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My goals for my students include guiding cellists, violists da gamba, and pianists towards the following:
* independent musical thinking
* creative problem solving
* development of profound, meaningful, connected, expressive, and committed execution of music, either written by a composer or created by the performer
I began to play cello in the third grade in public school because they had too many violin students. I was enthralled to play cello; however, when I started private lessons in the fifth grade, I had many habits that needed to be changed. This was because, however well-meaning, I had learned cello from a violinist, and both my hands had acquired habits which are not suited to secure and efficient cello playing.
Later on, when I was studying thumb position, I encountered the frustration of trying to develop strength in my double-jointed thumb. Eventually I succeeded, and it still serves me well.
I learned how to play with physical ease, to move my left arm in one line, and to hold my bow, so that I would not create tension. In my professional life, I have studied this to a great extent, have thought about how to play efficiently, and have never been sidelined by tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
I communicate what I have learned to my students, so that they are able to play effortlessly. Although I am very small in stature, I figured out how to play with a large sound and to have an easy facility throughout the entire instrument.
I understand the huge importance of not gripping with your left thumb, or your right thumb for that matter, and can see immediately where students are holding tension. So, many things are important for a cellist, as follows:
* the height of a chair
* the length of an endpin if you are playing modern cello
* the placement of your body on the chair
* the support and relaxation in your back
* the placement of your feet
In lessons, I assign three or four basic things, a scale, finger exercises, etudes, and one or more pieces from the repertoire.
Technique, in the true sense of the word for me, means the ability to hear a piece of music in your head and make what you hear internally a physical reality. The ability to play scales, exercises and etudes is preparation for technique. I learned this in a very specific way from two teachers who were not cellists, but a violinist and a singer/pianist.
Ultimately, nearly everyone can sing and make a cello or a viola da gamba or a piano sing! I want everyone to experience the joy of making music and making it together.
Note that the video is my daughter and I playing the 2nd Fantasy Piece by Robert Schumann at a school concert last year. She has studied with me since she was 8 years old. The concert was when she was 14.
Oakland, CA 94602
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