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Spring Forward!

Hello Passionate Cellists!

The days are getting longer and lighter and I am thinking more about what the year holds for us cellists here at Cello Courses.

I am thrilled by the success of the new online course, All About My Bow, and its very new sibling, the Bow Primer which launched just two weeks ago.

In order to bring music alive, we need a skill set that is both intellectual, aural and physical. Our technique is a big subject and needs time and space to be nurtured: to grow and evolve.

In each All About My Bow class, we explore the physical movements that help create the musical sound because sound follows movement. So we begin by pin-pointing issues, looking at them, and their musical context and then developing them within a piece of music that I forward to you when you book your place. The class is followed by a swathe of detailed notes so you can keep the work going.

In my head, I often return to an interview Casals gave in his 90s. He was asked why at his age he was practising daily, and he replied that he felt it was because he was “getting somewhere” It was a revelation to hear this decades ago and it is such a humble recognition of our exciting task as cellists. We are all growing, all the time!

The Bow Primer was requested by a US cellist who wanted a forum for more recent players. What I love, is taking time to go in-depth and slowly as this is the way we absorb best. So, as the course grows, we will be recapping and adding, step by step, to the long-term plan for your expansion as a cellist and musician.

You are sent short pieces to put our work into practice after the class. I will help prepare you to learn after our detailed look at the techniques we need to get to know and understand. Again, players receive notes afterwards.

I had a sneaky feeling that more advanced players would jump on board and they did! We all have gaps in our knowledge and we never stop learning. If this is something you want to do, please feel you can.

In the summer, the fabulous Unsung Heroes Cello Ensemble Summer School is back in its All Saints Centre home this July 23rd–28th. I love preparing, writing and teaching this wonderful week!

All Saints Centre is a lovely converted church in central Lewes, East Sussex which is an ideal venue for the music we play. This year’s repertoire is exciting in its richness: Poulenc sits alongside Vaughan Williams, Monteverdi, Elgar and Tchaikovsky. It’s luscious sounding and a joy to play!

There are daily classes before our rehearsal, where your technique, musicality, ensemble skills and listening are honed which makes for more confident cellists.

We talk about the composers and their times and style, so your understanding expands. There is also a useful reading list on my site.

Lewes is the county town of East Sussex and is a wonderful place to be creative and restful.

It’s very friendly, easy to get around and very beautiful too. Set in a valley in the South Downs, there are lovely walks on your doorstep and we meet up in the evenings to get to know each other more. The cafes, pubs and restaurants are easy to walk to and for anyone nipping off for the evening, the railway is pretty central too. Cellists flying in can rent a cello here and I frequently help players find a B&B – just ask.

Through Coloured Glass was to have taken place in mid-August. This is the course which launched last year and I have just made a decision to cancel it, delaying it until 2024.

Much of the music we play can be found in some wonderful cello ensemble music books which you can see at our tiny publishing house Vaulted Sky Music. The four Unsung Heroes Cello Ensemble volumes there, contain stunning & inspiring music from across the centuries. They are all vocal music too, as my intention has been about getting people to play music together even though some may be relatively new, and others more experienced. It is the nature of choral writing that it all works incredibly well because there is a part for you within the musical voices.

You can stretch yourself, or not!

The quality of the music is matched by our choice of strong, white, recycled paper bound in an easy-to-open-out score. A bonus is that our pages open outwards, avoiding those horrid karate chop page turns in performance we all dread.

The cover designs, you will see, are something else and I have been so lucky to find such imaginative and skilled graphic designers.

It began with Max Carrington who set the tone with Volume 1 and then the superb Suzi Johanson designing Volumes 2 to 4. We all intended these books to honour their contents and to be long-lived and beautiful.

Soon, after a discussion with my expert web consultant, Richard Constable of Sunset Design, there will be downloadable scores with a wide reach to include recent learners and children.

I really look forward to welcoming you to our enjoyable online courses and here, in person, in lovely Lewes, this year!

With warm wishes, Catherine