happy birthday, yo-yo!

ma-yo-yo-eventSure, a child prodigy that attended the Juilliard School, Columbia, and Harvard, befriended Pablo Casals, and performed on 17 grammy-award-winning tracks – that is a person that should be celebrated. From the professional musician perspective, there isn’t much that Yo-Yo Ma hasn’t done.

yo-to-elmoWhat I enjoy about his career is how he has worked to make classical music accessible to everyone. Bach becomes less intimidating if you look at it through visual arts. Collaborations within many musical nationalities have changed how we view the soundtrack of our lives.

To the cellist that has helped to make our instrument more accessible to the world, happy 61st birthday! See below for an eclectic playlist of his discography…


a dream that won’t die

BlarneyI’m a cellist. And I wouldn’t want to be anything else (except maybe a professional coffeehouse wanderer.) But every once in a while I can’t help but wish I could fiddle. It just sounds so fun, with the beautifully played complex string crossings, rhythms, and ornaments and I love the Irish melodies. (I must get it from my Grandmother Mitchell.)

But most of this incredible music isn’t meant for the cello – it is property of violinists. I sadly accept that, except those rare moments when I say “No! They don’t get to shut us out of this!” and I run back to the studio to try my hand at it for a few hours…until my coffee cup runs dry.

So, during these odd moments in my career I have collected a few books that I truly enjoy receiving inspiration from, and I’d love to share it with you!

Fiddle booksFavorite Celtic Melodies – This I love for sight reading with my younger students. It is great for early book 2 and fun to introduce some drones and ornaments.

Castles, Kirks, and Caves – Wonderful for book 3+ students as they can get quite complicated. This is also where we can start to alter melodies to fit our cellos.

The Irish Cello Book: Traditional Tunes & Techniques by Liz Davis Maxfield – If you really want to know how to adapt the cello/use it properly with Irish fiddle music, this is your manifesto. I particularly love the parts about how to adapt tunes to sound good on our cellos without ruining the music.

So, there you have it. Until the fiddle bug attacks again, I will leave you with a wonderful fiddling cellist Natalie Haas playing with her sister:

>>photos by @creativecoffee, filters by afterlight