Ask the Teacher - Vladimir Panteleev
The New York-based pedagogue discusses the best way to start youngsters on the cello
How do you start the learning process?
Beginning a stringed instrument is very complicated, especially for children as young as four or five. When they start, I tell them that they are like magicians in the circus: they have to juggle position, left hand, right hand, drawing the bow, pitch, dynamics and phrasing all at once. It’s a big challenge, so we go step by step.
Firstly I show them how to sit properly and I explain why. I say that if they are talented they will be able to play well with bad posture, but soon they will have problems and won’t be able to progress. Some children can’t – or don’t want to – remember this, so I have to keep helping them to hold their bodies in the right position.
I tell all my students to think about what I say. If they can prove they have found a better way of doing something, I will let them do it.