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string teaching

Free Cello Exercises!

By fedora strings, string teaching No Comments

As there are so many excellent resources online at the moment I thought this would be a good time to add some free cello exercises to our website. So I am attaching the three short exercises below as pdfs which you can click and print. Although I wrote these for my pupils I have found them useful warm up exercises myself.

The first one is an exercise for finding thumb position. It’s all in bass clef:
Relax and Fly

The second exercise is based on The Lark Ascending and is for practising shifting from 1st to 4th position:
Flying Fourth

Finally, here is a bowing exercise which is mostly on open strings and so can be used for pupils from fairly early on:
String crossing exercise

cello duetsI hope you enjoy playing these. I’d be happy to have feedback.

Is it important to start string lessons with a good teacher?

By string teaching No Comments

Is it important to start string lessons with a good teacher? Yes, for many reasons.  It will help you  enjoy playing and will make the process seem relaxed and fun. It will also help you avoid getting into bad technical habits  that can make playing much more difficult than it needs to be. And it should allow you to achieve what you, as an individual, would like to achieve on your instrument.

Making it easy and mixing with others

If you are an absolute beginner it’s sensible to start by having weekly lessons if possible so that you become comfortable with the easiest and most natural way of playing. If you’re an adult you’ll probably be motivated enough to cope with lessons on a more ad hoc basis after the first month, depending on how much time you have. And I  recommend finding other people to play chamber music with, or joining an amateur orchestra, as soon as you can. There are lots of enthusiastic amateur string players and playing with them is usually fun and supportive.

Is it important to start string lessons with a good teacher?

Basic scales and improvising

I am also a strong believer in encouraging improvisation from the start. This may be as basic as just playing open strings in your own rhythms. But it definitely enhances confidence and creativity and helps you feel at one with your instrument. Once you have learnt basic scales – which does not take long – playing simple tunes by ear is also an excellent idea and gives you a sense of freedom.

More information

Roger and I are both experienced teachers. If you’d like more information please  email us  at or ring 07964 232654

Improvising in Classical Music

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 Improvising in Classical Music

Classical music is so superb and technically demanding that technique and interpretation are normally the main areas focused on. This can result in a sort of freezing perfectionism, where you feel unable to play anything on your instrument unless you have been practising it for hours every day for the last few weeks.

I was never taught to improvise when I was a student, but having recently returned to classical music professionally after a long time I’ve been determined to overcome some of my former insecurities and now I start practice with improvisation –  either just playing freely to express how I feel, or playing tunes by ear.

The great thing about improvisation is that it can’t be wrong: and it’s this sense of freedom that is such a welcome balance from the intensity of classical training. In my experience improvisation also encourages straightforward enthusiasm and love of playing your instrument and helps give pupils the feeling that the teacher is responding to them individually, rather than carrying out a formal instruction session.

Of course all the best interpretations of classical music sound as if the performer has made the music their own, and this is another sense in which regular improvisation can be incredibly beneficial: in improvisation the music really is your own and you alone are its master.