Next Level Cellist Practicing Issue


Articles by Zuill Bailey, Ben Sollee, Rainer Eudeikis, and the National Symphony cello section

| practicing |

The National

Symphony Orchestra




what I do

Zuill Bailey

Up and


Rainer Eudeikis

Learning to play

outside the box

Ben Sollee

summer 2014


Summer 2014

Feature Story

5 Up and Comer

Rainer Eudeikis

9 Spotlight:

the national symphony orchestra

cello section

10 Learning to Play Outside the Box

ben sollee

13 That’s What I Do

Zuill Bailey


Ranaan Meyer


Brent Edmondson


Edward Paulsen


Karen Han

Layout designer


Publisher’s Note

It gives me so much joy to write to you from the digital pages of this second

issue of Next Level Cellist. When selecting the contributors to this issue, I

was seeking people who were masters of their instruments, and for practicing

I wanted to find out what processes or discoveries led them to that mastery.

As you will see, many of the answers turned out to stem from their teaching

experience. I’ve met a musician or two who believes teaching is the “opposite”

of practicing, but for many of us the art of instruction unlocks the secrets to

those things that come naturally to us.

I have always found myself drawn to the technique of identifying trouble spots in

the repertoire I am working on, extracting the hardest moments and practicing

them separately. What this takes for granted is that some of the music poses no

problems and I simply play through it. Only when I am teaching the piece to another

person might I have to analyze the passages that pose no obstacle to me, and at the

end of the day, I am stronger and more capable for having broken those down too.

In addition to the time you spend honing your skills in the practice room, find some

time to help others in their journey. Sharing our knowledge with others makes us

better players, better musicians, and better humans.

The content of Zuill Bailey’s article is so deeply inspiring to me. Beyond the

tremendous accomplishments he has made as a musician, he is a truly generous

and compassionate man, and I think we should all aspire to the level of commitment

he has made to serving communities outside the “classical music mainstream.”

I found his discussion of technique development and the incredible standards of

practice he maintains to be fascinating, and I hope you will too.

Ben Sollee is such a unique artist, and I believe that he is on the forefront of a

musical revolution that I am humbly proud to join in. Ben’s understanding of his

craft, his thoughtful approach to teaching others to do what he does, and the path

he has taken to his career are all great examples to live by, as well as an excellent

resource. There’s no reason to get pigeon-holed into one category of musicians

or another, and Ben’s broad set of influences show that nothing is irrelevant to

the path towards success.

I am so grateful to the National Symphony cello section for their input on our

section spotlight. We should all be jealous of this group of players, almost all of

whom spent a considerable portion of their careers working directly under Maestro

Rostropovich. Orchestras have traditions and legacies, and you will read from a

section with one of the most prestigious pedigrees in the business. Finally we are

featuring Rainer Eudeikis in a new column for Up and Coming players. Rainer

has had unbelievable success in the audition world, having just finished his career

at the Curtis Institute of Music to head to Utah as the new Principal Cello of the

Utah Symphony. His input is invaluable for anyone wishing to develop a career

in orchestral cello playing.

We are all part of a great musical family, and we can go our farthest by working

together. I hope the practicing information you find here will serve to take you as

far as your imagination can carry you, and well beyond. I’ll look forward to seeing

you on the Next Level!

Ranaan Meyer

Publisher Next Level Journals












robertson reCital Hall

2014 Cello ColleCtion



Tel 800-284-6546 | 3201 Carlisle Blvd. NE | Albuquerque, NM USA 87110

Up and Comer







I began my cello studies when I was six

years old in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I

studied with several different teachers over

the first so many years, some from the Fort

Worth Symphony. Just before high school I

moved to Colorado, where I had some other

teachers but eventually settled with Jurgen de

Lemos, who was then Principal Cellist of the

Colorado Symphony, and had previously been

a member of the New York Philharmonic

under Leonard Bernstein. It was around this

time I started seriously buckling down and

doing some work on orchestral excerpts.

From there I went to the University of

Michigan in Ann Arbor to study with

Richard Aaron. I learned a great deal there,

further organized my approach to cello playing

and refined my practice techniques. Even

today, much of the practicing I do is directly

inspired by techniques I learned from him.

After completing my undergraduate studies

I moved to Indiana University to study with

Eric Kim, who was Principal Cellist with

the Cincinnati Symphony for 20 years. I had

met Eric in Aspen when I spent a couple of

summers there, and I knew he would be a

great teacher for me. While studying at IU

I developed further as a musician and it was

under Eric Kim’s guidance that I really started

to hone my approach to orchestral excerpts.

I think my first audition was for a section

position in the Detroit Symphony in early

2012. I didn’t advance then, but I kept taking

auditions over the next couple of years. I came

to Curtis in Fall of 2013 to pursue an Artist

Diploma (studying with Peter Wiley and

Carter Brey), and won the first two auditions

I took that year.

How did you decide which

auditions you were going to

take? Were you going for a

named chair, like principal

or assistant principal, or were

you just shooting for a job?

Well initially I was just shooting for a job.

Even before the audition in Detroit, I had

applied for some other section auditions

and was not invited. Interestingly, I wasn’t

invited to a section audition held by the Utah

Symphony a few years ago! As my preparation

improved and I started to advance in auditions,

I mainly focused on title chairs, with the

exception of truly top-tier orchestras. Most

of the musicians whom I’ve looked up to over

my life have been principal players, and that’s

what I wanted for myself.

You mentioned a little bit about the prep

work that you were doing for this audition.

Could you elaborate? Did you change

something when you started winning?

I think Utah and Pittsburgh were my seventh and eighth auditions

for professional orchestras. Every audition that I take requires me to

revisit many of the same excerpts. Each time I have to work them back

up from where I left off (or below that if it has been awhile since my

last audition), but each time you work something up, it gets better,

almost by default. Personally, my performance improved as I got used

to the bizarre and stressful environment of the audition stage. You’re

walking on this long carpet to mask any shoe noise (to prevent gender

bias supposedly), there’s a giant screen in front of you, and you’re

often playing sideways across the stage. The whole scenario can be

disorienting and leave you feeling vulnerable. Over time, I’ve learned

to transform that feeling of vulnerability into one of excitement to “get

another shot.” It’s a skill that requires time and experience, for me anyway.

I can think of some people who have won amazing jobs on their

first audition, (and good for them!) but I certainly wasn’t one of them.

Can you describe your warm up routine?

I do between 30 minutes and an hour depending on how I’m feeling

on a given day. I do scales, arpeggios in different inversions, sixths,

thirds, octaves, and a variation on a Cossman exercise. I might throw

in part of an etude if I feel like it. After I’ve gone through all of that,

I spend time on a lyrical passage, whether it’s the Swan, a movement

of Bach, or the cello solos from Brahms’ C Minor Piano Quartet or

Piano Concerto No. 2. I’ll pick something like that and try to work on

my tone and phrasing concepts. It’s nice to make a little music after

spending an hour on pure mechanics.

What’s your approach to nervousness?

I used to be a shaker and a sweater, and it’s one of those things that

just changed for me over time the more I performed or auditioned.

When it comes to preparing for the moment of truth, I’m really into

visualization. When I practice, I try to remind myself that nerves are

something you really can’t fix until you’ve taken a few auditions.

You try to remember what it was like, what it will be like when you’re

onstage auditioning/performing again. It’s a pretty vivid experience

and you learn, by doing it, how your body fights against you and how

you can sabotage yourself mentally. I’ll play for my teachers and peers,

and that’s helpful. Ultimately it comes down to taking as many auditions

as you can, improving cellistically and mentally, and hoping you

win as a result.

Now that you’ve got a gig, what’s next?

What are you practicing for, how often

are you practicing now?

I still have to be practicing quite a bit. I played my grad recital at

Curtis a couple of weeks ago so I was preparing for that. I had a

recording session recently. At this exact moment, I’m working on the

cello part for Mahler Symphony no. 5 because I’m headed up to Utah

next week to play with them. In the immediate future, mostly I’m just

going to be trying to master all of the parts for the coming season with

the Utah Symphony. I do play in as many side projects as I can, and

I’m trying to line up some performances over the summer. Hopefully

I can get some other projects going in Utah, but I’ll have to wait until

I’m settled there to to get working on that.

Do you have teaching aspirations? Are your

side projects education based or are they more

performance related?

They are mostly performance related, but I do teach. I’ve taught a

number of students, ranging in age from nine or ten years old to my

only current student here in Philly who’s in his 60s. I do really enjoy

teaching and I think having a handful of students while I pursue a

performance career would be rewarding. I’ve done some things here

at Curtis, like the All-City Orchestra’s Curtis residency. I’ve done a

lot of teaching work in Colorado, too. My mom, in addition to being

a professional clarinetist, is the Executive Director of the Colorado

Youth Symphony so I’ve done a lot of chamber music coaching and

teaching private students and working with youth orchestra cello


sections and things like that. I’m looking forward to any teaching

opportunities that may present themselves in Salt Lake City.

Talk about some of the major moments

you had developing as a cellist.

There have been plenty of epiphanies along the way - it could be a

small thing related to technique or performance mindset, but I wasn’t

one of those kids who when I was very little just decided, I’m going to

be a musician and that is all. My level of inspiration really hit a new

high when I got to Indiana and was working with Eric Kim. I haven’t

met many people who can give you goosebumps playing orchestral

excerpts during your lesson. He’s definitely that guy, he’s the man!

When I was with him I realized that I would like to model my own

career after his. Honestly, that’s what helped me to choose Utah over

the section position in Pittsburgh, because his only gigs were all

principal jobs. He kind of climbed his way to the top, principal gig

after principal gig. If I could do that too eventually, that would be great.

Do you think that ultimately you’re going to

use it as a platform to be a pedagogue?

Someday sure, but not in the near future. Now and again you see the

established principal cellist who decides to leave their position to

teach, and I guess everybody needs a change at some point. You can

only do something for so long and have it stay fresh. For me right now

though it’s all fresh!

What advice would you give to somebody who

is on the path right now? What kept you going?

If you do anything, record yourself. You can learn more in 30 minutes

sitting in a practice room with a recording device than you might in

3 hours without one. That has often been the case for me. Teachers

and peers can of course offer valuable feedback, but you can get to the

point where you teach yourself quite well. You just need to be able to

hear yourself from a different perspective. I do that quite a lot, just

put the phone on the stand. It doesn’t even have to be good quality!

In fact, if you can make your phrasing and articulations super clear so

that you can hear them on a crappy recording, then you know you are

doing enough. As for what kept me driven through the process, it’s all

a mix of disappointment and success, both make you want to go back

at it. There’s that feeling when you’re sitting in the room and you know

everybody who’s playing in your round and everyone’s sweating and

biting their nails and fidgeting. Then the personnel manager comes

out and says your name - that’s such a high, it can be a very powerful

feeling! There aren’t many things like that, aside from actually winning

the gig in the end. That’s even better. When luck isn’t on your side and

you’re rejected, no one can turn that into a good feeling, especially for

me. Later, though, you take that and you build on it and you do better

the next time. I would add that I’ve seen plenty of rejection to get to

this point in my life. Utah had this principal audition in April of 2013

and I was in the semi finals for that. They took one guy to the finals

and didn’t hire. I was disappointed, but I knew they were going to have

© Photo Jean-Baptiste Millot

© Photo Uwe Arens

Famous Cellists

Playing Pirastro Strings

© Photo Aloisia Behrbohm

© Photo Andreas Malkmus

© Photo Christian Steiner

Strings Handmade in Germany

© Photo Andreas Malkmus



the audition again. I thought that I had played pretty well, and was

really excited to get another crack at it six months down the road.

Do you have any excerpts or solos that you feel

extremely comfortable with?

If I had to pick a few, I’d say the theme and variations from Beethoven

Symphony No. 5, the trio from Beethoven Symphony No. 8 and

Smetana’s Bartered Bride Overture. Bartered Bride is my number one,

I love seeing that on the list. There’s also the finale from Don Quixote,

if it’s a principal audition. At the same time, if I see Prokofiev Symphony

No. 5 or even La Mer, which is on every audition, I know I have to

nail it but it doesn’t mean that it feels 100% comfortable at all times.

Those are some that I may curse under my breath if I see that they’re

on the round.

Do you want to finish up with some general

thoughts about the audition experience or what

people need to get ahead?

One thing that I have noticed at almost every audition I’ve taken is,

if you’re in a warmup room and they’re not particularly well insulated

for sound, you’re sure to hear what everyone else is practicing before

they go in to play. One thing that I always hear without fail is someone

blasting through Mendelssohn’s Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s

Dream. It’s loud and really fast and it just sounds like they have no

idea what’s going on in the piece. I always aim to play it slower. I’d

rather come in slightly under tempo and be asked to play faster if they

want it that way. Always aim to demonstrate your understanding and

appreciation for the unique characters of the excerpts thatyou’re playing.

You have to remember that the excerpts are not etudes, though

they can feel like it. They’re all extracted from real music! I prefer the

word “sample” to “excerpt.” It may be a trivial difference in vocabulary

but I think they carry different connotations. One thing that Eric Kim

told me that really stuck was that the way you feel inside when you’re

playing will be reflected in your sound on the outside. It’s very hard

to master your inner feelings, especially in a situation where you’re

nervous and everything is on the line. If you can do that, though, even

just a little bit, it really makes a huge difference and can put you ahead

of the pack. ■



the national Symphony Orchestra Cello Section

The National Symphony Orchestra doesn’t make a big deal about this,

but it was actually formed in 1930 by a cellist named Hans Kindler.

The second music director, Howard Mitchell, was also a cellist. It is

no wonder that the early influence of these leaders ultimately led to

Mstislav Rostropovich, one of the most famous cellists ever to live,

taking the reins from 1977 to 1994 and cementing the orchestra’s

legacy as one of the finest ensembles in the country. Today, the

10 members of the National Symphony cello section represent the

perfect fusion of tradition and mastery, carrying forward the legacy of

Rostropovich and representing the United States at the highest level.

Several cellists in the National Symphony cello section were fortunate

to work under Rostropovich during his 17 year tenure as music director,

and reverentially recall the influence of his presence. Says Janet

Frank, “He had an amazing sense for colors and he taught us to look

for an appropriate sound in anything we play. His visual descriptions

of what kind of sound he wanted were priceless.” Steven Honigsberg

recalls, “He liked to tell us: his string sections must be like colors on

a canvas. We must not always play with the same color or sound.” As

a group so thoroughly attuned to color, one could expect conflicts of

personality. On the contrary, says Frank, “Each of us contributes to

both the section and the orchestra to the extent of our individual

musical understanding. The merging of musical backgrounds gives

our section the energy it demonstrates as a unit.” Principal David

Hardy adds, “Many of us were hired by Rostropovich; so right off the

bat we had access to what many people consider to be one the finest

cellists of the last 50 years. Slava molded our sound production and it

turned our section into a unified whole.”

much about the greatness and depth of human emotion. I liken it

to eating the finest caviar or drinking the finest wine.”

The members of the National Symphony cello section bring an

enormous body of experience to their performances, but they maintain

a good deal of pragmatism in terms of the differences between

great orchestras. Many believe, as Mark Evans does, that “orchestras

a constantly evolving and changing.” Blatt elaborates, “their styles

will change with new leadership. Some orchestras tour more or play

different literature.” As principal David Hardy explains “Our section

is very active musically outside the orchestra. Most of us are deeply

involved in chamber music… we play solo recitals, concerti, and

almost all of us teach. This activity keeps us musically fresh.”

Pride in one’s work is also a common theme to these men and women.

Loran Stephenson says that by remaining “collegial and flexible, we

have a certain pride in the overall product.” Robert Blatt states, Since

I joined the NSO in 1968, it has gone through a great many changes

and tremendous growth. It has become a truly great orchestra and the

cello section is one of the best anywhere.” Perhaps the most common

sentiment in the cello section is summed up by Rachel Young - “I am

a proud member of this section.” ■

When asked about their favorite repertoire to play in the orchestra,

most of the cello section mentioned Mahler. Given the orchestra’s

love and understanding of color, Mahler represents the perfect fit.

The section also gravitates towards those composers known for

writing complex scores - Britten, Shostakovich, or Messiaen. That may

be explained by Honigberg’s comment “Coasting is not appreciated

by other members of your section.” Janet Frank agrees: “Each member

does his best to do as well as he can to make a piece of music happen,

to get the notes off the page. It is a matter of pride for the section not

to have the conductor stop to rehearse us separately from the rest

of the orchestra.” While many musicians struggle to find enjoyment

in contemporary or challenging musical scores, perhaps these great

musicians experience an elusive pleasure - performing with a stellar

ensemble that does justice to even the most difficult scores.

Winning an audition to join the National Symphony Orchestra is

an enormous accomplishment, but getting the job is the first step to a

successful career. After joining the orchestra, many of these extremely

talented players found themselves adapting their playing to meet the

demands and stylistic heritage of the section and the orchestra. Robert

Blatt says that his playing has changed “gradually and often. Each new

music director and section leader has different priorities and styles.”

Mark Evans believes that “The key is to keep an open mind. Personal

bowing style, fingering choices and even phrasing can be influenced

to a great degree by colleagues.” These changes are a necessary

by-product of working with talented musicians on both sides of the

podium. Says Honigberg, “The orchestral canon has taught me so

MORE than 170 artist-teachers and

scholars comprise an outstanding

faculty at a world-class conservatory

with the academic resources of a

major research university, all within

one of the most beautiful university

campus settings.


Atar Arad, Viola

Joshua Bell, Violin (adjunct)

Sibbi Bernhardsson, Violin,

Pacifica Quartet

Bruce Bransby, Double Bass

Emilio Colon, Violoncello

Jorja Fleezanis, Violin,

Orchestral Studies

Mauricio Fuks, Violin

The Pacifica Quartet performs

as quartet-in-residence.

Simin Ganatra, Violin,

Pacifica Quartet

Edward Gazouleas, Viola

Grigory Kalinovsky, Violin

Mark Kaplan, Violin

Alexander Kerr, Violin

Eric Kim, Violoncello

Kevork Mardirossian, Violin

Kurt Muroki, Double Bass

Stanley Ritchie, Violin

Masumi Per Rostad, Viola,

Pacifica Quartet

Peter Stumpf, Violoncello

Joseph Swensen, Violin

Brandon Vamos, Violoncello,

Pacifica Quartet

Stephen Wyrczynski, Viola (chair)

Mimi Zweig, Violin and Viola


Jan. 16 & 17 | Feb. 6 & 7 | Mar. 6 & 7


Learning to Play

Outside the Box

Ben Sollee

“Growing up in Kentucky, it was

an interesting place both

geographically and culturally”

- there are a lot of people passing through, but not necessarily staying

there. You grow used to extracting what you can from these experiences

- Kentucky is known for distilling, after all! I picked up the cello in

public schools, studying with a focus on classical music for the most

part. I also had my social/family life, which was a very different scene.

I would play fiddle tunes with my fiddler, and R&B music with my

dad, or sing with my mother. For the longest time I lived those two

lives on the cello. Once I started touring, I was experiencing different

places, working with different musicians, and executing different

things I needed to do. I found myself needing to be able to play a bit

of everything. One of the best experiences for this was playing on

the radio show “Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour.” On that show, I

played in the house band with the host of the show, Michael Jonathan,

and participated in over 200 broadcasts. We had artists come through

from Time for Three, to Chris Thile, Bo Detta, Mike Seeger, and

basically sit on the banks of the river, and play, and watch them come

by, asking lots of questions. Having that resource for me was huge.

I gained so many perspectives on the music industry. I learned that

there’s no set book of rules or bill of rights for music, or for studying

music. It’s about incorporating more and more into your playing,

learning to comfortably speak in all different vernaculars. That’s really

a big part of how I planted the seeds for where I’m going.

Younger folks I’m meeting now might not have the same experience

with a radio show, but they’re getting this knowledge from Youtube,

where they’re looking at videos and being guided to new music and

information. I think technology is playing a big role in the school

for diversity right now. I think that’s the biggest thing I have found

in reflecting on my college degree education. There was very little

diversity from a study standpoint - it was more about specializing

than diversifying. I was lucky to have the outside school of music to

draw upon.

My public school teachers were a husband and wife duo. Helen

Kennison started me on cello, as one of 8 string players. We met in

the utility closet of the gymnasium, and I was the only cellist. She

really encouraged me to play where my passion led me. Her husband,

Kevin Kennison, was a jazz arts teacher, and he ran the big band

for the School of Performing Arts. He was very involved in making

arrangements of popular songs for the orchestra. We played K.C. and

Jojo’s “All My Life,” and R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly,” among others.

He did a great job of arranging things and creating roles for people

in the ensemble. He was one of the first guys who said “I can see you

like to jam, so here’s the trombone part from jazz band. You can read

those, so let’s get you playing with the band. We don’t really have cello

parts for the jazz band, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play along.”

Through them, I had some other school music experiences, playing

in All-State Jazz Band. I snuck in on a blind audition as a bass player,

even though I was playing the cello. I brought some heat down on the

school for that, but it was a great experience for me.

I had some wonderful private teachers early on as well. I studied with

the cello professor at the University of Kentucky, Benjamin Karp, a

wonderful player. He really struggled with how to incorporate my

interests in other styles - he along with all my teachers could really

only contextualize these interests with their classical studies. Teachers

always liked the fact that I was experimenting but didn’t know how

to unite it with their teaching. One person I worked with was a crazy

guy named Michael Fitzpatrick. He was very open to things like jazz

tonalities. He wasn’t a jazzer but he improvised. He was open to helping

me sing along with the cello, improvise chords. I studied in college

with my professor at Louisville named Paul York. He’s a pretty bangin’

cellist, and I learned a lot from him. He put a lot of tools in my toolbag

as a cellist. Even though he too had difficulty including my outside

interests, he was the first guy to say, “Iisten, you have a responsibility

because of your talent to learn. If you don’t like some of what I teach

you, you can leave it on the table.” He gave me a vastly improved

comfort in my bow arm. I think this has a lot to do with why I can

go out and tour and tour and not sustain injuries.

All the study and all the intense play result in a lot of physical

problems for students of classical music. You see it a little in jazz,

but you don’t see that in Indian music where people play for hours and

hours a day. This culture of self-injury is really confined to classical

music and particularly string players, so as an at risk person I’m

grateful that Paul gave me the comfort I need in my bow arm.

Right Arm Mechanics

I take a very biometric approach to my right arm and sound production.

It’s important to understand the muscle groups of the arm, shoulders,

and back. Cellists should always use the bigger muscle groups to do

the work, and everything else (forearm, wrist finger movements)

happen as a result of the big movements. To grow accustomed to these

motions, spend a lot of time in the lower half of the bow, really moving

from the shoulder blade and pulling the arm back so that those muscles

are supporting the arm.

From there, switch to letting your elbow open and then letting your

wrist open. The bow is only one stick, but in your mind it can be divided

into three parts - not by the length of the bow, but by the length of

your arm.

Some warmup exercises that encompass this include practicing with

a drop of water going down your shoulder. The idea is that you want

to use big muscles to put the weight into the bow, and just push that

weight around. Make sure that a drop of water on your shoulder can

roll all the way down your arm and onto the stick of the bow. I use that

visualization when I’m warming up, if I’m experiencing a new type of

pain, or especially if I’m teaching somebody this tool with the bow.

People will struggle with getting the feeling of opening and closing,


and we’ll go to the water drop exercise and it’ll be resolved right away.

I picked up a lot of techniques and practice styles from Eugene

Friesen. He came from a classical background, but incorporates a lot

of other styles in. He has a great book called “Improvisation for Classical

Musicians.” What’s great about it is that he takes some very physical

approaches and gives some great guidelines for getting around the

instrument. He identifies the idea of playing in a zone as opposed

to playing scales linearly - you play the notes from a scale that are

available to you in a given position. It takes some of the mental stress

away from “how do I get to that note to play it?” and puts some of the

power in your fingers to lead the way. He also discusses using patterns,

which is something I subscribe to a lot these days. It’s very important

for teaching music.

Singing while playing

There is a lot of experimentation going on right now - people are

deciding they want to try and play all sorts of music, even if they don’t

know how to do it. I think there are some techniques from the guitar

and piano world that are bleeding over. They’re mechanics that aren’t

necessarily obvious next to the spectacle of someone singing and playing.

There are two specific mechanics that can be set up to run themselves

so the performer can focus on the performance: one is the idea

of “strum bowing” which I picked up from Tracy Silverman. It’s a way

of taking the acoustic guitar strumming pattern and applying it to the

bow. These guitarists don’t think “down up up down down up down

up” - they’re just moving their hand and adding accents! As string

players, we’re taught to focus on our bowing all the time, which

uses our brain power and pulls a lot of our attention. Getting

rid of thinking of downs and ups and letting your body move

in a mechanical way frees up mind power and helps you

subdivide the rhythm. Your hand is always strumming.

This is separate from the idea of chopping and scraping,

which is getting to be a larger force in music making.

The other thing is using chords on your instrument.

Once you start thinking of the instrument laterally

and not just linearly, you’re setting up these areas of

comfort, where you can move one or two fingers and

get significant changes in sound and color. You’re

creating structure for your hand so you don’t have to

think about where notes are. All these instruments

people started singing on earlier were accessible

because of frets, a basic map on the instrument.

These instruments are easier to sing with because

they take some of the focus and brain power off

the musician who is accompanying him or



students to strum comfortably, getting them to accent different

patterns, then getting them to vocalise while they’re doing this is

really key. It’s important not to try and add vocalization later. You can

simply sing the accents you’re playing. This technique has been shown

in workshops to get cellist singing and playing in under an hour.

A lot of classical players, such as adults trying to play fiddle tunes, feel

like they need to unlearn things. Personally, it’s difficult for me to say

what’s best for this. I was never a classical player who transitioned. I

was always going home after school and improvising, jamming with

my parents or playing with bands. There was never a junction point for

me. I don’t think there’s much to be unlearned. It’s a different culture

- if anything you’re experiencing culture shock most of the time! For

many classical players, strumming with the bow doesn’t even register.

Many players already have all the skills to do this, they just have to

learn something completely new to them. It’s like learning to eat spicy

Indian food, or learning to cook a new cuisine. It’s different but all the

techniques are there.






Zuill Bailey


Becoming a great musician begins at home. I grew up in a

“perfect storm” environment. My parents were educators in

the music world, and they did everything possible within that

environment and behind the scenes to enrich my life. I grew up in the

Washington DC area, and my early concept of the cello was sculpted

by Mstislav Rostropovich, who was the music director of the National

Symphony Orchestra from 1977 to 1994. The Suzuki method was

a new phenomenon at the time as well, and that was where I began

playing the cello at the age of 4. I was placed in a community where

music and the arts weren’t taken for granted. Music was an outlet for

creativity, a social meeting ground, and during my formative years I

was absolutely immersed in it.

The cello has been the key to opening doors to all the things that make

me who I am. The cello is not the end-all but it has given me the opportunity

to explore myself and the world. I do nothing for publicity,

the things that I do are based on making a difference for others. It’s not

about what I think people will believe in, or how I might draw attention

to myself. I do things that are personally driven, because I feel like

I’ve known who I am for a long time. To know who you are is to know

what you want, and to believe in yourself. One needs to focus on that,

and to share it with others to help them find themselves.

As a cultural director, sculpting the path of a region, or as an Artistic

Director, I want to give artists a platform to express themselves. I also

try to create a platform that teaches them how to find themselves,

based on my childhood - safe and supportive environments for young

people. The greatest thing one can do is teach, because it teaches you

how to keep exploring which works to improve oneself. The recording

process to me is an education in and of itself. It’s a way to explore a

particular project, but it’s also a document... a snapshot of your process.

A recording is something that you share, where you invest your

lifeblood, to preserve where you were at that time in your life.

There was a pivotal moment when I was 12 that allowed me to become

an active and communicative participant in life. At that time following

my concerto debut, I vividly remember two things. I remember

playing, which I did at the time mostly with my eyes shut. I remember

opening my eyes and looking out into the concert hall. Everyone I

could see had their eyes closed. As I reminisce, I remember thinking

“Wow, music has helped them to escape.” My role in the hall at that

moment, amongst the people on stage, was to give the audience a very

special place outside of their lives. Backstage at the same concert, a

man in a suit came up to me and gave me some advice. “If you can

find something you love to do in this life, and you can live your life

doing it, you’ll never work a day in your life.” This is a generic saying,

but if you love what you do, it’s not work. I thought about it for about

5 seconds, and I realized that music and communication was what

I wanted to do with my life. From that point on, all I wanted to do

was to figure out how to make that possible. Of course, that involves

practicing huge amounts daily. I learned during that point in my life

that it’s not “Practice makes perfect,” it’s “Practice makes permanent.”

I realized after several years of repetition in practicing, that I had to be

very careful because everything I practiced, if I practiced it wrong,

was perfectly wrong.

I have a very unusual feature about my body - my left hand is much

larger than my right hand. In fact, my hand was even larger than my

teacher’s hand. Every time he would give me a fingering or a bowing

lesson, I would question it. This wasn’t because I was questioning him,

but it didn’t feel right to my hand. He was taken aback by this, by the

audacity of a then 15 year old student questioning his teacher. What

he didn’t understand was that I wanted it to feel right and natural.

He made a deal with me, that I could do any fingering that I wanted,

unless I missed, and then I would have to use his teachings. From

that day forward, I started formulating an understanding of the cello

based on what I could learn from studying the piece from my unique

perspective. Such a big part of this formula was also going to see the

National Symphony every weekend, with incredible musicians like

Yo-Yo Ma, Janos Starker, Rostropovich, Franz Helmerson, Gary

Hoffman, Paul Tortelier - every week was someone else at that level.

I didn’t just watch, I was absorbing during those formative years. I

came up with a different approach to the cello - it wasn’t just a melding

of historical styles, it was also trying to understand why we do the

things we do. I didn’t want to be part of the grapevine effect because it

didn’t work for me. When I started recording, I started getting many

more questions about how I did what I did. Cellists are very community

driven, and they do share. This is why we have cello festivals,

publications - this is why a lot of cellists throughout history have been

community organizers (ie. David Finckel, Ralph Kirshbaum). Ludwig

Masters, a publisher under the umbrella of Kalmus, asked me if I

would publish editions to document the approach that fits me, in the

hopes of benefitting future cellists. I have six editions out now, and

I am slowly but surely working through the cello repertoire. That’s a

legacy thing, so people will understand not just sonically what I was

linked to in my life, but physically what I was doing as a cellist.

I was only in Suzuki for about four years. What I remember distinctly

was the physicality and how the teachers emphasized the use of the

ears. I remember being so specific about how to hold the instrument

and the bow. I remember holding everything in my hands and arms in

a certain way, and then trying to copy the sound I was hearing to make

a nice sound on my own. I learned to use my ears to get to that goal.

I remember trying to vibrate, and wanting it so badly that I would

literally shake my cello! I was always trying to make a nice beautiful

vibrato, but nobody was teaching that, they were basically teaching

the structure of the instrument only. After 4 years, my parents (being

musicians themselves) really wanted me to read music.

Following Suzuki, I started studying with a cellist from the National

Symphony who began putting me through the structure of etudes -

Schroder, Popper, Piotti, Sevcik, concerti and of course Bach. This

helped me see what all these tools were being sharpened for - Suzuki is

a great way to teach children. In my opinion, this is the way children

learn how to speak. It’s mimicking and the teacher’s job is to ensure

that there is enunciation. Repetition helps to refine the execution, and

just as a child watches an adult repeat a word to clarify, Suzuki teaches

you to refine your playing by hearing a phrase or a measure multiple

times. I was lucky to have been in an area with really wonderful teachers

who put a sound in my ear. We would begin repertoire while doing

etudes, but when a problem occured in a piece technically, my teacher

would go back into the etude books and find the specific etude to

remedy the problem. I was studying all the music and technical works

at the same time. During my study of the Saint Saens concerto, I was

given a Popper etude that I worked on for a while until I could see how

applying a certain technique made a musical effect possible in the concerto.

My teacher studied with Orlando Cole, a master teacher at Curtis.

Cole had his own process which was passed along to me through

my teacher. I was fortunate at age 18 to study with Cole myself, and

it was interesting to see how the original source of this information


differed and resembled my experience.

I began to awaken as a cellist in my early

teens. I started to recognize what I was

playing. I began making these Olympian tests

for myself. If you looked at my book, my goal

was to pass off an etude each week. That was

where the idea of “practice makes permanent”

really came into play. I had to learn all these

techniques which were all new to me. It’s kind

of like riding a bike. When you’re attempting

to learn a skill, it’s very foreign until it works,

and then it’s familiar from that day forward.

That was a funny time in my life - learning

spiccato, double stops, marcato, detache,

and all the other terms and their execution.

Popper was huge for me, but it was not the was the end-all. During my

high school years, I didn’t perform all the

etudes using that method, because my teacher

felt some were redundant, and we were

pulling them out as needed to address other


One thing that became an issue was that I

had to find a way to make my left hand

more efficient. For a long time, my fingers

seemed to each have a different driver. I

would put one down and the others would

release and go all over the place. I also dealt

with collapsed knuckles. I justified this

because Rostropovich had collapsed joints

when he played. Someone told me that when I

played like Rostropovich, no one was going to

mention it! It was very hard to keep my hand

unified. The person who probably has the

most gorgeous left hand around is Lynn Harrell.

It’s magic watching his left hand work.

Watch for the efficiency - every action is both

a reaction and a preparation. When I saw him

play in the mid-80s, it was a revolution. When

I heard his playing, that was the kind of playing

I heard in my head. It was vocal playing,

not cello playing. The connection between the

notes that I always wished to hear was like the

singing I did around the house. I had never

heard someone so beautifully sing on the cello

before I heard Lynn Harrell play. I’m very on

top of all my students that I come in contact

with, “be very aware of your left hand!”

When I first moved to El Paso I played golf. I

was ok, but not great. I would practice these

strokes before I would take the swing. I was

playing with an older gentleman one day, and

he would just walk up and hit it - BAM! And

I’d go up and try 4 test swings and then hit it.

I asked him why he didn’t test, and he told me

that he only had enough energy for one round

of golf that day. Since I was hitting four or five

times per shot, I was playing 4 or 5 times the


ounds he was. I thought this was something

I could try to apply to the cello, and try to

find a way to play with the least impact on my

body, with maximum efficiency. This is one

of the main ways to eliminate fatigue. This is

how I choose fingerings. My goal is that you

won’t hear the technique. Our job as musicians

is to put in all this hard work behind the

scenes to remove the sounds of “technique”

in the music. I don’t want to hear great cello

playing, I want to hear great music.

As I progressed through my

life from recordings as a teen

to now, I don’t hear my cello

playing as much as I hear the

music. I don’t want to hear a

fingering - if I hear how I’m

doing something it’s a problem.

The other aspect that was a

problem for me was that I

was a very strong, energetic

young man, and I put that into

my playing. When I was 18, a

teacher told me that my career

was going to be officially over

by my late 20s. He told me to

refine my playing, and let my

body play for me. This concept

of “pulling” sound rather than

“pushing” sound, this vocabulary

helped me understand

that I was working way too

hard. If you let the music come

out and don’t force it, it’s freer

and more beautiful. At 18, I

began working at using the big

muscle groups. I experimented

with posture, endpin lengths,

use of the Stahlhammer (bent)

endpin, chairs, etc. just to

make sure I was not headed

for injury. I needed to give the

amount of energy necessary

for a passage and no more.

During that time period, the

mannerisms and affectations in

my playing disappeared. Before that I jumped

around and moved - the more I showed, the

more I felt. I wanted to hear it in my sound

instead. That led me to contemplate what kind

of sound I wanted. Do you want a sound that

is overly expressive? Do you want refinement?

What does refinement mean? Who in the past

has represented this ideal to you?

The moment you start to realize that, you

gravitate towards those musicians from the

past. You develop a sense of self and what you

want. A perfect example of a beautiful posture

and a natural approach to the instrument is

Leonard Rose. He massages the sound out

with each hand, everything is flexible. When

he pulls a down bow, his hand sinks into the

bow. The stick moves into the first knuckle

and the palm comes down, pulling down. On

the upbow, the hand lifts like a paintbrush.

The endpin for Leonard Rose and Lynn

Harrell is exemplified by the ability to stand

up at any moment. This was present in Janos

Starker’s pedagogy and he always enforced it.

Bach for Cello

Six Suites

for Violoncello Solo

BWV 1007-1012

The most popular edition

of the Cello Suites with fingering

and bowing by A. Wenzinger

BA 320

Scholarly critical performing

edition consisting of 7 volumes

(music volume, text booklet,

facsimiles of the 5 sources)

Urtext · BA 5216

„It is a very innovative publication,

setting a new standard for performance

studies for the next century.“

(Bach Bibliography)



in A minor

However you sit playing the cello, you need to

be able to stand up at any given moment. You

can’t contort yourself and still pull the maximum

beauty of sound. I found that position

in my early 20s. Before that, I was all over the

map - endpin at 4 feet long, or 4 inches long...

all different ways. Now when I hear someone

play, based on their sound production, I can

probably tell you how they are sitting - this

is based on tension in the sound, release in

sound, and also how the left hand is working.

If the left hand is tight, it’s because the body

is tight too. If your right hand is clawing the

for Violoncello, Strings

and Basso continuo

after BWV 593

BA 5136

Arranged by Joachim F. W. Schneider

Piano reduction · BA 5136-90

Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous concerto

for organ BWV 593 is an arrangement

of Antonio Vivaldi’s concerto op. 3 no. 8

from L’Estro Armonico for two solo violins,

strings and basso continuo.

Our new edition, in turn, is an arrangement

of this organ concerto and has been

scored for violoncello solo, strings and

basso continuo. It was commissioned

for Sol Gabetta.

Idiomatic arrangement for cello

Welcome addition

to the cello concerto repertoire

bow, your left hand will be tight. If one hand

is relaxed the other will be as well.

My warmup routine (and this is at 41 years

old) is all about sound. You have to have a

gorgeous warm sound as a cellist - if you don’t

have that, what do you have?! I tune, and

while I’m tuning I’m starting to release and

think about my bow. I slowly start to put

my fingers down on the strings, and gradually

introduce vibrato. This is partially to warm

my fingers up and partially to open my ears.

I start working on pitch

bending to start opening my


ears further, and shift to hear

the things between the notes.

I slide around slowly here and

there, maneuvering my way

up the fingerboard into thumb

position and start working on

opening my hand up to feel

comfortable in higher ranges.

Mostly, I’m trying to play

beautiful notes. I’m also playing

on all different sides of my

fingers. When you looked at

Rostropovich’s callouses, there

was a line from the bottom of

his fingers all the way to the top.

It wasn’t just at the end of the

fingers that he played. He used

every single part of the whole

last half inch of his finger to

produce the sounds he wanted

to produce. I employ some

spiccatos and bow exercises.

These were more important to

me when I was younger and

trying to sharpen these tools.

That’s not my first priority at

this point. I do scales when

I’m warming up. The scale is

the perfect way to work on

your playing. You’re working

on intonation, vibrato, sound

production, shifting, moving

around the instrument, trying

to make the strings even. All music really

comes down to is broken down scales. I’ll play

scales in whatever keys the pieces I’m playing

contain in 3 or 4 octaves, very slowly. I’m very

aware of my left hand’s efficiency. I’m not a

big believer in extensions, because I believe

that they are variable. It comes down to theory

vs. practice. When I’m on stage, depending

on lots of things, the most important thing is

that my hand is relaxed. It’s vital that what I’ve

practiced is the same whether it’s cold in the

room, hot, humid, dry, whatever the situation.

I’ve found in my experience that extensions


vary. When I’m practicing my scales, I typically open it by tilting my

hand back slightly. It’s the equivalent of playing in thumb position and

vibrating on the D or A strings, and then bringing that hand straight

back into first position or second position with your thumb still up,

and then positioning the thumb back behind the neck. Your hand

remains flexible in the knuckles and all the other joints, rather than

squaring it off. Those reaches stop being extensions, which pertain to

a square hand. When I put down my second finger a half step higher

than normal, my hand is already in motion to curl back into a comfortable

ball. My hand is never fully open for more than a millisecond

this way. So many times when you’re playing in first position, your

hand is squared off with the fingers perpendicular to the strings, you

will encounter issues as you shift up the neck. If you practice in the

low positions with your fingers angled back as they would be in thumb

position (as exemplified by Feuermann), you’ll have freedom in your

hand. I ask students to vibrate and move their arms around (without

collapsing the finger) and it helps them to add flexibility even at the

knuckle. I prefer students to work on this every day.

For posture, I like to stand behind students and lay a hand on their

shoulders to reduce tension there. When they are vibrating, I’ll touch

their elbow to drop that and it increases the beauty of that motion and

makes it more expansive.

In my teens, I spent about 25-30 minutes a day just experimenting

on the instrument. I was exploring how I could push the limits on the

cello - sonically and technically. I just wanted to see based on recordings

that I listened to, if I could find a way to emulate the sound on

my own cello. My teacher at the time gave me the freedom to try and

do these things however possible. I try to pass this on to my students,

telling them if I don’t notice what they’re doing, then do it. Everyone’s

vibrato and sound are different. I just don’t want to see a problem that’s

going to be a bigger problem later.I used to record myself practicing

to help understand more about my playing. These days, because I play

under pressure so often, and because I have done a great number of

recordings in my career, I now know what it sounds like externally

based on what I’m doing on the cello. That’s a practiced place that

I wasn’t in 5 or 6 years ago. I was going back and forth, playing and

listening all the time. Technologically speaking, things have changed

so much recently. Now, I’ll put my iPad on the stand and film myself

playing so I can decide whether the vibrato is too wide or the shift

is too much, or if it looks like I’m not playing comfortably. I find in

cello playing if it looks awkward, it will sound awkward. If something

sounds off in a recording, I can guarantee I will see some contortion in

the cellist’s playing. The body, as it gets older, will shut down because it

can’t sustain that kind of physicality.

I think practicing in front of a mirror is a really good idea because it

gets you out of your own playing. I also prefer players who don’t stare

down at their instruments while playing, because looking straight

ahead frees up the body and allows your ears to capture some of the

ambient quality of the sound. Instead of crouching in, you want to

project the sound out. If your chest is open (only possible with your

head up), then you can play open and your sound can ring out. I

always ask the student after they play what they thought, how they felt,

what can they do better. Usually in group settings, we go around and

ask what the other students have observed, and this is very beneficial

for discovering ways to improve. Any time I show students a video of

their playing, they fix posture issues immediately. They don’t know

that they’re doing these things most of the time. That’s the role a

mirror can play when you’re by yourself.

I have a studio at the University of Texas El Paso, and I typically give

masterclasses on every trip I make for performing. I recorded the Bach

Cello Suites six years ago, and I spent a lot of time trying to figure

out how to do that. You don’t want to just throw it together. I bought

every edition I could possibly find, and most of those were out of

print. I ended up with about 50 editions. They were all over the map

with technical and musical decisions. In Bach there are no musical

directions! I created an interpretation, and then I let go of the editions

for about 2 years. I became very accustomed to playing all 6 suites in

one sitting. I started performing these in preparation for recording,

and after that it became an event to celebrate the CD, which continued

to be a part of my life. As I played all the Bach, students would

come backstage afterwards and ask how I had done this or that. They

would reference the recording, they would even give me their music

so I could write in the fingering or bowing, and they would write me

to let me know that it had worked. It helped me to realize that what

I was doing was effective, and I realized that these solutions weren’t

available in other editions. I went back to the sources I used, and I

found that most of my decisions were my own, not documented in the

other music. Around that time, Kalmus approached me about making

some editions, which is quite rare these days. There are no cellists of

note for the past 25 years that have made editions - we keep spinning

the ones from the 50’s, or we occasionally see a new scholarly edition

from Baerenreiter or elsewhere. These are often not performance

based editions. It took me 2.5 years to document the Cello Suites.

Pablo Casals refused to write down his fingerings and bowings for

Bach because they changed, and I agree with him. The way I justified it

was to include in the editions how I played the Bach in the recordings.

When people buy the recording, they will have a way to follow along

and see what I was doing in that specific instance. It may not be what I

do now, but it’s what I was doing on the recording. Everywhere I went,

people bought the recording and the score. Kalmus asked me to record

and document the other pieces that I play often. This has included the

Dvorak, Saint Saens, Elgar, Rococo Variations, Schelomo. I’m working

my way through the basic core repertoire, and I have enlisted the assistance

of Tim Janoff of the Internet Cello Society to write an introduction

at the beginning of each edition to let cellists know of the history

of these pieces. They should know why these pieces are important in

history, how they were created and for whom they were created.

Growing up, there weren’t any editions that included that information.

I tried to make these editions very helpful, and making it clear that

these are performance editions of how I present the works in concert.

Kalmus has the original plates, and I asked them to have the original

cello part printed into the piano part, so that when someone buys

these editions they can have the piano part as their scholarly reference

to see what the composer wrote, and contrast that with the performance

edition which is designed to work when playing in front of

2000 people.

A conversation I have with students is that being open to a life in

music and having a career with the cello is not simply playing the

Dvorak concerto or playing the Bach Cello suites in recital. Being a

cellist involves doing it all. I didn’t know this growing up. I aspired

to be what I thought I saw great cellists doing. A life in music is so

multi-faceted and it can be so fulfilling if you make it so. We of course

want to be better musicians, but what is it for? Yes, we want to play

well, and of course it’s for us, but we have a responsibility to educate


and stimulate the audiences to be our audiences.

I had a student recently say that he was graduating, and he told me he wanted to do what I do. I asked him what he thought I did. His answer

was “Play concerts.” I was shocked! The concerts are one sliver of what a person can do. If it were all based on concerts alone, it would be very

limited. On every trip I take, I get off the plane, and the first thing I ask is “How can I help?” I perform in prisons, libraries, nursing homes,

anywhere that will have me. I have played in a neonatal ICU for the mothers and the young babies, using the power of music to soothe and heal.

I give classes at the local universities for the cellists there. I perform free concerts for Rotary Clubs and other service organizations. This is all in

addition to playing the Elgar concerto, for instance with a Symphony Orchestra. During the five days I am in a particular city, I can play a piece

twice on paper, but then again about 17 times around that. I even do “Show and Tell” projects at area elementary schools so the kids can learn

about the basic fundamentals of the cello. Many students feel like they simply cannot run at this pace, but this is the reality of what I do.

What drives me is seeing how music changes people. That’s why I get on a plane every day, and wake up in a different place every day, to see that

one moment where people can escape through the power of music.



The String Area and The UTEP Symphony Orchestra


Mr. Zuill Bailey

for his many significant

achievements and for his

consummate service to UTEP and our musical


Stephanie Meyers, String Area Coordinator

Violin, Viola

Stephen Nordstrom

Violin, Viola

Zuill Bailey


Erik Unsworth

String Bass

Lowell E. Graham

Director of Orchestral Activities


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