Can cello books – or music books in general – change your playing? My own feeling is yes. This doesn’t mean I think that any cello book can compensate for one to one teaching. It’s rather that my own teacher recommended certain books which resonated with me and have been a major influence on my life.
I was lucky enough to experience some excellent string teaching.My cello teacher was the inspiring Christopher Bunting, and he recommended I read Stanislavsky’s Systems and Methods of Creative Acting – much of which relates directly to music. As well as helping me develop a secure technique, Christopher constantly focused on the difference between being an instrumentalist and being an artist and the importance of interpretation. Roger and I generally agree on this approach when we work together in Fedora Strings – and La Cumparsita is an example of the results.
I haven’t always been able to be true to these ideas in the past – for various reasons – but I have always known that they are right and they have given me something to steer by. Another major influence for me was the well known violinist Manny Hurwitz, whose down to earth, characterful playing and approach to performance I still remember – and even today it helps my confidence.
What would they think?
If I could sum up the most important thing that I took away from all this, it is that to be an artist you need to find your own voice. And you need to project your ideas with all your heart in performance. Last week an American cellist and scholar who is researching Christopher Bunting’s cello books came to my house for a chat. I found myself wondering what Christopher would think of my playing now. I know for certain he would not interpret things in anything like the same way I do. But I hope he would be glad that at least I am following my own instincts and ideas and projecting them as confidently as I can – something he always, always emphasised and that I regard as his greatest legacy to me.
Remembering the past
Good teachers are almost like family. How much you wish you could see them again and talk to them. And how much you hope that they can see you and know what a positive effect they had on your life. Ultimately good teaching – like good parenting – gives someone the freedom to be fully themselves. It’s beyond price.
To get some idea of Christopher’s superb playing listen below…
This is his cello duet based on the Bourees from Bach’s 3rd cello suite: Bunting Cello Duet
You can buy his Portfolio Cello Exercises or Elegy by browsing here : Bunting cello music
And here you can buy cds of Manny Hurwitz’s Aeolian String Quartet
- Do you have happy memories of your teachers or music books you can recommend? If so please let me know by clicking on the comments link at the top of the page