Author: Emily Wright

tennis, anyone?

Do anything enough times and you’re bound to flirt with injury. Do something like play the cello, and your back is sure to remind you now and again that you are actually responsible for taking care of your body, not just master Popper #17. So I’ve been doing crazy chops practice this summer, am midway through a move, and have had a whole lotta stress from just about every other sector of my life to boot. My back is a wreck, and it reached a crisis point Sunday night. I called a massage therapist who listed Sunday nights as an availibility, and though she was not able to come and work out the kinks, she passed on this amazing nugget to me: Lie on a tennis ball. That’s right. Set yourself up on the floor (I used my yoga mat so my head wouldn’t bonk) and then put the ball where it hurts. Gradually put your weight onto the ball, and eventually, relax, supine, on the floor. Though it didn’t solve 100% of my issue, it made substantive improvement in the tension and pain I had....

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I heart my students

Sigh. This recital marks some milestones for my studio and the wonderful students in it. For some, I am fairly certain, it will be the last time I see them, as the pressures of Real Life make the required hours of practice impossible. For others, it will be their first solo performance since a traumatic experience in their youth. Still others are battling injuries and confidence issues. Recitals are funny that way. If they don’t mean something big going in, they end up that way once they’re done. The departing students have little way of knowing that while this recital may be their cello swan song, my fondness for them and admiration for their work has no end. Bravi, in...

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Check it out, nevermind. :) (part 3 of 3)

Well, from the feedback, I have decided to expand my book, but perhaps not to the 200 page epic that OUP wanted. I will still resubmit to them first after my additions, because I like the quality of their books, and the fact that their editor was decent enough to respond in the first place. But as for the length, I’m thinking that I’ll go more Rossini than Wagner. Sure, we all respect The Ring Cycle for its heft, but who do you whistle for days afterward? That crazy Thieving Magpie, that’s who. My goal is to write a book that will be on the music stand and the coffee table. I want it to be frayed, bent backwards and penciled. You don’t write a cello tech book to get rich, so I might as well write the one that feels, well,...

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progress

I have come to realize, and subsequently preach, that the only people who make progress are those who persist. That’s all. These are the bow grips of two of my students who are valiantly struggling with the subtleties of the bow grip, and I snapped these photos in a moment of “Wait, wait! That’s perfect!” I am so proud of these two that I had to post them. They are both adult beginners, and have trusted me with my policy of Technique First, Sound Second. Of course, a week into this new bow grip, their sound caught up with them, and is more radiant and polished than it ever was before. Just like mine was when Ron Leonard unceremoniously dumped my bow grip and gave me a new one…on our first lesson. It took me about 2 months to regain my sound, but he is directly responsible for my current approach, and my faith in technique uber alles. Who was responsible for his approach, you ask? Leonard Rose. Good enough for...

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extend-o-matic

When a student is first learning extensions, I teach it as a multi-step movement that goes something like this, if we’re doing 1, 2, 4: 1st finger goes down like nothing’s different. (a lot of people prepare, pre-prepare, go insane pronating or other left hand freak out) then, take 2nd, and stretch it to where 3rd would normally be, and as soon as you have that stretch, move 1 up into the new position. This is when you actually play the note…after all of that movement. 4th is as/is. This is a technique that is good for slow scales and passages, and it makes the very important distinction between a shift and a stretch, while also etching in the mind of the student the absolutes of the cello: no matter what finger you use, the notes stay in the same place. The next technique is one where we use 2 as a pivot, and maintain the “extended” shape of the hand. (so 1 never comes up next to 2) This is useful for faster passages like Brandenburgs and Mozart symphonies, and also for non-linear gestures where you might be moving between 1 and 4. If it’s 1, 2, 4, the technique goes like this: 1 goes down, and 2nd is relaxed, and stretches to hit extended 2, where it remains throughout, or until you have to return to 1....

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