Chinese Proverb

"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand." - Chinese Proverb.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Trust that it'll work...

After purchasing A LOT of books, researching cello playing online, youtube-ing the hell out of cello playing... (David Finckel's Cello Talks are awesome!) - I've come to the conclusion that all this information means absolutely nothing if it cannot be utilized!

Which my co-worker Mike had also advised. I think he had done what I did - researched this to brain overload!!

So I am putting my cello learning in my teacher's capable hands and will try and stop second guessing him all the time (its in my nature, so I don't think I can completely stop). After all, my teacher has 24 years of cello playing and is pursuing a Doctorate in Music Arts, which probably means he knows a thing or two about cello playing, right? :)

I know he's very knowledgeable and talented, I just need to get over my thoughts that there's an easier, better way... and struggling through is part of the learning process...

Also, no exaggeration when I said I researched the hell out of this. Below is a list of books I've acquired in the past 2-3 months.  Books highlighted in lilac I am currently using as part of my studies and books highlighted in yellow I found to be helpful.

Method Books:
1) Suzuki Cello School, Volume 1
2) Essential Elements 2000 plus DVD for Strings
3) The ABC's of Cello for the Absolute Beginner by Janice Tucker Rhoda
4) All for Strings Comprehensive method Book 1
5) Muller Rusch String Method for Class or Individual Study
6) Mel Bay's Modern Cello Method Grade 1
7) Strictly Strings A Comprehensive String Method Book 1
8) Violoncello Music for Beginners

Technique Books:
1)  Finger Exercises for the Cello by Cassia Harvey
2) I Can Read Music: A Note Reading Book for Cello Students, Volume 1 by Joanne Martin
3) Alwin Schroeder 170 Foundation Studies for Violincello
4) An Organized Method of String Playing by Janos Starker
5) Mark Yampolsky Violoncello Technique
6) Klengel Technical Studies for Cello, Volume 1
7) Becker Finger & Bow Exercises With New Scale Studies For Cello
8) Thumb Position for Cello Book 1 by Rick Mooney
9) Sequenced Scale Studies for Cello by Wendy Bissinger

Learning how to play:
1) All For Strings Theory Workbook 1 by Anderson & Frost
2) The Art of Cello Playing by Louis Potter, Jr.
3) Cello Playing For Music Lovers: A Self-Teaching Method with A Play-Along CD 
4) Picture Yourself Playing Cello by Jim Aiken 
5) Key Papers Technique and Theory for Cello Book One by Charlene Wilson - in my reading pile
6) The Art of Playing the Cello by Maurice Gendron 

I found all of these books to be helpful!! Each one explains things a bit differently, and I agree with my teacher that sometimes you have to see something from different angles before it clicks.

I recommend buying Picture Yourself Playing the Cello first if you are a complete beginner like me to whet your appetite - to see if playing the cello is something you really want to pursue. If so, purchase Potter's Art Of Cello Playing and Cello Playing for Music Lover's at the same time because both provide great information and Cello Playing for Music Lover's references exercises in Potter's book.

Technique/Playing comfortably:
1) Cello Technique: Principles & Forms of Movement by Gerhard Mantel
2) New Directions in Cello Playing by Victor Sazer 
3) Just Play Naturally by Vivien Mackie - in my reading pile
4) Playing (Less) Hurt: An Injury Prevention Guide For Musicians - in my reading pile
5) A Modern Cellist's Manual by Emily Wright

I have a mild curvature of the spine (not serious enough to be scoliosis), and my right side is about an inch or so higher than  my left. The difference is not as noticeable if I workout and lift weights, but when I first started my neck, shoulders and back began to act up as usual and I had to get several massages to feel normal again. I will be continuing to research how to play more relaxed and comfortably, and will post on this later.

Teaching Cello:
1) The Advancing Cellist's Handbook: A Guide to Practicing and Playing the Cello by B. Whitcomb 
2) Teaching Suzuki Cello: A Manual For Teachers and Parents by Charlene Wilson - handy tips!
3) Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education by Shinichi Suzuki - in my reading pile
4) Intelligent Music Teaching; Essays on the Core Principles of Effective Instruction - in my reading pile
5) The Musician's Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness
6) Rosindust: Teaching, Learning and Life from a Cellist's Perspective by Carnelia Watkins - favorite!
7) Playing the String Game: Strategies for Teaching Cello and Strings By Phyllis Young

I'm implementing the Goals and Practice Logs from the Advancing Cellist's Handbook and will also be posting my logs. Also, Rosindust is not only for teachers, I found this to be very inspirational and even found great tips on my left hand fingering and bowing.

I've always found teaching guides to be more helpful than student guides because in teaching guides it usually breaks down tasks step-by-step to teach students, which normally is not covered in a student's edition!

I'm sure Amazon loves me!! Cello is an expensive hobby...


  1. I also like David Finkel's Cello Talks, so much information to absorb. I am up to 50 now.
    I am starting out with Vera Jiji's book, though I need to get an Etude book as well.


    1. David Finkel is AWESOME!! It want to meet him someday, or attend a concert or something! :).

      Vera Jiji's book references The Art of Cello Playing by Louis Potter, Jr. as an Etude I think.

      Also, Cassia Harvey's etude books are wonderful:

      They start off fairly slow, which was great for me since I've never played an instrument before. If you have, this might be too slow.

      I can email you the first few pages of the Etude books I have so you can figure out which one you'd like. If you're interested you can email me at I purchased a lot of them so might as well put them to use!

  2. Thanks for the reply.
    I just received one of the dastardly Cecilio Cellos (at least any Cello authority seems to think so.) At least I got a non-laminated one. :0)
    I just finished cleaning it up and setting the bridge and doing an initial tuning, and will let it set a day or two to allow the strings to stretch.

    Vera references Potters book and Schroeder's book as well.

    I played woodwinds and brass years ago, but never strings. At least I still remember how to read music.

    I'll send you an email for the excerpts, thanks so much.
    I may start documenting my progress on my art blog.

    Thanks for sharing your Cello journey.