Frequently Asked Questions


How do you work with musicians?

I work with musicians in a number of different ways, according to their needs and interests. You're welcome to choose any or all of the approaches listed below.

  • the study of coordination, movement, sensory perception, tension and relaxation, and the mastery of your habits and reflexes.

  • the development of daily practice strategies, instrumental and vocal technique, interpretation, concert preparation, and the taming of stage fright.

  • the study of ear-training, theory, and analysis (mostly within the tradition embodied by the late Nadia Boulanger), all of which are organically integrated into my music-making and teaching.

  • the study of prosody - the rhythmic structure of music combined with the rhythmic organization of the physical gestures that comprise instrumental and vocal technique.

  • the study of improvisation, both as a creative end in itself and as a tool for solving technical and musical difficulties.

  • traditional cello lessons (informed by all of the above), covering every aspect of technique, sound production, and interpretation.

Who can benefit from lessons with you?

Over the years I've worked with singers, conductors, and instrumentalists of all levels and backgrounds, including children, adult beginners, amateurs, and professionals in all types of music, such as classical, jazz, pop, folk, and world music.

What musicians have taken lessons from you?

Recent private pupils have included the following:

  • members of Les Arts Florissants, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Berlin Radio Orchestra, the Cologne Philharmonic, and the Lisbon opera orchestra.
  • members of the Turner, Eroica, and Orlando string quartets.
  • concert and recording artists from France, Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Portugal, the USA, and elsewhere.
  • members of the Orchestre National de Lille, in northern France, whom I taught and coached regularly from 1999 to 2006. My students there have included more than forty musicians (and members of the administration), including one of the co-concertmasters and co-principals of most instruments (cello, viola, flute, oboe, French horn, trumpet, and others still).

Besides coaching players of all orchestral instruments, I've also worked regularly with pianists, organists, singers, drummers, saxophonists, recorder players, guitarists, and a master of the zarb (Persian drum); and, more occasionally, with players of the shakuhachi (Japanese flute), the didgeridoo, the tin whistle, the accordion, and the cavaquinho (a Brazilian cousin of the mandolin), among others.

Some recording artists I've worked with:

How many lessons will I need?

Some of my students have had but a single lesson, from which they derived useful insights. My students in the Orchestre National de Lille took a lesson a month, eight to nine times a year; for many of them this fit well with their busy schedules. Other musicians, particularly those visiting me from abroad, have taken concentrated bursts of lessons--sometimes as many as 15 hours of lessons in a week, which can be a time- and money-efficient way of coming to grips with the basic principles of creativity and health in music-making. Others still take weekly lessons similar to those that singers and instrumentalists take from their main teachers.

In sum, there is no set formula for the number of lessons and their frequency, and you'll need to find out which working rhythm suits you best.

What is your musical background?

I studied at the State University of New York's Purchase College (BFA in Music, 1981) and the Yale School of Music (MM in Music Performance, 1983). My main cello teachers were Barney Lehrer, Robert Gardner, Daniel Morganstern, Aldo Parisot, and William Pleeth. The teacher whom I credit with shaping up my musical mind is the pianist Robert Levin, now a professor at Harvard. With him I studied theory, analysis, ear-training, and chamber music. I've also studied singing with the late Roy Hickman (a professor at the Guildhall School in London) and the late Cornelius L. Reid, from whom I've learned as much about the voice as I have about the sensing and thinking processes and the art of pedagogy. I gave cello and chamber music recitals in Brazil, France, the United Kingdom, and the US. I now perform my own compositions and improvisations as a singer and multi-instrumentalist, in a musical style that friends of mine have called "tribal classic" and "neo-shamanic."

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