Figuring Out How to Teach Cello Arpeggios
As long as I have been studying or teaching cello, learning arpeggios consisted of seeing an arpeggio and trying to play it. This was fine; even workable, but as I came to discover, not the best way to learn or teach cello arpeggios that would be consistently in tune.
Some students struggled mightily with the larger spaces. Other students didn't understand the concepts behind the fingerings. All in all, even the most talented and advanced students only played a perfect arpeggio about 1/3 of the time, which wasn't great for auditions!
I became acutely aware of the lack of an actual cello method for teaching arpeggios when Theresa Villani (a wonderful cellist and teacher) reached out to ask if I had one. Since I had no idea where to start, I did quite a bit of brain-storming... and wrote a scale method instead!
After Learning Three-Octave Scales on the Cello was published at the end of August 2019, I still didn't quite know which arpeggio fingerings to pick for the book but at least I had a blueprint for how to teach notes and spaces.
I finally settled on three distinct fingerings for Learning Three-Octave Arpeggios on the Cello. The first fingering, used in the Galamian Scale System for Cello (among other books) is a little like a staircase; you go up the C string, then over to the G, then up the G, then over to the D, then up the D, then over to the A.
The second fingering is very straightforward: you go across to the A string and shift up the A string.
The third fingering, used in Klengel Technical Studies for Cello, Volume One, shifts up to the thumb on the D string and then has you play the top octave of the arpeggio in thumb position.
Each of these three fingerings has something to teach cellists. A study of all three fingerings will give you a comprehensive knowledge of fingerboard geography and larger shifts on the cello.
Free Cello Arpeggio Preparatory Studies!
To celebrate the release of this new book, we are offering free preparatory studies for Three Octave Arpeggios on the Cello. Click on each picture to see the image enlarged. If you would like the file as a free PDF, fill out the form below and your download will be on the next page.
One of the best ways to map the fingerboard for your mind and fingers is by learning scales. Three-octave scales, in particular, can be used to teach nearly all of the notes on the cello.
When I saw how well the exercises worked, I just knew that I had to find a way to use that same concept to teach cello scales.
I started writing studies for a three-octave G major cello scale and tried them with several students who had never played a three-octave scale before.
I wasn't surprised when they figured out the exercises; it was a pretty easy concept. But I was absolutely shocked when, at the end of playing the 4 pages of G scale exercises, those same students were able to play the scale straight through, without stopping, and in tune!
Before this, I had wheedled and cajoled and talked my students through their initial 3-octave scales. And, after they finally learned the scales, some of them played scales in tune but some just didn't.
This book was a game-changer for me and my students, cutting out months and years of frustration, and helping them master entire three-octave scales in all of the major and minor keys.
If we take time to think about the steps in scales and teach them to our fingers, it is possible to truly learn scales, play more in tune, and play in tune more consistently.
To celebrate the release of Learning Three-Octave Scales on the Cello, this post gives you the major scales written out with all of the whole and half steps so you can think about and remember each space.
And if this whets your appetite for scale mastery, check out the new cello scale book!
Tips for Playing Cello Three-Octave Scale Steps
II = D string
III = G string
IV = C string
Preparing for Saint-Saens
The Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor is a work for cello and orchestra (or piano), written at an advanced level. Studying this Concerto often takes a year or more; it's a major work!
While there are no clearly marked or numbered movements, the Concerto does have three fairly distinct sections that might correlate with our idea of typical concerto movements.
Some techniques used in the first two movements are octave shifts, fast shifting (sometimes called "runs") into the high positions, double stop fifths and sixths, spiccato, and thumb position.
Free Saint-Saens Preparatory Exercises
These free preparatory exercises can help you get ready to start studying the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto. They work on some of the basic techniques needed to play the first few pages of the Concerto: bowing, octave shifts, chromatic scales, and more.
Books to study in preparation
The Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto is much easier to learn if you have acquired a solid grasp intermediate and advanced cello technique. You should be able to read bass, tenor, and treble clef and play in thumb position. You should have learned three-octave scales and it would be helpful if you have also studied octave shifts, double stop sixths, and double stop octaves.
Like these exercises? Now, you can learn the rest of the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto using a Study Book!
We are very excited to present this new release:
The Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 Study Book for Cello, Volume One!
Cassia Harvey can't ever find or play enough exercises. She searches for rare and out-of-print studies and etudes in her free time. If you know of any, please let her know. Seriously; it's an obsession.