100 Cello Warm-ups and Exercises Blog 19: Cello Geography -Part 5: Thumb Position and the Upper Registers

Blogs #15 and #16 discussed the geography of the lower regions of the cello. In sorting out the “latitude” and “longitude” in this part of the instrument the main organizing principle is the knowledge and use of positions. We identify the positions by the location of the first finger on the string up through Seventh position, with “normal” and “extended” variants throughout. When the first finger is playing the A in seventh position on the A string the thumb is still behind the neck – so this is still considered neck position. Seventh position is a significant place on the cello, because it divides the string into two equal parts, and as a result we find the A harmonic there as well. Continue reading

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Breaking | Norwegian Air Announce New Violin-Friendly Cabin Policy

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Reprinted from The Violin Channel February 4, 2016

Read this wonderful news from the Violin Channel and then go change.org and sign the petition insisting  that WestJet Airlines also adopt Industry standards for accommodating musical instruments. Together we can make a difference – Thank you!

Norwegian Air has today announced a new official cabin-baggage policy – allowing violins and violas to be brought onboard as hand luggage.

The policy change comes after an expose was posted on The Violin Channel on January 20th – which to date has received over 160,000 page views, and more than 400 comments, 3000 social media shares and 15,000 Facebook likes. Continue reading

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WestJet Airlines: We Challenge Your Policy on Seats for Musical Instruments

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Edited by CelloBello from the Change.org petition of January 30, 2016

Read this petition and the two blogs below it, and then, please… go to Change.org and sign this petition. We must insist WestJet stop bumping cellists off its flights!

Nathan Chan, a young student cellist at the Juilliard School, was recently prevented from boarding a WestJet flight because he was traveling with his cello – even though he had purchased a ticket for the instrument in advance.

WestJet, whose policy is clearly out of step with virtually all other airlines, refuses to budge, and thus prevents musicians from doing their jobs.

Continue reading

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Famed Cellist Angry That Canadian Airline’s Policy Banning Cellos from Cabin Still Unchanged

Juilliard-trained cellist Nathan Chan says WestJet refused to allow his cello in the cabin during a flight from Vancouver to Toronto earlier this month, even though he bought an extra seat for the instrument. 

Juilliard-trained cellist Nathan Chan says WestJet refused to allow his cello in the cabin during a flight from Vancouver to Toronto earlier this month, even though he bought an extra seat for the instrument.

[Blogmaster’s note: If you are upset after reading this story and want to add your voice, please go to change.org and sign the petition!]

Paul Katz says he is ‘outraged’ after WestJet refused a cello in the cabin during a flight from Vancouver, four years after he received the same treatment.

Reprinted from the Vancouver Metro, January 28, 2016
By Thandi Fletcher

A renowned American cellist says he is “outraged” after hearing that WestJet refused to allow a young musician’s cello in the cabin during a recent flight from Vancouver, even though he bought an extra seat for the instrument.

Nearly four years ago, Paul Katz says he received the same treatment. “I get angry,” he told Metro. “I just think WestJet is so indefensible, and their attitude is so cavalier. They’re just so out of step with the whole airline industry.”

Continue reading

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Despicable WestJet Airlines Once Again Refuses Cello in Cabin!

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Cello boarding pass correctly purchased by Nathan Chan. (CBBG stands for Cabin Baggage.)

Canadian-based WestJet Airlines, to my knowledge, is the only airline with an official policy of not allowing a cello onboard, yet they seem to have no problem selling a seat for a cello and then denying boarding at the gate! Read in the Boston Globe how this happened to me in 2013. The situation has been suffered by cellists numerous times since, the latest being Juilliard student Nathan Chan, who I applaud for fighting back!

By contrast, competitor Air Canada recently adopted a a “friendly skies” policy towards musical instruments as cabin baggage, and in the United States, the Passenger Bill of Rights says that airlines must allow the purchase of a ticket for a cello. Lets get behind Nathan and send letters of outrage to WestJet! Use  your Facebook and social media pages to publicize WestJet’s outrageous behavior.
Paul Katz, Artistic Director and Founder, CelloBello
Continue reading

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Reflections on Bernard Greenhouse and the Importance of the Back

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We are learning to do consciously what Nature intended.

  – F.M. Alexander

Spending a week remembering Bernard Greenhouse on CelloBello brought back memories of many hours of lively conversations and shared experiences. Bernie had naturally what we call ‘a back’ in the Alexander Technique, and there is no faking or pretending to have a back… Continue reading

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100 Cello Warm-Ups and Exercises Blog 18: Cello Geography: The Fabulous Thumb

When students come to study cello with me in college they often arrive with problems in their fundamental technique which must be addressed: issues with collapsing fingers, bow angle, underlying tension, weak sound, etc. Most of these basic problems can be dealt with fairly quickly once the student becomes aware of the issues and knows how to fix them. However the bad habits that seem to be the most intractable are problems regarding the curvature of the thumb. In pedagogy classes and in talking with teachers I always emphasize that young cellists should be taught to train their thumbs correctly in order to help avoid excess tension and to allow maximum flexibility. Teachers need to be vigilant about this in the early stages of a cellist’s development in order to prevent future problems, including tendonitis. The incorrect usage of the thumb is one of the most difficult problems to correct later in a cellist’s development. It is crucial that students learn it properly from the beginning, and that teachers monitor it constantly throughout the student’s career. Continue reading

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Developing Musicianship Through Chamber Music

In a typical private instrumental lesson, until a student has reached a fairly high technical level, much of the time in a lesson is spent on issues such as good hand positions, intonation, tone production, fingerings and bowings, and the development of technique in both hands through scales, etudes, etc. The choice of a solo piece or pieces is usually connected to these same issues. Musicianship is hopefully discussed, and hopefully in some detail. But, the fact remains that it is unlikely issues of musicianship will dominate the lesson time. Continue reading

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Happy 100th Birthday Bernard Greenhouse – Born January 3. 1916

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A Remembrance of Things Present

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Bernard Greenhouse with his daughter, Elena

By Elena Delbanco:

In the aftermath of a grand celebration of Bernie’s 95th birthday, in Wellfleet, five years ago— a dinner for seventy five people— Bernie and I sat at the round, marble table so many of you may remember, facing the harbor. As guests had arrived and the house reverberated with laughter and conversation, he had lain in bed, telling us he was not feeling all that well and didn’t have the energy to get dressed. We told him he didn’t need to dress; it was a come-as-you-are party and his best bathrobe would be fine. And so, my father attended, making a grand entrance into the living room in his wheelchair, to applause and the beginning of a long night of toasts and merriment. Continue reading

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