What characteristics should a teacher teaching an adult have in your opinion?
Patience and flexibility. Because if the body doesn’t learn as fast as at six or ten, the head goes on and would like to know everything already. I can’t spend hours and hours learning difficult studies, scales, and arpeggios, because my body can’t do it. My teacher had to adapt the lessons in order not to make them too difficult but, at the same time, I had to agree to study some technique. I don’t know how he always manages to be so kind and always repeat the same things. I don’t know if he behaves in the same way with all his students (maybe I have a head too hard), but, with me, he must always repeat the same things and then again … and again.
At first, to understand how you had to place your hands on the instrument and how you had to move them, you looked at how your teacher did, you listened to his theoretical explanations or you simply tried until you got the result you wanted?
I have done all this and I have also watched many videos on the web. I am not very tall and I have very short fingers, especially the little fingers. I had to change the 4/4 cello to a 7/8. Now, I’ve been playing for almost three years, but I still have problems with the bow direction. I found myself a large mirror and I try to look at myself while I play to check where this bow is going because sometimes it seems to like sliding (and it is not artistic ice-skating) on the strings. And my professor still has to make corrections to me every lesson. I watch it, then I try to do the same. Then I forget again …
Have you ever taken an online lesson? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of this type of lesson?
Since we are quarantined for Covid, I have been taught online. Better than nothing … I would have been desperate if I could no longer have lessons in attendance: I can’t wait to go back to my professor’s study. When I started classes, I remember that he often turned around me, checking my position. It seemed so strange to me. It certainly would not have been possible online. Another thing is that it is not easy to work on sound quality online and so often I do not quite understand how I should do to improve myself. Maybe I should buy headphones, I don’t know. I think online lessons are good for advanced students but, for beginners, they are not ideal.
Have you ever tried playing with someone else? If so, what were the difficulties to overcome, and what emotions did you feel?
I played once in Venice with some beginner friends like me: a cellist, a violist, a violinist, and a flutist. It was something very intense. The first difficulty was to distinguish the sound of my instrument as a whole: I no longer knew if I was playing the right notes or not. Then, there is the rhythm … alone I can slow down or accelerate as I want, but with the others … I felt completely lost. And it was unknown music for all of us. But in the end, I realized that playing with other instruments makes music richer, deeper. And I really enjoyed living these moments. Unfortunately, I don’t know any musicians from me to redo the experience.
What pieces are you studying now and which ones would you like to play in the future?
Now I’m learning the Sonata Prima by Giovanni Battista Platti. I’m also trying the first Capriccio by Dall’Abaco, Schubert’s Ave Maria, to learn vibrato, and a study by Schroeder. And then the scales. My favorite music is that of the Italian Baroque. I would like to play all this, especially Lanzetti, Vandini, Pericoli, Giminiani, etc … The best thing for me would be to be reborn in the body of a cellist in my next life because in this I fear that I will not have time to become good enough to play these tracks.
Today the Internet gives musicians enormous possibilities to broaden their horizons by also discovering unknown repertoires. What are the compositions that you think are most beautiful among those you have discovered more recently?
I must say that the MyCello site made me discover the cello repertoire. I knew almost nothing before I started playing. Every day I find something new and beautiful. A little while ago I discovered Leonardo Leo and Berteau. I also discovered Angelo Maria Fioré and Diego Ortiz in an Early Italian Cello course with Elinor Frey. Last year I met Miaskosky, Rontgen, Pejacevic and many others.
Since you particularly like baroque music, if someone who has never listened to this kind of music asked you for advice on an author to listen to, which would you recommend? And which compositions in particular?
I wouldn’t be able to recommend just one. But I’m always excessive! I would feel like a traitor to suggest only Vivaldi or Porpora or Willem de Fesh, etc … This music speaks softly to my heart. I need it every day.
Is there a cellist in particular that you listened to live and that you particularly appreciate? And any cellist you would like to have the opportunity to listen to live?
The first cellist I listened to in a live-concert is the great YoYo Ma, many years ago. He was young then and so alive on the stage. He was playing looking at the other musicians behind him with huge smiles and I wondered how he managed to play and almost have a conversation with others at the same time. An unforgettable evening! Then I felt a great desire to learn to play the cello, but it was not possible, with the intense professional life I was living. Now the concerts that I like most are those in small halls, such as that of the Squero in Venice or in the Sale Apollinee of La Fenice. I feel closer to both artists and music.