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, forever. But before you dig in, understand this: There are no short cuts. Developing a mental map of note locations is a daunting task, but for those diligent 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 indications on the page, technical and musical considerations (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 personality shines through in every page, not a single one of which is wasted. — Copyright 2016, Strings Magazine and String Letter Publishing, reprinted by permission. www.stringsmagazine.com