improvement

The Amit Peled Peabody Cello Gang: Closing the Circle — by Amit Peled

Originally posted on Violinist.com. As a student, I was fortunate enough to experience the magic of performing music on stage with my great mentors Bernard Greenhouse, Boris Pergamenschikow, and Laurence Lesser, as well as see how each of them balanced their performing and teaching careers. The difference between listening to them explain how to create a phrase and actually forming that phrase with them on stage was huge and significant. Performing with my teachers was a vastly more effective lesson than a one-on-one in a studio, teaching me “on-the-spot” artistic decision-making, amending each performance to fit the energy of the hall. Ever since those transformative and magical moments, I knew that I would become a teacher and pass on the tradition of sharing music with my own students on stage. [...]

Avoiding Cello Flightmares

I just completed a four-city recital and masterclass tour of Brazil, which included one car trip, three domestic flights, and one round-trip international flight.  Usually when I travel for concerts, I face the frustration and complexity we all enjoy of bringing the cello onboard, extra ticket gripped firmly in hand.  The slightly unusual aspect of this recent tour was that I used borrowed cellos for each concert.  I left my own instrument at home for several reasons.  Although my room and board was generously covered in each city, most of my flights were not, and I didn't want to pay close to $1k for the extra plane tickets.  I didn't want either the physical hassle of carrying it around, nor the emotional/mental hassle from airport personnel in a country I [...]

The Swan — by Arnold Steinhardt

When I was eleven years old, my violin teacher assigned me The Swan by Camille Saint-Saëns. I had no idea that The Swan was a famous cello solo or that it was part of a much larger work, “The Carnival of the Animals.” I had never even heard of its composer, Saint-Saëns, or seen his name in print before. I wondered why there was a funny line between his two-word last name and what could be the purpose of those strange dots perched on top. And was Saint-Saëns actually a saint? I thought that The Swan was very pretty and probably associated the music’s title with its general mood in some vague way. As a child, I often saw swans gliding regally through the water on the lake near where [...]

Improve Your Talent: Breathing Awareness and Control — by Gregory Beaver

In "Developing a Technique to Improve Your Talent," I laid out 6 things that I have been using actively in my teaching to improve my students’ talent.  This post will investigate the first of these, Breathing awareness and control. “I am so totes aware of my breathing!” you might be thinking, especially if you are a vocalist or a woodwind/brass player.  However, in my experience, there are very few people who are truly aware of their breath.  Breath awareness is not just about being able to breathe in and out and notice it.  It is the ability to do something very complicated and still notice your breathing.  For those who do not use their breath to create the music, it is about using your breath to provide energy and power when needed, and [...]

Developing a Technique to Improve Your Talent

  In the United States, there has been a strong push to reform our general education in recent years, with federal initiatives like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top capturing headlines as innovative ways to improve the worst-performing schools in our country.  On the other extreme are teachers like me who are working primarily with students one on one in intensive hour-long lessons on a weekly basis to achieve the pinnacle of possibility.  One thing that has always fascinated me is the question of talent: is it innate, or can one learn it?  Many of my teachers have made statements such as “anyone can be taught how to play the cello, but there are some things that are innate and cannot be taught,” “That’s god-given talent” and so on.  I have [...]

A Cellist in Kabul (Part 1) — by Avery Waite

On September 4th, I packed up my things, hopped in a taxi and drove to JFK airport. My destination, Kabul. My job, the new cello teacher at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. When I first heard about the opportunity to teach in Kabul, I knew deep down that I had no choice but to go. Something drew me to it. I applied for the job without really thinking it through completely. But when I was actually offered the position, I had to really take a step back and give it some serious thought. In fact, it took me almost three months to fully accept the decision I had made to go. Some days I would be thrilled and excited, and other days I would be scared out of my [...]

The Tools of Embodied Music® – the Feldenkrais Method® for Musicians (Part 2)

The tools of Embodied Music® – the Feldenkrais Method® for Musicians: 1.    Movement 2.    Awareness 3.    Reeducation of perception 4.    Learning to change habits 5.    Learning to use the whole self in playing   Movement Dr. Feldenkrais used to say: “Movement is life. Without it, life is inconceivable. Improve your movement and you improve your life”. One can use the word “music” instead of “life” and the meaning will be as true. Playing an instrument is a succession of movements. The properties of movement are the properties of sound as well: time, space, weight, rhythmical impulse, gesture, momentum towards an action, the process of speeding gradually and slowing down gradually.  Improving these properties in our movements will make it easier to achieve the sounds we want. We derive meaning from [...]

Competitions ≠ Success: A Student Perspective — by Lev Mamuya

Not all competitions are created equal. There are good ones and bad ones, and good and bad reasons for entering. Many kids are raised to be competitive, both musically and in school. Kids can feel pressure to do competitions from parents, teachers and peers. Sometimes it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking success can only be measured by winning competitions and that a career in music and admission to a good school are impossible without numerous wins. Competitions are good for many things, but they should not define success. They often consist of just one performance, on one particular day; success is something you achieve over many years through work and dedication. Since most competitions, at the most, will be three rounds over a short period of time, [...]

What’s the Passcode? — by Brant Taylor

In the reader chats I've hosted on this website, certain discussion topics make frequent appearances.  One of those topics, a question I hear often from students and other amateur musicians, is: "How do you practice?"  It's easy to see why.  The assumption is that professional musicians must be great, or at least successful, practicers, and that insights into the habits of accomplished musicians should provide valuable information about how to improve and make the best use of practice time. While I am always happy to share information about my own practicing, I always make an important qualification: practice is a personal thing.  There is no one way to practice, no secret passcode to gain entry to the clubhouse of good cello playing or success in the music profession.  You must [...]

It’s Time to Start [NOT] Practicing — by Martha Baldwin

It’s September, the school year has begun, and the concert season is looming large. This time of year is the New Year’s Eve of the academic and music world—a time for resolutions and new beginnings. For cellists everywhere these resolutions often focus around practicing—namely doing more of it. For myself, I somehow already feel behind and the temptation to try to cram as much work in as possible, especially on my “day off” from the orchestra is strong (well, to be honest there are other days when the temptation to sit on the couch is stronger). But this year my resolution is two-fold.  Yes, I want to prepare upcoming repertoire earlier than ever this year but before I come up with a plan for that, I’m going to be planning [...]

The Rules — by Brant Taylor

A while back, I accepted an invitation from my good friend Pansy Chang to teach her cello students.  Pansy teaches cello at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  She was taking a sabbatical for a semester and wanted to make arrangements for her students to receive lessons from different teachers in her absence.  I had a very enjoyable time meeting and working with the cellists in Oxford. It is always enlightening—and sometimes highly entertaining—to observe the various posters, photos, educational degrees, cartoons, and other items which adorn the walls of teaching studios around the world.  Among many other things hanging on the the walls of Pansy's studio, I noticed a piece of paper which I immediately knew could occupy a prominent place in my studio as well.  Titled simply "The Rules," [...]

Self-Motivation and Summer Vacation — by Brandon Vamos

As I helped my students over the last few weeks in preparation for their juries and looked through my calendar to discover how many recitals I will be attending before the middle of May, it suddenly hit me. The end of the school year is upon us once again. That time when there’s one final burst of juries and lessons, tests and papers before summer vacation hits. And after a long academic year, summer vacation can offer a welcome change. I remember those summers I was attending summer programs, and had three or four weeks off, or those students who sometimes have the entire summer devoted to working or relaxation. But regardless of what your summer plans may look like this year, I’d encourage you to remember one very important [...]

“Which Hand Do You Hear?” — by Bonnie Hampton

When Paul Katz invited me to participate in the “CelloBello” Blog, I was intrigued and immediately saw his idea of a free exchange of cellists sharing their experiences, exploring ideas together and just being in contact as a larger community.  As cellists,we have a rich heritage and spirit and we certainly love that instrument a great deal.
  Otherwise, why would we carry it all over the world! There is so much to explore, but one thing which I find an endless investigation is the whole use of the bow.  Of course, all the issues of the left hand are immediate.  We play the notes.  Expressively, our uses of vibratos are part of our individual “voice,” but while one might call the work of the left hand, our craft, how we [...]

The Cello Can’t Learn

I am fairly certain that I would have been voted “least likely to have a teaching career” upon graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Music.  As someone at home on the stage, I had been pursuing a career in performance since I made the decision to become a cellist at the ripe age of 11.  Would I play in the Chicago Symphony?  Be in a String Quartet?  Play solo concerts?  The answer was undetermined, but the path I was on was well established. It was a seemingly random act of fate that forever changed my direction in the music field.  I met Doris and Bill Preucil when I was a senior at CIM.  They claim they recognized the “teaching spirit” in me, a fact I found strange at the time, [...]

By |2011-03-14T10:15:19+00:00March 14th, 2011|Categories: Teaching|Tags: , , , , , , |

“Why?” That is the Question! — by Robert DeMaine

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." So the proverb goes. As a teacher, I think to myself, "Wouldn't it be something if I made a positive difference in all these people's lives?" Well, that would be mighty grand, but if I can reach just one really thirsty horse, then it has all been worthwhile. And here, I am humbled by the important question at hand:  How does one organize a thought and articulate it in a helpful, meaningful, and transparent way to the recipient of the message? Can just one life be changed for the better? I'll do my best ;-) To be sure, I have my share of opinions and a certain amount of experience in the "field that chose me" (and [...]

By |2017-10-22T22:26:12+00:00March 14th, 2011|Categories: Artistic Vision, Self Discovery, Teaching|Tags: , , , , |