I wrote AMCM to try and fill some of the gaps in the “how-to” canon. Mostly, I thought we needed a text featuring a bunch of pictures and the occasional justification/explanation for certain bits of technique. There’s another volume in the works- I have all of the content down, but this time I’m trying to publish more conventionally to see if I can get wider distribution.

In the meantime, I’ve become increasingly aware of how few cello DVDs there are, and based on the reviews, many on the market have let some aspiring cellists down. Given that, I thought I should try my hand at letting them down, too.

Just kidding. My goal is to make 2 DVDs, one for very beginners and another for intermediate students, designed to include elements from AMCM and also provide a template for successful practice. Other features will be “play along” sections, where I’ll lay down a scale or cello II part of a duet for you to practice with.

So now I want to open the floor up for discussion so that these videos can be really useful and the kind of thing students will want to play over and over again to keep mining for information and support. I have a few questions, and if you have suggestions, please post them in the comments section.


1. In general, what do you want to be included? What’s superfluous?

2. Should I have multiple cellists in the video demonstrating, or just me?

3. If you have any of the other “how-to” DVDs, what would you like to see done differently? The same?


Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this. As soon as I’ve crunched the numbers, I’ll put up a Kickstarter page and begin scouting locations. My goal is to have this sucker in the bag by summer’s end.

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7 Responses

  1. Hey Emily,

    The videos I make the most use of are Abigail McHugh’s on youtube http://www.youtube.com/user/abigailmchugh127 as a reminder / supplement to lessons. I guess, to answer your questions, the kinds of material I’d want would pretty much be the same as in Abigail’s channel, just you playing.

    As a DVD, I’d probably look for increased production quality; different camera angles and shots, (close-ups on fingers / bow), better quality video and sound. Oh and some arty shots too – Emily gazing into the distance in soft focus… 🙂

    Play along tracks would be OK, but maybe these wouldn’t make best use of the visual side? Maybe a CD or mp3 downloads would be the way go? Dunno.

    Demos of some of the material from your book, in maybe a technique section would be good too.

    Hope this is of use


  2. One thing that most videos do is show the performer from the audience’s perspective. As a player things look different. Since I can’t see the curve in the back of the neck of a cello viewed head on (strings on?) I can’t readily tell if the player is in 4th position or not. As Les says above, different camera angles would be fantastic. Maybe keep the head on view, but also add a side view and a player’s view at times.

    In addition to Abigail McHugh’s videos I’ve made some use of the 100 Cello Talks by David Finckel (http://vimeo.com/channels/davidfinckelcellotalks). Some of those are way past me, but others are great.

    What I’d love to have would be a consistently produced set of Suzuki standards. Maybe not every piece in every volume, although that would be fantastic, but videos of the “big” pieces along the way. Even better still would be two videos for each piece. On played through as a performance and one interspersed with thoughts about how to approach the piece.

    The Suzuki recordings are too fast. My wife, who teaches piano, as several CDs that have a practice tempo and a performance tempo recording of the pieces in her method books. Having a 50% speed performance, either video or audio, would be very nice.

    Everyone has their own physicality when it comes to playing. Taller, shorter, longer arms, more flexible, stiffer, et cetera. If you were going to employ multiple players, having people who were different physically than you would be helpful.

    I have and use AMCM and am looking forward to supporting and having your DVDs/CDs/future books.

    — Mark

  3. I’d also love a DVD of closeups on fingers and bow hand, as well as various bow strokes slowed down to see them in more detail. Adding to the previous comments about angles, I think it would be helpful to have a shot from a cellist’s perspective, playing the instrument, so we can see what different positions/techniques should look like, and maybe to show what it should look like in a mirror in front of the cellist. That way when I play in front of a mirror, I can see if it matches what the DVD showed.

  4. I’m not a classically trained cellist, so I don’t know what may be considered blasphemy and what may not, so if I sound crazy or like I don’t know what I’m talking about, I probably am and probably don’t.

    I love the idea of multiple cameras/angles. You can author a DVD in such a way that multiple camera angles can be controlled by the user- so if you want to provide a ‘player’ angle, a ‘crowd’ view, and a ‘musician’s view’, you can. I think Steve Vai did a DVD in the ’90s called ‘Alien Love Secrets’ that presented a crowd, tech, and lesson angle for the viewer to choose from. I also remember a companion cd that had backing tracks of the tunes involved so the viewer/student could jam. Transcripts were available too, so it was a complete package.

    I had a great idea that you could use some more modern music to present techniques or what have you- but then the thought of royalty and licensing payments scared me back to reality.

    Ah well. I wish I had something better to offer.

  5. i love the idea of approaching a dvd through a single piece of music. You could recommend how to approach it, give history, assign certain sections, hone in on those really difficult measures, ask the student to play certain measures, say, 20 times with you. You know, the way you teach! 🙂 What would be very cool is to include recordings and/or videos of different cellists performing the same piece. You could do a mystery science theater thing, commenting on the playing (commentary that a viewer could turn on or off).

    I love the thought, too, of recording play-along pieces at different tempos. I would use the crap out of that.

    Here’s something crazy and perhaps even impossible. What about creating a dvd or cd or downloads of mp3s, etc, of stuff that adult students can do, sans cello, when they’re traveling, to keep their practice moving. I hate it when my job forces me to “fall behind” with cello. and often when i I travel for work, I have time to dedicate to cello (but of course no cello to play with). I think this would be great for begintermediate adult students.

  6. Anything about how to practice would be great.

    Anything about bowing would be very helpful. Bow transitionson the same string, going from one string to another, from one chord to another . . . . Releasing arm weight into the bow. Suggestions for generating better tone. How not to suck at bowing.

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