Cello Choices

A lot of my students have been searching for high quality cello equipment, so I thought a post about my personal recommendations might help steer you to some good brands and products. There are so many options out there, that it is nearly impossible to try everything. So for the past 18 yrs I have been calling Ellen Gunst at Cellos2go.com. She is a cellist and small business owner in Columbia, South Carolina that sells only cellos and cello products. This is her specialty, and she pretty much knows everything about all things cello related. She is also the only place you can order strings from in which you can return them if you are not happy, and exchange for a different brand. She is super personable, and I highly recommend calling her when you have a need for a completely informed opinion on which cello direction to try. Here are some of my personal favorites:

Rosin: Melos Dark is my new favorite. For the longest time I was using Larsen rosin, which had a smooth touch. But Melos provides a bit more power. The right rosin makes it easier to play your instrument.

Strings: For beginners and intermediate students, Jargar strings are an affordable high quality brand. For those that are more advanced, the go-to brands are Larsen Solos on the A and D, Spiracore Tungsten wound on the G and C. However, the choices are becoming better and better. At the moment I am sampling Pirastro’s Perptual Editions on my A and D. Versum and Passiones are also ones to experiment with. I have also heard marvelous things about the Jargar Superiors. Every cello is different, so finding strings that work for you can be a process. Playing on bad strings can really be discouraging.

Music Stand: Peak Music Stands have held up beautifully for me. These are stands that can be folded up into a traveling case and easily transported. This is the sturdiest option I have seen yet.

Chair: For those of you enjoying the new adjustable chair in my studio, it is made by Adjustrite.

Photo below is new cellist Cody working with his drones and metronome at the same time, don’t try this at home! Haha!


Practicing with Technology

"I'm not a fan of this video homework stuff Ms Joy. This gives you two opportunities a week to tell me I suck and I am only paying you for one...." 
- Belle (15 yr old cello student studying with me 6 years. If in my cello studio witticisms were a John Wayne film, she would be the fastest gun in the West)

This past semester I decided to start assigning my young cellists video homework. Each week they take home an assignment that must be recorded on their phones/iPads and emailed or texted to mine. Although this has not been my most popular ingenious idea, it has been one of my most effective. Musicians spend a whole lot of time with their instruments each day, and this makes it very easy to press the cruise control button (or autopilot setting if you will) when you have scheduled blocks of time for practice sessions. Using video to record their playing, and then critiquing it, helps the student and even the professional set specific goals for their practice so that precious minutes and hours are not wasted. I find that in my own practicing, making use of this technology has not only improved my cello playing, but it has significantly sped up the rate in which I learn new music and increased the length of time in which I can stay 100% concentrated. Now despite what my students might imagine, I do not assign them recording homework so that I can listen to their beautiful playing on my Sunday afternoons ;) My goal is that they watch themselves throughout the week and learn to be their own teachers, perfecting every measure and every note. I find that this can also have the added benefit of dealing with performance anxiety. When students watch themselves on recorded tape play a certain difficult passage several times throughout the week, it gives them the added assurance that they can be successful the next time they tackle it: whether it is in front of an audience or just a very picky cello teacher.