Joseph Mendoes - cello expert
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Hyun Jung Ro on January 16, 2017 @5:14 pm PST
What kind of mic system would I need to have attached to my computer or iPhone in order to take lesson via skype?
Joseph - host, on January 17, 2017 @8:46 pm PST
No special mic is necessary, but a standard usb condenser mic like the Snowball by Blue Microphones works really well!
Paul Becker on December 20, 2016 @4:01 pm PST
I have a cello student who is double-jointed in both hands. She can not curve her left hand fingers without them collapsing. What can I do to help her? She is an adult student. Thanks--Paul B.
Joseph - host, on January 17, 2017 @8:44 pm PST
Hi Paul,

There are a lot of variables to try changing, but the first one is to try having the student change what part of the finger they are using to get the string down. Sometimes having the student focus more on trying to play on the tips of the fingers can help. The other thing to check is that sometimes fingers collapse because of too much counter pressure from the thumb. Try to have them loosen that thumb, and maybe that will help. Dealing with double joints is really trial and error, so just keep trying changing whatever variables in whatever combinations you can think of until something works.
Flavio Rigon on December 17, 2016 @12:30 pm PST
Hello Joseph, could you answer a question for me?
The sound of my cello is "noisy", may be caused by aged strings ?
They perhaps are 20 years old. What type of strings do you recommend ?
Pirastro ? Thomastik ? Thank you very much !!!
Joseph - host, on January 17, 2017 @8:40 pm PST
Hi Flavio, what kind of sound do you want? Warm and beautiful, or strong and bright with a lot of power? I play on mainly gut strings these days, Pirastro Olivs. They are very warm. A Larsen a and d with a Spirocore g and c is a very bright, powerful combination that many cellists use, but for me I can't really imagine playing on anything but gut anymore!
Jialan Cai on November 7, 2016 @11:21 am PST
How should I control my right hand when I do Spiccato with bow swing, say between A string and D string?
Paula Gisela on August 18, 2016 @8:22 pm PST
Hello, Joseph. Thank you for the videos. I have a question for you and I really hope you can help me here, because my teacher doesn't seem to grasp the nature of my problem. I've been learning cello for a little bit more than a year now, and only recently have my arm started to hurt whenever I play. I thought it was because I was holding the weight on my arm, right under my shoulder, and keeping it from resting on the bow and ultimately, on the strings. Then I watched the video in which you explain the concept of arm weight and now I'm not so sure I'm doing things right. My teacher used that concept to explain how I should slide the bow on the strings, but I can't seem to catch the drift. Any thoughts or comment on this problem will be highly appreciated!
Joseph - host, on September 14, 2016 @11:07 am PST
Hello Paula,

First of all, sorry for the exceptionally long delay!

It is difficult for me to help you without knowing where the pain is occurring, but usually the pain is a result of some joint being locked. Starting with your smallest joints in your fingers, make sure every joint is unlocked and free to move all the way up to the shoulder. The next step is to try to achieve a pulling feeling when you play. Try moving your bow a little closer to the bridge to feel more resistance. This resistance can help you to feel what you should be pulling against. Combining free joints with a pulling feeling should end your issues with pain!
Bruce Bauer on August 4, 2016 @9:16 pm PST
Hello Joseph. Thanks for the helpful videos. I am an adult learner and currently intermediate level. My favorite cellist of the past was Jacqueline DuPre. She was similar to Piatagorsky with a flat fingered wide vibrato.
K on July 31, 2016 @7:44 am PST
Dear Professor,

I am a beginner and was wondering if cellists play absolutely perfect notes. Like a well-tuned piano. I sometimes wonder if it's ok to be almost right when I compare the notes I produce to a tuner or if I am required to produce notes judged perfect by the tuner.

Thank you very much.
Joseph - host, on August 6, 2016 @1:19 pm PST
Tuners can be useful, but it sounds like to me that you are getting hung up on playing perfectly in tune. Of course your end product should be as in tune as possible no one plays perfectly in tune but it is not the only musical value in existence. I have heard many performances that were perfectly in tune but rhythmically all over the place. Using a tuner the way you do might lead you to ignore other equally important musical values. Also, checking each note with a tuner may make you too self conscious which will tighten you up, causing more intonation problems!
Daniel R * VSM MEMBER * on June 13, 2016 @6:34 pm PST
Hello Joseph,

You videos are very helpful and I am glad I found them! I am resuming playing cello after about 40 year absence. I played for 5 years in junior high and am remembering my fundamentals. What I am having trouble with is my right hand fatigues very quickly and my bowing becomes sloppy. I am trying very hard to keep proper form and also remember my instructor telling me often I hold my bow like a violin bow. I appreciate any info you have and thank you.
Jose Manuel on April 26, 2016 @3:38 pm PST
Hello Joseph,

I have been playing cello for five years. I would like to let you know that by listening to your videos in a matter of days I have improve tremendously my playing. Thank you so much!
Neil Dickson on April 10, 2016 @6:58 pm PST
Hi Joseph! A couple odd questions:

What are your thoughts on carbon fibre cellos? My current cello is not in great shape. The lacquer is quite chipped or worn in several places, and it's been getting more worn, since I've been playing a lot more over this past year, so I may be looking for a new cello in the near future. Carbon fibre cellos seem like a great idea, though I don't know how they'd sound or where I'd test one out.

Any idea if V.S.M. accepts submissions for manuscripts? I've been trascribing the full orchestral score for Wieniawski's 2nd Violin Concerto for cello. I have to transcribe and transpose all of the accompaniment, because the solo part is down an octave and a fifth from the original, so the original orchestral parts wouldn't be in the right key. I don't want anyone else to have to go through this huge effort to be able to perform it on cello, so I'd like to get it out to as many people as possible. I'll probably look into if I can submit it under Creative Commons to IMSLP too. Do you think other cellists would be interested in it? I've been having a lot of fun practicing it, and my teacher and I have worked out some good fingerings and bowings, though it is still a gigantic challenge... the best kind of challenge, haha.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on April 11, 2016 @11:29 am PST
HI Neil and thank you for your comment and inquiry. I am sure Joseph will answer your first question soon. About publishing your own transcription on VSM, we can definitively consider to do that.

Please, send your music to my attention to:

I'll be glad to get back to you via email right away. Thank you again!
Joseph - host, on April 12, 2016 @9:03 pm PST
I myself have never played a carbon fibre cello, but I have heard them before and they sound wonderful. The Luis and Clark instruments are the best ones out there right now. They actually vibrate much more then a regular cello, so if you want a very live sound then get one!

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