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:

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 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!

John on October 4, 2017 @10:40 pm PST
I enjoyed your video on bow distribution and Dotzauer 4 very much. As a matter of fact, I was recently working on that etude with one of my students. I'm always looking for good ideas for conveying cello principles (especially as concerns bowing) and you gave me a couple. Congrats and keep up the good work.
Leong Kok Hoong * VSM MEMBER * on September 19, 2017 @12:48 am PST
Hi Joseph,
It is really great to learn from your video especially as a beginner. I would like to ask a question or rather your recommendation of good Cello Music books that is suitable for an adult cello beginner. Someone who is not incline to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star but more towards some very simple classical pieces that is good to start with.
Thank you for your suggestions.
Joseph - host, on September 19, 2017 @1:38 pm PST
Hello Leong,

There are several good options for you. The first is the first volume of the cello method by Stephen De'ak. De'ak was a student of Popper and a genius teacher, his books are very informative and interesting! For a collection of pieces, try Feuillard's collection of pieces for young cellists. I also must add that there are many solo cello pieces graded for difficulty on this website, so take your pick!
Sherry on August 15, 2017 @1:28 pm PST
Hello and thank you so much for another wonderful video! Congrats also on the new gig - very cool.

It would be very helpful if you could please play a short passage at the end of your videos so we can first learn the nuts and bolts of how the technique is performed, and then see it demonstrated during an actual piece. Thanks again.
Fred Ridall on July 10, 2017 @12:55 pm PST
Hello Joseph,
Let me just say to begin with that I have found your videos both very helpful and immensely enjoyable. Thanks so much for sharing your expertise with us all.
I am an adult learner of about two and a half years. There is one aspect of my playing that actually causes me some distress. Sometimes when I change bow stroke I get an awful tone that lasts for the whole length of the stroke. It seems to occur mainly (though not always) on the open strings A and D. If it occurs on stopped strings it is almost invariably in the first position. It never seems to occur in the higher positions. The problem is I can't understand why it is happening. I can practice a passage several times. Most of the time it will come out alright. When it goes wrong so far as I can tell I haven't done anything different to cause the terrible sound. I would say the vast majority of the time it comes changing from a stopped note on the A string to the open A. The problem is I can't practice getting it right because I don't know what I am doing wrong - if you follow. Have you encountered this before. It really spoils my pleasure in playing. I can even feel myself tensing up - thinking it's going to happen in a minute.
Any thoughts or advice you can give would be much appreciated.
Respectfully Yours
Fred Ridall
Joseph - host, on July 12, 2017 @5:34 am PST
Hello Fred,

This might be something as simple as old strings or a poorly adjusted instrument, especially if you are experiencing this sound on open strings. Professionally set-up instruments are quite easy to play these days, which means that even if you are doing something "wrong" you can still get a decent sound in most cases!

Assuming that it is not a set up issue with your instrument, the next thing I would check is your bow placement and speed. You could just be mismatching your speed relative to your placement, i.e. you are bowing too slow while staying close to the fingerboard. Try moving the bow a little closer to the bridge and see if that helps.

It really does sound like an issue with your cello, if you have access to a good instrument shop. take it in and see what they can do!

Fred Ridall on July 13, 2017 @12:31 pm PST
Hi Joseph
Thanks for your reply.
With all due repect I don't think this is a set up issue. The problem still exists whatever cello or bow I am using. I'm now having formal tuition and the lady concerned has already drastically improved my tone. She has had me playing in front of a mirror, coached me in a different bow hold, demonstrated how speed and pressure can vary the quality of the sound and above all the need to keep the wrist relaxed and the bow in contact with the string at all times. I made the foolish and arrogant mistake of thinking I woud be able to teach myself thd cello having already played the guitar. Now I accept the need for personal tuition. The lady in question has agreed to take me on as a regular pupil. I like the way she demonstrates solutions using my bow and my cello so I can't say she sounds good because she's got a better instrument. So all in all things are looking good.
Once again thanks for your time and patience.
Kind Regards
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