A storm was headed our way...
with a projected 6-12 inches of snow! We packed the rented Ford Expedition with books and displays (thanks to amazing glassmaker John Koutsouros!) and headed out early Wednesday morning. My mom (Judy Harvey) was going to fly but we knew the flights would be canceled so she came along for the ride.
The ride was rough for a few hours but around the time we hit Virginia, things started looking sunny.
We stopped for lunch/dinner at a delicious Mexican restaurant.
El Restaurante Ixtapa deserved every good Yelp review it got;
the fish tacos were to die for.
When we pulled into the Hyatt Regency Atlanta,
we were absolutely exhausted and ready to sleep. However, there were only two single beds for three people. The Hyatt Regency Atlanta said they couldn't bring in a cot because of the fire codes and suggested that one person sleep on the floor. (Bear in mind that none of this was told to us at booking.) You never know what you'll get when you travel!
Anyway, Myanna headed out the next day to get an air mattress. And an air pump. That didn't work because it needed a car cigarette lighter for power. Hmm.
Judy came to the rescue with an unorthodox solution!
Conference setup day!
It's a mammoth task to unload a "tank" full of book boxes and displays, drag it all up to an exhibit hall, and set it up. This year was better because we had a proper cart.
Glamorous booth set up...
Finally set up.
Almost ready to open.
Beautiful hotel elevator ride
The conference was amazing!
We met many wonderful teachers and the booth was humming with activity. I loved the chance to interact with musicians from all over the country and talk string technique. From cello shifting to violin scales, we had fabulous conversations and (happily for our aching arms and backs) came home with empty book boxes.
If you are thinking of attending at ASTA conference, definitely try it out; there were so many great sessions and just the coolest people ever. Hope to see you next year in Albuquerque!
When I was a little girl, my younger sister Myanna took violin lessons from Estelle Kerner. Mrs. Kerner exuded all of the old-world glamour of the music world that I was craving. She had a hair net and wore clothes that looked right out of Tsarist Russia. Lots of makeup and copious quantities of white face powder completed her look.
Her soft calm voice had steel running through it and I was both scared and enthralled. Myanna was five years old and as she stood in countless hour-long lessons for the next thirteen years, Mrs. Kerner helped her fall in love with music and the violin. It was only many years after that that I realized how much Mrs. Kerner had changed my life as well.
You see, Mrs. Kerner taught with Schradieck and Sevcik (multiple volumes), with Wohlfahrt and Mazas and Kreutzer, with Flesch and Galamian and with a slow but extremely methodical march through Rieding and Kuchler and Vivaldi and Bach Violin Concertos, all the way up through Bruch and Brahms and Paganini.
Schradieck's School Of Violin Technics
I looked at Myanna's pages of Schradieck and Sevcik finger exercises with envy and tried in vain to play them on the cello. I realized almost immediately that the notes wouldn't work on cello, even an octave lower. I needed to know the ideas behind the notes and transfer those ideas to the cello. And I knew that I didn't have the knowledge to figure out those ideas yet.
My fingers didn't work well; they felt slow and plodding compared to Myanna's. My teacher gave me just two measures of a Feuillard page and five measures of Sevcik Op. 8 shifting each week. When I asked her for more pages of Feuillard and more lines of Sevcik, she said "Oh sweetie, you don't need those!"
My mother was horrified.
She saw Myanna getting better steadily and at the same time, she saw me struggling technically. So she did what any good mother might: she took me to the sheet music store and (even though money was really tight), she told me to pick out what I needed. I still have the Werner method and some of the other books I bought and devoured back then.
With Mrs. Kerner's teaching an ever-present influence, I began to give myself the best technical foundation that I could paste together from the method and exercise books I bought. All through my teens, with other teachers and harder music, I kept searching for and buying exercises until I hit a wall. There just wasn't a Schradieck for the cello. Klengel, with his Daily Exercises, came the closest. But his book started in half position and got complicated too soon and my students were struggling. I needed more shifting exercises than I could find. I desperately needed more work up and down the A string as I was playing Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations...
So I started writing my own exercises.
It was a heady feeling, realizing that I would never run out of exercises again. The first book I published was Serial Shifting; Exercises for the Cello: a different take on the Sevcik Op. 8 concept of moving through the positions:
And the second book I published was my very own book of Finger Exercises for the Cello so I could have faster fingers at last.
So this blog is written for
everyone out there trying to play their instrument better. For teachers looking for their own version of Schradieck. For everyone who has had a technical weakness and hasn't known where to start to overcome it. For everyone who has had a sister (or a stand partner) with faster fingers.
And this blog is dedicated to three women:
Estelle Kerner, who showed me what teaching could accomplish and how to craft a solid foundation for a student.
Judith Harvey, who herself fell in love with violin exercises and who taught her 9-year-old daughter to go looking for books that might help solve her problems.
and my teacher at the time, who showed me the limits of teaching without enough exercises. And who, by withholding more studies, made me desperate to find and then write them. All three of these women helped a 9-year-old girl fall deeply in love with exercises as a means of learning and teaching a stringed instrument.
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.