What to expect at a lesson
Learning the cello is a process that involves lessons with a teacher, practice, dedicated listening, and performing.
The lesson usually covers three activities:
- Scales and arpeggios
Scales and arpeggios are the building blocks. They are the ‘alphabet’ in the complex language known as music.
Etudes, or studies, present new techniques and gives you the opportunity to use those techniques in a musical context. Beginning cellists start with Pathways. then they graduate to The Young Cellist by Feuillard. Next the student gets to test what he knows through the Kummer Method. Then we have Sevcik bowing techniques. After Sevcik, the student tackles the challenging but very important Popper Etudes. The more advanced cellists graduate onto the Piatti Caprices.
Learning the cello is like an Olympic sport. It takes consistent, dedicated daily practice to become proficient. Beginning students may practice from 15-30 minutes a day. Everyone else should practice for a minimum of 30 minutes. The longer the etudes and pieces get, the more practice time is required.
Importance of Listening
Listening to music is extemely important. Learning music without listening is like learning a language from a book. It won’t sound right unless you know what it’s supposed to sound like. We can learn a lot by listening to the great cellists of the past and present. They put in many hours perfecting the pieces they play, why not take advantage of that and learn what we can from that.
Since it’s so important to know what the music is supposed to sound like before you try to play it, every lesson is video recorded. The lesson can be relived throughout the week so important details aren’t forgotten. The learning process is sped up exponentially by watching and listening.
The last piece of the puzzle is performance. The goal of practice is to be able to perform the pieces we have worked so hard at. Every month there is a studio class where students get to perform for each other. Students get to hear pieces they will play in the future and provide constructive comments to their colleagues on pieces they have already played. Performance class also gives students a goal to work towards. This takes the learning process to another level.