I first met Holger Best last year at the ESTA Conference in Tatarstan, Russia. He looks like the quintessential cello professor with a tweed coat and haphazard white hair, and his cello mind is incredible. I was so excited to get these two cello etude compilation books that were put together by Holger and his colleague Walter Mengler (who wrote and edited a number of terrific cello books before sadly passing away in 2016).
Best/Mengler: Easy Cello Studies, Band (Book) 1
This first book is subtitled "Vol. 1: Elementary Techniques in First and Half Position." In the preface, Best and Mengler write that "etudes are a bridge between cello exercises and concert repertoire", which is exactly right.
The table of contents is helpful right away. The first two measures of each etude are included, with a list of the cello techniques that they teach, the composer, and the page number. Using this. a teacher or musician can instantly see the point of both the book and each individual exercise!
The etudes are divided into three sections: Playing at speed/strengthening fingers, String Crossing (this includes string crossing with both the left and right hands), and Bowing Technique.
Beneath each etude, brief preparatory exercises are included. These can be variations, practice suggestions, or further explanation of the techniques in the etude.
I was so happy to see that the etudes were from a number of different composers, from the ubiquitous Dotzauer and Lee to the far less well-known Stiastny and Witkomirski.
While these etudes are in first position, I would definitely categorize many of them as early-intermediate rather than beginning. The book is perfect for students ages 10 or 11 and above, and especially helpful for adult cello students. The main etude notes are easy to read and well-spaced on the page, however the preparatory exercises may be a bit small for easy reading.
There are 31 etudes by 17 composers, and the book is 52 pages long.
In short, this is a terrific book, a welcome edition to the available cello etude compilation, and a great way to improve cello left and right hand technique!
The next blog post will cover
Cassia Harvey is a cellist, cello teacher, and cello technique writer. She searches for rare and out-of-print studies and etudes in her free time. If you know of any, please let her know. It's an obsession!