Joseph Mendoes - cello expert
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Joseph Mendoes' latest cello videos
About Joseph Mendoes
Joseph MendoesJoseph Mendoes grew up in Glendora, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles. He began his cello studies through his local public school program and continued with private lessons under Doris Savery. In High School he studied cello and chamber music with Dr. Richard Naill at the Colburn School of Performing Arts in Los Angeles, CA.

It was at this time he performed in master classes for Heinrich Schiff and Orlando Cole, and was a member of the Colburn Chamber Orchestra under the direction of the late pedagogue Daniel Lewis, whom he considers to be one of his chief influences. He also won numerous prizes for solo and chamber music performances, including the 1999 SYMF cello competition and a second place finish at the ASTA Southern California Competition.

He was awarded a scholarship to study with Ronald Leonard at the USC Thornton School of Music in 2000, and graduated with honors in 2004. During that time he performed frequently as a member of the Camden String Quartet. With the Camden Quartet he performed in master classes for the Emerson, Ysaye, Julliard and Guarneri String Quartets. The Camden Quartet was honored with the Chamber Music Award at USC in 2004. The Camden Quartet also won 1st prize at the Palos Verdes Peninsula Music Festival.

In 2008, he was selected to participate in the Naumburg International Cello Competition in New York City. From 2006 to 2010, he was a faculty member and performer at The Viola Workout in Crested Butte, CO. In 2011, he performed all of the cello sonatas of Beethoven in one concert. In 2014 he became the Cello Expert for Virtual Sheet Music, where he has published many educational videos about cello technique and musicianship. From 2012 to 2017 he taught cello at the community school division of the Colburn School of Performing Arts, where his students won several prizes and scholarships, including performances with the Inland Valley Symphony and the Las Vegas Philharmonic. From 2011-2017 he was acting principal cello of the Riverside County Philharmonic, where he performed the orchestral solos for many works, including the William Tell Overture by Rossini. In 2016 he released his first commercial recording, the complete works for cello and piano by Joachim Raff, to enthusiastic reviews. He currently lives with his wife, Jaimie Lee Mendoes, in south central Michigan where he teaches online lessons and works on various cello related projects.
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User Comments and Questions

Questions, Comments, Requests:

MJ on March 16, 2019 @1:53 pm PST
Hello, and thank you so kindly for your helpful YouTube videos. Question: why do you use gut core strings for the C and G only, which I ask because the A especially is the string I find that tends to sound most “shrill” / harsh / metallic. I would think a warmer A would be in order. Also, do you find your strings to sound, feel, and play evenly across the strings when you mix gut core or synthetic core with steel on the top strings? String sets are so expensive that it is not really practical to keep experimenting with them, so your help is very valuable. PS: my most recent teacher uses gut core and his tone is the most beautiful I have heard. He says they are harder to play so I don’t feel I should spend $$$ to take on an added challenge unless truly warranted. Thank you!
Joseph - host, on March 25, 2019 @7:40 am PST
I have used a gut/steel mix before, and it solves many problems while avoiding some of the difficulties present when playing with gut strings. Using gut on the bottom two strings will transform the sound of the upper two. For example, a Larsen A that sounds harsh with Spirocore on the bottom will sound quite warm when gut is on the bottom. The reason for this is that the lower tension on the bridge, coupled with a greater range of sympathetic overtones on the bottom two strings, results in a greater bouquet of overtones throughout the range of the instrument. This typically darkens the tone, even of a metal A string. For a set that will give you good value as well as to test the waters, try the Passione set from Pirastro. I am sure you will be pleased.
Martin Fullenbaum on February 25, 2019 @3:18 pm PST
all f a sudden, my bow would bounce uncontrollably. I could moderate the bounce by putting more pressure on the index finger, or increasing the speed of a down bow. Is there anything else I can do?
Joseph - host, on March 25, 2019 @7:43 am PST
Try playing more on a curve instead of a flat plane. When you bow, imagine your hand traveling more on the bottom part of an ellipse this should help you with your bouncing bow, and also beautify your sound.
Rev Dr. Ashley Classen on January 23, 2019 @2:19 am PST
Hello Joseph I have enjoyed your You Tube videos over and over. I have just begun learning to play the cello. Unfortunately, I did not become inspired until this past year in October. I am 74 years of age and a physician still in private practice, as well as an ordained Episcopal Priest. I have been inspired by such notables as Pereyi, Ma, Fornier and even Hauser.
Other than just putting in the hours, are there any techniques for an old guy like me to accelerate learning? Clearly I do not expect to be a virtuoso yet such a beautiful instrument needs to be enjoyed. I would appreciate any suggestions. Regards, Rev Dr. Ashley Classen, Fort Worth,. Texas
Joseph - host, on January 27, 2019 @12:29 pm PST
The best way to accelerate learning in the beginning is to pay a lot of attention to your bow. Working out issues of sound production are by far the quickest gateway to better intonation. So spend a lot of time working on your bow without worrying too much if you are in tune. Intonation problems are much easier to fix when you don't have to worry about your sound too much. The opposite I have found to be far from true. Trying to work on intonation when all you can make is a scratch with the bow is practically impossible!

But most of all, have fun! The first year is tough no matter what you do, but if you focus on your bow, you will get there.
Scott Homer on January 16, 2019 @10:11 am PST
I teach a strings class for Junior High students. As a violinist and violist, I have set finger patterns for two and three octave students but a little lost on the better fingering for three octaves on the cello. Do you have any suggested fingerings that can be applied to most of the scales starting with open strings, and the 1st finger? Would like to keep a consistent pattern but understand that cellists need to shift more and thumb position plays into the picture as well. Thanks
Joseph - host, on January 27, 2019 @12:24 pm PST
Scale fingerings on the cello are a dime a dozen, and I think that most of them are instructive on some level. The Galamian fingerings that Hans Jensen adapted for the cello are pretty standard and unerringly consistent for every scale, but quite difficult for beginners. I personally like the patterns to be not very consistent. Each scale, and each key, needs to have its own basic finger pattern in order to take advantage of the natural sonority intrinsic to it. Have you looked at Klengel's Technical Cello Studies? It is a good example of what I am talking about, and the fingerings for many of the scales are coincidentally quite easy to learn.

Hope that helps!
Scott Homer on January 28, 2019 @10:58 am PST
Thanks, Joseph for your professional advice. I will check out both the Galamian fingerings that Hans Jensen adapted as well as Klengel's. Much appreciated
hanne gault on January 6, 2019 @11:50 am PST
I would like to take video lessons from you. How do I go about it.
I have taught myself the notes and can play simple things. I would like to learn how to play correctly. I am 81 years old
Joseph - host, on January 10, 2019 @9:10 am PST
Hello Hanne,

Thank you for your interest! Unfortunately, my studio right now is pretty full, but if you like, fill out the form found at:

and I can see if you we might be able to arrange something.

Yvette Jackson * VSM MEMBER * on December 26, 2018 @4:14 pm PST
After 6 months of lessons, I can honestly say, Joe Mendoes has made a believer out of me. I am playing the Cello.
I must admit that this instrument has challenged me and has influenced my understanding of Music. My sense of hearing ( music) has improved greatly.
I did not know whether on line lessons would work for me. Fortunately, the lessons are going better than expected.
Kudos to having a good teacher to affirm you and remind you that the world awaits your debut.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on December 27, 2018 @9:09 am PST
I am so happy to read this Yvette, congratulations for your achievement! I am sure Joseph will be happy as well.

Keep it up! Smiley Face
Joseph - host, on December 30, 2018 @9:22 am PST
Hi Yvette,

Thanks so much for your kind words, but you have made my job easy! And yes, the world awaits your debut eagerly!
Madonna Buiter on November 8, 2018 @1:02 pm PST
Hi, I just watched your tuning video. I am an adult beginner (3-4 lessons in). I am concerned about tuning my cello. I just wanted to check with the harmonic tuning 1/2 and 1/3 points.... doesn't that assuming the string you are tuning to is already in tune? If it's not then couldn't you end up making it worse...
Joseph - host, on November 12, 2018 @3:34 am PST
Hello Madonna,

Yes, it does! You need to tune the A independently first, and then you should be fine. As you tune each string, the one you end up using to tune the next string should be in tune, if you tuned it accurately.

sally * VSM MEMBER * on November 1, 2018 @6:43 pm PST
I am playing to second Violin (on my cello) in a beginner- intermediate string quartet in order to cover all 4 parts. It's a challenge for me to play much above a high "B" as I'm in never never land! Where does the thumb go when you get in the high registers? Do you have some kind of anchor?
Joseph - host, on November 12, 2018 @3:32 am PST
Hi Sally,

Once you are on the B above middle C, then your thumb should be on the A midpoint harmonic. That is your anchor. That harmonic becomes your new "open string," with your thumb acting as a pivot to orient you in the upper registers. Try playing a two octave C major scale by starting with your thumb on the midpoint harmonic on the C string. Finger it like this: C0 (where 0 now means thumb,) 123 G0123 D0123 A012. That should begin to give you a good idea of how to play in "never never land!"

Jane Salemson * VSM MEMBER * on October 3, 2018 @7:33 am PST
I enjoyed the video of beginning bowing, although feel it’s too advanced for my 10 year old beginners. Could you do something similar video for that age, perhaps a little shorter but incorporating your suggestions? I would like to share your expertise with them, so they can see and hear you play. Thanks.
June on September 25, 2018 @12:29 am PST
I am a beginning adult cello player and I have recently found your videos on YouTube. Thank you so much they are very helpful. I was wondering if you could please help me with 2 questions?

Sometimes when swiping my bow it makes a very scratchy sound like when you scratch a record. I can’t figure out the cause. I’m not too close to the finger board or bridge, so I’m still searching for the cause. Do you have an idea of what causes a scratchy bow sound?

Also, sometimes when using a whole bow stroke, only intermittently, usually on an E on the D string, the sound produced is kind of wave like (not like vibrato). I don’t seem to be changing pressure in my bow as it slides across, and I can’t usually replicate the sound on demand. Not sure what’s causing the wavey sound on some notes. Do you have any idea what I’m referring to?
Joseph - host, on September 26, 2018 @1:15 pm PST
Hi June,

A scratch is always produced by a mismatch between bow speed, bow placement, and bow pressure. If the bow is too fast, even if you are not too close to the bridge or the fingerboard, you can get one type of scratch, or if it is too slow, you can get another. So try varying your bow speed, and never press too hard!

Your second complaint sounds like a wolf tone. If you are able, you may want to take it to a luthier and see what the problem is. Wolf tones can be caused by a variety of factors, so it is best to go see a luthier.

June on November 1, 2018 @2:51 pm PST
Thank you! The scratch sounds on my initial
Swipe of the bow, am I pressing to hard?
Can you do a video about how to improve
sound quality on bowing for beginners? Like how to sound less choppy and constricted to more song like and fluid?

Thank you for your help!
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