News & Views Thursday, July 24, 2014

Picture Yourself Playing Cello! Thursday, June 16, 2011

If you have always wanted to play the cello, but never knew where to start, do we have a book for you!

Picture Yourself Playing Cello – a Step-by-Step Introduction for Playing the Cello by Jim Aikin is either for absolute beginners, young or old, wondering if it might be fun to rent an instrument and try it out; or for students in school who are thinking of signing up for an orchestra class; or for budding cellists who have been playing for a year or two and are looking for ways to develop a better technique and a better sound.

It has easy-to-follow instructions and excellent photographs (many from various angles) and diagrams to show you how to hold the cello, how to use the bow and how to finger the strings to play music.  Plus, many sections of the book are linked to video tutorials on the included DVD that has demonstrations of many of the techniques that are possibly a bit difficult to grasp while you’re just reading about them.  Sometimes “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  It’s almost as good as having a teacher right there to help you with your technique.  Mr. Aikin, the author, is a teacher himself and so approaches the lessons as if he were teaching them to you personally.  He does recommend that you get a private teacher and use this book as a supplement to your private lessons.

The book starts with learning about the cello itself and various equipment and tools you may need for ease of playing as well as care and maintenance of your instrument.  It then gets into tuning your cello, how to use the bow with the right hand, then fingering with the left hand, running through a myriad of exercises for each hand.  Included are many photos of good hand positions as well as examples of incorrect hand positions to avoid.  A section follows on the basics of music theory and how it applies to reading music, then offers many tunes to play from classics to folk songs and holiday music.  It also includes suggestions for more advanced literature, recommends some famous cellists to learn about and listen to and encourages playing in groups large and small with other musicians.

A very thorough book and DVD set, it makes clear what you need to become a good cellist but also reminds you that building any sort of technical mastery will assuredly take years of patient daily effort.

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