Benjamin Whitcomb’s Recordings and Publications


Order the CD J.S. Bach: Suites 1, 3, 5; D. Gabrielli: Suites 1, 3, 5, Benjamin Whitcomb (MSR Classics 1177) J.S. Bach: Suites 1, 3, 5; D. Gabrielli: Suites 1, 3, 5
(MSR Classics 1177) — Order online / sample »»

Other sampler CDs available
—please contact me for more information.


 Bass Fingerings - Improve Your Left Hand GameBass Fingerings: Improve Your Left Hand Game — Order online »»

Cello Fingerings: Improve Your Left Hand GameCello Fingerings: Improve Your Left Hand Game — Order online »»

» Read review from Strings Magazine, 2016.

No wasted space in Whitcomb’s road to developing left-hand techniques
Benjamin Whitcomb is absolutely devoted to music students. His books are exhaustive in their efforts to educate, explain, and provide a deep sense of context for some of the tougher problems encountered on the road to mastery. His latest tome is designed to make sense of the left hand, and it’s exactly what earnest cellists have been asking for since, well, for¬ever. But before you dig in, understand this: There are no short cuts. Developing a mental map of note loca¬tions is a daunting task, but for those dili¬gent few, Cello Fingerings will serve as a patient, methodical, and creative guide through the labyrinth of options. Using examples largely from advanced orchestral and solo repertoire, Whitcomb addresses nearly every aspect of fingering: systems of marking numbers and indica¬tions on the page, technical and musical con¬siderations (including an awareness of bariolage—the tonal difference between strings), hand spacing, the effects of rhythm, bowing, and surrounding pitches, even a “how not to do fingerings” section. Quizzes and detailed answer keys pepper each chapter; not just making sure concepts are practically applied, but also continuously fortifying the reasoning behind decisions to finger a passage one way or another. Cello Fingerings is a wonderfully effective tool to help advancing students (and their teachers) assess and fill any number of gaps in knowledge. Whitcomb’s engaging and supportive per¬sonality shines through in every page, not a single one of which is wasted. — Copyright 2016, Strings Magazine and String Letter Publishing, reprinted by permission.

he Advancing Cellist's Handbook: A Guide to Practicing and Playing the CelloThe Advancing Cellist's Handbook: A Guide to Practicing and Playing the Cello — Order online »»

» Read review from American String Teacher, fall 2011, p. 95.

Whitcomb, cellist and music theorist, has earned a national reputation as a highly-skilled performer, recording artist, chamber musician, and pedagogue. Phyllis Young introduced this Handbook as a “great time saver with excellent results.” The market offers many pedagogical publications, but this one exceeds most of its counterparts in its comprehensiveness and thorough coverage of each aspect of and tool for practice. It also integrates intellectual, psychological, musical and stylistic points necessary for the ultimate professional performance. The complex material is explained and structured well. Major topics include information about psychology of practicing; the content of practicing, i.e. explaining practice techniques and tools; daily warm-up routines, while developing a thorough focus on short and long-term goals and objectives; and focus on fingerings, bowing styles, musical and stylistic aspects of interpretation. The concluding chapter, “Practical Application,” includes examples from the standard repertoire applying the practice techniques explained in earlier chapters, providing detailed strategies to prepare the repertoire efficiently in terms of musical considerations. Especially helpful for a young teacher or pedagogy class are repertoire suggestions organized by different levels of difficulty and ideas for troubleshooting the most common technical problems. Whitcomb’s comprehensive bibliography adds an outstanding resource! In a world where students and professionals seemed to have too little time and too many distractions, these strategies for spending practice time more effectively are especially valuable. I encourage any cellist to invest in this extraordinary book, adding Whitcomb’s message, “Let’s get to work.” T.R.S.

» Read review from Stringendo, spring 2011, p. 60.

No less a person than Phyllis Young says in her Foreword to Dr. Whitcomb’s book, “How I wish I could have read this book years ago! It would have saved many hours of practicing which often have had disappointing results for the time invested”. Brilliant cellist and scholar Benjamin Whitcomb justifies Young’s praise in every aspect of his book. Here is a marvelous resource for intermediate cellists. Its purpose is to improve their ability to practice well, whether they are 6 or 80 years of age. Whitcomb examines the what, when, how and why of practice and stresses the importance of becoming your own skilled self-teacher. Sections on the psychological aspects of playing, a structured and detailed approach to practice time, technical and musical matters are all clearly addressed. Chapter 14 asks the question, “What does it mean to play musically”? How to practice pieces from the standard cello repertoire are laid out with great clarity and logic in Chapter 15. Works by Bréval, Bach (Prelude from Suite no 1), Schumann Fantasy Pieces, The Swan, and Elgar Concerto are included. Finally there is a Trobleshooting chapter of frequently asked questions together with helpful answers. For example, “How do I make my fortes louder without sounding forced?” If your aim is to improve as a player, you cannot be without Benjamin Whitcomb’s complete treatise. This is a ‘must-have’ for every cellist’s studio.

» Read review from Strings, January 2012.

The Advancing Bassist's Handbook The Advancing Bassist's Handbook: A Guide to Practicing and Playing the Bass — Order online »»

» Review of The Advancing Bassists Handbook

The Advancing Violinist's Handbook The Advancing Violinist's Handbook: A Guide to Practicing and Playing the Violin — Order online »»

The Advancing Violist’s Handbook The Advancing Violist’s Handbook: A Guide to Practicing and Playing the Viola — Order online »»

2009 ASTA String SyllabusChair of the committee of editors revising the cello portion of the 2009 ASTA String Syllabus Order online »»

Sharpen Your String TechniqueContributing author to Sharpen Your String Technique
Order online »»

Teaching Music through Performance in Orchestra, Vol. 3Contributing author to Teaching Music through Performance in Orchestra, Vol. 3 Order online »»

Book and recording reviewer for the American String Teacher. Plus numerous regional presentations and newsletter articles.

Chapter on fingerings in a forthcoming book by Strings publications.

 “Overcoming Performance Anxiety,” American String Teacher, winter 2009.

“Practicing without your Instrument” Stringendo, spring 2009.

“Devising Good Cello Fingerings,” Strings, February 2008.

Recognized for outstanding research from 2006-2007 at the Scholarship & Creative Achievement Reception. UW-Whitewater, November 21, 2007.

“Improving Intonation,” American String Teacher, November 2007.

"Reinventing the Ear—Twentieth-Century Theories of Pitch Perception and the Coincidence Theory of Consonance," Theoria 12 (2005): 69-92

» Read Abstract

For centuries, thinkers have attempted to explain why some combinations of pitches are more pleasing to the ear than others. While Hermann von Helmholtz's theory of consonance is regarded highly even today, most of the older consonance theories, developed before about 1850, are generally disregarded or disparaged. Numerous 20th-c. consonance theories, though, are actually very similar to some of these older theories, and most of these newer theories either fail to acknowledge the precedent established by the earlier theories or claim to be without precedent. A large proportion of the 20th-c. theories contain ideas strikingly similar to those contained in the coincidence theory of consonance. The coincidence theory has had a substantial influence on theories of consonance throughout the centuries, and it therefore deserves to be given more credit for its continued contributions to the explanation of the phenomenon of consonance.

"The Coincidence Theory of Consonance: A Re-evaluation Based on Modern Scientific Evidence" (Ph.D. diss., University of Texas at Austin, 1999; UMI 9956952)

» Read Abstract

The coincidence theory was a theory of consonance advocated by many of the scientists of the period 1550-1800, including Galileo, Mersenne, Descartes, and Euler. It was the first truly scientific explanation of consonance, addressing the way that sound waves interact with each other either constructively or destructively. Within the present century, historians of music and science have turned their attention to the coincidence theory and the important role it played in both fields in the 17th century. Many of these same authors have charged the theory with having had serious faults. However, an investigation of modern scientific evidence reveals that these alleged problems are either answerable or irrelevant to the coincidence theory. Furthermore, a survey of the major theories of consonance since the 18th century shows that the premises of the coincidence theory pervade and underlie many of these more recent theories. Examples of such theories include those of Helmholtz, Lipps, Boomsliter and Creel, and Terhardt. In the process of establishing these theses, many relevant secondary issues are addressed. For example, this dissertation contains a discussion of the different meanings of the word consonance, the relationship between integer ratios and musical intervals, and the similarities between pitch perception and rhythmic perception. Also, several different versions of the coincidence theory are identified and evaluated.