TUTTI CELLI CONTENTS-- volume 6, issue 3

Tim Finholt, Editor

What's New at ICS

Message from the Editor

Membership Letters

ICS Exclusive Interview

Feature Article

Great Cellists

Membership Spotlight

Video Review

Concert Review

ICS Award Website
** Cellos2Go.com **

ICS Forum/Cello/Equipment Chat Board

Activities and Announcements

Music Festival Watch

ICS Library

Other Internet Music Resources


We have stepped up our fundraising activities in an effort to offset our increasing costs. This is discussed more in the "Message from the Editor" below.

There have been some changes in the bulletin boards too. Dorie Straus is the new moderator for the Cellist-by-Night chat board (thanks, Dorie!). We have also added a "Professional Performers and Educators" board to our collection of bulletin boards. This was done in the hopes that we will get more participation from the many professionals out there. It is co-moderated by Robert Battey (thanks, Bob!) and Tim Finholt. Many will be happy to know that we do not envision the ICS adding any more chat boards, (though we are pondering what to do about college-age cellists).


The traffic on our website has increased to the point that our internet service provider is sending us overage notices, requiring that we upgrade our account or they will disable the website, which translates to higher fees, of course. This is great news because it means that our website is becoming a highly-used resource on the internet (nobody likes to eat in an empty restaurant), but it does require that we step up our fund-raising activities. Because of this, we are looking to the membership to help us financially in as many fun and easy ways as possible.

If you go to our home page, you will find many ways that you can contribute, both directly and indirectly:

  1. We have set up a secure credit card donations link on our home page (the "Consider Sponsorship" link -- http://www.cello.org/callforcontributions.html), where you can donate directly over the internet, or you can mail it to us the old-fashioned way.
  2. You can contribute by listening to cello music on MP3.com (http://mp3.com/ics).
  3. We have added an ICS Commerce Search engine, http://cello.org/commerce.htm or http://shop.affinia.com/cello/Store1/?shoplink=Y, where we get a small donation with each purchase at Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com, if you go through the ICS website.

Please consider contributing. We have a great thing going. Help us maintain our momentum!

Tim Finholt


>> I want to thank you for helping cellists around the world unite under the common goal of making their instruments sing to the world. What you do takes a lot of time, effort, and love to accomplish. Yet, it surprises me and my cello colleagues that we see absolutely nothing about Aldo Parisot. I happen to be one of his hundreds of former students around the globe, and I wonder why so many people, including the ICS, choose to keep him out of the historical cello scene as though he never existed. The most recent episode was to not even find his last name in the recently published Cambridge Companion to the Cello.

Mr. Parisot's distinguished presence must be acknowledged and brought out as a vital component of, not only Latin America's and the United States' cello history, but the whole international music community. As a performer his recordings show what I would call "the last one from the real past." I am sure you have heard his Rococo Variations, his exquisite Bach "Gamba" Sonatas, or perhaps his unique singing in Bloch's Prayer.

Though you are probably very busy, I felt compelled to let you know how several of us feel about this legendary figure in cello history.

Alejandro Sarda

Editor replies: Thank you for pointing this out. As a start, we have added a brief bio on our website and we recently featured him, and well as some of his better known students, on our homepage as part of our Great Links series.

>> I was checking out the Internet Cello Society's "Introduction to the Cello" webpage and almost fell out of my chair laughing at the picture of the back of the cello and the child! Whoever had the idea to pose the baby with the cello that way deserves a pat on the back. I like what I have seen thus far, but when I saw the picture of the back of the cello with the baby turned around too, it was a scream!

The cello jokes are also really good. I had to stop reading at one point, because I had tears in my eyes from laughing!

Jeff Cobb

>> I stumbled across your web page and I am quite impressed. I started taking cello lessons six weeks ago as a 40th birthday present to myself. I have read many of the answers in the Technique Tips section of the web page. They give me encouragement to continue my lessons (even though right now I sound like a dying cat when I play the cello ). Thank you for your encouraging us cellist-wannabes.

Richard Szczepanowski

>> Does you have any tips for holding the bow in a healthy manner?


Victor Sazer replies: You will see many variations in the way people hold their bow. It takes some experimentation and experience to find the one that works best for you. This is because your bow hold is related to the way you use your body when you play. Things like where you keep your feet, whether you lean forward or sit upright, whether you press, and a host of other factors will influence the way you will use and hold your bow. The goal, of course, is to hold it in a way that gives you the greatest mechanical advantage.

Normally, when lifting an object, you tend to hold it close to its center of balance. Since the bow is held on one end with most of the weight away from your hand and arm, one challenge is to hold it so that you can control and balance it. This involves connecting with your whole body and experimentation.

Here is the approach that I suggest for starters:

  1. Hold a book or similar object in your left hand a bit in front of the left side of your body, then reach down and pick it up with your right hand (without thinking about cello playing). Notice where your thumb is in relation to your other fingers. It is very likely to be opposite your second finger. You might also notice that your fingers come together as you pick up the object (they are not spread apart).
  2. Hold your right hand a bit in front of the left side of your body and allow your hand to hang down. Then, bring your fingers together as if picking the book up, as above. Your hand will probably jump up a bit from the hanging position, but remain somewhat slanted downward.
  3. Hold your bow in your left hand, as you held the book in preparation for your right hand to take it.
  4. Bring your right hand over the bow with your hand hanging down. Place your second finger and thumb on opposite sides of the stick, with your thumb touching the corner of the frog (your hand will very likely jump up a bit, but make sure that you maintain a downward slant). While keeping your other fingers passive, raise the upper part of the bow until the stick reaches the crease behind the first joint of your first finger. Then allow your other fingers to drop to wherever they fall naturally. They will rest on opposite side of the stick from your thumb.
Observing how you pick up any object gives you insights as to how to pick the bow up. It will help if you never let your wrist go below your hand or let your elbow turn upward from where it is when you extend your arm straight ahead.

If you find it difficult to hold the bow as described above, you can deal with it in stages. You can start by holding your bow at the balance point instead of at the frog. The bow will feel weightless there. After you have become accustomed to the bow hold, you can move closer toward the frog in steps. Allow enough time with each step to achieve comfort. There is no reason to feel discouraged. Many, if not most budding cellists struggle with the same problem. With patient work, you will surely overcome it.

Best wishes for many years of joy from your cello playing.

>> I find the whole ICS to be very interesting. I visit it more than any other website.


>> The ICS is absolutely wonderful. I read the boards daily, I found my cello through the ICS (I bought one of Burak's instruments), and I have made several e-friends. Plus, the wealth of information that cellists have and are quite willing to share is phenomenal. I've learned more about my instrument and its repertoire, technical ideas, etc., in 16 months on the boards than I did in 23-plus years of playing.

I do have a concern about the censorship on the ICS bulletin boards. I am a firm believer in free speech and letting the chips and chats fall where they may. I wonder if the ICS should consider establishing a "code of conduct" which would apply uniformly to all of the boards, defining "ground rules" for posters and moderators, defining the moderators' roles, any limitations/powers s/he has, etc. Even though I'm all for free speech and unmoderated boards, since ICS has chosen to go to a moderated system, I think it'd be a good idea to get guidelines established for everyone. Naturally I'd like any guidelines regarding posts to be very broad.


Editor replies: Great idea! We'll add this to our list of things to do. We certainly don't want to inhibit conversation, including passionate arguments. Please note that we still intend on keeping the ICS as "kid-friendly/parent-approved" as possible. Therefore, we will continue to filter out profanity, inappropriate content, and watch out for blatant verbal abuse. Other than these restrictions, the boards should be free-for-all's.

>>I'm the mother of a brand new basketball-playing twelve year old cellist (boy). I don't know anything about strings except that I love to listen and that my child wants to play. What a great place for us both. I registered in his name since he's the cellist, but I've spent the past hour at your site learning a lot.

Thanks for a great site and organization. I'll pass the word to my orchestra mom friends!


>> I read "Choosing a Bow" in the Technique Tips portion of the website. I think the variations in tone quality that occur when you try different bows are caused by other factors too, in addition to the effects created by variations in relative mass distribution and flexibility of the bow stick. I have to admit that I am only speculating, being an amateur cellist and professionally a nuclear physicist. But the subject got my interest when I was shopping for a new bow. I was surprised by the differences in sound and tone quality of the various bows I tried during the selection process.

I think the dominant property here is the resonance in the bow and its damping of undesirable vibrations. For good sound production a very steady force on the string is required. This force should be independent of where you are on the bow, whether playing close to the nut or close to the tip. Furthermore, a negative feedback of the strings' vibrations on the bow should be prevented. So I think the elasticity and damping of the bow are the essential parameters.

When I was selecting a new bow I finally had to choose between a bow that sounded very nice while the bow was very agile (easy spiccato, fast turning bowing direction, and easy changes between the strings, etc.) and a bow that sounded very powerful and beautiful, though feeling like a block of lead when spiccato came into view. A nice detail, the "heavy" and "agile" bow weights were almost the same.

Lars Venema

Gerhard Mantel replies: I think Mr. Venema's theory is rather valid. There are a considerable number of parameters in a bow:

  1. Wood quality.
  2. Density of the wood and its change along the bow's length.
  3. Inner resistance of the wood as it bends (elasticity), partly identical with (2) and (1).
  4. Exact point of center of gravity.
  5. Forms of the cross sections of the bow along its length [round, ellipsoid, (horizontal or vertical), octagonal, and the changes between these forms].
  6. Profile of frequency enhancement or absorption. I assume that there are certain frequency ranges that enhance the tone quality, but this goes beyond my knowledge.
  7. Compatibility to instrument elasticity is also a parameter (the bow must suit instrument).
I am not a bow maker, and there are certainly other parameters for a bow maker. Statistically speaking, there is a correlation between weight and sound, and a negative correlation between resilience and weight. I am not sure about his idea of "undesirable" vibrations, nor about the steadiness of pressure, because this goes much farther into musical aesthetics than bow quality.

>> I'm a mother of three young boys living in Singapore, the oldest of whom is currently learning the cello from a private teacher. He's almost four years old and he started about three months ago. When is the best age to begin and what were the lessons like, etc.?

My son isn't really playing on the cello yet, but he plays lots of games using the Suzuki songs. The cello seems too big for him now. He seems to be pretty interested, though, and looks forward to going to his lessons. The teacher says that he'll probably be able to play when he's around five years old. Should I wait until he's five? Should I start him on the piano first? We have a piano at home.

He started with the cello because I brought him to a concert put on by his teacher which featured lots of young children playing the cello. He then said he wanted to play. I'd also like him to play the cello so that perhaps someday we can play together. In fact, I even thought of picking it up myself.

Slim Tan

Bret Smith (University of Maryland) replies:I'm happy to hear of your son's interest in the cello. Although I am not a person who has taught many small children, I have some ideas that may help you decide the best thing for your child.

The cello, as well as all strings, can be constructed in various sizes to fit even the smallest children. Were you able to find a teacher, I expect you could find a small cello which would allow your son to learn without struggling with an instrument that is too big. If this is not possible, beginning on the violin will allow him to begin to learn the coordination of left and right hands, which is essentially the same on both instruments. He could then switch to the cello when he is big enough for the instrument you have.

In lieu of this, I would recommend piano lessons. There are likely many teachers who would accept a very young student, and in this way he would begin his formal musical experiences, which is always an advantage. If you decide not to do this, my best advice is to continue to expose him to the cello (and all music) through many activities at home such as listening to recordings, watching videotapes (try Yo-Yo Ma's videos of the Bach cello suites, very nice), playing musical games and singing. You might want to read a book by Edwin Gordon called A Music Learning Theory for Newborns and Young Children published by GIA Publications in Chicago. It has many ideas about how to provide a rich and instructive environment to promote learning in young children prior to formal instruction.

The best thing would be to find a Suzuki program and start him on the violin or cello. Part of the success of this method with the youngest children is the involvment of the parent in playing the instrument at home, organizing the home practice, and attending the lessons. It sounds like you are willing to provide this support, which is a great advantage!

**If you would like to respond to something you have read in 'Tutti Celli', write to editor@cello.org and type "Membership Letter" in subject field. (Letters may be edited.)**



by Tim Finholt

Gerhard Mantel is perhaps best known as the author of the book, Cello Technique -- Principles and Forms of Movement. He recently published his second book, Cello Üben (Cello Practice), which is currently published in German by Schott, and has quickly become a standard text in German-speaking countries; an English version will soon be published as an "e-book" by http://www.rugeri.com. He has published a set of duos for students and teachers called "25 Duettudes," each of which addresses particular technical issues for intermediate students. He has also published a cello method for children, Cello mit Spass und Hugo. He is president of the German chapter of European String Teachers' Association (ESTA). After his studies with August Eichhorn, he continued working with Pierre Fournier, Paul Tortelier, Maurice Gendron, Andre Navarra, and, during a summer study period, with Pablo Casals.

TF: You studied with August Eichhorn, who was heavily involved in research on cello technique from a physiological standpoint. How much of your first book, Cello Technique, came from his teachings?

GM: I was deeply influenced by my studies with him, so his approach certainly made its way into my book. I am very grateful to him, and I have done my best to continue his work. My more "scientific" studies were, and still are, aimed at improving my own playing for my ongoing concert career in Europe and abroad.

In addition to my work on systematizing cello technique, I have been trying to understand artistic issues, like why is one interpretation more compelling than another, or how is it that two equally competent cellists can sound completely differently on the same instrument? What does each cellist actually do differently, technically speaking? And can this difference be taught? To answer these questions, one must define and compare many factors, such as vibrato amplitude and frequency, the angle of the vibrato motion, left hand connections and articulations, bow articulations, contact points of the bow and their changes, color and tone development, tempo, the conditions of creativity, and so on. As you can imagine, these questions are easier to ask than to answer.

My endeavor in recent years has been to make cello technique and musicianship more teachable. As my experience increases with age, I believe more and more that it's worthwhile to pass along these ideas to the next generation so that they do not have to re-invent the wheel. My second book, Cello Üben, is my attempt at this.

(Click here for the complete transcript)



(A commentary on "Interpretational Angst and the
Bach Cello Suites" by Tim Finholt)

by James Nicholas

James Nicholas received his doctorate and two master's degrees from Indiana University, where his cello instructors included Eva Czako-Janzer, Fritz Magg, Janos Starker, and Helga Winold. He is particularly interested in the performance practice of the Baroque, Classical, and early Romantic eras, and has collaborated and/or performed with such early music luminaries as Anner Bylsma, Max van Egmond, Christopher Hogwood, John Holloway, Steven Isserlis, Martin Pearlman, Stanley Ritchie, and Elisabeth Wright. He is also active as a composer and editor, having published several original works as well as performing editions of Bach's solo string music, reconstructions of two unfinished Mozart horn concerti, and most recently the first English-language setting of the traditional music of the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He has published an idiomatic version of the Bach Sixth Suite arranged in G Major for a normal 4-string cello, and recently published a critical edition of the scores of six Boccherini cello concerti.He lives and works in the Hartford area, where for years he and his German shepherd sidekick, Sparks, were well-known as the Sunday afternoon announcing team on Connecticut Public Radio.

Twenty years ago, as a young graduate assistant at Indiana University, I had a very talented cello student (a chemistry major) who had been working on Bach's second suite in D minor. I suggested some helpful left-hand fingerings and tricks, taught him about tracing arcs, ovals, and circles with the bow hand, straightened his back and made him drop his shoulders every once in a while, AND went around and around about the agony of Bach suites with all of their attendant mysteries. At one point, somewhere in the middle of the Menuets, I said to him: "Look, Mike; there's no difference between playing these things and playing Brandenburg concertos or the orchestral overtures (suites)". I think that at that moment, I had stumbled upon a simple, perhaps obvious, but great truth: that the answer to whatever cosmically profound questions we may have (about what bowing to use there or what the tempo is here) is staring us right in the face from all of the hundreds of pages of OTHER string music which Bach wrote, and which still exists in his own hand, fastidiously copied out with articulations and pitches in the right places. If we really study Bach's language, we can perform the cello suites from the most adulterated edition and still "speak" them with a Bachian "accent." If we still agonize and philosophize over what sort of articulations are true to Bach, or over what he meant by giving a dance title to a piece in sarabande rhythm that's not meant to be danced to, then it is we, not Anna Magdalena Bach, who are to blame. Deep down, we still want to live in denial and believe that the cello suites are a great metaphysical mystery which have nothing in common with the violin sonatas and partitas, sonatas for violin and cembalo concertato, viola da gamba sonatas, violin concerti, Brandenburg concerti, suites for orchestra, cantata parts, etc, etc. What's the excuse for not sitting down in an armchair for a while with some of that other music?

(Click here for the complete transcript)



by Robert Battey

Today the legendary name Pablo Casals evokes homage among musicians old and young, the world over. What is interesting about the great Catalan's career is that had it not been for Alexander Schneider, second violinist of the Budapest Quartet, he would today be an historical footnote. An important footnote, to be sure, but nothing close to the near-deity status he still enjoys among cellists, particularly in this country. Casals played his last professional concert in the U.S. in the 1920's. He was active in the 30's, but did not visit these shores. After the war, he went into self-imposed exile to protest the political situation in Spain.

Thus, in America in 1950, very few non-cellists had heard Casals' name and only a handful of people had ever seen him play. His time in the spotlight appeared to be over. But that year, the bicentennial of Bach's death, Schneider moved heaven and earth to 1) persuade Casals to take part in a Bach festival to be held in his little French village and 2) persuade Columbia Records to sponsor and record concerts there. The resulting publicity (Columbia wanted the records to sell, after all) and the renewed contact great musicians had with Casals sparked a tremendous second career even though he was by then far past his prime. But between chamber music, conducting, and masterclasses, he stayed continuously before the public, his legend growing yearly, until his death in 1973 at age 96.

(Click here for the complete transcript)



Hello, MaryK here! I'm a 45-year-old amateur cellist living in Seattle, Washington. To support my cello habit and my cats I work in a law firm doing secretarial and paralegal work. The firm I work for is great (we do really interesting law -- plaintiff's civil rights, police misconduct, gender and employment discrimination, etc.), life in general is great, the only thing I'd change is the Seattle climate!

My cello "career" started at age 12 in a 6-week summer music class. Flute was my first instrument, but I thought trills were "silly" and didn't especially care for band music. As I recall, my best friend played cello so that may have been what inspired me to try it and forgo flute.

I played cello throughout junior high and high school and was invited to join my hometown's orchestra without ever having had a private lesson. "The Art of Cello Playing" helped me learn enough to get by -- thank you, Louis Potter Jr.!

Once in college I was able to study with a couple of cello teachers who helped me substitute proper technique for some bad habits. I even ended up with a cello performance minor after dropping my music ed major for political science. My "15 minutes of fame" came doing the Saint-Saëns concerto with the college orchestra. Looking back, it was a good experience, but it isn't anything I'd ever want to do again. Too much of an ordeal, plus, frankly, it sounded pretty bad. Oh well!

(Click here for the complete transcript)



by Irene Sharp

The video "CELLOMAN" with Eugene Friesen, cello, and Rob Vance, masks, provides an entertaining and provocative experience for the listener. It endeavors to make music more accessible for everyone using the intriguing combination of music, nature, and masks.

In the first performance episode, Eugene Friesen improvises on a theme of Bela Bartok, and explores five elements of music: Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Sound Color, and Texture. He performs for a live audience and illustrates these with explanatory musical examples.

In another episode Friesen talks about the difficulties involved in practicing for excellence in both music study and homework. He explains that having a passion for a subject helps one get started despite personal reluctance. He uses a mask to illustrate his dislike for practicing when he doesn't feel like working. The masks are also used to pretend different animals are playing the cello. A squirrel mask will produce a very different type of music from a bear mask.

(Click here for the complete transcript)



by Mike Ingalls

The following is a review of a concert and seminar with cellist Eugene Friesen and pianist Paul Halley at the Plymouth Church of Shaker Heights, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2000. The event was hosted by the Cleveland Cello Society.

The Cleveland Cello Society, now in its third year, currently has 160 members and is engaged in bringing a number of artists to Cleveland. In March 1999 they brought in Janos Starker. They have held two annual "i cellisti" concerts, this year featuring the cello section of the Cleveland Orchestra. Their latest concert, featuring Eugene Friesen and Paul Halley, was a total change of pace.

Friesen (cello) and Halley (piano and organ) are both Grammy Award-winning members of the Paul Winter Consort. In addition, they compose and perform alone and with other ensembles. The reach of their repertoire includes classical, sacred, folk, jazz and ethnic musics. The show Saturday night included all these influences.

Friesen plays with great passion, wonderful freedom, and marvelous technique. There were times when I thought, "I know many cellists who could be up there playing this." There were times when my jaw dropped and my heart pounded in my chest. All in all, it was a wonderful experience.

(Click here for the complete transcript)


May/June Award Website:

*** Cello2Go.com ***


Our own Ellen G, a dedicated participant on Cello Chat, has started this fabulous website. In addition to selling cellos, bows, cases, and other accessories, it is also a very informative site, having discussions about whether to rent or buy an instrument, how instruments are made, and the different types of strings. Congratulations, Ellen G!

**Please notify Tim Finholt at editor@cello.org of interesting websites that you would like to nominate for this recognition in the future. Websites will be selected based on their content, cello relevance, creativity and presentation style!


**If you would like to ask a question, discuss an issue or get some expert advice, post a message at CELLOTALK, which is located at our website.

ICS Forum Hosts have been asked to check your posts regularly. In this way, not only the forum hosts, but the entire membership and Internet community see your message! You are still welcome to contact the forum hosts directly. For a complete list of ICS Forum Hosts please see http://www.cello.org/The_Society/Staff.html**

>>Teaching Spiccato

Teachers, do you struggle for words when it comes time to work on developing a student's spiccato? I know I do, but today I must have said it just right because in no time at all I had one of my 'peanuts' doing a beautiful slow spiccato. I start with a slow eighth-note spiccato, about 132 to the eighth note on the metronome. I explain that you can't "make" your bow bounce, instead you have to "let" it bounce. Your wrist has to be a little higher than your elbow. Your approach to the stroke is horizontal rather than vertical (so many think bouncing is an up and down thing rather than a side to side thing...). You gently drop the bow from slightly above the string. A down bow is a drop-pull and an up bow is a drop-push. This is usually where my explanation stops, and then we keep trying it. Modifications on my part follow, they keep trying, etc.

However, today I started talking about feeling the weight of the tip of the bow and it just did the trick. It makes me so happy when a concept is understood, and I think spiccato is one of the more difficult ones.

Pat White

>>Teaching Bach

How do you teach Bach? Why is something that is essentially simple as the Prelude of the first suite so hard to play?


Pat White replies: I don't teach Bach to all of my students, because in the wrong hands they are little more than etudes when in reality they are so very much more!

My approach is to have the student purchase the Vandersall edition, which is devoid of fingerings and bowings. I then have the student make two extra copies of the part. One copy is the copy on which I put my fingerings and bowings, so they know what I do. The other copy is theirs with which to experiment with fingerings and bowings. It is this experimentation that I feel is the key. Most students have fingerings and bowings dictated to them, and rightfully so. However, it is in learning to try their own approach that they really gain a concept of how and why certain bowings and fingerings either work or don't work, for a myriad of reasons (ease of string crossings, balance of tone colors, continuity, etc.). We will do a section at a time, over a period of a few weeks. They will bring me their ideas, and they have to have ideas. I will then work with them to shape their ideas according to my taste. There are times when students have perfectly legitimate ideas, opposed to my own, and I enjoy that. When we are done working through in this manner, our final draft is put into the original part.

We discuss the layering of entrances, the counterpoint, (little note: I just had a student play the D-minor prelude for State Solo & Ensemble Contest. The students have to provide the judge with a copy of their music, and in the student's music I had written: "Look up counterpoint." The judge asked my student, in front of a crowded room, whether he had looked the term up. My student replied that he had and the judge made him explain it! He gave a great explanation and proceeded to play beautifully and I had such a happy teacher moment!) the idea of the music being a dialogue with each 'voice' representing different characters and the idea that the characters are constantly interrupting each other. I really work hard to make the music come to life in their hands. We also listen to comparison recordings (Bylsma, Casals, Fournier, Gendron, Ma). Finally, we use this time to experiment with tuning down since I love to play my Bach that way. We tune each string down a half step. (Another note: once I had a student play the prelude of the first suite at State Solo & Ensemble contest, and she loved how it sounded tuned down. So I told her I couldn't figure any reason why she shouldn't play it that way ... it just so happened the judge had perfect pitch and claimed it unnerved her to hear it, but the student still got a first! Phew!)

At any rate, because of the intensive approach I take with the Bach, you can see why it is not, in my opinion, suited to every student. There are some who just aren't 'there' yet. I have a bit of a problem with Bach, in that I love the music and feel so personally acquainted with it that I find it difficult to be patient with hearing it played less well than it deserves. I am infinitely patient with my students in every other area of their development. I guess I reserve Bach for the truly special students!

>>Teaching Positions

Some teach fourth position after first position. Others recommend teaching second position next. Why?

JL Turok

Oy-Oy replies: The 4th position is the most dependable spot on the instrument due to the crotch of the neck. A strong argument could be made for STARTING a student there. All other positions (other than thumb on the harmonic) require some pitch sense to be sure you're in the right place. Not 4th. If you can play in tune in first position (which is the second most-stressful spot on the fingerboard, after half-position), it would seem to me that you could play in tune in all the others.

Having said all that, the utility of having the four open strings right nearby, the immediate availability of many scales, and the universal use of that position in beginning chapters of all method books constrains me to start students there as well. But 4th position is the most logical next step; adding that one position and including extensions, the student now has access to the entire chromatic scale from low C up to Ab below the harmonic.

KS replies: With my students, I always teach them 4th position next for several reasons. It's a good way to introduce the G and F major scales. Also, from a technical standpoint, it's an easier shift. I always tell them to shift with their thumbs. When their thumb hits the corner of the neck, they are in the perfect position. It's a very easy shift to feel. I bet 99% of the time, if they are out of tune, it's because their thumb hasn't shifted up with their hand and therefore their fingers are flat.

In 2nd position, you have to train your hand just how far (or how little) a distance to move. IMHO it takes longer to train your hand to get this shift 100% of the time.

I use the Feuilliard Young Cellist Method with most of my students. It teaches 4th, 2nd, then 3rd positions and then uses exercises that use all four positions. My goal with my students is to have them be equally comfortable using all four positions. So I can't put too much emphasis on 4th position or they don't like to use the other two positions. I also use the Krane New School of Cello Studies - Book 2 that has quite a few etudes that only use 2nd, 3rd, or 4th position with no shifting, so they learn how to stay in one position and find out how many notes they can play without having to shift.

I call it which notes live next door to each other in each position, and which notes live across the street (string).

Tracie Price replies: One major reason schools teach 2nd position first is that method books are written for class instruction of mixed instruments. They are all based on what violinists would do or on the need to play a certain note, like E on the A-string. I always had trouble with this when teaching orchestra because I felt that 4th position was much easier for students to learn next, yet the books do not teach it that way. Violinists and violists simply use 4th finger for the "next" note, and do it more often when they are learning to use 4th finger; the books will have cellists shifting to 2nd position to play that same note. When all instruments are learning together, unfortunately, you often have to make some less-than-ideal decisions concerning how you will teach certain things simply out of necessity. There isn't a really good solution for this. Second position is not really a good choice to teach next because it changes depending on whether you have F-natural or F-sharp and C-natural or C-sharp.

Incidentally, school method books have the bassists shifting all over the place within a few months, and the bass students I worked with never had any trouble with this. They just thought it was easy because they always had to do it. Then they would feel superior when the violins were learning 3rd position and they'd already been shifting for a long time.

If you saw the fingering suggestions that are given in most school concert music, you'd either be horrified or laugh your head off. They are obviously not written by cellists.

screece replies: Like most of the others here, I started out in 1st position and worked on to 4th next. My teacher had me practice shifting from 1st to 4th after only about 3 months, although I don't think I actually played anything in 4th position until I was 9 months into it. I've been working on a couple etudes and a little Haydn piece lately, and all seem to contain groups of notes which are most easily played somewhere in '2nd' or '3rd' position. My teacher is of the opinion that the only three definitive positions are 1/2, 1st and 4th since there are 4 half-steps between 1st and 4th, and it's just as easy to refer to the individual notes and which fingers are used with them in each instance. It seems to be giving me an interesting perspective, and it forces me to more carefully consider what other notes are in reach when I place my hand in a particular spot; figuring out fingerings and shifts is probably a little different for me, although I don't think any more difficult.

Oy-Oy replies to screece: Your teacher is extremely wise. Unusually wise. I am an experienced professional performer and teacher, and I STILL don't know where "second" position is, or rather, I don't know when it's in one place and when it's in another. I'm sure there's an explanation, but the reason I haven't sought it is because it doesn't matter.

For each note you play, you're supposed to have a grid in your mind, based on the three data: which note, which string, which finger. That grid, based on those data, gives you the critical information you need: "what other notes are available to me at this instant, without shifting, across all 4 strings?" It is through increasing speed and certainty of these continually-changing grids that one learns the geography of the fingerboard and acquires the ability to sight-read real music. Nothing else is needed.

Assigning these "names" to the different positions simply distracts us from the real work that needs to be done (learning all the grids). Since they're such universally understood terms, I will reluctantly use "first position" (which is really "second position," if one's going to be technical about it), for instance, but I stop doing so as soon as possible with a student.

>>Playing what's written

I was driving across town last night and turned the radio on, and, to my great surprise, there was the Dvorak cello concerto! It was an old recording, and I sat in the car to see who it was. It was Feuermann. It was kind of odd, to tell you the truth. It was very precise, but there were certain places where, having grown up with Jackie's version, I missed rubatos. It was also played at a much faster tempo.


JL Turok

Oy-Oy replies: I really think it's sad the way modern listeners and cellists have come to perceive this masterpiece, thanks to Slava, Jackie, Maisky, et al. People make a big deal about Beethoven's tempo indications, arguing passionately about how they need to be followed. There are valid counter-arguments, based on his deafness, the time gap between composition and the addition of tempo markings, acoustical considerations, reliability of the newly-invented metronome, etc. But everyone agrees that they are somehow important. Why is there no such sentiment for DVORAK'S tempo markings?

The Feuermann recording was the world premiere recording of the Dvorak Concerto, made only 35 years after the piece was written. Feuermann grew up hearing this piece from cellists who had played it under the composer's baton. He was well aware of the importance of the document he was about to produce. We should say a small prayer of thanks every day that such a superb artist would be the one to transmit Dvorak's true intentions, as nearly as possible, to future fenerations.

Thus, the self-indulgent, taffy-pulling interpretations we're all used to are very close to musical crimes. We have, readily available now on CD, plain and clear evidence that one can "emote" and play with the deepest expression, while still remaining true to the composer's vision and spirit. Casals understood this too. Yet today's artists have somehow gotten the notion that "expression" and "interpretation" require leaden tempos. And it seems to get worse every decade. Pretty soon performances will break the 50-minute mark.

Paul Tseng replies: Regarding tempi, I go along the spirit of "The Law was made for man, man was not made for the Law." Tempo markings are guidelines. As a performer I don't feel the slight twinge of remorse if I bring out the spirit of the piece while sacrificing some of the exact tempo markings. I've heard some of the most precise (according to the score) performances that completely lacked in the spirit of the concerto. I think Antonin would rather his piece be played in the correct spirit than in the correct "law." Are we at risk of becoming Phariseaic musical legalists and Musical Judeaizers (re: Galatians - New Testament) or at worst, score-nazis?

Oy-Oy replies to Paul Tseng:The reason this argument fails is because it presents the issue as a binary one, i.e., "bringing out the spirit of the Dvorak Concerto is more important than following the composer's tempo indications." Unfortunately for its advocate, there is incontrovertible proof (Feuermann) that no such choice needs to be made.

Paul Tseng replies to Oy-Oy: I've heard the Dvorak Concerto played in many different tempi and I think they are all convincing. I'm no great artist, but some great artists do play it differently from the score and markings, like Slava.

Tim Finholt replies: Here is a paraphrased Jackie statement from Genius in the Family: "When a composer is writing a piece, it's his (or hers). When I play it, it's mine." Is her approach less artistically valid than Feuermann's? It's certainly less humble.

Oy-Oy replies to Tim Finholt: Performers who push and pull and distort the text will always be with us, God bless them. And a few of them will always achieve great fame. But this notion that music interpretation "evolves" (implying that later interpretations are definitionally superior to those nearer the time of creation) is one that only stupid people could hold. Yes, Jackie & Maisky are "expressive." They are also turgid and slow. Feuermann and Casals were no less expressive, yet they were able to achieve that largely within the composer's clear framework. But this more recent style has become so widespread that in the few rare instances when a conscientious cellist actually does what Dvorak wrote someone will always sniff "too fast." Like they KNOW!

Gary Stucka replies: "The composer's clear framework." This is the element that too often gets lost in the hands of the self-indulgent. When I hear a performance, I like to hear the music's innate STRUCTURE or ARCHITECTURE. Yes, I very much want emotion too. However, listening to one who is self-indulgent as opposed to one who plays with real artistry......well, that's like the difference (in the most extreme degree) between hearing the rantings of a raving lunatic and an eloquent oration by an articulate, disciplined, and expressive poet.



** Members can submit announcements or news to editor@cello.org **

1. Looking for Fundraiser

The Internet Cello Society is looking for an experienced or professional fundraiser. This person would help with soliciting corporations for donations and perhaps with grant proposals. If you are interested in this position, please e-mail ICS Director, John Michel.

2. World Cello Congress

The World Cello Congress will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, May 28-June 4, 2000. For more information, go to http://www.towson.edu/~breazeal/cello.htm. We are looking for volunteers to help us watch our booth. If you are interested, please let me know: Tim Finholt. We hope to see you there!

3. ICS Get-Together at the World Cello Congress

Plans are being made by ICS members to meet for dinner at the World Cello Congress in Baltimore. The plan is to meet at the Internet Cello Society booth on Wednesday, May 31st, at 6:15pm, and then go to a restaurant from there. If you are interested in taking part, keep an eye on the Cello Chat board, where Walter Lenel seems to be the organizer.

4. Master Class Winners announced for the World Cello Congress

To see the list, go to http://www.towson.edu/~breazeal/mastercl.html.

5. Irene Sharp Cello Seminar

The Irene Sharp Cello Seminar will be held June 19-23, 2000, at Mannes College in New York. The seminar will include master classes, and classes on challenging repertoire and healthy playing techniques. For more information, write to isharp@pacbel.net.

6. New book on Janos Starker

The Kronberg Academy (Germany) has published a book about Janos Starker called From Budapest to Bloomington. It costs DM 39 plus shipping. Their preferred ordering method is via fax (49-6173-950086), on which you write your credit card number and shipping address. For more information, go to http://www.kronbergacademy.de.

7. Amazon Cello Encounter

The third annual Amazon Cello Encounter will occur in Belém Pará, Brazil, May 28-June 6, 2000. The event includes master classes, recitals, and a cello competition. For more information, write to dfreitas@amazon.com.br.

8. National Studio Teachers Forum

The National Studio Teachers Forum, and ASTA with NSOA event, will take place May 12-14, 2000, at Indiana University in Bloomington. Participants include Janos Starker, Richard Aaron, Jeffrey Solow, Alan Harris, Tanya Carey, Carter Enyeart, Peter Rejto, Helga Winold.

9. Bach and Boccherini editions

James Nicholas, who wrote the article on the Bach Suites that is published in this issue, has published an idiomatic version of the Bach Sixth Suite arranged in G Major for a normal 4-string cello, and recently published a critical edition of the scores of six Boccherini cello concerti. The following is an excerpt from the forward of his Bach edition:

"This edition of Bach's Sixth Suite offers the cellist something new, I believe, in that it presents the opportunity to play this work using the idiomatic instrumental techniques intended by the composer. That is, it has been transposed to a key in which the open strings of the cello, and consequently the fingerings, are analogous to the uppermost four strings and fingerings of the violoncello piccolo for which the suite was written. In terms of historical authenticity, this solution is quite justifiable. Bach himself was fond of transcribing works for which he had a special liking, and in the process of transcription always took care to make them idiomatic to the new instrument(s). This almost always resulted in a change of key. Additionally, eighteenth-century composers were accustomed to rewriting certain passages when the limited compass of an instrument precluded a literal transcription, taking care to artfully conceal what had been made a necessity by practical considerations. Transcriptions by anonymous arrangers have also gained general acceptance, in some cases. Neither Mozart's Clarinet Concerto nor Schubert's Arpeggione sonata would be included in the standard repertoire today were it not for the intervention of these unknown musicians, for both the "basset clarinet" and the "guitar-violoncello" (arpeggione) rapidly became obsolete and were replaced by more conventional instruments with somewhat narrower ranges. The arrangements by which both these works are known today stem from unknown hands."

For more information about this edition and his new critical edition of six Boccherini cello concerti, write to James Nicholas.

10. Faculty Appointments

Stephan Forck has been appointed professor of cello at the Hochschule f�r Musik in Berlin.

11. Quartet Moves

Slovakian Peter Jarusek, age 23, is now cellist of the Skampa Quartet. He replaces Jon�s Krejc�, who has moved to the Petersen Quartet, filling the gap left by Hans Jacob Eschenburg.


World Cello Congress III
World Cello Congress III, Baltimore, Maryland May 28 � June 4. 53 events, including concerts, recitals, masterclasses, seminars, and exhibitions. Publicity is out now, and you can join their mailing list by writing to World Cello Congress III, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21252-0001. Application deadline March 17 for masterclass places. http://www.towson.edu/~breazeal/cello.htm

Amazon Cello Encounter
Amazon Cello Encounter, Belém Pará, Brazil, May 28-June 6, 2000. The event includes master classes, recitals, and a cello competition. For more information, write to dfreitas@amazon.com.br .

New Directions Cello Festival
New Directions Cello Festival, Univ. of Connecticut in Storrs, June 16-18. Improv, rock and electronic music, celtic and cello-fiddling. New URL: http://www.newdirectionscello.com.

Viva Cello
Viva Cello, August 23-27, Liestal, Switzerland. Concerts and masterclasses with Julius Berger, Christophe Coin, Patrick & Thomas Demenga, Ralph Kirshbaum, Antonio Meneses, Siegfried Palm, the Cellissimo Ensemble and many young cellists. http://www.vivacello.ch.

Kronberg Cello Master Classes
Cello Master Classes, Kronberg, Germany, September 26 � October 2. Bernard Greenhouse, Young-Chang Cho and Frans Helmerson. Write to Kronberg Akademie, Koenigsteiner Strasse 5, D-61476 Kronberg, Germany. IKACello@aol.com or go to http://www.kronbergacademy.de.

There are also summer institutes for study and performance:

International Festival-Institute
International Festival-Institute at Round Top (Texas) June 4 � July 16.

The MasterWorks Festival, Western New York
June 25 - July 23.

Young Artist Institute
Park City (Utah) Young Artist Institute July 10 � Aug 7.

Foundation for Artistic and Musical Excellence (FAME) Cello Institute
Princeton New Jersey, July 23 - Aug 5. Tuition in repertoire and technique.

For those who really like to plan ahead:

Manchester Cello Festival
Please note that the Manchester (U.K.) International Cello Festival scheduled for May 2000 has been postponed. New dates: 2-6 May 2001.

American Cello Congress
Sixth American Cello Congress, College Park, Maryland, May 2001.

Leonard Rose Competition and Festival

** If you know of any other cello events happening around the world,
please send word to Roberta Rominger, roberta@rominger.surfaid.org **


**Sarah Dorsey, official ICS librarian at sarah_dorsey@uncg.edu.

(Please do not abuse this valuable service; check local libraries and resources before contacting Sarah.)

If you know of newsletters, teaching materials, references, lists or articles that should be added to ICS Library, please send data to director@cello.org. (Library contents will be available to all Internet users; please include author and written statement of release for unlimited or limited reproduction.)**


** ICS NET Resource Editor: Tim Finholt at editor@cello.org **

1. MusicStaff.com


2. Frank Bell's Website


3. The Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation


4. Bach.Bogen


5. 8th Cello Ensembles Festival of Beauvais


6. Marvin Ayres


7. New Paltz Summer 2000


8. Croatian String Teachers Association


9. The Healing Cello


10. Harry Wimmer's "The Joy of Cello Playing"


11. New Zealand String Quartet


12. Cello Information


13. ThinkQuest Library


14. Nicholas Anderson Website


15. eViolin.com


16. Apocalyptica


17. Classical Spotlight


18. Rugeri Music Teaching Methods


Copyright © 2000 Internet Cello Society

Direct correspondence to the appropriate ICS Staff
Webmaster: "webmaster"
Director: John Michel
Copyright © 1995- Internet Cello Society