, and now you just know. Eventually, you become as comfortable with the placement of every position on the cello are you are with first position! This is learning the geography of the fingerboard.
Mini-Scales and Arpeggios appear in your pieces, all over the place. Seek and ye shall find! Knowing where the mini-scale and arpeggio series are will help you recognize, again, how things should sound.
Testing... is the habit of every conscientious musician. I have been playing the cello for nearly 30 years and I test my notes ahead of time or in the midst of things! If I need to do it, than you need to do it! Any note that is the same as an open string or that corresponds with a harmonic should be tested for accuracy. The more you test, the less you have to!
>>More on Testing Intonation
I simply insist that any note that can be tested be tested. Sometimes, I stop a student and insist they test their note when I already know it is in tune, just to see if they are confident of their own listening ability! But, to be very specific about testing, let's say the piece contains a shift to E on the A string in 4th position. This is a note that tends to be flat, so I have them play the E as a harmonic. I explain that it is an octave higher, but that it is still an E and it is a very nice E to match! Students who have problems with their intonation begin to apply the testing on their own, and learn how to right themselves.
In order to teach my students to realize that intonation is relative I have them conduct the following experiment:
First, play an E on the D string in first position with the first finger. Second, add an open G underneath so that you create the interval of Major 6th. Once that interval is nicely in tune, stop playing but DO NOT MOVE the first finger on the D string. Next, play the same E, but add the open A as the double-stop so that you create the interval of Perfect 4th. You will find that the very E that was beautifully in tune with open G is FLAT with open A. Raise the E a bit, and you have a wonderful P4 and a new awareness of just how relative pitch really is.
Someone else asked about how to learn to tune with 5ths. That is a matter of interval recognition. First, be sure to play the strings together very softly. Play one string, then add the other -- don't start with both strings right away. Listen for the 'knocks' in the interval. If the interval is out of tune, it will 'knock' or be 'unsettled'. To know what 'knocks' are, play a G# in 4th position on the C string while playing Open G at the same time. This is a dissonant interval, and will knock. The Perfect 5th is a consonant interval, and will blend. You truly learn to recognize the blend.
One more point: when my students start, I have them do the Cossmann finger exercise from the get-go (1434,1424,1323, 4 times each ... you know the one). Initially, it is presented as a finger exercise. They learn speed and coordination from it. Then, later on down the road, that same exercise is re-examined. It is presented as a way to learn to hear leading tones. The 3rd finger is an ascending leading tone to the 4th finger. The 2nd finger is a descending leading tone to the 1st finger. I love Starker's intonation exercises. I have my students do them softly and slowly. How do I know when they have got it? When they play with "The Listening Look" on their faces. There is no way to fake The Listening Look, and it is a thing of beauty to behold for it means the connection from the brain to the ear to the finger has been established. Once that has happened, they teach themselves!
>>Intonation in Chamber Groups
When you tune your cello to the piano's A and then tune each 5th carefully, you will find that your C is LOWER than the piano's C. This is because we tune our cellos according to the laws of natural acoustics. These laws, of course, lead to problems that have no solution, such as trying to play the quadruple-stop C-A-E-A (which occurs in the opening duet of the Brahms Double Concerto) in tune. Can't be done. Acoustically impossible if your cello is tuned in pure 5ths. The piano, on the other hand, compresses all intervals slightly (except octaves) so that each tonality, or triad, will sound equally very slightly out of tune. The alternative would be to have, say, C major be perfectly in tune but each tonality would then be more and more out of tune depending on its remoteness from C.
So what we're left with is a stand-off. But it's a stand-off that everyone accepts, with some minor adjustments. My personal solution is to tune my A a tad sharp to the piano's. This way I'm not compelled to "pinch" my 5ths (which many players will do). While we almost never play an open A of any appreciable duration in chamber music, we play open C's and G's all the time. Once this adjustment is made, everything just comes together in a pleasant aural "soup." Experienced chamber players will tell you that the painful intonation problems in a quartet or trio simply dissolve when you add a piano. This all assumes string players who have good control of pitch and tuning.
But going back to earlier questions about non-piano intonation, the main question we have to ask ourselves as we're playing along is: "should this note be vertically in tune or horizontally in tune?" The answer almost always turns on the speed of the passage. If you play a one-octave D scale (starting on the open D) really fast, the C# will, or should, be very high, very close to the D. Horizontal intonation. But now if each of those notes is a half-note in a slow tempo, and other instruments are changing notes along with you, the harmony, when you come to the C# is likely to include an A in the bass. Your C# will need to be much lower in this context than it would be in the fast scale context. Vertical intonation. 7th-chords present another recurring problem. The upper note of a minor 7th needs to be low, as it resolves downwards.
But what if the note that has just been played in the correct context for one harmony doesn't fit in the harmony that immediately follows? This is the problem with the first 4 measures of the Prelude of the G major Bach Suite: the C in the 3d measure needs to be low, as it's resolving down to the B. The trouble is, we've just played it (in the 2d measure), nicely meshing with the E and open G, and that's in an appreciably higher place than it has to be for the next bar. If you keep the C's identical, one of them is going to have to be slightly out of tune. My maverick "solution" is simply to play different C's. Another example is in the first measure of the C major Sarabande. This kind of stuff can make you nuts in no time; the sharper your hearing the more hopeless this whole topic becomes.
Two final points, for those with so much time on their hands that they've stuck with me this long, one conceptual and the other practical. First, there is no such thing as a note that is out of tune. There are only out of tune INTERVALS. If I play you a single note, in isolation, and ask "is this in tune or not?" the correct answer is "I don't know." (This is true of persons with perfect pitch too; controlled experiments demonstrate significant variances when people with such abilities are asked to sing the same pitch.) Thus, everything is a matter of relativity. Second, as to "testing," Mom and other highly-skilled cellists are referring to the system whereby they strike a note with their finger just prior to playing it, with a soft "tap." If this note is the same as an open string (regardless of octave) they'll often brush that string as well, to compare. With practice, this can be done in a split second and inaudibly to the audience (though you do hear it on recordings).
1. Looking for Fundraiser
The Internet Cello Society is looking for an experienced or professional fundraiser. This person would help with soliciting corporations for donations and perhaps with grant proposals. If you are interested in this position, please e-mail ICS Director, John Michel.
2. RealAudio Interviews Available Online at WFIU
WFIU, public radio from Indiana University, is offering full-length RealAudio interviews with many internationally renowned artists online. The link to the audio broadcasts can be found on WFIU's home page at http://www.indiana.edu/~wfiu/.
Current interviews include one with Janos Starker. A joint interview with Mstislav Rostropovich and Janos Starker, and one with David Baker, jazz cellist, will be posted soon.
3. New Cello Book
A new book has been published, Dvorak: Cello Concerto by Jan Smaczny, which is published by Cambridge University Press. Though it reads like a scholarly thesis at times, it has some very nice anecdotal history. It is a must for all lovers of the cello and the Dvorak Concerto.
4. Guarneri Quartet Cellist Slows Down
After 36 years of touring with the Guarneri String Quartet, cellist David Soyer has decided to cut back on his travel schedule at the end of the 1999-2000 season. He will continue to perform concerts on the East Coast of the USA with the group the following season. Peter Wiley will be joining the group as cellist for the quartet's 2000-01 tour throughout North America, Europe, China, and Japan.
5. Karl Fruh dies
To those who didn't know him, Karl Fruh was an extremely prominent cello teacher/performer in Chicago for many years. He was born on September 2, 1914, and studied chiefly in Chicago with Walter Brauer (CSO cellist/teacher) and Daniel Saidenberg. He adored the playing of Emanuel Feuermann and took several lessons with him. He was also a great admirer and friend of Leonard Rose (Rose referred to Fruh as the "Leonard Rose of the Midwest." :>) )
Fruh served as Principal Cellist in Kansas City for several years in the 1930's, and was a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a mere six months (until WW II "intervened"). After the war, he was offered his former position with the CSO (outside 3rd stand) but he opted to become Principal Cellist of the Chicago NBC radio orchestra. At the time, this was far more lucrative employment than the CSO AND he was eager to avail himself of many solo opportunities. Many of these solo appearances have been preserved on airchecks and tapes. In the early '50's he started to teach at the Chicago Musical College, and, in addition to his work at NBC, he entered the very profitable "jingle" and recording market which was thriving in Chicago until 10 or so years ago.
With his earnings from NBC, teaching, jingles, and solo engagements, he began to amass an astonishing collection of cellos and bows. When I first knew him in 1971, he owned at least 15 world-class cellos and several hundred world-class cello bows. Most have since been sold, but his interest and expertise in this area were unsurpassed.
IMHO, his expertise as a teacher was unsurpassed as well. He was an extremely kind man who was always enthusiastic and positive with his students. No technical or musical problem seemed beyond his teaching skills. He played with and taught his students to play with huge, lush sounds. Though his students are stylistically NOT carbon copies of Fruh, or of each other, his main musical emphasis was upon an extremely vocal style of cello playing. Beautiful sound and beautiful phrasing took precedent over all else.
Fruh students are to be found in the orchestras of Chicago (Chausow, Stucka, Brown), Cleveland (Meintz-Caldwell), Boston (Moerschal), San Francisco (Brindel), and the National Symphony (in Washington) (Honigberg). Fruh students are also LA and Chicago Studio musicians and countless others are prominent teachers/performers in their own right around the country. Gary Hoffman is a former Fruh student, as is Kenneth Slowik of the Smithsonian Chamber players. (My apologies to those Fruh students I have omitted.)
On a personal note, I owe him everything as a cellist. His warm and engaging personality was just right for me. Without his continued influence as a teacher (I last coached with him in Austin 3 years ago) and as a mentor (he was always available for "counseling" over the phone) I would not be anywhere near where I am today.
I have lost my musical father.
Rest well, Mr. Fruh,
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
6. ICS Staffer comes out with his own CD!
Rajan Krishnaswami and pianist Mark Salman have come out with a CD called American Interweave -- New Music for Cello and Piano (Ambassador Recording Company ARC 1022). It features many works that were commissioned or inspired by Rajan, including pieces that have Armenian and Persian folk song influences. Check it out!
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2. Lowri Records
3. Classical London
4. Hines Music (Turkish Cello Music)
5. Curved Bows
6. Free Internet Exposure for a Selected Few Artists
7. Salzburg Master Classes and Concerts
8. Stage Fright
9. Rugeri Music Teaching Methods
10. Nicholas Anderson Website
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