Videos of Music for Cello and Piano
Posts26 Jun 2009 04:23 am

One of the questions that cellists may ask themselves while they’re learning the cello is, what is technique? Sometimes you can make the mistake of thinking that technique is how you play different pieces, but it is not. Technique is how easily you play the instrument. It has to do with comfort, seating, position of the hands, use of the hands. The better and more comfortable your technique is the less time you have to spend to make progress when you’re playing.

Sometimes looking at your technique can be very worthwhile. Instead of spending many hours practicing something and making very little progress, you can try to find out a different way of doing things that will make a passage or a piece of music easier to play. A lot of this is based on intuition. You can somehow tell when something is not comfortable and awkward. You can also tell when things feel right.

There is another area of cello playing in which you can make things more comfortable. Aside from physical movements and positions, you can work on picking a better bowing or fingering. This can really make a huge difference. A passage played with an awkward fingering or bowing can be awkward sounding and unmusical. An incorrect bowing or fingering can take away the energy, fluidity, and sense of a passage of music. Picking fingerings and bowings is almost an art form. It is something you get better at the more you do it. I sometimes found myself spending several hours just on one line of music trying to decide what the best fingering for it is

Sometimes you also have to make compromises. There may be no perfect fingering or perfect bowing. Composers sometimes put slur marks over several notes in a row. Sometimes the melody doesn’t fit any comfortable fingering. And so you make a compromise that preserves the music as much as possible. You also try to pick something which is technically stable. You want a fingering that, when you get nervous, will still be useful. Sometimes a more solid stable option is the better way to go.

There is one more side of bowings and fingerings that I find fascinating. Sometimes bowing and fingering can look wrong on paper, but be very comfortable when you’re actually playing the cello. Or the opposite can be true. You can have the fingering which looks great on paper. It fits certain positions. But when you actually try to use it it just doesn’t work.

Posts26 Jun 2009 04:10 am

It is time for another blog post on Cello Journey. The topic this time is interpretation of music. There are two overall models for interpreting music. One is about simplifying things and the other is about putting various layers on top of other layers.

Let me describe the latter one first. One thing you can do is to listen to recordings and try to copy recordings. But what happens then is that you are taking someone else’s interpretation and you’re putting your own interpretation on top of that person’s interpretation. I know, this is confusing. To take things one step further, the person on the recording may have heard another recording that they are trying to copy. So you end up with a stack of layers of interpretations.

In my mind, these types of interpretations sound complicated and a little bit confusing. Many of the markings in the score are not followed. Tempos may be different. Certain things may sound like they came from another recording or from another artist.

I prefer interpretations that make things simpler. Ideally the longer you spend studying a piece the more simple it begins to sound. I am not talking about oversimplifying or making things sound trivial. I am talking about making a peace easy to follow, easy to understand and brief. Ideally, a 10 minute piece sounds like a four-minute piece. A lot of this comes from studying the score, studying tempo markings, studying articulation markings, studying the overall style of the composer.

It is as if the more time you spend interpreting music, the more it sounds like you did not spend time doing this. Funny isn’t it?

Posts25 May 2009 06:56 am

I was fixing a link on the Cello Journey website and accidentally e-mails went out about it. I will make sure that won’t happen again. Please stay subscribed.


Posts03 Nov 2008 12:20 pm

Over the past several months I have been asked about a DVD of Cello Journey. I am happy to announce that it is now available. Here are a few reasons to get the DVD. With a DVD you can:

1. Watch 21 episodes of Cello Journey directly on your TV.

2. Play and replay episodes without waiting.

3. Watch with high quality picture and sound.

4. If you play the cello, you can play along.

5. Share Cello Journey with those that may not have high speed internet.

The picture and sound is just great. When making this DVD I was at first nervous. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. There were many issues involved, from audio production to DVD menus. It came together wonderfully. There are not too many cello DVDs out there. I hope you will get this one.

I appreciate your support very much.

CELLO JOURNEY: Music For Cello And Piano - DVD

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