Archive for the cello blogosphere Category

A Package From Lulu

Posted in beginner, cellist, cello, cello blogosphere, worthwhile with tags , , , on December 29, 2010 by cellomuser

I started this blog post on 3/22/2010…

Today I received a package from the online book publisher Lulu.

For about the last 30 months I have had the pleasure of reading the writings of Ms. Emily Wright (Website, Blog & Twitter). What attracts me to Emily is her ability to inspire and communicate in a genuine manner – once in awhile to the extent of wearing her emotions on her “Internet“ sleeve. That said, I have come to really enjoy and respect Emily not only as a ce <- this is as far as I got on 3/22/2010

Fast forward to 12/29/2010….

…not only as a cellist but as a fellow human being as well.

Inside that package from Lulu was Emily Wright’s book, A Modern Cellist’s Manual.

A Modern Cellist’s Manual is an absolute must have – period. Let me share with you why…

1.    Modern. Yes, the same word that is in the title is a reason to have this manual. I began learning the cello as in adult back in 2007. Although I had some very good student / instructors the first two years, I was very disappointed by the lack of modern non-instructor technique aids. Let’s be honest, the Suzuki books have horrible pictures and illustrations and other sources of instruction include expensive subscriptions to various musical magazines, hunting down articles on the Internet, or reading very old opinings of past famous cellists (like reading the King James Version of the Holy Bible).

A Modern Cellist’s Manual is as modern as it gets. It is well written. Well written in the sense that it is easy to read and comprehend; unlike some rigid academic guides. The structure of the manual is well thought out, starting with basic form and progressing into moderate levels of technique.

2.    Pictures. Yep, lots of pictures – and in color too! Most human beings alive today – that live in a modern society – tend to be very visual both in how we perceive and how we learn. The pictures and illustration overlays in A Modern Cellist’s Manual clearly support the concepts and techniques being presented in the text – in great detail.

3.    Comprehensive. In my opinion, A Modern Cellist’s Manual easily covers all the instruction I paid for in the first two years of taking lessons (once or twice a month) – plus more. In no way am I suggesting that my first instructors were negligent or not knowledgeable. But I really wish I could have had a comprehensive manual to aid me in my journey. As a beginner adult, taking those precious five or ten minutes of down time to read a manual to reinforce some of the concepts being taught by my instructors would have been helpful; A Modern Cellist’s Manual fills that gap.

4.    Practical. My son recently started playing the cello. He is in middle school and they have a string ensemble (bass, cellos, violas, and violin). I was somewhat shocked that he wanted to play at all, let alone play the cello. The night he decided to play the cello – he had his first lesson; parts of the cello, how to properly sit (yes, he slouched), how the cello makes sounds, etc. At the end of the lesson I handed him my copy of A Modern Cellist’s Manual with homework to just read the section on “Body Concept & Positioning”.  I could tell he was mildly annoyed that I reminded him a few times on sitting up and keeping his back straight – so by reading the manual it not only reinforced proper technique but also conveys to him that me correcting him is not just Dad being a prick- but trying to help him. For what its worth, his ensemble instructor has complimented him a few times on his form…

In closing, A Modern Cellist’s Manual is worth every penny spent to purchase it. However, please note that the manual itself will not make you a better cellist. It is not a replacement for practice and does not replace the discerning eye of an instructor or trusted adviser that can see the things you cannot. It is an aid to include in your kit to learn and reinforce cello technique. By purchasing Emily’s A Modern Cellist’s Manual , you are empowering yourself to become a better cellist and supporting a musician / artist that has great passion for the cello, making music but more importantly, teaching others. Thank you for publishing the book Emily – I look forward to others.


A Grinch Smile

Posted in cello, cello blogosphere, confidence with tags , , , on February 24, 2010 by cellomuser

Wow! It has been about 9 months since I last published a cello blog post. It is reasonable to infer that during those nine months there has not been significant cello activity for me. Lessons came to a halt in June 2009 due to my instructor going home for her college summer break. The second half of 2009 was crazy from a work perspective; some of it brought on by me and some of it the result of keeping my employer happy. All of this resulted in me spending less time practicing my cello – let alone playing with others.

I have not been entirely “happy” over the last few months – a music / artistic type of happy; though I am not naïve to realize that it probably spills over to other parts of my life.  While it is easy to take more of a pragmatic approach to analyzing this sense of unhappiness, like paying for a cello I am not using as much as I should be, or realizing the benefits of investing time and money in lessons for little gain; I think there is an underlying psychological issue. I keep thinking back to an “Organizational Behavior” course I took three or four years ago at “The” Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. I think we spent a total of two hours covering “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” (MHN from here on out).

As I reflect back on almost three years of learning the cello, I can loosely map my journey to MHN.

I chose the cello because I needed a non-computer hobby that allowed me to get back in touch with music and hopefully allow me to socialize with other musicians using a language that is not spoken but demonstrated through passion, skills, and reverence.

So how does this map to MHN? (For any psychologists or music education gurus I beg your pardon if I am misapplying MHN in this manner… but it makes sense to me…).

Physiological: The basics or bare essentials. I rented a cello. It came with the tools I needed to get a tone. You can’t play music without some type of instrument and tools to make it function. While sheet music is not necessarily a bare essential – it is if you are not gifted to make music on your own (like me). So, I think of it as a bare essential.

Safety: For me, safety was taking lessons. Improving my skills to a point that I could make a half decent sound on the cello, demonstrate some technique, demonstrate music reading skills, as well as play music pieces.

Up to this point, I would submit that I am already seeing evidence of the higher levels of MHN; esteem and self –actualization. However, there is a gap…

Love and Belonging.

My favorite part of the journey over the last three years was when I could play with others. It seemed to be the difference between a good lesson and a bad lesson; as well as few opportunities to play with our church band (albeit a genre of music – contemporary Christian – that does not lend itself well towards a beginner cello player). The reality is that I have not been playing with others as much as I need and want to be. When you are not taking lessons or you are not skilled enough to quickly improvise music based off guitar chords – you do not get to play with others.

So, this uneasiness has reached a boiling point. I was hoping to get over to DC in early March to take a lesson with my web 2.0 friend Ms. Emily. All in the hope that it would be the catalyst I needed to get back into more intentional practicing but also to meet someone that is far more passionate about the cello then I am as well as very accomplished. Well, due to family obligations – like our son’s birthday – this opportunity was squashed. Next, while recently shoveling snow with a neighbor after a winter storm that dropped nine inches of snow – I learned of a community orchestra that was being started in the town where I live. You know the Christmas story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”; specifically the older animated show where at one point the Grinch gets an evil smile that seems to take like 20 seconds to fulfill? Well, that is the smile that came across my face when I heard about the community orchestra.

At this point, I am now left to have to make a decision. Do I investigate the local community orchestra opportunity and see if it can fulfill MHN’s “Love & Belonging”? Or, do I tuck my tail between my legs – admit / accept defeat, and keep on coming up with easy excuses to not intentionally pursue playing music on the cello?

Stay tuned… 🙂

Etude Fingering

Posted in cello blogosphere, Dotzauer on August 20, 2008 by cellomuser

Now that Emily is inspiring us to practice and blog more (almost a guilt trip ?), I thought I would throw up a quick post. For those that have read some of my previous posts it is no secret that I like the Dotzauer Etudes and Method books. For the past month or so, I have been messing around with the first 8 or so etudes from “Exercises for Violincello – Book 1”. Exercise four has recently caught my attention, because near the beginning there is a measure that requires two notes to be played (see the red circle in the image above). This is new to me and for the most part I can play it but I suspect my fingering technique for 1st position D-string / G string 3rd finger is probably not right. I have watched myself do it and my finger has to be flat to do it. Slurring into the G is fairly easy – almost as if I roll my left hand slightly to hit the note and get my fingers curved again.

Since I am now in the position of teaching myself and reliant upon the cello blogosphere for additional instruction – does anyone have any guidance about how these few measures in this “simple” etude should be executed from a fingering perspective?