20undoubtedly something that I needed to learn and now when I play that piece and get to the firstgroup of sixteenth notes and the tempo takes off like crazy, I think of playing it with Serkin andhow seriously darkly and euphonically he played those sixteenth notes instead of racing throughthem. Those are my favorite AHA moments from him.Joining the Guarneri QuartetWhen I joined the Guarneri Quartet, itwas pretty near the time I had my firstcell phone. I was leaving New York inApril of 1999. I had just gotten in mycar and my cell phone rang and whenI answered it, David Soyer said he wasleaving the quartet and the boys wantedto play with me. My knees startedshaking and I said, “Well, no, I’m notgoing to do that,” which, oddly, is how itall began. From that moment on I startedtalking to David quite a bit about thewhole thing and in July I agreed to jointhe quartet.The guys were fantastic and theywanted to keep playing with me… itwas unbelievable. I will never forget that first rehearsal in New York. I never expected in my life to bethe cellist in the Guarneri Quartet. I’ve been a fan first and foremost, but never imagined being thecellist and I originally said “no” because I couldn’t imagine the quartet without him or without any ofthem, for that matter.So in short, I studied with my dream cellist as a student while extremely admiring the Guarneri Quartetfollowed by having the opportunity to rehearse and perform with them for a part of my career. Life istruly incredible.
21How to study with me?Currently, I teach at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Bard CollegeConservatory of Music. One has to be very good in order to be acceptedinto Curtis and if one takes the audition and passes then one has theoption of studying with me or with Carter Grey, a wonderful teacher andcellist. The third option is studying with both of us. It’s really quite simple.There’s no requirement other than passing the audition. Regardless ofage, if we think a student is goodenough then he or she is invited tostudy with us at Curtis. It’s a fantasticschool; anybody that is acceptedinto Curtis should attend. The onlydifference with Bard is a doublemajor is required. One must take asecond degree in something otherthan a primary instrument, but it’s awonderful opportunity, actually. Bardis an amazing school, but don’t attendif you’re just going to practice thecello and not going to study othercourses. It’s a superb opportunity toget a total education and to focus ona second degree in another subject.An extra year is given to complete thedouble degree requirement.Learning How to PracticeFinally, something that I think can be said to help young musicians reallyfalls along the lines of “learning how to practice.” Be willing, when youpractice, to not constantly perform. Be patient and analytical and don’tbe afraid to take things apart. For example, practice the left hand withoutthe bow; practice the bow without the left hand. Consider every aspect ofplaying, try to relax, analyze and take inventory of what you think needsfixing. Remember, nobody ran a marathon the day they were born. Learnto crawl before you walk, don’t be in a hurry and at some point, if not allpoints, be thoughtful about the music. What I’m saying is that if I needto work on my intonation, it’s OK to not be musical and work on gettingmy left hand in the correct spot. Taking things apart can be extremelybeneficial. Isolating the right hand from the left, for example. I personallybelieve working on the left hand without the bow is helpful because youdon’t have to concern yourself with intonation you can concentrate onform and touch.Have clear priorities. It’s very important to be a musician first. If youintroduce yourself to someone and they say, “What do you do?” say, “I’m amusician.” Take pride in yourself as a musician and specify what you playsecond. This, my dear musicians, is how I believe we all should establishsome of the greatest priorities in this world.“I’m not a musicologist; infact, I’m the furthest thingfrom it, but if some things Iheard are correct then there’snothing more significant aboutBeethoven’s soul.”