Teaching

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 31 – Feuillard No. 36 – Variations #1-9)

  The final Theme and set of bowing variations in Feuillard is No. 36. This page deals with string crossings involving four strings. There are double stops, chords, various bowings, articulation issues, and different strokes. I use No.36 to reinforce many of the concepts from the earlier pages, and especially the "twist motion". The student should be aware of how the left arm moves in tandem with the string crossings, so that the elbow is higher on the C-string and lowest on the A-string. The student must also be aware that the contact point needs to change when going from the lower strings to the higher strings.  The "rule" is: "The Higher the String, the Lower the Contact Point" If we don't pay attention to the contact point, the intonation [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 30 – Collé)

  I am "interrupting" my blog series on Feuillard with today's post dealing with collé. I usually wait with working on collé in the private lessons until other technical aspects of the bow are internalized and solid. Part of the reason I do this is that I have found that students sometimes get confused by the use of the fingers for the vertical motion in string crossings as opposed to the use of the fingers in the horizontal collé motion.  I find that it is better to solidify the string crossing motion before explaining the collé motion, since they are so similar and yet completely different. I do sometimes teach collé to all the students in my Saturday Pre-college classes. However, that is in a large group situation and I can [...]

By |2019-04-08T04:27:03+00:00April 8th, 2019|Categories: In the Practice Room, Teaching, The Joy of Feuillard|Tags: , , , |

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 29 – Feuillard No. 35 – Variations #52-59)

  Today's Blog will deal with the last variations on this page of Feuillard's theme No. 35. Although Feuillard indicates these to be played in the middle of the bow, I prefer to use Variations #52 - #57 to work on a heavy spiccato stroke at the frog. This involves using an active upper arm and a "passive" wrist to create a brushy off-the-string stroke with a very ringy sound. A light version of this stroke might be used in Mozart symphonies or quartets, while the heavier version might be in Wagner or many contemporary works.   Variation #53: The model for these variations is #53 with its two arm levels, and I like to have the students play this before going sequentially through the other variations (see below). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65Ax1NoMr0Y&w=560&h=315 [...]

By |2019-04-01T01:32:54+00:00April 1st, 2019|Categories: In the Practice Room, Teaching, The Joy of Feuillard|Tags: , , , , |

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 28 – Feuillard No. 35 – Variations #42-51)

  Today's Blog will deal with Feuillard No. 35, Variations #42 - #51, which all deal with legato string crossings using the upper arm and the wrist/fingers. As we started working on these variations I first reminded Zach about the Seven Arm Levels that we had discussed earlier (the four open strings and the three double stops), and we reviewed the "Seven Arm Level Exercise". Then I explained how these variations will involve a combination of the various arm levels and the use of the wrist/fingers to go between the double-stop levels.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZ6jTDH0etE&w=560&h=315   So, the model for these next variations is #45 - using the upper arm on the double stop level, and the wrist moving between the two strings. I often have the students play Variation #45 [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 27 – Feuillard No. 35 – Variations #26-41)

The Variations in today's Blog all deal with staccato and legato strokes across three strings in various combinations. The string crossings should all be executed with the upper arm. Because they are to be played in the middle of the bow the staccato strokes should be played with the lower arm. We should pay attention to the "catch and float" on all these staccato strokes: "catch" the string at the beginning of each note, and then "float" to release the sound for resonance. Each note should have a nice starting "k" sound. Variations #26 - #31: After he played Variation #26 fully (with four beats per measure) I asked Zach to only play two beats for each chord in order to save a bit of time in the lesson. By now [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 26 – Feuillard No. 35 – Variations #10-25)

  Today's Blog continues to explore the staccato and legato strokes over three strings, with 16 variations that coordinate these horizontal and vertical motions. Variations #10 -  #13 I asked Zach to play the entire variations #10 and #11 with four repetitions to make sure that he was concentrating well.  But then with Variation #12 I asked him to just do two repetitions in order to save some time in the lesson. Once the students have reached the point that they are concentrating well, and playing with more consistent accuracy, I usually ask them to cut some of the variations in half in order to save some time in the lessons. That will be the pattern in future lessons: doing a few variations full value, and then cutting them in half [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 25 – Feuillard No. 35 – Variations #3-9)

  The next seven variations of Feuillard No. 35 all combine legato and staccato playing in various configurations over three strings. The issues involve coordination, and figuring out how to play smooth string crossings alternating with "catch and float" staccato strokes. Variations #3 and #4: At this point, most students are still working with the underlying concepts that we discussed in the last Blog: the twist motion and the release of the fingers while doing these variations. Zach made a lot of progress while practicing these things during the week. Today's videos demonstrate that he is absorbing the new concepts, compared to the videos in last week's Blog. At the end of the next video, Zach had a "revelation" about the relationship between the twist motion and the release of [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 24 – Feuillard No. 35 – Theme and Variations #1-2)

  With today's blog we will begin our look at the Feuillard Theme No. 35, and the variations on that page which deal with string crossings on three strings.  The main issue will be trying to get smooth connections while crossing the strings. This is a lifetime occupation for cellists and other string players. It is relatively easy to play legato on one string, but to play legato while changing strings is truly difficult. There are a number of things we can do to try and get smooth string crossings. One of the concepts, as mentioned before, is to overlap the notes slightly - just as pianists do when they play legato. Another thing we can do is to make sure that there is a nice "ring" to the sound, [...]

By |2019-02-25T03:00:54+00:00February 25th, 2019|Categories: In the Practice Room, Teaching, The Joy of Feuillard|Tags: , , , |

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 23 – Feuillard No. 34 – Variations #26-40)

  Today's variations will work on 16th note rhythm patterns using a detaché stroke with the lower arm and string crossings with the upper arm.  The problems are all similar, so the video clips will show Tristan playing just a few measures of each variation. However, during the lesson he played each variation in its entirety. Variations #26-29: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD_uJxpomPM&w=560&h=315   Variations #30-33:   These variations are similar to the previous ones, but they add bow distribution into the mix. That means we have to try to get the same sound at the frog and the tip. At the tip the main issue will be to use the down bows to get back to the tip each time so that we don't creep to the middle.  It is helpful to use [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 22 – Feuillard No. 34 – Variations #20-25)

  The variations this week will continue the work with detaché bowings and string crossings. I also addressed bow changes and some more bow speed exercises. Variation #25 will again work with wave motions, though faster and in triplets. I also discussed how to approach vibrato while doing the string crossings. Variation #20: Because they are supposed to be played in the middle of the bow,  variations #20-24 all require using the lower arm for the detaché stroke and the upper arm for the string crossings. These variations are great for developing a good, resonant detaché. But it usually takes some time to train the ear for the right sound, and the body for the right motions. A good detaché requires constant arm weight and steady bow speed. There should be [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 21 – Feuillard No. 34 – Variations #13-19)

  This week's variations are all continuing to work with the detaché stroke (lower arm) and the string crossings (upper arm). We will also see the wave motion, which we prepared for several weeks ago by doing the "box" exercises and the finger exercises. Variations #13-16: In this video I asked Tristan again what our definition of detaché is: "detached, but connected" which, as one of my students once said, seems like an oxymoron. But compared to a staccato stroke, which is "detached, but separated", it makes sense.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvWd8fbrIO4&w=560&h=315   Variations #17 and #18: Variation #17 is tricky because it needs to be played completely at the tip. That means finding the right kind of core sound, with a relatively small amount of bow and a low contact point. [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 20 – Feuillard No. 34 – Box Exercises and Finger Exercises)

At this point I begin to introduce several exercises that isolate the various parts of the arm that will be involved in producing wave motions (eg. No. 34 - Variations #19, #25, #39 and #40).  The three parts of the arm that can make these wave motions are the fingers, wrist and upper arm, depending on the part of the bow, the dynamics, and the speed of the waves.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6_G8KcKdaY&w=560&h=315   First we will do the wrist exercises that I refer to as the "Box Exercises".  These isolate the movements that we need for using the wrist in string crossings, bow changes, and various strokes. I like to demonstrate the exercises in one lesson, and then have the students show me the exercises in the following lesson to make [...]

The Joy of Feuillard – A Sequential Approach to Teaching Bow Technique (Part 19 – Feuillard No. 34 – Variations #6-12)

Last week's Blog dealt with some Arc and Figure Eight bowing figures. Today's blog will continue the Feuillard variations in No. 34 with some Wave and Circle bowing figures, and add some detaché motions to the mix. The string crossings here should happen with the upper arm, and the detaché stroke is with the lower arm. Variations #6 and #7:       In these variations we have both horizontal and vertical motions. The vertical motion is the string crossing - in this case going from the D-string to the A-string with the upper arm.  The horizontal motion is the detaché with the lower arm.  The important thing is that when there are two different motions going on simultaneously (vertical and horizontal) we should use two different part of the arm. For [...]

Understanding Teachers (Part 2)

Jackie and "Hansen" Very often people ask me to talk about my studies with Jacqueline de Pré but for years I desperately tried to avoid the subject, it was almost impossibly painful for me to talk about her. I used to think this was a personal problem of mine. Over the years, meeting other cellists who studied with her, I've understood that we had all had very similar difficulties talking about her. We all studied with her after she had already had to stop playing. When I met her, at 18, I knew her playing only through recordings. I was full of admiration for her but not at all prepared to the shattering experience it was to get to know her. It would take years to sort out myself from [...]

By |2019-01-18T00:51:19+00:00January 18th, 2019|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , |

Understanding Teachers (Part 1)

This article in two parts is a self-examination in trying to understand what all my different teachers have finally meant for me. I needed years of distance and experience to even start to be able to analyze these complex relationships. It is normal to admire the most recent teacher and feel that the earlier ones were less important and this clouds the fact that we carry them all equally throughout our lives. I originally wrote this text for myself, to get an idea how my feelings had changed over the years and it proved very revealing for myself. I have accepted now to share it so that others might be inspired to make the same experiment. The summer music camps in the 1970s in Finland were goldmines for us young [...]

By |2019-01-18T00:37:35+00:00January 17th, 2019|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , |

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