Self Discovery

Conversation with Frances Walton (June, 1999)

Interview by Tim Janof Sitting third chair in Philharmonia Northwest, one of the best community orchestras in the Seattle area, is 71 year old cellist Frances Walton, one of the most radiant musical souls I have ever met. "I'm 71 and I love it. As long as I can move without arthritis, the world is good." One wouldn't necessarily expect to find such a powerful musical force in a place like Shorecrest High School auditorium, the orchestra's concert venue, but there she enthusiastically plays. As I watch her, I can't help but wonder if anybody realizes just what she has done for classical music -- formed and conducted two orchestras, conducted a third, founded a music camp, co-founded a music library, formed a statewide concert tour, and inspired countless musicians [...]

Hannah Roberts on her Teaching Philosophy

Reprinted with permission from Aitchison Cellos. ‘It’s such a privilege to be involved in the evolution of another person’s progress and the benefits of this stimulating process are mutual. You learn as much as you give. The essence of it however, remains the same: sensing as much as you can about the other person’s thought process and their way of understanding is the key to being able to help them. That is the cornerstone, whether in a consultation lesson or working with a long-term student. You are constantly trying to sense what the person needs at that stage and how they are processing what you are trying to give them. Are they able to utilise it there and then? Or are you sowing the seed of the idea that may [...]

Hannah Roberts on her Musical Upbringing and Studying with William Pleeth and Ralph Kirshbaum

Reprinted with permission from Aitchison Cellos. In the first of an annual series of interviews with leading UK cello professors, Hannah Roberts talks about her musical upbringing and her experience of studying with William Pleeth and Ralph Kirshbaum. ‘I will always be grateful to my first teacher, my mother, for her unfailing dedication and for striking such a skillful balance between keeping things fun and maintaining discipline. I’m also very thankful that she tested the set up and response of my modest childhood instruments to be sure that they would work well for me because the way an instrument is set up is tremendously formative to a person’s concept of sound and physical approach. ‘I was offered a place at the Menuhin school when I was 8 years old. William [...]

Conversation with Robert Cohen (December, 2000)

Interview by Tim Janof British cellist Robert Cohen is firmly established as one of the world's leading soloists. His career takes him on major tours of the USA, Europe, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the UK, performing with conductors such as Abbado, Jansons, Marriner, Masur, Muti, Rattle, and Sinopoli. Cohen made his concert debut at London's Royal Festival Hall playing a Boccherini concerto at the age of 12. His prodigy was nurtured by the great pedagogue William Pleeth. He also took part in classes with Jacqueline du Pré, André Navarra, and Mstislav Rostropovich. At the age of 19, after winning several major international competitions, he made his recording debut -- Elgar's cello concerto with Del Mar and the London Philharmonic -- which received several awards and has [...]

Maintaining Structure and Purpose in Your Day During COVID

Reprinted with permission from The Violin Channel. Violist Kim Kashkashian shares her thoughts on how she feels students can best maintain structure and purpose in their day during this pandemic. “Thoughts and musings on performing artists living at home … Where do we fit in as artists? Where do we fit in as citizens? How can we lead a productive artistic life? Our primary impulse- indeed, our primary need as artists is to create and share pure truth. We are all, in that sense, part of the healing profession. It is humbling and inspiring to recognize the potency and power of the visceral in our art. The power of resonance, vibration, sound waves in space and the organic feedback of an audience are unique and seemingly irreplaceable. But, we must [...]

Wellness Retreats for Musicians: Why Are They on the Rise?

I knew there was no way I could practice the amount I needed and not just completely destroy my body. I wondered how other people did it. It never occurred to me in college that it was something I could learn - University of Denver, USA, 1989 On line, or off, pandemic or no, wellness retreats for musicians are all the rage. With so much more now on offer in music colleges and schools in terms of a holistic approach, I set out to find out why so many young musicians are drawn to finding alternative support. In a survey I recently conducted about wellness as experienced by students in music schools and colleges over the last fifty years, it became apparent that, from the beginning of this period, horror [...]

“Back to the Breath” —Mindfulness for Cellists

While we are all facing a new reality with the Covid-19 pandemic spreading all over the globe, our way of experiencing life has taken on a new reality in the present moment. Each day, we are presented with innumerable challenges, from following the sobering news on TV and social media, being bombarded with worries, anxiety and panic about what is next to come in your country, your city, within yourself and for your loved ones. It is important to create a positive outlet in the midst of this uncertain time. As a musician and cellist, you have a way to create a positive outlet by playing the cello. Another positive outlet is to quiet the mind through breathing exercises and meditation. I created “Back to the Breath” Mindfulness and Visualization [...]

Finding Purpose and Growth as an Adult Amateur Cellist

Growing up, I never really wanted to be a cellist.  I liked to play the cello and I could hold my own, but I just didn’t have the passion to see it through past college.  Instead, I became an elementary teacher and now a district administrator.   From that time, I played in several chamber and community symphonies; just cruising along with an incorrect mindset, a secret envy of my music major friends, and not really bettering my skills. I was busy with a teaching job, a young family, and cello was a bittersweet diversion...Time marched on.   Several years ago, I had an incident in my life that very abruptly indicated to me that I needed the cello in my life and that I needed to start improving my [...]

By |2020-02-09T18:32:06+00:00January 3rd, 2020|Categories: Artistic Vision, Self Discovery, Teaching|Tags: , , , , |

Shifting from Judging to Observation During Practice

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By |2020-10-01T00:39:55+00:00December 8th, 2019|Categories: In the Practice Room, Self Discovery, Teaching|

Conversation with Marston Smith (March, 2003)

Interview by Tim Janof Marston Smith has introduced audiences of all ages to the infinite possibilities of cello repertoire, venturing into Rock & Roll and Trance Celtic, to High Fashion Euro Funk. His performances are renowned for his creative costuming bordering between Cirque du Soleil, Lord of the Rings, and Road Warrior. He received his Master of Music degree from the renowned cellist Bernard Greenhouse and since has appeared on national television (QVC), and has been a soloist with symphony orchestras, and played in recordings for motion picture soundtracks, record albums, and performances in Las Vegas. He currently lives on a mountain top just outside of Los Angeles with his wife and three children. As a professional cellist working in the recording industry he has recorded with Barbara Streisand, Michael [...]

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 |2019-10-31T15:41:49+00:00September 4th, 2019|Categories: Self Discovery|Tags: , , , , , , |

Master Class Report: János Starker 2/29/01

Benaroya Hall, Seattle, USA, 2/29/01 The following are my notes from the master class Janos Starker gave in Seattle. 10 minutes before the class was to start, Seattle experienced a 6.8 earthquake. Apparently, Janos Starker was calm as can be backstage when it happened. The class ended up starting only 1/2 hour late. —by Tim Janoff   Left Hand Anticipated Shift -- Slide before the bow change and land on the note at the bow change. Delayed Shift -- Slide after the bow change. Thumb Placement in Thumb Position -- A hitchhiking thumb allows more overtones, but it is harder to play in tune. Placing the thumb on the neighboring string is more solid, but it allows fewer overtones. The technique of the future is to place the thumb beneath the [...]

The Bach Suites, A Deep Mirror — by Lluís Claret

I am posting today some thoughts regarding my upcoming performance of all the cello suites of Bach, in Barcelona, next October 6th. A "3 hour conversation with Bach," by which I mean playing all the 6 Suites in one evening, is a rare privilege, and at the same time, an opportunity to devote months of work gazing, probing, until their is transparency in this greatest of all music given to us by the Kantor of Leipzig. In this period of reflection, the performer's goal and intention should be to imbue his own spirit into the depths of the pieces, and become inspired and elevated by this music of such extraordinary dimensions. After a concert a few years ago, somebody who had never heard my playing said,  "I can feel the [...]

Épaulement: Cello Playing Through a Dancer’s Lens

Not counting a negligible number of tap classes when I was 5 years old or so, my first real dance classes were at Indiana University, as a sophomore majoring in cello performance. I had long since forgotten my first fumbling steps as a cellist when I was not quite 3, but the struggle of learning a new skill was all too real as I would wiggle into my leotard and tights at 7:30 in the morning to make 8 A.M. beginner ballet class where I would, with my fellow well-intentioned classmates, attempt to contort myself into an elegant swan, but mainly try not to fall down. My teacher was beautiful; everything about her, her hairstyle, her smile, her hands, her long legs, even her voice, was the epitome of grace. [...]

Behind the Scenes with Brannon Cho

We are thrilled to introduce you to Brannon Cho, First Prize Winner of the 2018 Paulo International Cello Competition.  In this conversation Brannon takes us behind the scenes offering insight into his preparation, mindset, and aspirations.   Blogmaster: Can you give us insight as to how the competition felt for you?  Did you play as you aspired to? Brannon Cho:  The competition was quite exhausting.  As opposed to other competitions I’ve done in the past there was almost no time to rest between rounds. In some ways I appreciated it because it was similar to the concert schedule of a touring soloist.  As a soloist, every two days you have a big concert. In contrast, in Belgium last year I would sometimes have a week before I played the next [...]

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