FAQ

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  1. Why do I break my strings frequently when I’m tuning?
  2. How can I make sure I am playing in tune?
  3. Where can I find instructional cello videos online?
  4. I need to play faster. How can I learn to do that?
  5. I’d like to have other musical resources besides your book, especially using the internet. Can you recommend a resource?

1. Why do I break my strings frequently when I’m tuning?

  • It’s easy to pull the strings too tightly. Go more slowly, in smaller increments, when you turn your pegs to tighten the strings. Also, remember to use your fine tuners as you approach the correct tone.

2. How can I make sure I am playing in tune?

  • Make sure to check as often as possible with the neighboring open strings. Your fourth finger in first position will sound an octave higher than the next open string. So you can check the D on the A string with the neighboring open D and so on.

3. Your book includes an audio CD. While this is very helpful, I’d also like video clips to help clarify your written instructions. Where can I find them?

  • Go to youtube.com. Search for John Stuart. He has supplied many videos of himself, both playing the cello and giving basic instructions. You can click on each instructional video. These are very well done. Another source I like is celloonline.com. Here, too, the instructions are very clear and helpful.

4. I need to play faster. How can I learn to do that?

  • There are many ways to get there, but basically, one broad principle to apply. That is to keep your left hand fingers bent and relaxed and touching the fingerboard as lightly as possible. One way to try to achieve this feeling of lightness is to think of the fingers as legs walking. You release up with the finger you’ve just stopped using as you place the new finger down. Second, there’s no substitute for repeated practicing of scales, arpeggios and frequently  used patterns. Practice as slowly as you need to, inching up your metronome notch by notch as your fingers learn the pattern.

5. I’d like to have other musical resources besides your book, especially using the internet. Can you recommend a resource?

  • Yes. Do go on YouTube, which features many cellists showing how to hold the bow, etc., and others performing in eye-opening ways. I especially recommend Erik Friedlander’s YouTube videos, where you can see him playing with breathtaking skill. Sometimes you’ll see him playing in unconventional ways, such as using his right arm as a kind of drum. You might want to experiment with such techniques.
  • If you’d like to learn more about basic music theory, one CPFML reader wrote in recommending this website – www.teoria.com – with articles, tutorials and exercises available for free in both English and Spanish.