Cello Celli

1 08 2007

Today, I did something very unusual: I picked-up the cello more than I picked-up the violin.

Today, something very unusual happened: All my cello students made fantastic progress in their lessons. One of them, Katrina, an absolute beginner (as far as a stringed instrument is concerned), blew through six songs from the first Suzuki book…and without any practice!

I recently salvaged an old Larsen A-string that a student broke and installed it on the cello assigned to Katrina (dubbed “Pollux” by yours truly – he has a twin named “Castor”). My assistant Lyndon and I tied-off the broken part so that the string would still function as a (relative) whole. It’s not the same as a brand new string, but hey, we’re beggars here. Larsen strings aren’t even sold in my country (and if they were, they would cost an arm and a leg…maybe two).

The effect on Pollux was astonishing; I always hated pulling that cello out because the strings sounded like kitchen utensils being rubbed together (albeit at a discernable pitch); now, I can’t find the desire to put Pollux back in his case. He suddenly sings most sweetly, and there is power and projection to spare. This proves that good strings can really improve the tone of an otherwise ho-hum instrument…

…a realization that really came in handy when a new student, Kea, came in to inquire about cello lessons. A gigging violinist, she was shocked by the powerful tone from Lyndon’s main instrument, a chinese-made Hofner; this was because her teacher had been trying to sell her a Strad-copy worth 35K. I told her that unless she intended to make a career out of playing the violin (unlikely when you’re 23 and only been playing for a year), purchasing an instrument that expensive would be a very poor investment.

It was then that I realized that the classical music education industry here in the Philippines is really still in the Dark Ages, with teachers trying to fleece their students of every possible penny by taking advantage of their (often) passionate and trusting nature and selling them overpriced instruments that the students don’t really need. Kea complained about how her teacher sold her a 6K instrument that was otherwise available in the stores for 3K. It’s pathetic.

I encouraged Kea to just buy a 5K Hofner from the music store, invest in a good set of strings (naturally, I plugged the new Warchals), and invest the rest on a decent cello. In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t sell instruments or strings. I suggest brands and give directions to the instrument stores, but I don’t function as a middleman.

And as if that weren’t enough, I just found this ripping clip from Blake Oliver’s blog, Shake It and Bake It! featuring himself and a friend playing the dungeon music from The Legend of Zelda. Woohoo! Music for 8-bit games rocks!

I thought that was very good.

I like cellos. It’s been a really cello-y day.




One response

2 08 2007


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