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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Questions, Comments, Requests:

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!
Iris Moody on August 16, 2018 @9:09 am PST
Please tell me if you have from knowing “absolutely nothing about the cello” lessons for a beginner. Thank you:
Thank you so much,
Iris Moody
Iris Moody on August 16, 2018 @9:06 am PST
Hello...thank you for your valuable time and expertise on playing the cello. First, I am 66 years old, formerly a French hor and piano player. I want to learn the cello and to be actually a decent player. This is on my bucket list. I know nothing of the instrument except I love the sound. Do you do absolute know nothing and starting from the very beginning lessons? There is no one within a hundred miles to learn from. Besides I couldn’t afford to pay someone. Please reply. Thank you, Iris
Joseph - host, on September 12, 2018 @1:08 pm PST
Hello Iris,

So sorry for the delay. If you are looking for absolute beginner videos for the cello, I unfortunately have not made any, except for a few on my YouTube channel (cellojunkie.) However, I do teach absolute beginners through online private sessions, just contact me through my website and we can set something up if you are interested.


Siegfried on June 24, 2018 @1:38 am PST
Thank you, Joseph, for your clips on How to Practice, and How to Improve your sound. May present problem is how to get the fingerboard geography in my mind in such a way that I can sight read better, particularly in the more difficult keys and to find accidentals quickly. I wish I had a "photographic memory". I sometimes use a chart to find the notes. May be this is the wrong approach. Sometimes I write a lot of fingering in my music which makes me read the fingering instead of the notes. I play in 2 amateur orchestras and can manage with easier music quite well. May be may age (74) is the problem. I started at 49.
Joseph - host, on June 28, 2018 @4:26 pm PST
Hi Siegfried,

Learning the fingerboard takes two things, a relatively high left elbow and some practice time! Having a hand that can respond quickly to to your impulses is important, so make sure your left elbow is high, which usually helps the mind-finger connections. As far as reading goes, try singing through what you are working on so that you have a clear association between the note you are reading and a particular sound. Once this is firm, finding the note on the cello is a lot easier.

Adriana Lopez Seoane on April 18, 2018 @5:48 am PST
Hello Joseph,
Thank you very much for your videos, I have been watching them one by one and fortunately, I've got some left! Your clear and detailed instructions and explanations help me very much to improve my learning process.
I started studying the cello 6 months ago, and I'm in my fifties, so my approach to studying is different from the one a young student may have. One of my doubts is how I can avoid the unwanted bouncing of the arch. I still find it difficult to detect the 'whycorrect it effectively and consciously.
Thanks for your help, and I hope you will continue uploading more videos and articles.
Adriana López Seoane
Joseph - host, on May 29, 2018 @11:27 am PST
Hello Adriana,

Sorry for the long delay!

The bouncing of the bow is usually caused by an improper bow hold. A good bow hold with sufficient pronation of the hand towards the tip of the bow should prevent this kind of bouncing. It could be caused by other issues in your technique, but your bow hold is the first thing I would check.

Let me know if you need more help, and sorry for the delay once again!

Alina on April 5, 2018 @6:18 pm PST

I just did your smooth bow changes for the last hour and I think it's helping. My teacher always says I play too stiff and tight. I have another question though. I've been playing Handel Sarabande and again the teacher says my notes are all totally individual and don't flow. I didn't hear it till I recorded myself. I can't seem to smooth it like she does. When I lift my finger, it sounds more like the abrupt end that you get between piano notes than how a string should sound. How do you blend notes - even on the same string? I don't have vibrato yet, but I've heard her do smooth notes without it. Is it my bow technique or the way I lift my fingers? If I lift slowly, I get a horrid squeak... I'm lost and I want her to see a difference next lesson.. I felt like I had my pride handed to me last time.

Thanks so much!
Joseph - host, on May 29, 2018 @11:21 am PST
Hi Alina,

So sorry for the enormous delay, this one fell under my radar. I am sorry!

Try putting your fingers down more passively, as if they are falling on the string. Try not to pound. Playing a true legato has almost as much do to with our left hand as it does our right! And when you lift, lift more actively. Remember, for a legato left hand, lift actively and put down passively.

Hope that is clear!

Yvette Jackson * VSM MEMBER * on March 23, 2018 @2:51 am PST
. I am in the market for a beginner’s Cello? Do you have any recommendations? (Brand) What about a case?
Currently, I am living in Eastern Canada( New Brunswick) Unable to locate a teacher in my neck of the woods. How do I set up for online instruction? I have watched many of your cello videos. Very nice!
Joseph - host, on March 25, 2018 @3:29 pm PST
Hello Yvette,

There are many fine retailers who offer very good beginner celli for purchase in North America. Have you tried Johnson Strings or Shar? I would be shocked if they didn't ship to Canada, and they have many good options at different price ranges to meet your needs!

As to your question regarding lessons, just email me through my website, which I think you already have, so await my reply shortly!

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