Cello lesson with Paul Katz on phrase shaping and character.

  • Choice of bow stroke should communicate lightness, dance character
  • Choice of tempo depends also on Variation 1 and 2
  • Feel the theme in 2, not in 4
  • Different phrase shapes are possible and desirable
  • The short notes in the theme are melody and need phrase shaping
  • Varying the dynamic shaping and rhythmic timing makes the repeats more interesting
  • The arm and hand should feel upward and buoyant, not physically down or heavy
  • The right hand index finger starts each short note, with a light release that puts air and ring at the end of the stroke
  • Vibrato can enliven each note


  • The ear controls the hand:  The start of the note, its length, ring, and dynamic shape are adjudicated by the ear
  • Short notes need a quick, buoyant start to create lightness and a dance character
  • Listen for an after-ring and resonance on the release of all short notes
  • Vary the bow stroke to give a melodic shape the first measure (and all other bars of short notes)
  • More bow evolves on each note to crescendo, less for diminuendo, and the ear should be certain the lengths still match
  • Theme should sound in 2 beats to a bar, not in 4


The left hand is your thoughts, the right hand is your tongue. Gregor Piatigorsky

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