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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 |2019-11-03T18:42:04+00:00September 11th, 2019|Categories: In the Practice Room, Teaching|Tags: , , , , , |

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 [...]

In the Zone — by Talya Buckbinder

I received my most memorable lesson in distraction during my first year of playing the cello.  My teacher sat me down one day, instructed me to play the Gavotte from Suzuki Book 2, and then proceeded to demonstrate the most amusing display of histrionics I'd ever seen, even going as far as to caterwaul loudly and spill her coffee down the front of her dress.  My teacher thought she could train me to focus on the music if she presented me with an array of possible distractions. At the Perlman Music Program, Toby Perlman would tell us the story of how Mr. P played a concert through an earthquake and continued performing, completely unaware that the earth was trembling below the concert hall.  We all laughed incredulously, though I couldn't [...]

Raising Your Self-Awareness — by Brandon Vamos

I recently worked with a student preparing a Bach suite for his recital. In his lesson, he was struggling with the many challenges one faces when playing Bach. A week later he performed the entire suite in studio class and I was taken aback by the dramatic improvement. He played the work with great poise, clarity, and a much higher level of solidity and intonation. I was curious about this sudden jump in playing level and asked him what his focus had been during that weeks’ preparation. His answer was that he had become much more self-aware and objective of his playing. He had made a conscious effort to sit back and get a true sense of what was coming from his instrument. The result? He was better able to [...]