celloblog

Celloblog2019-10-30T15:51:31+00:00

Straight vs. Angled Bowing: A Visual Experiment

This past summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to study at the Bowdoin International Music Festival. One of the pieces that I brought to the festival was the Prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3. The main goal I had for the piece was to sound less “choppy” and play with a smoother legato sound. After trying everything I could think of to solve the problem on my own, I brought the issue to my teacher, Paul Katz, who like a skilled doctor immediately saw what the problem was and fixed it! The problem turned out to be that rather than keeping my bow straight, i.e., perpendicular to the strings, I bowed in a semicircle. As soon as I started to bow in a straight line, I was able to [...]

By |September 11th, 2019|Categories: In the Practice Room, Teaching|Tags: , , , , , |

Not Enough

The long drive from Aspen gave me a chance to refine a bit what I said to my students there to end our last class: I have been almost as lucky as you can be in this business. I've had countless disappointments of course- some deserved, some not. That is the nature of the business. But I have a good job, a happy reputation, a balance between solo, chamber, orchestral playing and teaching, the good fortune to be friends and colleagues with some of the musicians I admire most in the world, and the respect of some of the peers that I care the most about. I've had the chance to travel, play concerts, enjoy the camaraderie and live some of the enviable life. I haven't had everything, but I've [...]

By |September 4th, 2019|Categories: Self Discovery|Tags: , , , , , , |

Remembering Anner Bylsma

I play early music on period instruments because of the great Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma, who passed away on July 25 at the age of 85.  When I was 14 I entered the classical music section of a Tower Records store where Bylsma’s recent release of arrangements of music for unaccompanied flute and violin by J.S. Bach, performed on his son’s 7/8ths-sized cello tuned like a violin, was being played.  I didn’t pay much attention to it until Bylsma hit the final note of the prelude to the E major Partita, BWV 1006. It ended a driven but, as I realized much later, subtly nuanced and very “spoken” performance. It seemed the energy stored by what had preceded the note was fully released by it: powerfully, beautifully, emphatically, and most [...]

By |August 28th, 2019|Categories: Performance|Tags: , , , |

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 34 – Feuillard No. 36 – Variations #39-42)

  This will be the final Blog in this series on using the Feuilliard "Daily Exercises" to teach bow technique.   Variations #39 and #40:         Variations #39 and #40 address chords over four strings. For #39 we have to use the full bow with the bottom two notes as grace notes. That means that they are played before the beat, with the top two notes on the beat. If playing with a piano, the pianist would probably play on the downbeat with the top of the chords. The string crossing is not too difficult at the frog, but playing the grace notes at the tip and then getting the main notes to sound strong is harder at the tip. I addressed two other important issues with [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 33 – Feuillard No. 36 – Variations #30-38)

  Today we will continue with Feuillard No. 36, Variations #30-#38. Most of these variations work on double stops with string crossings, and legato strokes involving the upper arm versus wrist/fingers over four strings.   Variation #30: This Variation again involves both the Up-bow Staccato and Flying Spiccato strokes, which we have seen before dispersed throughout all the bowing exercises on these pages. It is one more opportunity to review the different ways of producing these two strokes - and George was able to verbalize the technical information required. Even though he had not practiced the Flying Spiccato as fast as I got him to play it here, it is always interesting to me that if one has absorbed the technique it is possible to speed up the tempos easily. [...]

By |April 29th, 2019|Categories: In the Practice Room, The Joy of Feuillard, Teaching|Tags: , , |