Proper instrument maintenance! This is something that I can not stress to my students enough! Do you know what happened today? One of my young cello players had the bridge of his cello collapse (That’s maybe $75). Shortly after this calamity a viola broke two strings, during tuning. (Poor girl still doesn’t know how to tune!) And then after these disasters were averted by quick band room replacements, I looked over to see my second chair violinist with barely any hair left on his bow. Come on now young man! My father has more hair on his bald head then on your bow strings! Let me stress maintenance!
Obviously I am being a little funny here, but I really must stress to my students that we need to try to maintain the integrity of our instruments. If you want a good sound out of your musical tools you have to take proper care of them. If you saw away with your violin bow like a hack saw it will eventually grind its way into sounding like one. Please take care of your instruments.
My best student this semester when it comes to maintenance of his instrument is one who did not originally come from an Orchestra background. This kid is great. He signed up with me personally at the beginning of the year. He explained to me that he always wanted to be involved with music in school and had always admired strings arrangements, he had however never played an orchestral instrument in his life. His mainstay was actually electric guitar. This was fine by me, I figured he could possibly do well, and add some extra flavor to my Orchestra.
This fellow did not disappoint me. He begin as last chair cello, and I just promoted him to third. He is quickly learning, sometimes to the chagrin to those that have been playing for many years, but it doesn’t matter. For someone who did not even know how to read sheet music three months ago, this student is a quick learner. He took everything he knew about guitar and applied it to cello, after that he transitioned on the instrument rapidly, his main hurdle was learning sheet music, but that is coming along just great too. Every once in a while I catch him tilting his head a bit and trying to play by ear, but after a quick nod from me he jumps back into the sheet music.
And as for bringing some new life into my orchestral arrangement, he does add some interesting features. From playing guitar in years previous he has already developed a very good vibrato, he does with one finger what my seasoned cellists do with two, I joke with him that all those Eddie Van Halen lead guitar tricks have proved very fruitful on the cello. But that’s the way music is, one technique can build up someone’s playing skill in a way that is beneficial in an area that was not even initially realized. So keep your musical mind and ears open.