This book was the culmination of my experiences teaching mostly adults. Having largely rebooted my technique as a professional, the tribulations caused by these modifications were fresh in my mind, even ten years on. I began jotting ideas down in 2006 when I was working behind the counter at Baxter Northup. At that point, I had about 10 students and needed to supplement my income by spending the rest of my non-teaching non-playing time any way I could. In retrospect, I could not have asked for a more benevolent and tolerant environment to begin such an endeavor. In exchange for showing up and being fairly helpful, I got a studio to teach in, a stream of referrals, lots of spare time, a flexible schedule, lifelong friends, and the outline of this text.
Now I (more or less) make the ends meet by teaching, playing and writing alone. On the other side of this particular journey, the landscape of my life is nearly unrecognizable. I maintain a robust studio of cellists who trust me with their efforts. I have a team of people who have been critical to the success of my teaching, touring, writing and health. I have a blog that keeps me honest and motivates me to keep learning. My arm doesn’t hurt any more. And, with the faintest percussive sound of a Johns Hopkins envelope hitting my mail chute, I have a clear view of the next leg of this journey.
Having to produce something for public consumption can be daunting. It’s an opportunity for failure, embarrassment waiting to happen, a glimpse of soft underbelly for our detractors to snipe at. I say let ’em. So long as what we do is not solely for self-aggrandizement, criticism is very informative. Frequently it informs us more about the person issuing the critique than the actual product, but both are useful. Of course I have already started on two more books: the journey was so edifying that I can’t imagine not being on that kind of learning curve in perpetuity.
To my readers, my friends, family and students: Thank you. I simply could not have done this without you.