Teaching

Louise's recent teaching experience includes teaching cello and chamber music at the University of Auckland, coaching chamber music at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music and at Juilliard's Pre-College Division, and conducting cello classes at University of Connecticut in Storrs, Sam Houston State University (TX), Wichita State University (KS), University of Virginia, and Grand Valley State University (MI). In New York City, she has taught at the Third Street Settlement's outreach program at PS 34, at the Lucy Moses adult chamber music program, and currently maintains cello studios privately and at the Greenwich House Music School. She has coached young cellists on orchestral playing in the internship program of the Auckland Philharmonia and in the Greater Newark Youth Orchestra (a program run by the New Jersey Symphony). Louise teaches private cello lessons at her home on West 190th Street in Manhattan, in Scarsdale NY, and at Greenwich House Music School in Greenwich Village (for lessons at Greenwich House please call 212-242-4770). Please feel free to contact Louise via the Contact page of this website for more information.

How I Teach

I am finding, in my work as teacher, cello section leader, and recitalist, that cellists often have many similar challenges to overcome in their playing. My teaching style relies on general principles that may seem simple intellectually but can offer a lifetime of problem-solving applied in different playing situations. They guide my approach to the instrument and how I teach from the first lesson. Not only are they the keys to get the instrument to sound its best, but they provide ways to play without the unnecessary tension which can cause bad habits, pain or injuries.

Some examples: 1) Finding ways to play that exploit the natural arcing motions of the arm, originating from the back muscles. 2) Holding the instrument and bow in ways that allow these motions to occur. 3) Finding the natural weight of the right arm and learning to release it into the string rather than hold it up in a way that accumulates tension unnecessarily. 4) Starting with whole arm legato long bows as the basic stroke, and using this to determine arm placement on all strings in all parts of the bow, which is useful for all bow strokes. 5) Establishing left hand positions that distribute muscle tension evenly, and releasing tension in non-playing fingers.

These are not always easy things to master but in my strong opinion they should be learned as soon as possible in one's study of the instrument. They are keys to improving one's playing at any stage of study. Once these and other principles are understood, the student applies them to different situations and becomes skilled at problem-solving independently.

For my younger students, while I teach ways to play that promote healthy use of the body, I minimize verbal explanations unless asked (usually questions are asked and I answer them as they arise).

Musical playing guides many of our technical decisions. Playing musically, for me, generally involves analyzing the music (phrase lengths, harmonic developments both local and overarching, etc.) away from the cello, and when applicable, playing as if singing or talking. There is a lot of creative freedom in this part of music. Similar to the application of technical principles, there are musical concepts that can be introduced at the very beginning of a person's studies of music and returned to, in greater depth, for a lifetime.

Teaching Philosophy, Short Version: My teaching style for my students of all levels relies on physical principles that use the body in healthy, natural ways. I also teach students to rely on their own ears to make the cello sound its best. We make this fun by setting and attaining goals in the lesson and similar goals for home practice, including preparing duets to play with me. Some examples of technical principles that my students of all ages learn: holding the instrument and bow in ways that allow the natural arcing motions of the arm to occur, learning how to release the natural weight of the bow arm into the string to make a ringing tone without pressing, releasing left hand tension in non-playing fingers. Not only are these essential to get the cello to sound its best, but they provide ways to play without the unnecessary tension which can lead to frustration and bad habits. My students hear the good sounds they are making and this motivates them to practice to hear more! There are also musical concepts (sight-reading, phrase lengths, harmonies, etc) that I begin to introduce early on in my pupils' studies. My role is to supply my students problem-solving skills that they can return to for a lifetime.
--Louise Dubin