conservatory

Hit or Miss — by Selma Gokcen

"Under the ordinary teaching methods, the pupil gets nineteen wrong to one right experience. It ought to be the other way round." —F.M. Alexander A young instrumentalist aiming for a professional life onstage puts in a staggering number of practice hours during their formative years. I heard the director of our Conservatoire recently state the figure of 8 to 10 hours a day for the 18-24 year olds at undergraduate and graduate levels. Does he think that's what's happening in the practice room or wish that it were so? Either way, it's alarming to think that so much time is spent sitting and using the fine muscles of the fingers in relentless repetitive motions. Were we, are we designed for this kind of activity? Maybe the better question to ask [...]

Phrasing and Meter — by Robert Battey

Today’s ruminations have to do with musical phrasing.  As a music critic for the Washington Post, I'm regularly attending concerts of all kinds.  That, plus a lot of chamber music coaching, leads me to ruminate on this subject often.  The ability to produce clear phrasing is just as important as having good rhythm or intonation, but a lot of folks don’t do it well, or as well as they think.  Remember, in grade school, when we had to take turns reading aloud from the book?  And how some kids were flat, with little inflection and the same pause between every word, while with others it came out sounding like natural speech?  To a certain extent it’s the same with music, sometimes even at the professional level. It’s often been remarked that the [...]

Teaching at Cello: An American Experience — by Mark Summer

As a founding member of the Turtle Island Quartet, I am grateful to Paul Katz for asking me to contribute to CelloBello. As a conservatory-trained, improvising cellist, I hope I can bring a unique perspective to this forum with thoughts on performing, teaching, and traveling with my cello. This past summer I enjoyed five days of intensely rewarding teaching and performing at the summer music program, Cello: An American Experience. The program attracted 18 young cellists from around the country, and is held at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, 44 miles south of Minneapolis. Left to right: Avery Johnson and Mark Summer My introduction to Cello: An American Experience began with a Facebook message sent to me from the director, and my old colleague, Anna Clift. Anna [...]

A New Look at Sight-Reading (Part 1) — by Robert Battey

As a teacher who specializes in adult amateurs, and who coaches at chamber music workshops catering to the amateur demographic, I have been struck by the differences of approach between these players and the “serious” conservatory students. By definition, “amateurs” are those who pursue the art form simply because they love it, and without the goal of becoming a professional. Conservatory students pursue the goal of professionalism even when, in a few cases, they don’t actually love the art form that much. But inherent in that pursuit are the thousands of hours slaving away on exercises, scales and etudes, always with an eye on the competition lurking in the next practice room or the impending juries. Amateurs “just want to play.” They have no illusions about ever sounding like the [...]

Pieter Wispelwey Master Class Streamed Live on CelloBello

Pieter Wispelwey, Cello We are proud to present a CelloBello milestone - our first live-streamed event! Join us by clicking on the link below: www.cellobello.org/blog/cellostream Pieter Wispelwey Master Class New England Conservatory, Pierce Hall Wednesday, Sept. 28, 3-6 PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) Repertoire: Bach Suites 1, 3 and 6. Schubert Arpeggione Sonata, featuring cellist Tony Rymer. CelloBello is so pleased to be able to present this master class live, as it happens - our first in a planned series of streamed events!

Summer Music Camp — by Lev Mamuya

Ah, the joys of summer music camp—one of the greatest ideas of the human race, right up there with Snickers ice cream bars and compound interest. The experience of a summer at a good music camp is an essential part to speedy, varied, and interesting musical growth, and the friendships you make there can last you a lifetime (at least I think they will). I’m writing this as a break from packing; I leave tomorrow and I can’t wait. Summer music camp, as well as being an enjoyable social experience, can be the most productive time of the year to improve on your instrument. During the academic year, it’s easy for even the most focused individuals to lose track of musical goals because of the demands of school, sports, etc. [...]

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