Cello and violin doubling: One helps the other?

September 17, 2016 at 12:27 AM · Musicians who double on instruments clearly surrender some practice time to accommodate the second (or third) instrument.

I can live with the cost-benefit equation of that, just as I am prepared play both tennis and golf. So what if I won't be world champ at either: I'm fluent, and getting a lot of satisfaction.

But I double cello and violin, and have concocted this view that practice on one actually benefits my work on the other.

Bow control -- yes, even though bowing is different -- is one clear benefit, I think I can assert, flows across the instruments.

Do you have similar experience?

Replies (5)

September 17, 2016 at 01:03 AM · I tend to drag the tempo on cello just because I think it sounds so good. That has caused me to be more expressive on violin trying to match the pleasure. But I always practice cello last because my bow arm wears out from digging in tooooooo much. I also think it helps with intonation.

September 17, 2016 at 03:14 PM · I've been playing both violin and cello since 1948 (and violin alone from 10 years earlier) and never found a conflict - not even from day one. And although I have played viola very occasionally since 1973 (averaging less than 3 hours per year) it was only a year ago that I started to play it steadily in ensemble and practice and I do find sight-reading conflicts: occasionally I will screw up sightreading a tenor clef cello note (giving it a viola alto clef interpretation), and on sightreading fast viola passages my mind will want to revert to violin and treble clef interpretations if I'm tired or otherwise out of sorts.

September 19, 2016 at 12:03 AM · I do get those "clef wobbles" from time to time. I play a lot of fiddle music on the cello, reading treble clef. While treble clef has a part to play in traditional cello studies, it is a whole new ball game when you change registers, etc, as I find I do. And this can catch me out for a few notes.

Which makes me comment further, that I don't understand why tenor clef became a staple of cello playing. Why didn't people go straight from bass clef to treble clef? Pianists don't include tenor clef, and I think the cello could do well enough without tenor clef either. It's not an issue, but a curiosity.

September 19, 2016 at 03:18 AM · Clef wobble. That's better than my term: Clef failure. Thanks Graeme, you improved my life.

I think the cello and violin are very different. Violin and viola, they support and improve one another for sure. Zuckerman did a piece on this for Strad I think.

September 22, 2016 at 12:13 AM · Paul, you are right. Cello and violin are very different. The cello is sneaky, rubs up against your chest, gets between your legs, tickles your ear, and throbs against you, hour after hour.

How does one disengage from such a beast, with its rich, throaty laugh, body displayed before your eyes all night long, and give the violin some feigned interest?

For me, the real issue is that each is immensely rewarding, and if I didn't have this idea that one helped the other, I would need further "help".

Nah. How are they different? The underlying challenges of a string instrument lie in understanding how efficient, consistent, reliable, pain-free and "effortless" physical actions (psycho-motor skills) can be acquired, accumulated and polished so that music becomes the focus.

The cello and violin are not twins, but sisters.

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