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Warming up on the cello

Warming up on the cello used to be quite a boring process for me. I would usually try a few scales and shifts or perhaps technical exercises. While there is nothing wrong with any of that, I now begin warming up by inventing a tune or playing by ear and then improvising Рincluding improvising in thumb position. I have found this to be 100% more beneficial. For me it reinforces  the pleasure of feeling at one with your instrument, of realising that you too can compose Рand that interpretation is most effective if you make the music you are playing sound like it is your own.
warming up on the cello

General creativity

If you want to practise a particular type of bowing when warming up on the cello , why not invent your own series of chords to try it with? If you want to practise a particular shift – say a major 6th –¬† why not also invent a short piece based on that particular interval? In the past I’ve found that if you give a first performance there is a relaxing sense of freedom. None of the critics or audience know how it is meant to go,¬† so you have a completely free hand as long as you look confident! Why not apply that same confidence to unaccompanied Bach?

Escaping confines within the classical

Have you ever been struck but how much more relaxed folk and pop musicians usually look in performance? Some of this is because the music is easier and more repetitive. But is it also because a lot of the music has been composed or arranged by the performers themselves? How wonderful it would be to be able to carry that sense of pleasure in performing into the classical world.

Our own improvisation

Roger and I have found that improvising and composing music definitely helps our arrangements and keeps creativity alive. You can hear some examples of our arrangements on our Moonlight and Music cd which you can buy by clicking the link below:

Joanna Borrett

Author Joanna Borrett

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  • I completely agree, Joanna. Someone once said the first half hour of getting up in the morning you should do whatever makes you feel good. I think that also applies to warming up! I always persuade my students to warm up first in the lesson – doing anything they feel like, so long as their basic attention is technically sound! They always begin improvising, though my instructions are simply: looseness, listening, and love! I have to remind them to think about how they are moving as well! Another interesting point – all beginners think they should start a downbeat on an up bow! I believe they must be right! If one tries this it has more energy, a more natural active impulse! However, the norm is the opposite, of course. Professionals always like to do things differently, don’t we!

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