Cello and Violin Lessons

Hartford, CT        |        Amherst, MA

My teaching addresses modern challenges in cello playing, promotes an integrated approach to learning, and supports practice as a result of Informed Intuition through comprehensive cognitive preparation.

The method I have created, Beyond the Octave, allows students absolute freedom over the fingerboard by dealing with the extended positions and the advanced use of the thumb. Informed Intuition teaches musicians how to carve their own paths and find their voices on the cello through careful studies of the repertoire, music history, and theory. Music always starts from the heart, and the artistic approach encourages educated and intelligent choices, with musicians allowing themselves to be vulnerable enough to follow their intuitions. A rich, informed, and educated foundation provides the nutrients for this. In my work with students, I do not dictate permanent solutions and recipes for performing. Rather, music can be played differently and coherently every time. I am a firm believer that technical ability should not be a goal, but rather a tool that is used to clearly convey a musical thought. I encourage students to keep music at the forefront of their performance by utilizing technique as a service to musical expression.

Informed Intuition teaches musicians how to carve their own paths and find their own voices on the cello. The foundation rests not only on careful studies of the repertoire, music history, technique, and theory, but explorations of other arts and cultures. Educated, intelligent choices, informed by thorough studies of music, and buttressed by other artistic experiences, such as actively contemplating paintings, reading literature, and studying different cultures, free players from relying on “correctivess” of technical execution. It is an integrated approach to studying music.
Achieving a satisfying level of performance requires explorations of music history, harmony, structure, technique, and other arts—but most of all, yourself as a human being. Becoming a better musician cannot happen without becoming a better person. Therefore, the most important aspect of being a mentor is to carefully look into the personality of the student. Informed Intuition means drawing out students’ best qualities, addressing their weaknesses, and allowing them to grow and mature as a person and musician. My teaching approach focuses equally on the student’s personality and musicianship, while promoting a deep understanding of music, creating an ever-vulnerable feeling of positive self-criticism and striving to excel on technical and musical planes.

As a teacher, I prefer to teach principles, rather than to give solutions that work only in a specific context. My goal is to educate students who eventually can think for themselves and become inspiring individuals and teachers.

I use innovative methods like the Organized Method of String Playing by Janos Starker with my addendum to it, Beyond the Octave. With my advanced students, I require a thorough knowledge of the scores and the stylistic context of the repertoire. I teach many ways to understand composers’ intentions as well as how to apply technical competency to best execute these musical ideas. I teach an approach to interpreting music, rather than execution of a certain, rigid interpretation. 

I enjoy working with ensembles and especially with the cello ensemble. It provides a great opportunity for students to play together, show off their skills, and learn the subtle differences between chamber and orchestral playing.

Overall, I create a very passionate environment in my studio, invigorating and inspiring other students to pursue their life passions, whether it is in performing or something else. I believe that you can be truly successful if you work hard at something that you love, and every day of my work I try to pass my love for music to others through teaching, conducting and performing.

Institute for Performance Studies

The objective of the Institute.

The Institute for Performance Studies is designed to teach basic musical literacy of classical music written between the years 1700-2000 and to provide the tools needed to achieve a fulfilling and meaningful performance on modern instruments based on an understanding of composer’s demands and stylistic conventions of a given period.

The larger goal is to educate a generation of musicians conscious and knowledgeable about the musical text which is the subject of their profession. As of today, the system of music performance education which applies instrumental playing technique to abstract music, and which perpetuates the idea of executing the text however clearly and beautifully, but literally, will suffice; has failed to produce musicians that understand the music they play and therefore cannot create a memorable and insightful performances. For how can audience experience, the now lost meaning of music, if the performers do not understand the text to the utmost detail including the implications of a period and the needed adjustments to the modern acoustics and instruments.


Formal Structure.

The Institute consists of 4 parts that are taught as separate seminar classes, private lessons, and group coachings. The classes are an exploration of:

Music Language (a study of text and related sonorities).
Cello Technique (clarity in the physical and acoustical communication).
Private Lessons (help with individual problems and questions)
Chamber Music Coachings (practical use in performance)

Outline of Classes.

Below is a sample timetable of a 4-year program by semesters and classes:

Cello Technique Class.





  • Basic Sound Production
  • Introduction to Intonation
  • System of Scales and Arpeggios
  • 4 Major scales (C, G, D, F)
  • On-the-string bowings
  • Simple double-stops
  • Practice efficiency 1
  • D. Popper: High School of Cello Playing
  • J. Starker: Organized Method of String Playing


  • Systems of Intonation
  • Expressive Intonation
  • Off-the-String bowings
  • 4 Major Scales (A, E, Bb, Eb)
  • Vibrato
  • Practice efficiency 2
  • D. Popper: High School of Cello Playing
  • J. Starker: Organized Method of String Playing 
  • J. Duport: Etudes
  • J. Dotzauer: Etudes


  • Thirds, Octaves, and Tenths. 
  • Velocity and Synchronization
  • 4 Major Scales (B, F#, Ab, Db)
  • D. Popper: High School of Cello Playing
  • J. Starker: Organized Method of String Playing 
  • J. Duport: Etudes
  • A. Piatti: Caprices 1, 4
  • J. Merk: Etudes


  • 4 Minor Scales (a, e, b, d)
  • Advanced sonorities, coloring
  • Vibrato shading
  • D. Popper: High School of Cello Playing
  • J. Starker: Organized Method of String Playing 
  • J. Duport: Etudes
  • A. Piatti: Caprices 2, 3


  • Concerto Sound
  • Acoustical balance issues
  • 4 Minor Scales (f#, c#, g, c)
  • J. Duport: Etudes
  • A. Piatti: Caprices 5, 7
  • D. Popper - Showpieces


  • Total bow control
  • Sound-guided fingerboard
  • 4 Minor Scales (ab, eb, f, bb)
  • First attempt to pass all scales, double stops and arpeggios
  • J. Duport: Etudes
  • I. Gaydamovich: Beyond the Octave
  • A. Piatti: Caprices 6, 8
  • D. Popper: Showpieces


  • Self-prepared piece
  • Final attempt to pass all scales, double stops and arpeggios
  • A. Piatti: Caprices 9, 10
  • M. Bukinik: Concert Etudes
  • D. Popper: Showpieces


  • Extended cello techniques
  • Ricochet 
  • A. Piatti: Caprices 11, 12
  • I. Gaydamovich: Beyond the Octave
  • N. Paganini: Violin Caprices
  • F. Grutzmacher: Etudes

Music Language Class.


Outline and Readings



  • Basics of musical text: slur, appoggiatura, ornaments, harmonic movement, genre and tempo relations
  • L. Mozart, J. Quantz, J. Gunn, C.P.E. Bach
  • Instruments and bows of the period
  • Dances
  • J. S. Bach


  • Characteristics of classical style
  • Playing techniques: sound and vibrato attitudes
  • Tempo
  • C. Brown, Ch. Rosen, L. Mozart, C.P.E. Bach
  • Instruments and bows of the period
  • L. van Beethoven
  • J. Haydn
  • W. A. Mozart


  • Introduction to the Romantic period
  • New meaning of the musical text
  • Tempo
  • Songs
  • Instruments and bows of the period
  • F. Schubert
  • F. Mendelssohn
  • G. Onslow

4th & 5th 

  • In-depth look at the works by Schumann and Brahms
  • Their styles and notation
  • Vibrato
  • Clara Wieck and Josef Joachim: their students and legacy
  • Early recordings. Busch Quartet, A. Cortot, A. Rubinstein
  • Pablo Casals
  • R. Hausmann
  • C. Brown, Ch. Rosen, F. Davies
  • Cobbet’s Cyclopedic Survey
  • R. Schumann
  • J. Brahms
  • A. Dvorak
  • E. Grieg
  • P. Tchaikovsky


  • French sensibilities about sound and form
  • Harmonic language and its sonorities
  • Vibrato
  • C. Saint-Saens
  • C. Franck
  • G. Faure
  • C. Debussy


  • Soviet Russia and its influences on the world
  • M. Rostropovich
  • S. Richter
  • S. Prokofiev
  • D. Shostakovich


  • New directions
  • Perfecting the notation – literal treatment of the text
  • Looking back on old music through 20thcentury glasses
  • Modern recordings and its influence
  • A. Webern
  • I. Stravinsky
  • W. Lutoslawski
  • K. Penderecki
  • A. Part
  • Music of today

Private Lessons.

This portion of the Institute adheres to standard, 50min weekly lessons and is designed to talk about individual problems in playing and to further clarify the seminars’ topics. This is the time also to work on the additional repertoire and performance preparation.

Chamber Music Coachings.

The chamber music ensemble plays a vital role at the Institute. Each semester a different, and the selected ensemble is enrolled at the Music Language class and prepares one piece in its entirety based on the repertoire in question for a final performance.

Sample Semester Outline for a Musical Language Class:

Semester 1: Music of Bach and Baroque.

Repertoire, designated according to the technical level of students:

6 Suites for Cello Solo
3 Sonatas for Cembalo and Viola da Gamba (arr. for cello).
Trio Sonatas by Corelli, Handel, Telemann, Vivaldi, or others.


Overview of the seminar and repertoire assignments/requests. Matching of the chamber groups. Discussion of required texts.
Discussion of main harmonic functions in the Baroque period using the assigned repertoire.
Dance meters, tempi, and rhythms.
Exploration of Violin Sonatas and Partitas as well as dances from keyboard works.
6 Suites manuscripts - ambiguities of the slurs.
L. Mozart - Violin Treatise. Discussion of the meaning of a slur.
Embellishments - J. S. Bach, C. P. E. Bach, J. Quantz.
Slurs in the repertoire.
Search for phrasing in contention to meter, dance rhythms and harmony.
Polyphony in Cello Suites.
Discussion of the art, emotional content, and meaning of the repertoire in question.
Trying out a Baroque cello, gut strings, and baroque bows.
Discussion of 20th century approach to Baroque music - acoustics, instruments, attitudes.

Transferring the sound to a modern instrument - what changes, what can be preserved: tuning, strings, bows, halls.

Final performance.

Sample Semester Outline for a Cello Technique Class:

Semester 1: Basics.

Repertoire, designated according to the technical level of students:

D. Popper: High School of Cello Playing
J. Starker: Organized Method of String Playing


Overview of the seminar. Etude assignments.
Physics of the sound production. Contact point, speed, weight.
Aesthetics of Sound. String sound limitations and options.
Dynamics versus colors.
Philosophy of bow hold and bow usage.
Philosophy of the left hand shape, position and movement.
Double-stops: introduction to Starker’s method. Centering intonation.
System of 4 0ctave scales and arpeggios.
Intonation - historical lineage. Well-tempered pitch versus expressive intonation. Coloring the piano.
Intonation: melody versus harmony. Synthesis.
Self-repeating cycle of technique: sonority ideas -> search -> discovery -> new ideas
Variety of on-the-string bowings.
Learning a piece - structural guidance. Practicing towards temporary versus final results.
Understanding the whole, taking piece apart, putting it back together, feeling the whole again.
Practicing efficiency - spotting of problems, isolation, experimentation, temporary solution, repetition, final solution, internalization.

Final etude performances and scale mock auditions.

Teaching style

4 year curriculum for advanced students


With beginners, I focus on getting the fundamentals very solid, as this is the crucial foundation for future improvement. Bad habits that are not solved can completely prevent further development, and can even cause injury. 

Depending on the age of the student as well as their personality and learning abilities, I craft lessons for maximum individual benefit. With adult beginners, a fair amount of time is spent learning the flexibility of fingers and building strength while being relaxed. With children as young as 4 years old, the focus is mostly on making the music lessons a place to which they would like to come back, while insisting on very simple tasks.

Ear training and rhythm practice, along with theoretical knowledge, are essential to develop quickly and take on new and challenging repertoire. I usually begin my students with repertoire from the Suzuki Cello Method books and, as they progress, move into standard repertoire of the cello.

Older children and adult beginners learn from Suzuki Cello Books and various other methods, including famous Russian "Khrestomatia", which has been in use since the 1950s and guides players from year 1 through 12, repertoire guidelines designed by the French Cello Society, and my own methods. I include Etudes and Scales, the daily bread of every musician and an excellent foundation for intonation and pure technique. 

Intermediate and ADVANCED

Intermediate to Advanced students begin to play the standard cello repertoire. Starker's Method of Organized String Playing is a required exercise book in my studio. Intermediate and Advanced students also learn about playing in appropriate historical styles and are required to follow my curriculum (outlined below) for the pieces they are currently studying.

General Philosophy