Books

A Grand Tour of Cello Technique

Year
2018
Publisher
C.F. Peters Corporation

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  • Description

    A Grand Tour of Cello Technique is a thought-provoking practice guide, enabling cellists at all levels to develop their own style through an exploration of different ways of fingering and bowing. The book not only helps cellists improve their playing, but also promotes an understanding of musical art, through nine stimulating chapters:

    • Introducing Twelve Tones
    • Triads and Seventh Chords
    • Circle of Fifths
    • Scales
    • Metronome Games
    • Harmonics and Open Strings
    • Lateral Motion
    • Extended Techniques and a Discussion of the Bow Practicing Together

    With a particular emphasis on music of the 20th and 21st centuries, and its connections with earlier music, Fred Sherry takes the readeron a voyage of discovery of the art and science of cello technique, informed by music ranging from Bach all the way through to Berio.

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Reviews

  • THE STRAD November 2018

    A book like this one is long overdue. This is a treatise for the 21st-century cellist which--most importantly--does not take tonality as a given. Fred Sherry--a major player on the American cello scene for the past five decades who has worked closely with composers Carter, Babbitt and Charles Wuorinen—takes the student through the techniques they need to play music written right up to the present day. Although the first chapters start off with simpler exercises, to use this book fully you would need to be at advanced student or professional level.

    To keep things from getting too heavy, Sherry (who currently teaches at the Juilliard School, at Mannes School of Music and at the Manhattan School of Music) includes his own humorous commentary in boxes, for example, “I like this one!” “You’re not using the first finger all the time, are you?” —as if he were there in the room with you. It’s reassuring to know, too, that all the ideas in the book have been tested out on his students, and often changed as a result of their responses. The very first chapter, “Introducing Twelve Tones," proclaims to be a contemporary approach to technique, with every interval within the octave being given equal prominence in the shifting exercises. The idea of note rows (with examples from Schoenberg and Babbitt) and magic squares is introduced early on; and the chapter on scales doesn’t even bother with traditional major and minor ones, instead starting with pentatonic and Asian scales, with improvised exercises on each pattern, and going on from there.

    All the time, there’s the feeling of Sherry pushing his readers to explore further—for example, he throws them a musical exercise without a clef or a key signature and then asks them to play it in treble clef C major, or alto clef F sharp major, and so on. By Chapter 8 we are on to extended techniques such as quartertone notation, different types of pizzicato and glissando and bowing effects used in contemporary music (one of very few times the bow is mentioned in the book.) “Enjoy!" says Sherry at the end of his "Letter to Teachers," and although it's not for the faint-hearted, the book contains plenty to allow you to do just that.

    – Janet Banks
  • STRINGS magazine December 2018

    There is certainly no more qualified cellist for such a project than Fred Sherry, one of the most versatile artists of this or any other era, who teaches at Juilliard, Mannes, and Manhattan conservatories and has worked closely with Boulez, Knussen, and a Who's Who of American composers. His offering is full of clever ideas and theory, and he writes with charming informality.....the mind behind these brain-teasers and finger-twisters is an impressive, encyclopedic one, and anyone who has the hundreds of hours and the focus needed to master them will feel like a cello behomoth.

    – Robert Battey
  • Jeremy Denk

    Is there another book like this? I don’t think so. It’s a huge accomplishment and the summary of decades of work and wisdom: warmups for every occasion, technique tips mixed with theory lessons, and funny commentary throughout to keep you thinking. It’s for the cellist who wants to know all twelve pitches and how they relate, who wants to play perfect triads and seventh chords and then wander off the map, who wants to nail tough rhythms, chromatic scales, and wild arpeggios—in short, a master course in intonation and harmony, with exercises for all levels and ages. You could spend years on one chapter. Fred Sherry knows so much about music, from well before Bach to the present day, and here he is, sharing the wealth.

  • Richard Aaron

    Fred Sherry's book represents a truly unique way of explaining the choreography of the cello. Cellists of all ages and levels of development will benefit from its study. Sherry's book will become a classic alongside Feuillard, Klengel and Cossmann. Love this book!

  • Anssi Karttunen

    Musicians must relate to all music, old and new. That can only be done by adapting our minds and technique also to the music being written around us. With A Grand Tour of Cello Technique we finally have the tools to bring not only the bow and the fingers but, what is more, the brain of every cellist to the 21st century. After all the work that has been done to learn from history we desperately needed the experience, intelligence and meticulousness of Fred Sherry to show what cello playing has arrived at today.

  • Edgar Meyer

    Fred is the best of teachers. I have been the beneficiary for decades. His love and knowledge of music guide the way for all discussions and create an environment where the student’s interest is allowed to snowball. He helps open lines of inquiry that can lead to unlimited musical growth.

  • Matt Haimovitz

    Fred Sherry’s A Grand Tour of Cello Technique is a must-have for any student of the cello. In this one-of-a-kind, uncompromising, irreverent, empathetic, and challenging technical treatise Fred Sherry breaks new ground in the trajectory begun by the line of great cello artist-pedagogues Duport, Romberg, Gruzmacher, Piatti, Feuilliard, Popper, Starker and others.Explanations are clear, complex concepts made simple and all introduced with Fred's inimitable dry humor. Fred inspires the player to constantly engage with every bow and breath, discouraging routine and rote practice. This book is a rare testament to the holistic approach to cello playing that illuminates the theoretical without ever losing sight of the larger communicative and communal aspect of making music. Thank you Fred for giving us this invaluable resource based on your rich experience and life-long love of the cello. A Grand Tour of Cello Technique will be on my and my students’ stands for years to come.