4 Pieces of Advice for Cellists from the one and only Ralph Kirshbaum

Oct 07, 2015

Recently we launched cello lessons with one of today’s best known cellists, Ralph Kirshbaum. What, you haven’t heard about him? This artist gives you an instant good vibe when he talks and plays. I personally felt that I should start learning how to play the cello asap. He has a flair that boosts one's confidence and ambition within seconds after listening to him. Yeah yeah, you might be thinking that these are just words. Check this full video chapter from his Cello Fundamentals series and get a glimpse of his teaching methods.

Still not convinced? Ok, we have made a list of just 4 of the pieces of advice he gives during an exclusive interview for Play with a Pro. You can watch the full (60 minutes) Interview with Ralph Kirshbaum for free if you enter this code  

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1. How to deal with nerves?

Everyone should find a mechanism for themselves in such a way that they can turn this energy into their advantage and use it positively. Frankly, if you don’t have some nerves when you go out on the stage, you are not going to give your best … you won’t have the kind of inner fire to perform well but on the other  hand you don’t want to be completely paralyzed by the nerves.

I think much of it, is about the mind…you think at a moment like that, you say what happens if it’s not going so well, ohh my goodness it’s a tragedy, the world is coming to an end, but it isn’t …. your mind exaggerates something as being so important. You should keep your focus where it needs to be.


2. Where do you find your inspiration?

I can honestly say having played the cello for 60 years, I still find it from the music … I mean I might go a whole day and not touch the cello  until 6 at night…,  but when I take that cello on my hands, I am absolutely enthralled with the whole process and the sound of the cello. I can literally remember the first time I took a cello at 6 years old and drew the bow on it, it’s an incredible feeling, something so alive and real and I still get that feeling.  

3. What do you suggest to do in those times when you feel a little bit down with your playing?

There are two things that come to my mind. One is at the moment when you are practicing and you are feeling like that, put the cello down and go do something else, just walk away from it, give your mind a change to clear itself...go away, do something that you enjoy, go cook something, or go read a chapter of a book or go for a walk and then come back with a hopefully fresher mind.

The other thing is for example, just recently, one of my friends was giving a recital and it was such an inspiring evening. Go listen to a great artist, you know put your cello down and listen... be overwhelmed and overcome by that, be inspired by that and maybe then go back with a fresh point of view. Because sometimes we become so obsessive about our own personal problems that we lose sight of the perspective  of a musical phrase of a musical structure  of what we really are about.

4. What do you think about listening to recordings when you are preparing a new piece?

Don’t!  After you have studied the score, after you have your own viewpoint, then listen to other recordings, because in a way you are too vulnerable at the beginning stages of learning a piece, to be influenced one way or another and after all what do we hear in a recording? We hear the ultimate decisions made by hopefully a great artist in interpreting a piece, but it’s their decisions and I think you as an artist should have your own inner voice.

Hope these pieces of advice were useful for you guys. Have a good practice time everyone!


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