Message from the Editor
Inspired by Selma Gokcen's article in this newsletter, I am listening to Pablo Casals playing a series of short pieces in recordings that were made from 1925 to 1928 (BMG Classics 09026-61616-2). Having been inundated with recordings of contemporary cellists because of my ICS duties, it has been a long time since I sat down to savor Casals' playing. What a pleasure it is to hear him again and what an assortment of memories his playing brings back.
Casals has always occupied a special place in my heart, even as a child. My family owned a copy of Casals' famous Bach Suite recordings, but it was rare that they were played because my parents thought of the records as so special that they worried they would be scratched or would wear out if they were played too often. Who knew that these recordings would be re-released on CD someday? I was allowed to read the liner notes, which I did over and over, and I yearned to put the discs on the record player. Usually, only the first suite was played by my parents before it was quickly returned to the safety of its jacket.
This Casals-deprivation sewed the seeds for an ever-intensifying worship of Casals, which later inspired me to seek out his other recordings. Casals' picture on the record jacket stared at me intensely for years from its prominent place on the shelf. I would look at it longingly, aching to put the records on the turntable, and his penetrating eyes seemed to silently dare me to defy my parents. As my teenage rebellion blossomed, I would sneak them onto the record player, one ear anxiously listening for my parents' keys being inserted into the front door if they came home unexpectedly. After I had temporarily quenched my thirst for Casals' Bach, I would the carefully put them back on the shelf, making sure they ended up in the exact same position I had found them in order to evade detection. Because these recordings were forbidden fruit, each time I listened to them was a cherished event, making me want to listen to them even more.
Having grown up with his Bach recordings, it should come as no surprise that I became but one among the legions of half-baked Casals imitators. I would try to emphasize the same notes he did, and infuse the music with the same spirit. Of course, the reality was that I could barely play a scale, let alone a Bach Suite, but I would play the G Major Prelude while hearing Casals in my head, unwittingly scratching out sour notes and stretching the music way out of proportion. My dream was to become a great, soulful cellist like Casals.
Years later, I played the c minor Prelude for Carter Brey in a master class. The first thing he said was, "Let me guess, you've been listening to Casals...." Somehow I picked up, even as a young, clueless teenager, that this wasn't necessarily meant as a compliment, not because he didn't respect Casals, but because I was imitating Casals so poorly. The second thing he said was, "Don't you realize that a is flatted in the key of c minor?" ... oops, guess I needed a teacher.
My teacher in college, Toby Saks, was associated with Casals since she had won first prize in the junior division of the International Casals Competition in Israel. Anner Bylsma won the senior division that year. She kept an inspiring photo in her studio of Casals leaning over to congratulate her, which I loved to stare at during my lessons. I probably should have spent more time listening to her instead of looking at that picture. One of my fondest memories of my time with Saks is when she invited her cello class to her house to listen to Casals' recordings. What heaven it was to lay on her living room floor with my fellow students and to, in a sense, worship at the temple of Casals.
It was during this time that I first met David Blum, author of Casals and the Art of Interpretation, which was my cellistic and musical bible in college. I went up to him and raved about his book, saying how much I even loved its physical size, which was a conversation stopper. It was during his lecture that I asked my very first publicly impertinent question, "If Casals was so great, why isn't it fashionable to play like him anymore?" Rather than take offense, Blum was delighted that somebody was actually awake in his lecture. He went on to explain that great musicianship never goes out of fashion, only bad imitations do. I later told him of my dream to write about musicians the way he did. He patted me on my young, foolish head, metaphorically speaking, and said how hard it was to get into the profession....
Now, after years of listening to other cellists, both old and new, it is a pleasure to rediscover the treasures that Casals left us, and to rekindle the memories of how I longed to play like him. Often, childhood heroes fall from their pedestals as one learns more. With Casals, my respect only grows as the years go by.
>> I've wanted to play the cello all my life. You hear this sentence every day, I am sure of it. It is my goal next year to do this. Is it possible to learn the cello when one does not have a teacher? On my own?
Bob Jesselson replies: I believe that it is NEVER too late to learn to play the cello and experience the enjoyment that it can bring. But I do think you will need to have a teacher who can help guide you through the many challenges of learning the technique and literature. It will be much harder for you if you first acquire bad habits (such as the bow hold, finding the right angles needed to get a good sound, figuring out how we use weight, left hand positions, etc.) and then try and correct them later with a teacher, as opposed to learning it correctly from the start. I would highly recommend starting with a good teacher who knows how to avoid the many pitfalls along the way. Good luck!
>> I am a blind cellist. I don't usually tell people this because I want them to judge me on what they hear and not on my circumstances. Do you know of any other blind cellists or cello teachers? I'd love to get in connection with such persons.
Tim Janof replies: If anybody knows of other blind cellists, please send me an e-mail.
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Widely regarded as one of the most creative musicians of his generation, Julian Lloyd Webber has collaborated with an extraordinary array of musicians, from Yehudi Menuhin, Lorin Maazel, Neville Marriner, and Georg Solti to Stephane Grappelli, Elton John, and Cleo Laine.
Julian's twenty-year partnership with Philips/Universal Classics has produced many outstanding recordings, including his Brit-Award winning Elgar Concerto, conducted by Yehudi Menuhin (chosen as the finest ever version by BBC Music Magazine), the Dvorák Concerto with Vaclav Neumann and the Czech Philharmonic, Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations with the London Symphony under Maxim Shostakovich, and a coupling of Britten's Cello Symphony and Walton's Concerto with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, which was described by Gramophone magazine as "beyond any rival." Julian has also recorded several highly successful CD's of short pieces for Universal Classics, including Made In England, Cello Moods, and Cradle Song: "It would be difficult to find better performances of this kind of repertoire anywhere on records of today or yesterday" - Gramophone.
Julian has given more than fifty works their premiere recordings and has inspired new compositions for cello from composers as diverse as Malcolm Arnold and Joaquin Rodrigo to James MacMillan and Philip Glass. Recent concert performances have included three further works composed for Julian: Michael Nyman's Double Concerto for Cello and Saxophone on BBC Television, Gavin Bryars' Concerto in Suntory Hall, Tokyo, and Philip Glass's Concerto at the Beijing International Festival. Julian's recording of the Glass concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic conducted by Gerard Schwarz will be released on the Orange Mountain label in September 2004.
TJ: There is a picture of William Lloyd Webber on your website. Is that your father?
JLW: Yes. He started out as an organist and composer, but he virtually stopped composing when music took its modernist turn in the 1950's. His music was very melodic and romantic, all the things that music in the 1950's wasn't, so he felt completely out of step with the times. He went into academia and became a professor at the Royal College of Music, and then he became the director of the London College of Music. At the very end of his life -- he died in 1982 -- he started writing again, and several recordings of his works have come out in the last few years.
Is your last name "Lloyd Webber," or is there a tradition in your family of using the same middle and last names? Your brother, Andrew, also shares this.
My father's middle name was Lloyd. He adopted it professionally to avoid confusion with another organist called William Webber. I guess the name has stuck!
Was your mother a musician?
Yes. She used to teach young children the piano, specializing in four- to six-year-olds.
I would imagine you were surrounded by music as a child?
Absolutely. Music accompanied my entire childhood. There was even a concert pianist, John Lill, who lived with us. Needless to say, my home was a noisy place to live.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
To revisit the recordings of Pablo Casals is an unalloyed pleasure, one that still yields fresh insights after many years of studying and playing many of the same works that were his favorites. I cannot remember when I have spent a more enjoyable few weeks listening to the skillfully re-mastered recordings, some from nearly a century ago, and marvelling at their freshness and immediacy. Casals was an incomparable artist, and we are fortunate that the invention of recorded sound coincided with his emergence on the world stage. The choices that follow are entirely personal but will, I hope, invite the reader to explore this legacy and to make his or her own discoveries.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
On Oct. 9, 2004, my colleague Selma Gokcen and I will present a program at the 92nd St. Y in New York City called Pablo Casals, Artist of Conscience: An Homage to the Great Cellist and Humanitarian. Through words, texts, and music, we will explore the intellectual, artistic, cultural, and spiritual roots of Casals' musical thought; and his contributions to the expressive potential of his instrument and the art of interpretation. Throughout his long career as an internationally acclaimed artist, he was a symbol of the aspirations of his oppressed countrymen, a beacon of freedom in a world darkened by Fascism, and as an old man, the center of pilgrimage for the greatest musicians of his time, and a leading activist for peace.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
Cello Scene in Japan
This is "Ken from Japan." I WAS participating in Cello Chat around five years ago, but now I am too busy to even access the board. I can now only read Tutti Celli (thank you Tim, and those maintaining the Society), and enjoy the intensity of the discussion from the excerpts provided in the newsletter.
I am 40 years old now, with a wife and a one year old daughter. As an amateur, I enjoy playing chamber music, but at the moment, I am busy raising my daughter. She was born just a week after I played Bach C major Suite. Had she been born one week earlier, I would have had to cancel the concert :-)
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
The current issue of this magazine has ten articles about cellists!
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>> FINGERING HELP
42: I have auditions coming up in a couple weeks for orchestra seating and ensemble placement. One of the excerpts is really troubling me so I thought I would pick your collective brains to see if there is a better fingering than what I am using. The piece is Bartok's Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta; 2nd Movement.
David Sanders: Not every fingering works for everybody. I haven't played it in quite a while (although it's scheduled this season).
cbrey: This is what works for me. Your mileage will surely vary. The basic fingering philosophy I use with passages like this is: whole-step fingerings are Death. Occasionally I'll use 2-3 on a half step where one might expect 2-2. Interestingly enough, 2-3 seems to make a cleaner sound; the change of finger gives a slight articulation while preserving the half-step position change. I like it in stuff like this and the Figaro overture.
David Sanders:I agree, in principle, about the whole-step fingerings, but sometimes they seem to work better for me, for instance in the f# to g#'s I do 1-1. I also try to stay on the A string as much as I can, something I learned from Frank Miller, Phil Blum, and Lenny Chausow.
Most of the fingerings that I put in the part are from Frank Miller, and I guess after so many years of working with him, a lot of them has become second nature.
Fingerings are so personal.
cbrey: I subscribe to your comment about doing what's comfortable; after all, that alone can be what makes something sound better. Theories are meant to be proven on the battleground. If my hand "wants" to do something contrary to what I THINK it should do, well, the hand wins, every time. You can't stop in the middle of the performance and harangue your audience about some obscure obsessive theory. They just want to hear it in tune.
It would be fun-- and instructive-- to post our fingerings for the famous sixteenth-note passage in the last movement of the Tchaikovsky Fourth. I'm always amazed at how much open lazy A-string I manage to work in there. And I'm also always amazed at how little difference any fine tuning makes in performance. It's just a hell of a lot of noise.
One situation in which fingerings can make or break you is in a lengthy passage of dotted rhythms. I notice that a lot of inexperienced cellists rip their keels out on this one. Some of those passages in the Bruckner Seventh, per esempio. I've seen young players in masterclasses trying to shift according to what they see rather than organizing their hand according to the rhythm. In other words, it's not always an instinctive thing to shift before the sixteenth note, rather than the dotted eighth. That would also make an interesting posting.
ARBettridge: People actually play that passage in Tchaik 4? I thought it was just faked. :)
David Sanders: No, it's not always faked! As Frank Miller told me once, "I play it, but I'm not proud of it." Here is a fingering:
zambocello: My favorite fingering dogmata:
David Sanders: Does anyone have any experience and/or suggestions for exercises to help a student who has a double-jointed thumb that tends to collapse when she plays in thumb position?
Bob: My experience has been that the muscles and tendons will simply have to take up the slack to provide the physical "barrier" the joints otherwise would. In this particular case the muscle in question (called, I'm told, the thenar eminence) has to be built up to a greater degree than the rest of us need. I've made my double-jointed students do a lot of isometrics; curving the hand into a thumb-position posture, with a good arch, and then applying downward force against the thumb and forefinger (pressed together) of the right hand, in steady, rhythmic sets. And it takes time.
hmarie2159: I've been working really hard at relaxing my right arm when I play ... you know, letting gravity and the weight of my arm and shoulder do the work. So the problem is this ... I've got it worked out on the half of the bow close to the frog, but when I get too close to the tip, the muscles in my hand start freaking out. I figure there would be two explanations: 1) my muscles are just not used to that kind of pressure or 2) I suck and I really shouldn't be letting that kind of tension collect. I guess the question is, is that normal? And if it's not, how can I get rid of the tension in my hand?
Bob: Misperceptions abound when this issue is discussed.
First, this canard about "relaxation." If you're attempting to play ff in the upper half of the bow, there ain't no relaxation. To be sure, there is often excess and mis-applied effort. But this thinking that you can somehow get a big sound at the tip of the bow without exerting a LOT of force (which must ultimately pass through the small muscles of the thumb and index finger) is delusional. Be very wary of people who suggest otherwise. It's a fact of life, law of physics, whatever. At the frog, the index finger exerts little or no pressure on the stick. At the tip, it and the thumb must transmit virtually ALL of the pressure. They're small digits. You do the math.
Second, the canard about "arm weight." As hmarie understands, using the natural weight of the arm sink into the string is a fairly simple matter in the lower part of the bow. But out at the tip, the weight of the arm goes in the wrong direction; when the arm goes down (with gravity), the point of the bow goes up. So we need a different paradigm, which is upper-arm MASS. This mass is rotated counter-clockwise, from the shoulder (without raising the shoulder) into the string. What we ask of the thumb and index finger is not that they twist or squeeze, but that they remain FIRM. With the large rotational force properly applied, this firmness will transmit the force into the string.
Third, the term "pronation" isn't actually wrong, but it's too small. That is, when most folks who understand the word think of pronation, they think of a twisting action similar to turning on a shower faucet. And when you do that you're basically turning the forearm only. But the large rotational force needed for the bow comes from the trapezius muscle and the upper arm; the entire mechanism needs to be involved in a large, macro-rotation that the term "pronation" doesn't capture. A general principle that's good for all cello-playing actions is: whatever the target motion is, try to find the largest possible muscle with which to do it.
Fourth, the thumb's role is critical, and it must be targeted in the practice room until proper habits are formed. Starting at the frog, the thumb is loose and bent to some degree; we're all made differently, but there has to be some amount of inward flexing. As you move out towards the tip, and apply the macro-rotation, the thumb must straighten. Depending on how much force you're trying to apply at the tip, it might have to straighten completely. (Double-jointed folks need fix a point beyond which it will not bend back.) What is crucial is that whatever the thumb does going towards the tip, it must then un-do coming back, which leads us finally to . . .
Last, the issue of "tension" is addressed in the first instance by accepting the fact that there has to be SOME tension, and then learning to pare off that which is unnecessary. I find that many students have a lot of trouble transitioning from the tip (lots of tension in the hand) back to the frog (virtually none). The entire up-bow motion should be one where the pressure "drains out" of the right hand fingers as the upper arm sinks back down into the string of its own weight. This is hard to demonstrate in person, and almost impossible to describe in prose. But I attempt to do so here in the hope that those who are beating their heads against the wall wondering "why is my hand tense when I try to play loud in the upper half?" will stop. Yo-Yo's and Truls' hands are tense out there too. Instead of listening to those who cluelessly urge "relax!," focus instead on how, during the up-bow, you can effect a "draining out" of tension gradually throughout the stroke so that, at the end, your muscles are as loose as when you started the down-bow stroke. Not easy, but these are the keys to the kingdom.
>> STAGE FRIGHT
Benjamin Myers: Reading the threads on performance anxiety, I went back and dug up a paper I wrote on the subject. For those who are interested in some of the current studies (and thinking) on the topic, I reprint the paper below. I apologize in advance for the mind-bogglingly dry writing!
Performance anxiety is a great nuisance to actors, public speakers, musicians, and skaters—nearly anyone who must do their job under public scrutiny. Considered a form of social phobia, its symptoms may include dry mouth, faintness, palpitations, rapid pulse, sweating, stomach upset, frequent urination, and other symptoms which may degrade performance (Doctor & Kahn, 1989, p. 303). One particularly troubling aspect of performance anxiety is that there may be a strong downward cognitive spiral that accompanies the disorder. The performer fears making a mistake and is physically anxious. This agitated state often results in interference with concentration making it likely that the performer will indeed make more errors (Halgin & Whitbourne, 2000, p. 182). Eventually, performance anxiety may be so debilitating that it becomes nearly impossible to present oneself well, despite adequate preparation. One can only guess at how many aspiring performers were thwarted in their career attempts due to "nerves."
The DSM-IV has several criteria for the diagnosis of social phobia. The crucial symptom of the disorder is "a marked and persistent fear of social or performance situations in which embarrassment may occur (Criterion A)" (American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 450). Perhaps the most pertinent requirement for a diagnosis of performance anxiety is Criterion E: "The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared social or performance situation(s) interferes significantly with the person's normal routine, occupational (academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships. . . ." (p. 456). If the person's normal routine or occupational functioning involves working in front of an audience, the criterion could then be understood to mean "anxiety or distress in the performance situation interferes with the same performance situation."
Persons such as figure skaters or cellists, for example, have a profession that requires exacting standards. When four or five missed notes or a muddled triple Lutz is enough to lower the overall performance, these persons may seek out interventions that will offer even incremental improvement in their performances, or prevent even small levels of anxiety.
One problem with this "performance enhancement" approach is that if one is concerned with only fractions of a percentage point in performance degradation, a diagnosis of social phobia or performance anxiety would probably not be appropriate. When considering a suitable course of action, the diagnostician must consider not only the wishes or complaints of the client, but also the appropriateness of the type and level of therapy. This paper considers some of the causes and remedies for performance anxiety.
There is interesting research that explores aspects of personality that might indicate a tendency towards performance anxiety. One study (Mladenka, Sawyer, & Behnke, 1998) explores this question, studying persons who are especially susceptible to anxiety and its effects. This experiment, concerned with anxiety during public speaking, examined the hypothesis that anxiety sensitivity and trait speech anxiety are significant predictors of state anxiety during public speaking. The subjects were 74 college-level speech communication performance course students (40 male, 34 female). Each student gave a five-minute informative speech to a small group of peers (18-20 students), followed by three anxiety tests, one immediately after the speech, the others given two and four weeks afterwards. The results of the study supported the hypothesis proposed by the authors. The experimenters further note that their findings even suggest that punishment may condition the anxiety response of students' speech communication. The recommended remedy is to use descriptive rather than evaluative language in assessing performance.
This opens interesting possibilities for teachers and coaches. If it is true that the use of punishment, even in the form of evaluative or critical comments, can condition a person to fear a performance situation, then perhaps unwarranted anxiety might be prevented before it begins. The gymnast who has learned by being scolded by her coach, though she may be highly skilled, may be conditioned to be extremely fearful of performing her routine at a competition because it is a judged presentation.
The question may be posed, how much of this anxiety is a product of the early formation of personality? A longitudinal study (Schwartz, Snidman, & Kagan, 1999) attempted to examine whether adolescents who had been classified as inhibited or uninhibited in the second year of life were more or less prone to social anxiety. The subjects, 79 teenagers (13 years old), were assessed with standardized interview and direct observation. When classifying the children, the behavioral criteria used for labeling them "inhibited" or "uninhibited" were time spent with the mother, willingness to play with unfamiliar toys, willingness to interact with an unfamiliar woman, etc. The adolescent assessment consisted of a laboratory battery, and diagnostic anxiety and observational interviews. The results point up a correlation between the classification of inhibited with a later diagnosis of generalized social anxiety at adolescence. However, there seems not to have been a correlation between the classification of inhibited with other anxieties, including performance anxiety. If this study can be generalized to adulthood, the good news is that although a child may be withdrawn, it does not necessarily mean that a career as a public speaker, musician, or sportsman will be out of the question.
If, however, clients do find that they suffer from performance anxiety, what options are open to them? Treatment for performance anxiety and social phobia in general have been the subject of much controversy. It is natural for therapists of different backgrounds to have diverse approaches to treatment. A more serious problem arises when powerful drug companies step in to the picture.
In an article titled, "Selling shyness—How doctors and drug companies created the ‘social phobia' epidemic," Michelle Cottle (1999) exposes some questionable practices of the drug industry. Cottle describes social phobia as a "hot diagnosis." She cites an APA estimate (without a reference) that one in eight Americans will at some point suffer from social phobia. Her main thesis is that psychiatric medicine is "inherently subjective," and that the pharmaceutical companies take advantage of this by making it socially acceptable to take medication for a psychological disorder, and, in some cases, even socially unacceptable not to do so. A more balanced view of psychiatric medicine might be that diagnosis is not "inherently subjective," but that treatments vary enough that drug companies may benefit from the array of choices. Cottle also emphasizes how the diagnostic criteria for the disorder changed from earlier editions of the DSM. She notes that in the DSM-III, the standards for a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder were stricter than they are in the most recent edition. In the earlier edition, there had to be a fear of only one activity, and the degree of anxiety had to be so debilitating as to force a person to completely avoid the endeavor. Thanks to the revised standards found in the DSM—III-R which require only marked distress, one study estimated prevalence of social phobia as high as 13 percent.
Throughout the article, Cottle (1999) sprinkles chilling quotes from Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. The most telling excerpt is a reference to the fictional drug, soma, which puts one in a state of bliss. Cottle implies that drug companies might see the connection, and capitalize on it. If a drug company can invent a product that patients will need for years—maybe their whole lives—that company stands to make a lot of money. There is also the problem of the relationship between the pharmaceutical companies and seemingly unbiased projects concerning social anxiety disorder. Cottle quotes psychologist David Healy as saying, among other things, "drug companies obviously make drugs, but less obviously they make views of illnesses" (p. 5). Cottle's pessimistic view is that, in America, "we have little admiration—or patience—for those who don't reach out and grab life by the throat" (p. 6). In other words, Americans may feel that we can simply take a drug that offers the possibility of giving us a "social edge."
Paradoxically, one of the most vulnerable kinds of diagnostician is the family or general physician. All medical doctors are educated in the basics of neurology, endocrinology, and psychiatry. To varying extents, these topics are covered in medical school and during internship. This is not a bad thing. The family physician is usually the first call a person will make when there is a physical or mental problem. Therefore, this kind of doctor is the first line of defense against many kinds of mental illnesses. If specialized treatment is called for, with any luck the general practitioner will know what kind of specialist needs to be called.
The problem arises when in cases of serious or complex psychological disorders, a referral to a qualified medical or psychological therapist isn't ever made when it probably should have been. There are a number of reasons for this. The physician might feel that all their patient needs is a prescription. Then, too, the family doctor might want to save the patient "unnecessary expense." Perhaps the doctor is simply under pressure from the patient to get a prescription right away, so they can get home and back into life. The television advertisements for Prozac and Paxil affect not only the patients, but the doctors, too.
Fortunately, the trade journals take a more balanced view of psychopharmacological interventions. An article appearing in the Harvard Mental Health Letter (2000, October) plainly describes both positive and negative features of the SSRIs. The introduction explains how the drugs work, making more serotonin available at the synapses of neurons. The article goes on to compare the benefits of the SSRIs to the older tricyclics and MAOIs which generally cause more pronounced side effects and create more problems with food and drug interactions. The authors recommend SSRIs over the older drugs not only because they have milder side effects, but because they are also less addictive. The authors also responsibly report the side effects of the SSRIs, which include insomnia, drowsiness, hesitancy of urine, skin rashes, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, joint and muscle pain, and diminished sexual interest, desire, performance, or satisfaction.
Bruce and Saeed (1999) also present a balanced a balanced view of treatment options for social anxiety disorder in an article aimed at instructing the family physician. The article details the clinical features, comorbidity, drug and psychotherapeutic treatment options, and preliminary approaches to treating clients with social phobia. Among other instruments, the authors mention the use of the SCID [Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV]. The discussion of pharmacological interventions is a balanced view of the advantages and disadvantages of the MAOIs, SSRIs, benzodiazepines, and beta blockers, among others. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, in individual and groups, is also recommended as a particularly effective treatment. Indeed, the authors report that "the study data support the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy as a first-line consideration in the treatment of social phobia" (pp. 4-5).
In fact, there is much literature that supports the use of cognitive-behavioral or insight therapy, especially for treating performance anxiety. In an article on performance anxiety in musicians, Wilson (1997) astutely observes that introversion and extraversion must be taken into consideration when determining the how likely and under what circumstances a client will become anxious. Wilson also makes the practical suggestion that if a musician is particularly anxious, he or she might choose frequently-performed, seasoned works, or music that is not too difficult to play. He also recommends cognitive-behavioral therapy, and is generally against the practice of self-medicating using alcohol, cannabis, valium and the like. He explains that these drugs reduce the acquisition and expression of emotional responses, all undesirable conditions for a creative performer. While these drugs do reduce feelings of anxiety, they may also rob the performance of vitality and even accuracy. Paradoxically, performers may actually believe they are playing better than normal, since they do not feel nervous. In addition, one other problem with these drugs is that dependence may develop.
Often, some form of talking therapy may be the best choice. In his doctoral dissertation, Wardle (1969) tested the efficacy of both systematic desensitization and insight therapy for performance anxiety. Wardle's study made use of thirty male band students enrolled in a summer music camp, dividing the students into three groups. The first group received seven 45-minute treatments in systematic desensitization, the second group received seven 45-minute sessions in insight-relaxation therapy (psychotherapy and relaxation training), and the third group (control) received no therapy. A pretest and posttest was given during which the participants performed sight-reading examples in front of judges. The therapy sessions were administered in between the tests. Two types of measures were taken—heart rate data and behavioral observations (observable indicators of nervousness). The physiological results showed a general reduction of heart rate for the first two groups (roughly equivalent), and an increase in heart rate in the no-therapy group. Results of behavioral observations were generally not statistically significant. Perhaps the most important element to note is that the factor common to the two therapy groups—relaxation—was probably crucial in helping to reduce heart rates (and presumably anxiety).
In a follow-up study (also a doctoral dissertation) to Wardle's research, Lund (1972) expanded the scope of the experiment. Firstly, he added a "relaxation with application" group. Secondly, Lund went beyond simply testing for anxiety reduction, looking for improvement in the performance as a result of the reduction. Thirdly, he added an additional test set at 12 weeks after the treatments. Although Wardle (1969) had included a performance evaluation in his study, he points out that those measures "were not designed as anxiety measures" (p. 41). Lund, therefore, integrated the performance evaluation element into his study. As to methodology, Lund's was similar to Wardle's except that the therapy sessions (except for the insight group) were presented on tape. One notes two major new findings in this study: 1) Lund found that there was a correlation between anxiety reduction and performance level, and 2) the follow-up data show that the insight group maintained improvement while the other three groups (including the no-therapy group) lost any gains they might have made by the final test.
As one might imagine, cognitive-behavioral strategies are also important in management of performance anxiety in sports. In a study that relied upon self-report data from 186 recreational league tennis players (Ryska, 1998) , it was found that almost 30% of the athletes made use of five main strategies for anxiety reduction: 1) relaxation, 2) mental imagery, 3) attention control, 4) positive self-talk, and 5) goal setting. The effectiveness of these techniques depends upon in their use as precompetitive strategies. This is because if one prepares the proper cognitive framework, the anxiety associated with a high-pressure performance may be more manageable. Ryska used two measures: a specially-prepared questionnaire designed to assess what mental strategies athletes used to reduce anxiety, and a state anxiety inventory. Surprisingly, the authors found that ability level, and not experience, is most related to decreased competitive anxiety. However, one problem that may be raised with regard to the validity of this study is that since the first questionnaire relied on self-report data, the ratings would be affected by the subjective judgment of each participant.
In another study (Mullen & Hardy, 2000), the findings seem to contradict the positive self-talk strategy. This experiment was designed to test a conscious processing hypothesis which suggests that "skills acquired explicitly are more likely to fail under stressful conditions than skills that have been learned implicitly" (p.1). Arguably the most important outcome of this study is data that suggest that implicit learners perform better when they learn how to ignore distracting self talk, even when task-relevant. In this carefully-controlled study, 18 male, right-handed golfers with a large handicap range ("better" and "poorer" putters) were tested on a simulated putting green. Each participant performed in the following three conditions: 1) task-relevant, wherein the participants used self-talk to guide their performance (conscious processing), 2) task-irrelevant, wherein the participants were required to generate a random letter every second as they putted, and 3) control, wherein participants putted as they normally would. The authors found that when participants used evaluative instructions, competitive anxiety was induced. The experimenters also found that the high anxiety, task-relevant condition resulted in the least economical processing efficiency. Perhaps a study is needed which further clarifies or codifies different types of self-talk into categories such as "evaluative" or "self-supportive."
One possible problem with self-talk is that it can be distracting to the performer. Hatzigeorgiadis and Biddle (1999) ran an experiment that focused on the effects of cognitive interference. The subjects in this study were 182 athletes (134 males, 45 females, 3 not identified by sex) representing two sports, tennis and snooker. Players were non-elite level, but competitive in local and regional levels. Two main instruments were used: the Thought Occurrence Questionnaire, and the Task and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire. The study proceeded on the premise that two things that interfere with performance are worrying and task-irrelevant thoughts. Most importantly, the authors found that the relationship between ego orientation (social comparison) and thoughts of escape (such as, "I think about quitting," and "I think about how unhappy I am") was moderated by how competent the participants felt they were at their sport. In this study, for the participants who perceived themselves as highly competent, their confidence seems to have prevented any decrease in performance due to thoughts of escape.
Another approach to the problem of cognitions and performance anxiety was taken in a study conducted by Robazza, Bortoli, and Nougier (2000). In this single-subject case study of an elite level archer, the authors found that performance is optimal when pre-start emotion intensities are similar to the emotion intensities related to best performances (and conversely that pre-start emotion intensities related to poorer performances produce similarly inferior results). The authors make the important point that "Somatic symptoms . . . can be advantageous when the increased arousal is perceived by the subject as [a] physiological condition facilitating performance" (p.1). In other words, a performer may feel that the fact that they are "charged up" means that they will do well since, for them, this is what accompanies a good performance. The participant in this study was a highly-skilled, 22-year-old female member of the Italian archery National team participating in the 1995 World Archery Championships. Measures used included an anxiety/self-confidence instrument, pre-start emotion intensity measures, shooting scores, and measures of heart rate. The procedure followed four stages: 1) individual psychological profiling, 2) a first assessment before practice, 3) assessments 15 minutes prior to event, practice, or competition, and 4) a personal interview conducted after the conclusion of the championships. In this case, the athlete performed poorly, and the authors did, indeed, find that emotion intensities did correlate with those of past poor performances (as reported by the archer).
This paper has briefly surveyed some of the literature pertaining to performance anxiety. Although only a few sources have been reviewed, it would seem that the best treatment programs for performance anxiety involve cognitive-behavioral or insight-relaxation therapy, with or without pharmacological interventions such as the SSRIs. What is perhaps most important is the need to distinguish between a performance anxiety disorder and the desire to perform at high levels. For instance, a figure skater who wants to maximize her potential by eliminating the occasional slight "nerves" that interfere with her performance might benefit from some systematic desensitization techniques that would help her cope with any mild anxiety. By way of contrast, a professional violinist that gets so overwrought before concerts that he spends all afternoon throwing up probably has a disorder and may need medication along with psychotherapy. Although it is important to choose the right type of therapy, it is perhaps equally important to assess the severity of the symptoms.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text revision). Washington, DC: Author.
Bruce, T., & Saeed, S. A. (1999). Social anxiety disorder: A common underrecognized mental disorder. American Family Physician, 60, 2311+. Retrieved February 20, 2001, from INFOTRAC (Galegroup) database on the World Wide Web: http://web4.infotrac.galegroup.com
Cottle, M. (1999, August). Selling shyness—How doctors and drug companies created the “social phobia” epidemic. The New Republic, pp. 24+. Retrieved February 17, 2001, from INFOTRAC (Galegroup) database on the World Wide Web: http://web4.infotrac.galegroup.com
Doctor, R. M., & Kahn, A. P. (1989). The encyclopedia of phobias, fears, and anxieties. New York: Facts on File.
Halgin, R. P., & Whitbourne, S. K. (2000). Abnormal psychology: Clinical perspectives on psychological disorders (3rd ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Hatzigeorgiadis, A., & Biddle, S. (1999). The effects of goal orientation and perceived competence on cognitive interference during tennis and snooker performance. Journal of Sport Behavior, 22, 479+. Retrieved February 20, 2001, from INFOTRAC (Galegroup) database on the World Wide Web: http://web4.infotrac.galegroup.com
Lund, D. (1972). A comparative study of three therapeutic techniques in the modification of anxiety behavior in instrumental music performance. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Utah. (University Microfilms No. 72-23, 026)
Mladenka, J. D., Sawyer, C. R., & Behnke, R. R. Anxiety sensitivity and speech trait anxiety as predictors of state anxiety during public speaking. Communication Quarterly, 46, 417+. Retrieved February 17, 2001, from INFOTRAC (Galegroup) database on the World Wide Web: http://web4.infotrac.galegroup.com
Mullen, R., & Hardy, L. (2000). State anxiety and motor performance: Testing the conscious processing hypothesis. Journal of Sport Sciences, 18, 785+. Retrieved February 17, 2001, from INFOTRAC (Galegroup) database on the World Wide Web: http://web4.infotrac.galegroup.com
Robazza, C., Bortoli, L., & Nougier, V. (2000). Performance emotions in an elite archer: A case study. Journal of Sport Behavior, 23, 144+. Retrieved February 17, 2001, from INFOTRAC (Galegroup) database on the World Wide Web: http://web4.infotrac.galegroup.com
Ryska, T. (1998) . Cognitive-behavioral strategies and precompetitive anxiety among recreational athletes. The Psychological Record, 48, 697+. Retrieved February 20, 2001, from INFOTRAC (Galegroup) database on the World Wide Web: http://web4.infotrac.galegroup.com
Schwartz, C. E., Snidman, N., & Kagan, J. (1999). Adolescent social anxiety as an outcome of inhibited treatment in childhood. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 38, 1008+. Retrieved February 20, 2001, from INFOTRAC (Galegroup) database on the World Wide Web: http://web4.infotrac.galegroup.com
Staff. (2000, October). SSRIs: Prozac and company—Part 1. Harvard Mental Health Letter, 17 (4). Retrieved February 17, 2001, from INFOTRAC (Galegroup) database on the World Wide Web: http://web4.infotrac.galegroup.com
Wardle, A. (1969). Behavioral modification by reciprocal inhibition of instrumental music performance anxiety. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Florida State University. (University Microfilms No. 70-11, 171)
Wilson, G. D. (1997). Performance anxiety. In D. J. Hargreaves & A. C. North (Eds.), The Social Psychology of Music (pp. 229-245). New York: Oxford University Press.
Young Cellist: I say, if you get nervous, eat a banana.
1. Edmund Kurtz dies
Edmund Kurtz, cellist and editor of Bach's Six Solo Suites, has died at 95.
2. Janos Starker's new book
Janos Starker's new book will be published in early September. Buy it!
3. Kansas City Symphony cellist dies
Veronica Freeman, cellist and assistant personnel manager of the Kansas City Symphony, recently passed away at age 30, just one week after being diagnosed with myeloid leukemia.
4. Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center Celebration
The 26th Annual Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center Celebration will take place September 19, 2004 in Bloomington, IN.
5. Pablo Casals – Artist of Conscience: An Homage
The Performance Piece by Selma Gokcen and Jonathan C. Kramer Will Include Three of Bach's Suites for Solo Cello and a Narrative of Casals' Life and Legacy Told Through Music, Poetry, Anecdote, and Autobiographical Writing
"Pablo Casals -- Artist of Conscience" -- an homage to the great cellist and humanitarian -- will be performed by cellist Selma Gokcen and narrator Jonathan C. Kramer in the 92nd Street Y's Kaufmann Concert Hall (1395 Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street) on Saturday, October 9, 2004, at 8 p.m. The program will include performances by Ms. Gokcen of three of Bach's Suites for Solo Cello. The narrative part of the program, recalling Casals' life and legacy, will be told by Jonathan C. Kramer through poetry, anecdote, and autobiographical material. Beginning at 7 p.m., there will also be a pre-concert interview with cellist Bernard Greenhouse, one of the most prominent cellists of our time and a former pupil of Casals.
Tickets are $40 in the Orchestra, $30 in the Balcony and wheelchair locations (half-price for students and seniors). Tickets are on sale now, and can be purchased at the 92nd Street Y box office at 1395 Lexington Avenue or by calling Y-CHARGE at 212/415-5500.
Ms. Gokcen and Dr. Kramer performed this program to an enthusiastic audience and to press acclaim in September, 2003, in London's South Bank Centre, Purcell Room.
Through words and music, the program will explore the intellectual, artistic, cultural, and spiritual roots of Casals' musical life; his stature as an internationally acclaimed artist; a symbol of hope for his oppressed countrymen -- a source of light in a world darkened by Fascism; and, in his later life, a source of inspiration to many great musicians who made pilgrimages to his side. Casals' immense contributions to the expressive potential of his instrument will be explored, as well as the art of his interpretations and his dedication to the cause of world peace.
The musical performance component of the evening will center around three of Bach's Solo Suites for Cello. "Casals' whole life," Ms. Gokcen says, "was, in a sense, a contemplation on Bach: the cellist's moral courage, commitment to humanity, and transcendent musical interpretations, as well as the depth of his expressiveness, came out of his life-long work with Bach. We cannot think of Casals without thinking of Bach, and of course, for cellists, Casals' work on the Suites was both groundbreaking and revelatory, the touchstone for all subsequent performances."
The evening will conclude with commentary on Casals' legacy as an artist of conscience, and his relevance to our own time of moral uncertainty and fear: the responsibility of the artist confronting a war-torn and bewildered world, and the question of art being a retreat from the urgent issues of the day as opposed to being a force of engagement (as it was for Pablo Casals).
"I am a man first, an artist second," Casals said. "As a man, my first obligation is to the welfare of my fellow men. I will endeavor to meet this obligation through music - the means which God has given me - since it transcends language, politics, and national boundaries. My contribution to world peace may be small, but at least I will have given all I can to an ideal I hold sacred." In the October 9 program, the life of this great human being will be celebrated.
The program is as follows:
I. Casals the Musician
Suite for Violoncello Solo No. 3 in C major BWV 1009 Johann Sebastian Bach
This part deals with Casals' musical education and emergence on the world stage as one of the important performing musicians of his time. His discovery, at the age of thirteen, of the then-unknown Suites of Bach in a used music shop in Barcelona is highlighted as one of the major events of his long career. Also discussed are the sources of his intuitive approach to interpretation in the philosophy of Henri Bergson, and his closeness to the rich Catalan folk traditions.
II. Casals in Exile
Suite for Violoncello Solo No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011 Johann Sebastian Bach
This section addresses his stature as the artist of conscience: his deep commitment to the Republican cause of pre-Civil War Catalonia, his exile in France following Franco's violent phalangist coup, his tireless efforts on behalf of the thousands of Catalan war refugees, and his renunciation of the concert stage following the Second World War as protest to the Allied acceptance of Franco's fascist regime in the new global alignments of the Cold War.
III. Casals: Man of Peace
Suite for Violoncello Solo No. 6 in D major BWV 1012 Johann Sebastian Bach
The final part concerns his post-War activism on behalf of humanitarian causes and the unassailable position he occupied as artist, teacher, festival director, and spokesperson for human dignity. His address and performance before the United Nations at the advanced age of 95 is dramatized as the crowning achievement of his unparalleled career.
This homage to Pablo Casals is a shared creation of Ms. Gokcen and Dr. Kramer, born of a lifelong affection for Casals and the ideals he embodied. Casals cast his artistic shadow over both their lives and inspired them to find their own combination of human and musical endeavor. A result of four years of work, this program was conceived as the new millennium approached. Ms. Gokcen commented, "The question we asked ourselves was: Which musician of the twentieth century speaks most directly to the twenty-first century with a compelling message concerning the meaning of art and the role of the artist? Whose life bears the questions for the next generation of musicians to explore? To us, Casals was the clear answer."
6. New CD
http://www.thewhiteprince.com has just released a new CD of works by Robert Schumann, including Piatti's transcription of Märchenbuilder.
7. New Books
http://www.astaweb.com has released two books on improvisation for cellists, Jazz Improvisation Made Easy and Improvisation, both by Jody Harmon. Each includes a CD.
8. Faculty Moves
9. Prize Winners
10. More Cello News
A cello news link has been engineered using Google.com's features. Be sure to bookmark it.
Kronberg Academy Master Classes
The Kronberg Academy will host master classes with Bernard Greenhouse, Frans Helmerson, and Gary Hoffman 17-24 October 2004. http://www.kronbergacademy.de.
The International Pablo Casals Cello Competition will be held 25 August - 4 September 2004 in Kronberg, Germany. http://www.kronbergacademy.de.
The International Cello Ensemble Society will host a festival in Kobe, Japan in May 2005. http://www.kobe-cello.com.
World Cello Congress IV
World Cello Congress IV May/June 2006 at Towson University, Baltimore, Maryland. Cello Congress V is also listed on their website - May/June 2010! "Many of the greatest stars of the music world will join forces to present a one-of-a-kind event not to be missed." Concerts, recitals, masterclasses, workshops, symposia, exhibits, receptions. http://www.towson.edu/worldmusiccongresses/wcc4.html.
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2. Eva Heinitz's Gamba
3. János Scholz
4. Luigi Silva
6. Cello Classics
7. Biddulph (note the new Leonard Rose release)
8. Hans Gal
9. New Directions Cello Association
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11. List of links
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