Tag Archives: teaching


It’s the oddest thing. I am one day out of my orchestra’s season, and I feel utterly different sitting at the cello. I am able to focus on a different array of technical and psychological facets of playing – perhaps better ones, I’m not sure yet. It once again proves to me the inexorable link between the mind and the body.
Something I had attempted to describe to a student started to manifest itself as I was practicing – the role of the different right hand fingers. I said that the first and fourth fingers are not really doing the brunt of the work, they are more like steerers. It’s the second and third that are in the thick of it. Generally I’ve found I can demonstrate or describe things to students far more effectively than I can actually do them when left to my own devices. Teaching is so interactive. It is infectious. If I teach the kid something, I catch it too.

I also noticed that when I enhance my awareness of the right hand fingers, the left hand ones respond in kind. They become more sensitized. When the subtleties of the bow control increase, it gives me the possibility of finessing the touch of my left hand further. I often find my right hand/arm is my left hand/arm’s teacher.

originally published on 6/4/08


I just can’t believe what an extraordinary art form teaching is. It is so different than playing. Although it is like performing in one way: you use the inspiration of the moment to communicate your deepest, wisest notions.

Sometimes I am shocked at what comes out of my mouth in lessons. Maybe often. One thing that shocks me is how different it is than my own thoughts and technical hurdlings. It is like new pathways are being forged in my mind, in response to the needs of the student.

But basically I feel it is a unique art form. It is a special pursuit. I never really thought that in the past. Of course it is an extension of the performing art, but with such differing parameters and directions taken. You have to connect things differently. Your body and breath and speech and eyes and ears. Just the speaking part begins to redirect the experience beyond performing. And then when you interact with the student so closely, attempting to meld your thought processes a bit, new channels open up. It feels never-ending in its potential, in a beautifully variant way from playing.

originally published on 1/11/10