Joseph Mendoes - cello expert
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Joseph Mendoes' latest cello videos
About Joseph Mendoes
Joseph 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:

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
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.
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