Master class with Yo-Yo Ma in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory of Music, 2016.
How to use lessons
Hello and Welcome!
As a kid, I was unbelievably fortunate to have had five of the greatest cellists of the 20th century as my mentors, my teachers. With these CelloBello lessons, I want to pass their knowledge and inspiration on to you. And I add my own perceptions from having played more than 3000 concerts, from 50 joyous years of performing and teaching.
Music is humankind's deepest, most personal form of communication. A successful performance transmits a message, affects, moves an audience. Learning to perform demands discussion of the philosophical, the psychological, the intuitive. How do we turn insights, feelings, mood, character into sound? In these lessons, I try to give you the tools of expression - practical, "how to" instrumental advice that will help you create beauty and meaning through your instrument. My greatest joy now is to help those younger than me in their own musical pursuits.
Using CelloBello Video Lessons
The immense satisfaction that comes from productive practice, from the process of striving and acheiving, is possible for everyone. Regardless of age or level, your growth as a player is synonymous with developing your physical and aural awareness - they are the path, the only way to mastery. We take it for granted that as musicians we listen to ourselves, but in reality our brains and hearts are filled with much that can interfere with both good physical habits and true quality listening. Everything I teach, from shaping a phrase, creating a color or bouncing the bow, I relate to a corresponding physical feeling... and to deeper and deeper levels of listening.
View the lesson with real focus and concentration. Most of these lessons are very dense with information -
while they may appear somewhat casual and much like a normal lesson, they have been planned and edited so
that every sentence means something.
Read the Feel, Think and Listen text under the video - they were carefully chosen to help you know how to practice, and there is important, supplementary information not in the video.
View the lesson more than once. Many cellists have told me that re-watching after having practiced and lived with the ideas for a week or so really helps - there is often a point or subtlety that makes more sense after a few days of struggle!
View the Essential Related Videos available to you on the right hand side of each lesson page, as together they lead to more complete understanding. There is no way in a 2 or 3 minute lesson to teach a subject completely, so realize that every lesson by itself is incomplete! All the little pieces of technique affect and inform each other, so watching bundles of related lessons really helps. A collection of isolated cello lessons that the player doesn't integrate is missing the point.
In the end, we want to transcend the frustrating technical difficulties that get in our way so that we can create, express, inspire. Individually and collectively we carry forward the tradition of our art form, enrich our own lives and bring music to those around us. Music is a human need - that's why we play! I hope these lessons help you.- Paul Katz
I still have not found anything more permanent or more beautiful than music.
Artistry is in the details.
Progress is impossible without change.
Cello playing is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration.
There is a performance nirvana, a miraculous interaction of ears, hands, and emotions. Listening awareness is primary in this zone of creative transcendence.
Listening is the conduit through which all physical actions creating expressive results are filtered.
Intelligence is everywhere in the body, nature and the universe.
My goal is to convey a true masterpiece in whatever I play.
Everyone knows what they can’t do–our weaknesses scream at us every day. To perform, you must know what you can do and bring the attention of your audience to those strengths.
Talent has an irrepressible hunger and its only food is the creative process, Feed your talent, for it is food you cannot live without.
Improper body use is like a pebble in your shoe. A nagging discomfort, it can cause severe damage over time.
Thinking is the biggest mistake a dancer can make. You have to feel, to “become”.
Teaching moves through generations. If you believe in the principles that represent the truth in the masterpieces, then you try to preserve those principals. They can be preserved only through teaching.
Variety, variety–no two snowflakes are alike, no two notes are alike.
The fingers have no brains, and they have no ears!
As a teacher, my first task is to teach students how to practice. Once they understand this, they begin to make progress.
Our bodies continually provide us with information, yet we too often ignore or do not understand their messages. Awareness is the first step.
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
The greatest mistake you can make is to be continually fearing you will make one.
If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t trying.
Creativity takes courage.
Teaching should support, inspire, motivate, impart high ideals, and help each to discover and trust their unique talent and strengths.
Music is one of the essentials in human existence, almost identical with eating, sleeping, making love, the basic functions that keep a human being alive. Music simply, is one of the blessings and joys of civilized human existence.
There is no top – there are always further heights to reach.
Criticism does not disturb me, for I am my own severest critic. Always in my playing I strive to surpass myself, and it is this constant struggle that makes music fascinating to me.
Art is it an activity in which one human heart communicates with another human heart.
Living in question is the most creative and stimulating state of being. Doors are always opening in the mind, one is motivated to explore, to observe and to take note.
Don’t perform – just be yourself.
Vibrato is like lipstick – too much is ugly – the right amount and color is beautiful.
Tension is our biggest enemy. We must spend our life undoing it.
Play the fear out and then tone it down.
Even the smallest motion involves your entire body. Your body functions as a unified whole rather than as a collection of isolated parts.Those who focus too much on small motor movements can easily lose this vital connection with the rest of the body.
Real art is one of the most powerful forces in the rise of mankind, and he who renders it accessible is a benefactor of humanity.
Just a little progress every day makes big progress over time.
I’ll stop teaching when I stop learning.
The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
Many people are too small to be teachers, but no one is too big.
Cello playing begins in the back, before the sound.
On artistic conception: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free”.
Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.
Creative talent has an irrepressible hunger, and for the musician, music is the food it cannot live without.
Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.
Through discipline comes freedom.
I was born with an ability, with music in me, that is all. No special credit was due me. The only credit we can claim is for the use we make of the talent we are given.
With every year of playing, you want to relax one more muscle. Why? Because the more tense you are, the less you can hear.
Music is powered by ideas. If you don’t have clarity of ideas, you’re just communicating sheer sound.
When we have a good balance between thinking and feeling… our actions and lives are always the richer for it.
My involvement in the political arena is to make sure there’s a place for culture.
Compassionate people are geniuses in the art of living, more necessary to the dignity, security, and joy of humanity than the discoverers of knowledge.
The art of interpretation is not to play what is written.
Listening awareness is primary in the zone of creative transcendence.