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Cello Method - Gabriel Koeppen

Posted on 7th March 2017 in ABRSM Baritone & Euphonium Bassoon Brass Cello Christmas Clarinet Composers Diplomas Double Bass Exam Flute Guitar Harp Harpsichord Hints & Tips Horn Jazz Keyboard Music Theatre Oboe Organ Percussion Piano Recorder Rock'n'Pop Rockschool Saxophone Singing Site Pages Social Media Strings Theory Trinity Trombone Trumpet Tuba Valentine Viola Violin Woodwind

Koeppen’s new Cello Method 1 and 2 comes with the tag line ‘Have fun playing the Cello’ with an emphasis on playing a variety of styles from the very beginning rather than focussing on purely classical music, as is so common with cello tutors. Despite this emphasis there is a real push to provide the student with a broad understanding of the music they are playing, the theory behind it, and the techniques required to make a piece a musical achievement rather than a task to be got through.

The book is definitely aimed at the older learner, recommended for 10 years – adults, there are no pictures to soften the learning process. However, the tutor follows a very logical development, beginning with how to hold the cello and an explanation of the different elements of the instrument you are about to start learning. Before even approaching playing the cello there are a couple of pages on notation with tasks to ensure the student has a basic understanding before trying to read any music. From this point on the music begins, starting with a traditional use of pizzicato and open strings, each piece also comes with a teacher cello duet part and most with a CD accompaniment to play along with at home. For every couple of pieces there are new explanations of musical markings and technique tips, gently introducing the student to new ideas while providing a fast enough pace that the learning process isn’t too static.  Interspersing these are also exercises to ensure the student really understands the music they are reading, with a focus on composition to use new notes and rhythms experienced in the pieces and inspire creativity in the student.

The stand out feature of the book is the external resources suggested. Most pieces and some exercises come with a CD accompaniment and many have a piano accompaniment or additional third cello part available to download. This use of extra learning aid is proving increasingly popular to make the learning process more engaging, particularly for younger students. Koeppen signals everytime he has provided additional aid with a handy symbols system, including leading teachers and students to an accompanying tune book which can be used to provide extra practice of new skills learnt. As well as this he provides extra lesson tips and practice tips, pointing both teachers and students in the right direction to achieve most from each new piece and exercise. Like the lesson books, the tune books also come with a CD, so can again be practiced with at home, the tune books provide a wealth of cello duets as well as having a piano accompaniment to maximise the use and enjoyment of each tune.

By the time the student has worked their way through book 1 the pieces are already much more complex, using a range of notes, accidentals and rhythms to explore a variety of styes, inlcuding classical, pop, jazz and folk. The emphasis on technique and understanding throughout suggests an aim at real musicality when playing, rather than simple reading the music and ‘getting through’ the pieces.

Book 2 in the series continues with similar focuses, developing the students skills and understanding at a constant but controlled rate, and again with supporting CD, downloads and a second tune book matching the higher level of playing achieved. There is a third lesson and supporting tunes book in the process of being published but are not yet available-watch this space!

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