Book Report

Details coming soon. Right now we’re nailing down a few details in the contract, but it appears this fall I’ll be writing a book on cello technique. For beginners. To be brought out by a major publisher of instructional books.

I’m certainly not the World’s Foremost Authority on cello playing, although I did have good teachers (notably Laszlo Varga). Mostly, I was in the right place at the right time. The idea came from the publisher’s acquisitions editor, in fact, and I had sense enough to say, “Yes, please.” They were swayed by the fact that I’m a writer, and that I have plenty of practical experience from teaching beginners.

It’s an interesting project. I’ll need to take lots of photos. (Taking photos of your own hands … there’s a challenge.) Also shoot video for the DVD. The inclusion of a DVD with the book is going to be a huge plus. There are many aspects of cello technique that you pretty much have to see. Just reading words, even when the words were drafted by as experienced a writer as myself, doesn’t have at all the same effect as watching someone demonstrate how to use your hands.

I hope the publisher isn’t freaked out by one section of my intro. Here we are, trying to sell a book, and I’ve listed almost a dozen reasons why the reader should rush out and take private lessons from a real live teacher! A book like this can be (and I hope it will be) a very useful add-on if you’re taking lessons — and of course some people can’t afford lessons, or live in remote areas where lessons are not readily available. Or they may be taking lessons from a teacher who is strong in some areas but weak in others. The book can provide a second opinion on things that your teacher is telling you.

I’m hoping teachers will buy copies of the book to hand out to their students, or recommend it to students, but I’m aware that the classical music teaching game is, shall we say, just a tiny bit on the stodgy side. A book with color pictures and a DVD may make some teachers nervous. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Right now I have to finish the draft, take a bunch of pictures, figure out how to do a bunch of music examples in Sibelius 6, and then start scripting the videos.

I wonder if the publisher will like fast-cut YouTube-style video editing. In a classical music book … I may have to twist their arm.

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2 Responses to Book Report

  1. georgek says:

    Have you ever taught classes over Skype, or know someone who has? I met a guitar teacher recently who was doing something similar.

    • midiguru says:

      I was approached last year by someone who had an online business that connected music teachers with students — not using Skype, I forget the technical details. I’m certainly open to the idea. The main problem was, they wanted to pay me only a fraction of what I earn per hour from face-to-face lessons.

      A second problem would be seeing the details of the student’s technique. While teaching, I will sometimes look at the student’s left hand, or stand up and watch their right hand from a different angle. I will ask them to watch my right hand, or turn in my chair so they can see my left hand. I will point out details of the sheet music that’s sitting on the stand in front of us. All of that would be enormously difficult to manage via Skype or any other type of video connection.

      If anyone is living in northern Montana or rural Latin America, has a fast Internet connection, and wants cello lessons, by all means get in touch! Maybe we can work something out. But if you live near a decent teacher, you’re far better off getting lessons face to face.

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