>> You wrote, "If your 1st finger and your 4th finger are in tune, your fingers in between are likely to be in tune too, since the hand is sort of naturally in tune, up to a point at least" I think this may ultimately cause a beginner-intermediate player some frustration as the second and third fingers tend to be drawn toward one another. This is the issue which Dotzauer attacks so vigorously in study #36 of the 113 studies. While I understand what you are trying to do in the article, I think that it might be good to at least mention that issue. My opinion is that four tapes are best (I actually use pencil marks), so that a student can be working at separating those fingers right from the start.
Hans Jørgen Jensen is currently Professor of Cello at Northwestern University and a faculty member of both Meadowmount School of Music and The National Arts Center's Young Artist Program.
Mr. Jensen received a Soloist Diploma from the Royal Academy of Music in Denmark as a student of Asger Lund Christiansen and studied with Leonard Rose and Channing Robbins at the Juilliard School. In addition, he studied with Pierre Fournier in Geneva, Switzerland. At Juilliard he studied chamber music with Robert Mann and Earl Carlyss. From 1979 to 1987 he was Professor of Cello at the School of Music at the University of Houston. He has been a guest professor at the School of Music at the University of Southern California, the Tokyo College of Music, and the Musashino Academy of Music in Japan.
Mr. Jensen has performed as a soloist and recitalist in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan, including solo appearances with the Danish Radio Orchestra, the Basel Symphony Orchestra, the Copenhagen Symphony, and the Irish Radio Orchestra. He has given numerous workshops and master classes across the United States, Canada, and Japan including those at the University of Cincinnati, the Royal College of Music in Calgary, the Music Bridge Festival in Calgary, the Glenn Gould Professional School in Toronto, the University of British Columbia, the International Banff Center, Southern Methodist University School of Music, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver, the University of New Mexico, the Texas Music Festival, the University of Colorado, the National Suzuki Convention, the Midwest Orchestra and Band Convention, and Indiana University School of Music.
His former students are members of major orchestras throughout the United States and Canada. His students are first prize winners in the MTNA National Competition, the ASTA National Competition, the Sphinx Competition, the Stulberg International Competition, the Madison Symphony Young Artist Competition, the Corpus Christi International Competition, the Chicago Symphony Young Artist Competition, and the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. They are also prize winners in the WAMSO Young Artist Competition, the Klein International Competition, and the Lutoslavski International Cello Competition.
Mr. Jensen was awarded the Copenhagen Music Critics Prize, the Jacob Gades Prize, the Danish Ministry of Cultural Affairs Grant for Musicians, and was the winner of the Artist International Competition that resulted in three New York recitals. In 1998 he was named the outstanding teacher of the year at Northwestern University and in 1999, the outstanding studio teacher of the year by Illinois ASTA. In 2001 he was awarded the U.S. Presidential Scholar Teacher Recognition Award by the U.S. Department of Education.
E.C. Shirmer, Boston, publishes his transcription of the Galamian Scale System for cello and Shar Products Company publishes his cello method book, Fun in Thumb Position.
TJ: Why did you pick the cello?
HJJ: My parents were both violinists, so I come from a musical family. My father was concertmaster of the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra in Denmark. One night my parents were playing string quartets at home with friends and I couldn't take my eyes off the cello. I just fell in love with it. I then started listening to recordings and I heard Rostropovich's electrifying Haydn C Major Concerto in a radio broadcast. Those two moments ignited a fire within me and I immediately knew that I wanted to be a cellist. I had played the violin for many years to please my parents, but I often felt somewhat rebellious when it came to music. This sense of rebellion was what led me to switch instruments and to play the cello instead. I had some catching up to do since I started playing the cello when I was 16 years old.
Your first cello professor was Asger Lund Christiansen.
Yes, he was a wonderful musician, cellist, and teacher. He taught at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus and was the cellist in the Copenhagen String Quartet. I had only played the cello for a year before I met him so I consider him to be my first major teacher.
You also studied with Pierre Fournier.
I took private lessons with him in Geneva and participated in his master class in Zurich. He was incredibly inspiring when it came to the refinement of sound and textures. He mostly discussed music with me, but he also stressed the importance of practicing arpeggios daily.
Then you studied with Leonard Rose at Juilliard.
Leonard Rose was a wonderful cellist and teacher. When he went on concert tours his assistant Channing Robbins taught in his absence. They worked very well together. I had expected rigorous technical training when I came to the US, but most of my time was spent on refining and learning new repertoire. I was 24 at the time and had already started concertizing, so perhaps my technique was already well developed.
Leonard Rose spent a lot of time with me on refining musical details. I'll never forget the way he demonstrated certain passages; his sound was just wonderful -— big, warm, and incredibly beautiful. He was very particular about controlling vibrato and tone colors and making sure that the vibrato and bow speed fit together. For example, when playing with a light and faster bow speed, the vibrato should narrow. Conversely, it should widen and become more intense when playing loud and strong. An example in the repertoire is the opening theme of the Elgar Concerto, for which Mr. Rose advocated a very minimal use of vibrato together with a light flowing bow stroke. I suspect that Rose was inspired by Isaac Stern, who controlled his own tone with incredible nuance.
Channing Robbins was particularly wonderful when discussing technical issues. I remember coming to him for help with my sautillé. I had already performed Elfentanz and Rococo Variations many times but I still struggled with that stroke. He recognized immediately that I used too much wrist and that I needed to use more of my forearm. After he explained what I needed to do in just a few sentences, I suddenly had a good sautillé. He was uniquely gifted when it came to understanding intricate technical matters.
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The following list of books was extracted, with the help of Michel Pedlar, from an article by Kellie Brown in the Spring 2006 "American String Teacher."
Books for Young Readers
A fellow chatter, upon my sharing that I was invited to write a spotlight, jokingly said "What? You mean there are actually a few people on the ICS who don't know everything about you?"
I've been playing a little over a year now and as I look back over the past twelve months, even though I enjoy pointing jabs towards myself in relation to my cellistic shortcomings, I am so proud of my improvement, especially of late. It seems that everything is finally starting to come together.
The cello is a second time around of sorts for me, musically speaking. I have a background in a few woodwinds, studied privately during my high school years and for a while had plans of pursuing these studies at university (clarinet, performance), but you know how it is -- just when you think you have your goals in life figured out, they can change in an instant. I ended up gearing my studies towards the legal field and although I continued to play in a local orchestra, once I started out in the working world over time my music gradually fell by the wayside. Eventually I gave it up entirely. (If you ever have the need to be entertained for a couple hours, just bring up this period of my life with my parents ! LOL )
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TtheCellist: I'm working on the 2nd movement of Elgar and I just cannot for the life of me get the sautillé thing down. How would you approach it?
Andrew Victor: Have you played sautillé successfully on different music?
Do you have a teacher or coach?
How far do you extend your endpin?
I have found bows that were born to sautillé and others that are absolutely impossible. With cello bows, my limited experience (a couple of hundred bows) has been that "sautillé bows" constitute about 5% of the population - and you will never be able to buy one from a living owner. Also, and unfortunately - great sounding bows are not necessarily sautillé bows and sautillé bows are not necessarily great sounding.
Sautillé can still be done with most less compliant bows, but it takes more use of gravity (longer endpin to slope the cello), a bit more initiating index finger pressure, careful adjustment of hair tension, and finding the exact spot where the stick will maximize the natural bounce.
If you watch various performers, you will see that they have preferred places for performing sautillé. I was watching a 1962 violin performance by Ruggiero Ricci yesterday and noticed that his sautillé was in the upper middle of his bow. Another factor is what "sounding point" on the strings you pick; the further from the bridge, the softer the string - and the better the bow grabs it. But you have to balance that against the sound quality your instrument gives.
All that said, I did have a violin student who was doing everything properly and could not get a sautillé to start (with her W. Seifert bow) - so I loaned her a Glasser Composite bow (just to see) and the sautillé was there instantly. She came to her next lesson with a new bow.
Perhaps most important, the "restoring force" that creates a sautillé (or even many spiccato bowings) pretty much needs to come from the springiness of the stick. If you play with the bow stick tilted to the strings (which is good for many bow stroke types) you should probably turn the bow a bit so the hair is flat on the strings to do a sautillé. Another thing, on the violin, gravity works directly downward to provide a driving force for properly balanced bows, but on the cello gravity is working at an angle so the right hand has to provide some of that counter-force to the bow spring restoring force. Still, on violin bows that are a bit light in the tip the right hand may have to provide some of that force, anyway (as with some ARCUS bows on some violins). Once you have all these things in hand - as others have said - the bow will lift off the string "on its own" when moved properly, you, yourself, don't create a sautillé stroke with rapid motions for each little "tick."
mvotapek: If you're going fast enough with your elbow not way low or your index finger not squeezing for dear life, it's hard NOT to bounce. So you might find it helpful to try very hard NOT to let it bounce, and then gradually relax ... see what happens. (You can also fool with miniature bow circles, balance point, etc., so I know this is a shortcut quickie pop answer to a complicated question.)
>> Relevant Cello Methods
TtheCellist: What methods are good for technique study these days? With all that is known now about healthy playing is Popper really good for you? Isn't Cossman a muscle and tendon nightmare?
cellofan07: Etudes are what they are, some are very difficult and some aren't. The key, and I stress the word KEY, is that you don't allow yourself to find shortcuts. Case and point:
If you have a recital coming up, and there is one passage that is just not working, you may find some sort of "trick" to make the passage work, because you have to perform the piece on a recital. Fine.
In etudes, you want to do the opposite. If you can find a way to tackle each passage in an etude with a healthy, balanced hand, then the etude has done you some good. If you find shortcuts, and just prepare it to a point where you can kind of get through it, then you've wasted your time. Etude playing should have the following qualities: 1.) Great intonation, due to playing with drones, open strings, whatever. 2.) Great sound production due to a free bow arm, and slow, careful practice. 3.) Balance in the left hand/arm.
If you can play etudes in this way, be it the first Dotzauer, or the 12th Piatti Caprice, then you have done something good to your technical foundation. The same goes for scale and arpeggio practice. If you are using shortcuts or tricks to play scales and arpeggios in tune, you might as well practice something else. Finding a free, balanced, relaxed attitude in both hands, while still producing a great sound and good intonation should be the goal of all practice sessions, but especially so in etude and scale practice. Learning how to play a scale well will pay great dividends when you apply the things that you have learned to your repertoire. In the practice room, we should ONLY accept pristine intonation, beatiful sound, and intelligent musical decisions. Anything less, and you are not using your time wisely.
Many people maintain an "I'll get it next time" attitude when practicing. Don't do it. Recognize and confront your mistakes, and deal with them! Every time we accept a sour note, we are welcoming that sourness in to our playing. Strive for greatness, and work tirelessly for a great sound, and you will hear improvement.
Babinicello: GENERALLY, THE MENTION OF "HAVING A GREAT TECHNIQUE BRINGS THE IDEA THAT IT MEANS PLAYING FAST AND ALL THAT. ACTUALLY, A GREAT AMOUNT OF TECHNIQUE IS USED TO PLAY JUST A FEW NOTES, IN A SLOW TEMPO AND CROSSING STRINGS AND MAKING MUSIC OUT OF THEM. THE VIRTUOSITY OF THE LEFT HAND IS ANOTHER FORM OF TECHNIQUE. THE VIRTUOSITY OF THE BOW IS ALSO ANOTHER MATTER. SYNCHRONIZING BOTH HANDS IS STILL ANOTHER FORM OF TECHNIQUE. NO ONE CAN GET RESULTS PRACTICING ONLY WITH THEIR HANDS ON THE CELLO. DOING IT IS ONLY A WASTE OF TIME. THE MENTAL CONCENTRATION SHOULD FOLLOW ANY FORM OF PRACTICING. 5 minutes of Cossmann trills is recommended, no more than that. SCALES IN ALL KEYS WITH ITS COMPONENTS, OCTAVES, THIRDS, SIXTHS, ARPEGGIOS, CHROMATIC MOTIONS, PLUS ETUDES, ANY OF THEM, IF DONE CORRECTLY UNDER PROPER GUIDANCE RESULT IN AN IMMENSE GOOD. READING NEW SCORES ALSO HELPS WITH UNDERSTANDING THE FINGERBOARD BETTER. DUPORT, GRUETZMACHER, PIATTI, AND YAMPOLSKY BOOKS ARE OF GREAT HELP. BUT THE CELLIST ALSO SHOULD CREATE HIS OWN ETUDES FOR SOLVING CERTAIN SHORTCOMINGS. IT GOES ALSO FOR THE BOW ARM. USE YOUR MIND TO HELP YOURSELF. MEMORIZING WHATEVER YOU PLAY IS AN ASSET FOR DEVELOPING YOUR "REMEMBERINGS" OF WHAT YOU PLAY. THERE ARE NO SECRETS, IT IS ALL COMMON SENSE. THERE ARE THREE ESSENTIALS TO PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT: MUSICAL INTEGRITY AND SELF RESPECT, MUSICALLY SPEAKING, ENTHUSIASM, AND HARD WORK. SLEEP WELL, BREATH WELL, EAT WELL, THINK POSITIVELY, AND LOVE TO PRACTICE. the cello WILL RECIPROCATE MANY TIMES OVER.
zambocello: I'm with Italo. Etudes are a must. Of course, physically demanding exercises should be done in moderation, far short of actually hurting oneself. On the other hand, trying to eliminate what is stressful in one's cello playing, or life in general, is a futile exercise. The most extreme things in our routines cause stress and likelihood for injury. If playing the cello is your most strenuous activity, playing the cello will likely cause injuries. If "easy" chamber music parts are your most strenuous cello playing, that type of playing will likely cause injury. Therefore, besides for fun, I keep a active lifestyle so that playing the cello is a relatively easy thing to do, and I practice etudes and exercises so that my day-to-day cello playing is a relatively easy thing.
>> Popper Etudes
skizrule: I remember hearing a while back about a list Leonard Rose gave his students of a handful of Popper studies he considered essential. Does anyone here know which studies were on this list??
Bob: Although I was a Starker pupil (meaning Popper was the mainstay of my technical studies), I've become an apostate over the years since. Popper's limitations include an undue focus on extravagant left hand problems while neglecting similar challenges for the bow arm; a harmonic vocabulary that is, for all its chromaticism, quite limited, and gets old after awhile; and very little in the way of developing musicianship.
Even in his wheelhouse, you can emerge from a deep study of all 40 etudes and be no closer to being able to play the double-stops in the Saint-Saens Concerto, the opening of Don Juan, the Prelude of the Fourth Bach Suite, the last page of Beethoven's Op. 132, or those fearsome licks in the Mozart Divertimento.
In short, it's more theoretical than practical. If you spend five hours a day in the gym and at the track, you will be in peak physical condition and outlast any of your opponents; but if you don't spend enough time practicing actual shots on the court, your tennis opponent will still beat you. I suppose ideally one does everything. But for those of us with ordinary talent, there isn't TIME to do everything.
Popper most definitely has his place, and no one is better for learning fingerboard geography thoroughly. But the Piatti Caprices are richer, both musically and technically (some would say the same about Franchomme), and if you REALLY want to put hair on your technical chest look at the Gruetzmacher Vol. II.
But more and more, I've begun to use excerpts (chamber & orchestral) as etudes. They don't go on and on and on, they are "real-world" problems, and they build musicianship along with technique.
As far as a good Popper selection, you should play enough of them to learn his tricks, however many that takes. There is no point, that I can see, in going through the book in sequence since the etudes are not presented in order of difficulty. The "easiest" half-dozen would include 36, 3, 11, 34, 5, and 2 (in no particular order). Ones that I'd consider "essential" in the sense that they expose you to the most salient features of his technique include 4, 9, 12, 13, 21, 26, 28, 31, 33, 38, and 40. If you can play those decently, you might begin to look elsewhere for more nourishing fare. Others will disagree, of course.
>> Self Taught vs. Finding a Teacher
Bob: To those whose lives I have not yet darkened, I am former pro, now just a weekend warrior with a few adult students. If you care, my bona fides, such as they are, are on my ICS webpage: www.cello.org/freepage/battey/bathome.htm.
As the self-appointed wet blanket on this board, I know that my diatribes are ignored by some here. So I do not address those who are satisfied with their efforts to teach themselves. Rather I post solely in the hope of influencing those who may be wavering between trying to do it yourself or going to the time, trouble, and expense of finding a good teacher. The cheerleading and mutual support amongst the autodidacts here requires a strong corrective for those who might be swayed to join them.
Everyone is unique, and everyone's aspirations and standards are unique as well. But we all play the cello and we all derive some enjoyment out of it. Thus, this common forum where we share thoughts and ideas. However, like any collection of souls from around the world, we come with drastically different goals and experiences. Some here just want to just "jam" -- play accompaniments and simple tunes in non-classical styles. They correctly note that many successful practitioners in those styles were self-taught, that there are instructional books and videos, and that in this arena the gulf between where they now are and where they hope to be is not light-years, but only a mile or two. To those folks, I say, "godspeed." We have no beefs.
The problem is when these standards are applied to the much more rigorous realm of traditional classical music. But it's not only those who come over from other styles. Even with a classical music background, problems often arise when people extrapolate from their experiences with other instruments, and expect the same results. Many of us, when we were younger, tried our hand at the piano, or the guitar, or the recorder, or the drums, or the autoharp, or the harmonica. These instruments all have one thing in common: you can produce a decent sound immediately. Of course you can produce a better sound with training, but tone production is not the first and foremost concern, and you can start learning some simple songs from your first lessons. This instant gratification leads to enthusiasm, positive feelings about one's abilities, and bonding with the instrument.
Woodwind and brass instruments are another level up. While your earliest sounds are not beautiful, to say the least, a modicum of practice will get you to where they are tolerable. Moreover, learning the notes is a relatively simple task. There are only one or two fingerings for middle C (on the cello there are twenty, not counting harmonics), and you can learn everything there is to know about finding every note on your instrument easily within a year (embochure and reed issues aside). The point is, with dedicated practice you can get to a decent level of competence on these instruments in 2-3 years, such that you could gainfully participate in a community band or orchestra. I remember noodling around with the flute in music camp one summer when I was 12. A friend let me borrow his, he showed me how to blow, and gave me his method book, which had fingering diagrams. After one week, I told the conductor of our elementary orchestra that I wanted to play flute for one rehearsal. He said fine. The music wasn't hard, and I didn't miss a note. The girl next to me, who'd been playing for a couple of years, was irritated, but she could find no real fault with my contribution, nor could the conductor. This is not an anecdote about my musical gifts, it's a comparison of the difficulty level of the two instruments and a cautionary tale for those who might believe that the learning and achievement curves will be similar.
The cello, unfortunately, is not like that. Not at all. Everything -- from the basic alignment of our bodies to the instruments, to holding the bow, to learning the correct positioning and movement of the left hand -- is counter-intuitive. At the beginning stages, what "feels right" is wrong. The sounds we produce at first are enough to make even loved ones head for the hills. For 99.92% of us, every real step towards mastery costs blood, sweat, and tears, in addition to time. Coordination between the hands is a never-ending battle. Every time I introduce a new skill, in one hand, to a student, things go fine until we add the other hand. At which point we seem to be farther back than before. I'm sometimes amazed that anyone (least of all me) has the patience to stay with this cursed dead tree for as long as it takes to become a decent player.
What some people do, in the face of this constant struggle, which sometimes feels like it's bordering on futility, is to start to disconnect from reality -- "reality" being a clear-eyed comparison of where we are with where a high-level practitioner is. They retreat into their own world, one where their own standards apply and where their own approval suffices. This is fine, of course. Until they start to offer advice and "encouragement" to people on the internet who may still be struggling in the real world, people who hope to someday play in a good amateur string quartet or civic orchestra. These aspirations do not lend themselves to self-instruction, and inviting people, who may have vastly different goals than you, to remain down where you are does them no favors.
Playing the "Messiah," or a Haydn Quartet, or the Faure "Apres un reve" competently requires a matrix of high-level skills that no one can acquire without direct, hands-on, focused instruction from a good teacher. Each of us has different problems, and the solutions to those problems will differ from player to player as well. Thus, a video purporting to show proper form is less than useless, because the demonstrator might have a completely different body or hand than you, and your efforts to mimic what you see can leave you worse than when you started. And even if you and the demonstrator are identical, only a professional can accurately evaluate how well you are actually grasping what is being shown.
As for those who are farther along, who perhaps had lessons for awhile and then stopped, the realities are the same. When you pick the instrument up again after many years, you will likely have forgotten about as much as you recall. At best, you may possibly work your way back to a point close to where you were before, but I guarantee that you will progress no farther. And there is no percentage in holding off returning to a teacher until you've "become more comfortable again." You don't know what you don't know, and the mistakes you'll likely make along the way will just require still more remedial work.
It comes down, again, to "reality." When the autodidacts here say things like "I've been making a lot of progress" or "I learned how to ______ from reading _______'s book," they are, not to put too fine a point on it, deluding themselves. Or, at the very least, applying standards that do not pertain out in the real world. You may think that your intonation is "pretty good," but when three other people in a string quartet have to rely on it, they will likely have a different opinion. If your section leader in the orchestra is doing a particular bow-stroke that you can't match (because you never knew about it because it was not covered in your method book), you're likely not going to be retained unless they're just desperate.
Again, the situations I'm describing may not be those that some of you aspire to. In which case, I would hope you stopped reading long ago. But for those who want to move steadily towards mastery of traditional cello skills, and thus to be able to meaningfully share and participate in some of the greatest works of Western Art, there is still only one path. And it is slow and costly. And there are a lot of mediocre teachers out there, and you may have had one. But none of this changes reality. So choose your poison.
Michele Pedlar: I don't think I express frequently enough how much I appreciate all of the professionals who visit the boards, and give so generously of their time to those of us who ask.
I've been experiencing challenges with playing legato, the smoothness just isn't there. Last night was my lesson night, and earlier in the day I wrote to Italo, asking for any tips he might have, and expressing disappointment in myself because I knew this piece in particular wasn't going to be even close to how I wanted it. He took the time to respond in great detail the same day, and managed to make me, as well as my teacher, laugh to tears with his words.
With Italo's kind permission, I am sharing his e-mail. Enjoy!
The ONLY help to play legato is practicing long, very long notes of a scale, maybe a 3-octave one -- VIBRATING EACH FINGER and making sure the pressure you start with at the frog is maintained all the way to the tip of the bow. It takes 15 MINUTES. You can also invert the process by starting very piano and maintaining it to the tip. Then doing simple crossings over open strings in a very slow bow and gradually using different speeds using a variety of dynamics: forte, fortissimo, pianissimo, with the bow close to the bridge and on the finger board. I don't know how you hold your bow, so I cannot say much about the difficulties OR NOT created for having a faulty bow position. However, I always believed in the natural gravity of the arm on the strings.
Victor Sazer: A major factor in playing legato has to do with bow changes as you reverse your strokes from one direction to the other.
If you try to keep your bow absolutely straight and parallel to the bridge, the tendency is often to stop the bow between strokes making changing direction more complicated that necessary. It takes more effort to stop motion than to continue it.
If you visualize your bow strokes as curved or circular, you are able maintain continuous motion as you change from one direction to the other. Try to think of your basic bow stroke as a shallow figure 8, so that when you change from a down-bow to an up-bow, your bow goes in a clockwise circle to round out the end of your figure 8. When going from an up-bow to a down-bow, your circle will be counter-clockwise.
The turn-around should always be prepared a bit before the change. Start the turn before the new stroke. It is also helpful to play with your arm at a little higher level for your up-bows and release it to a lower level for down-bows. Anticipate by lifting a bit before the up and releasing before the down.
The lift or release should occur together with the circling to round the ends of your strokes.
Another factor is string crossings and arm level. When alternating down and up bows on neighboring strings, if your down-bows are on the upper string, your arm can stay at the same level, with your hand circling clockwise to play on both strings. However if the down-bow are played on the lower string, your arm needs to lift for the up-bows and drop for the down-bows as you circle counterclockwise.
Because clockwise circles with your right hand/arm are more natural than counterclockwise ones, they take less effort. This is why we generally try to get the so-called Vivaldi bowings (rapid alternating between two strings) to be in the clockwise pattern.
The Ancient One: Victor Sazer wrote: "Try to think of your basic bow stroke as a shallow figure 8, so that when you change from a down-bow to an up-bow, your bow goes in a clockwise circle to round out the end of your figure 8. When going from an up-bow to a down-bow, your circle will be counter-clockwise."
Louis Potter, Jr., in "The Art of Cello Playing", writes:
"In the change from down to up bow the elbow raises slightly in a small counter-clockwise motion immediately before the end of the down-bow stroke, and hand and bow follow this movement after the slight "stroke-continuation" made by the hand and fingers."
What am I missing here? Could someone please clarify what seems to me to be completely opposite instruction?
Bob: Let me just advise folks to try both ways and see which one makes more sense and gets a better result.
BA: This one drives me nuts. Another great myth of cello playing, like that of our 'improving technique' is the idea that there is a way to change a bow without stopping it, by using some mystical combination of circles or paintbrush stroke or whatever.
Forget about what the wrist and fingers do for a minute and concentrate on what really has to happen in the bow. The hair MUST stop traveling in one direction and start traveling in another. Basic physics tells us that it is impossible to reverse directions without being stopped at some point. Impossible- the bow (and the arm and hand) must stop somewhere in the process of changing direction- it's impossible to avoid now matter how complicated you make the path of your arm.
The mechanics of sound production also tell that when the bow begins in the new direction the vibration of the string must restart. The problem facing cellists is to minimize the dead sound created by this process. It is a matter of concealment, not avoidance. No one can make a bow change without having to restart the vibrations of the string. Just listen and experiment trying to find how you can minimize and conceal the change. Figure 8's, paintbrushes -- if they work for you fine, but don't believe that they are the 'right' way (Casals and Feuermann and many, many others did just fine with much less fuss) or that there is any cellist out there with completely undetectable bow changes. And if you use it in the right way and put it in the right place a bow change can be a very musical effect, just like a singer's breath.
What's more important is how quickly you can get the next stroke to start vibrating. Also sometimes vibrato can do an amazing job of masking bow changes, if you use a slight 're-impulse' (for lack of a better word).
Try copying the bow change of any or every famous string player you like, but be guided by minimizing the sound 'hole', and don't believe that you can get necessarily certain results just by following some magic pattern. Cello playing doesn't work that way. Train your ears first to hear what you do and what you want to do and then use your ears to find what works for YOU by listening to the sound you produce. As Italo once told me, on the cello we have to teach ourselves 90% of everything we learn....
Victor Sazer: The thing that I am most trying to stress is that the common preoccupation with keeping the bow straight, more often than not, leads to rigidity. It presents a rigid image that does not conform to reality.
Our bodies are not designed to move in straight lines, but rather to move in curved (circles, spirals, etc.) paths. It is easier to make U turns than starts and stops. My concern is with body use.
Although I studied with Leonard Rose, I no longer subscribe to his paint-brush approach to bowing, but I do value his observation that "There are no straight bows".
In 1934, Percival Hodgson, a British violin pedagogue wrote a book called "Motion Study in Violin Bowing", in which he traces the shapes of various bowings based on his photographic recordings. His work provides convincing proof of the "inevitability of curves." The inevitability of curves applies not only to bowing, but to all bodily movement.
Hodgson also makes the astute observation that "…a capacity for easy transference of weight from foot to foot is the correct foundation for arm movement."
BA: Do what works, regardless of whether it's 'right' or not. If it sounds good, it's right for you, but don't expect that by following some 'magic formula' of physical motion it will automatically sound good. You have to to try everything and keep what works.
1. Gordon Epperson Dies
Gordon Epperson, Professor Emeritus of Cello at the University of Arizona, died on Tuesday, May 9, 2006, after a long illness.
He was born in Williston, Florida, on January 18, 1921, and grew up in Tallahassee. He received his musical training at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, with advanced degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Boston University. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army, and resumed his professional career with appointments at the College of Puget Sound, Louisiana State University, and Ohio State University, before teaching at the University of Arizona from 1967 until his retirement in 1988.
From the time of his arrival at the University of Arizona in 1967, Epperson charmed Arizona audiences with the warmth and passion of his musicianship. Renowned as both cello pedagogue and author, he contributed numerous articles to professional journals on music and on the theory and practice of the arts. His books include The Art of Cello Teaching; The Musical Symbol; a biography, The Mind of Edmund Gurney; a book of poetry entitled Sonnets From India; and a novel, The Guru of Malad.
During his long and varied career, Epperson performed under the legendary conductors Koussevitzky and Sir Thomas Beecham, and as soloist and recitalist he concertized extensively and conducted countless master classes. His critically acclaimed recording of solo cello works by Ysaye, Crumb, and Kodaly was re-issued on CD last year.
As a teacher, he made an enormous contribution to the arts in Arizona and the United States. He served as beloved mentor to countless students of all ages in a variety of disciplines well into his "retirement." He continued to hold master classes after his retirement and in 2005 received the Governor's Arts Award for Education. Graduates of his studio play in the nation's great orchestras, perform as chamber musicians, and teach in universities, school music programs and independent studios around the world. Revered by generations of teachers, he brought national and international attention to the State of Arizona and particular distinction to the University's School of Music.
Epperson is survived by his wife, Mary Pearson Epperson, and daughter Florence Marie Lemke (Raymond) of Milwaukee, WI; his sister Anne Koscielny (Raymond Hanson) of Shelburne Falls, MA; his sister-in-law Jeanne Pearson of Tacoma, WA; as well as nieces, nephews, and many dear friends and former students. He was preceded in death by his daughter Kristin Epperson.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, contributions may be made to the UA Foundation Gordon Epperson Endowment at the University of Arizona School of Music. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.
2. Rostropovich ends his cello career
Mstislav Rostropovich, 79, announced that he will no longer perform as a cellist. He announced that his recent premiere of Krzysztof Penderecki's Die Zeit was his last performance.
3. Brinton Smith assists Yo-Yo
Composer Kevin Puts enlisted the help of Brinton Smith in the writing of the cello part in his new cello concerto, entitled "Visions." Yo-Yo Ma premiered it at the Aspen Music Festival on June 25.
4. Radu Aldulescu dies
Cellist and pedagogue Radu Aldulescu died at the age of 83. Born in Piteasca-Pasarea in Romania, he studied at the Bucharest Conservatory with Dimitrie Dinicu. He was principal cellist of the Bucharest Opera Orchestra from 1943 and the Bucharest Philharmonic from 1950, and became principal cellist of the RAI Symphony Orchestra in Rome in 1965. As a chamber musician he formed the Rome String Trio in 1972 with Salvatore Accardo and Luigi Bianchi.
He was perhaps best known for his skills as a teacher, intructing students at the Bucharest Conservatory, the Paris Conservatoire Europeen de Musique, the International Academy of Music in Rome, and the International Menuhin School at Blonay in Switzerland.
His recordings include sets of sonatas by Beethoven, Hindemith, and Shostakovich.
5. Feuermann Competition
The International Grand Prix Emanuel Feuermann Cello Competition will take place November 21-26, 2006, at the Kronberg Academy.
6. Teaching Children the Cello
Teaching Children the Cello, a seminar presented by the String Academy of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, will take place July 20-23,2006.
7. Pergamenschikov's cello finds a new home
Boris Pergamenschikov's Montagnana has been purchased for David Cohen, principal cellist of the UK's Philharmonia's Philharmonia Orchestra. Donors were the Philharmonic Orchestra and the Rasumovsky Trust.
8. New Shafran CD Set
Brilliant Classics have released a 7-CD set of recordings made by Daniil Shafran as part of their Russian Archive Series.
9. Struggling with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
There is a new orthotic that claims to not only relieve the symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome, but prevent it from occuring: the Carpal Glove Orothis II (CGO II). The CGO II does not limit the range of motion. It allows you to continue to have your normal lifestyle, at work,at home or at play.
www.kronostek.com or http://carpalglove.com/prod02.htm
10. More Cello News
A cello news link has been engineered using Google.com's features. Be sure to bookmark it.
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7. Ray Brown Jazz Cello CD
8. David Finckel
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10. Cellists on You Tube
11. The Birth of a Cello
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