Joseph Mendoes - cello expert
Visit Joseph's Website:
Cello Expert
Do you like this page?  
Search Videos:  
Sign-up for weekly videos by e-mail:  
Joseph Mendoes' latest cello videos
Do you have a question for Joseph?
Post a question, comment or special request:
You may: Login as a Member  or  

Otherwise, fill the form below to post your comment:
Add your name below:

Add your email below: (to receive replies, will not be displayed or shared)

For verification purposes, please enter the word MUSIC in the field below

Baard * VSM MEMBER * on February 5, 2016 @11:26 am PST
Hello again Joseph

I have two questions for you:
- I struggle with rosin....the advice from you professionals are to use a lot of it...and I find that improves my playing and the sound..initially....but after 15 minutes or so, my G and C string sound shit! I need to wipe them of before I feel good again - but you cannot do that during a concert. familiar? what do I do wrong?
I notice that my fellow cellists in the local amateaur orchestra play almost without any noticable rosin at all...probably because then you are safe from making strange sounds...

-secondly...any specific sheet music tip for rehersing to improve my 2 and 3 position across string movements? I find most etudes I know are focusing on shifts on one problem during my orchestral work is that my intuitive playing is too bad....I need to "figure it out" you understand?

thankyou for your nice videos - I follow them all! have a nice weekend

Bård, Norway
Erin K. on January 8, 2016 @6:21 pm PST
Hello Professor:
I am an "older" beginning cellist and have only been playing for about 10 days. I've read about sore fingers for beginners, but I am experiencing a little bit of numbness on the fingertips as well. Have you heard of this before? Please advise. Thanks!
Joseph - host, on January 9, 2016 @6:05 pm PST
Hello Erin,
This all depends on what fingers! Is the left hand? If it is, then I am not really sure what the cause is. It could be a variety of things. Is it only numb when you play, or is it numb at other times as well?

What is more common is numbness in the tip of the right thumb. This is usually caused by holding the bow with an inward-curved thumb. The nerve ending at the tip of the thumb is very sensitive, so this can become numb over time.

Please tell me which hand and I might be able to help better!

Erin K. on January 10, 2016 @3:40 pm PST
Thanks for your answer! I should have been more specific. The numbness is in the fingertips on the left hand, on the soft pads that make direct contact with the strings. I noticed this from day 1. The "buzzing" feeling is like when your mouth is waking up after a visit to the dentist, where novocaine has been used. I thought at first this feeling was due to the pressure used to press on the strings, and to the fact that I am new to playing the cello. And perhaps that is the case. At this point I think I am starting to develop calluses (a little), and my fingertips (left hand) continue to be less able to feel the tiny details of other objects, such as string or hair or a crumb. Since I am not yet taking lessons from anyone in person, I cannot ask my own teacher. Thank you again for taking time to answer my question, and thank you VERY MUCH for all of your wonderful videos! I am watching them 2 or 3 at a time and learning a tremendous amount from you!
Jack Diana on December 7, 2015 @9:33 pm PST
Hello Joseph, I just watched your video regarding arm weight. I am struggling with the same questions. Especially since my teacher wants me to do both, 1) bow with dead weight in the arm and 2) bow hold loose enough to drop the bow. They are impossible!!!! I have spent that last week trying all kinds of combinations. I think arm weight is used in proportion to other things but not chronic lifting of the shoulder. Would you agree? How else could one play piano if arm weight was not varied? I would be happy to take a virtual lesson or two if you would prefer to talk over FT or Skype. Please let me know. Thank you for your videos!!!
Redgerm * VSM MEMBER * on October 8, 2015 @5:37 pm PST
Hello again,
Any suggestions for creating proper thumb contact with the string when playing a non-harmonic thumb position? I am working on Suzuki Cello Book 6, Rondo from Concerto No. 2 in D major by Bréval. (Measure 45, for example).
I wonder where the weight should be coming from to make good contact/sound from the string...arm or possible torque of my wrist? A lot of the time I am producing mushy notes.

John Roberts
Rose on September 10, 2015 @1:21 pm PST
Hey! I just got a new cello and bow yesterday. I literally can't get a doing it off the cello. I've tightened the bow correctly, I've put resin on.... Though I don't know if it is enough. What could be the problem?
Redgerm * VSM MEMBER * on October 8, 2015 @5:40 pm PST
Possibly more rosin until it starts to grip.
Rose on October 9, 2015 @11:10 am PST
Thanks! It was definitely a lack of rosin
Candy on July 2, 2015 @12:19 pm PST
Hello, Prof. Mendoes

What are your thoughts on Wolf Eliminators? I've noticed that you do not use one on your cello but most people do. Is it because your cello does not have a wolf tone? Or do you have a playing techniques to avoid it? Thanks :)
Joseph - host, on July 3, 2015 @6:01 pm PST
Hello Candy,

I finally found a set of strings that got rid of my wolf (on most days!) I have found that strings play the most important factor. One easy way to reduce the wolf is to play on lower tension strings, like synthetic or gut core strings. I played on gut for a while, as well as synthetic, but I drive around L.A. so much that pitch stability is a bit of a problem, so I wanted to find metal core strings that would work. I recently tried a set of Kaplan strings by D'addario and they are the first all metal set that my cello likes! I am finally free of wolf eliminators, which never really worked!

The next way is through playing a little differently. Try to focus on where the bow needs to be between the fingerboard and the bridge when you play the wolf note. You will find that the wolf goes away if you are very picky about where you put your bow on the string, but this is very limiting in terms of achieving any sort of variety of color, so try some different strings and see what happens!

Candy on July 2, 2015 @11:14 am PST
Hello, Prof. Mendoes

I would like to know what type of endpins you prefer using? I've noticed many professional cellists play on a spike tip instead of rubber. I am aware that it creates a nice tone; but I am afraid to use them because my cello might slip while playing. What endpin is the best out there: Brass, Steel, Carbon Fiber, rubber tip/spike tip? And does the price mean you get what you paid for?

ps. I am interested in the Luis & Clark Carbon Fiber Cello $7,000 and I've noticed that it has a steel/matte finish, spike tip endpin on it. Can I just put rubber feet on the spike or do I have to change the endpin? Thanks :)
Joseph - host, on July 3, 2015 @6:10 pm PST
Hello Candy,

I don't know much about endpins, I know that different materials can effect the sound, but I must admit that I have not experimented much with them. As far as the tip goes, I have noticed a difference when the metal tip goes straight into the wood of the stage, just make sure it is ok with the owner of the place! I am not sure if the rubber tip makes a difference or not, but It seems that it might dampen the sound a bit. Sorry I cant help you too much here!

John Roberts on June 17, 2015 @10:41 am PST
I enjoyed your video on playing fast. It is an interesting and different idea to not ratchet up the speed gradually, but to play small passages quickly and build from there. I will give it a try. Thank you.
Baard * VSM MEMBER * on June 13, 2015 @2:23 am PST
Hi again - thanks for competent and contstructive advice! one more question for you: you talk about writing up a list to adress problems and enable good practice - what if I feel i do not know what to put on the list? that I do not know enough to see what is my biggest challenge? could you from your experience write a sort of "general list" for an old student that has picked up playing after 25 years? medium level...and motivated.
Baard * VSM MEMBER * on May 18, 2015 @2:10 am PST
nice videos! I struggle with rosin...any advice? I find all kind of advice on the internet - and David Finckel is the most decisive...but I find that when I put on much, I struggle in the orchestra with playing ppp for good sound without more power and then too strong...see what I mean? So I end up taking it off again - and then I can struggle with spiccato and fff....???
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on May 18, 2015 @11:13 am PST
Hi Baard. I know that what I am suggesting is not strictly "cello related", but Lora Staples, our beginning violin expert, made a very comprehensive video on rosins that cold answer some of your questions:

I am sure Joseph will have more to say though. Thank you for your question!
Joseph - host, on May 21, 2015 @10:43 am PST
Hello Baard,

Rosin is a fairly individual thing, but how I approach it is a little different I think. I think the rosin should do the work, not you. I learned this from the great violinist Joseph Silverstein, who reportedly used to rosin his bow between movements of a concerto! I think most players do not use enough rosin. For soft playing in orchestra, make sure that you are not overly concerned with producing a good sound! The kinds of soft sounds that you need to play in orchestra will never be used in a solo or chamber setting, as they are at times barely audible. Just use the weight of the bow only and play over the fingerboard, and allow your fingers to feel the smallest of pulling sensation and the sound should be soft enough without getting harsh. But never use this sound anywhere else!
Questions? Problems? Contact Us.