Uri Vardi

My practice retreat week earlier this month took me to Madison, Wisconsin, where I worked with famed cello and Feldenkrais instructor Uri Vardi. Here are some of my notes:

2. View cello playing as a series of degrees of weight and lightness
3. Leaning – whole body concept – everything is leaning
4. “Music is buried in the cello”
5. Don’t impose your music onto the cello – draw it out instead
6. Add degrees of weight by organizing your body to bring out the various layers – listen to your breathing during this
10. Push left foot into floor at tip for strong sound
11. Elbow should always be slightly higher than contact point of first finger and stick
16. Left arm leads the left fingers
17. Draw sound from deep in body – feet far apart helps this
19. Feel weight of both elbows as you play – sinking down
22. Integrate all parts of body:  hands, arms, back, head, shoulders, hips, legs, feet – use the entire arsenal of your body
23. Exercise:  put both forearms on fingerboard to get sensation of leaning – organize whole back for the leaning (a side step is leaning into top ribs of cello) – then put palms on fingerboard, but use the same
25. Go from global feeling of leaning, then into arms, then into smaller areas of the body
28. First, find out how to get the power, then later decide how much of it you want to use

-Sara Stalnaker, PSQ

Chris Turner Workshop

Hi! My name is Heather and I am a student at Community MusicWorks. I just wanted to tell you about the workshop we had on Friday [April 13]. There were two visitors, a harmonica and a fiddle player. The harmonica player’s name was Chris [Turner] and the fiddler’s name was Rachel [Maloney]. They played country music.


Chris had two harmonicas and in the songs they played, he used both. I was amazed. In my mind I thought, "Wow! How could he play that?" Also, the fiddle player was keeping the rhythm with her foot. She played the fiddle really good. While she was playing, the hairs on her bow kept falling off. My sister asked her a question. She asked Rachel how many bows she used in a year and she said six. I also noticed that the fiddle is different from a violin. We played Angeline the Baker. It was fun! It was a pleasure to have them there. Thanks to Community MusicWorks that we get to meet people like these!

-Heather Argueta, age 8

Teri Einfeldt

Hi! My name is Alana Perez, and I was in a master class. Our master teacher, Teri Einfeldt, gave us great advice. She told me and my partner Heather that we were very good violin players. She gave tricky things to try, like keep our pinky where our other three fingers are–near the fingerboard. Now let me tell you more about Teri. Well, she came all the way from Connecticut. She’s very funny, and also teaches at Hartt School. Like I said, she made us do some tricky things with our fingers and bow, but she made it real fun!! 🙂  If I get to do something with her it’ll be a pleasure. I forgot to tell that she had us do something with our bow called "lot little little lot". I’ll explain what that is. It’s when you use a lot of bow, then you use a little bit of bow, then you use a lot of bow again. Teri was a great pleasure to play with and I’m looking forward to playing with her AGAIN!! 🙂


Community MusicWorks Rocks!
-By Alana Perez, age 8 [l-r: Heather, Alana]

CMW enjoys a Red Stripe

One way to bring awareness to a mission is through careful, diligent work in the community, like water on stone, making connections and cultivating relationships.

Method 2: Glue a big red stripe on it.


Community MusicWorks, no longer an anonymous Westminster Street storefront, now proudly displays its moniker in Pantone 032. Be careful driving next time you’re in the neighborhood, as you may be distracted by our bold attempt to raise awareness. Enjoy!

-Liz Cox, CMW staff

Recent note left in mailbox:

"Dear CMW, congratulations on your new red signs! They are very legible & easy to read! Thanks for your strong presence on an increasingly commercialized Westminster St.!" -a bike rider

Meeting Street Visit

Providence’s Meeting Street School is an incredible place. To be frank, I was not exactly thrilled to have to get up so early on consecutive mornings in order to fill in for Laura (out of commission with a bad cold) for two days of 9-10, 10-11, and 11-12 school presentations last week. But that feeling changed the moment I set foot on the brand new campus at the intersection of Eddy Street and Thurbers Avenue in South Providence.

Day One. Chloe, Jesse and I can’t agree on what time to rendezvous at the office, so we each drive ourselves over to the school. I know I’m in the right neighborhood when I turn onto Eddy Street in front of a certain graffiti-enhanced Chevy Prism [see March 26 post]. We all sign in at the front desk and head down a hallway to one of the school’s large rooms for the first of three demonstrations that we’d been rehearsing over the past several days.

After introducing ourselves, and our instruments, we start the program with a couple movements of the Dohnanyi Serenade, follow that up with the variations movement from the Mozart E-flat Major String Trio, and then present a dramatic reading of Hansel and Gretel that Laura had imported from her time with her string trio in Los Angeles. Using brief musical excerpts (Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony’s first theme, Copland’s Simple Gifts, Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons) to create specific atmospheres, the story would allow us to match music with emotions that we could return to in the classroom setting the following day.

That was the plan, had Jesse not forgotten his music back at the office. Chloe was amazing and vamped for about ten minutes on various and relevant topics, keeping the kids engaged. I contributed a lengthy rendition of the Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite in G, drawing it out and hoping to spot the Chevy Prism through the large windows at the back of the room as it re-entered the parking lot.

Ironically, this was a situation that the Providence Quartet has used to great critical acclaim in school demonstrations. Each player independently enters the room with a different excuse ("I missed the bus" "I overslept") until Jesse (bike helmet and reflectors flashing) comes pedaling down the aisle and the ensemble becomes a complete quartet. [see November 11 post]

As CMW’s Director of Development, it was certainly an unusual experience for me to get to sit in with Jesse and Chloe in this situation and become a teaching artist again. It has been quite a while since I sat down with a cello in front of a group of kids. I don’t think anyone at the performances would have identified me as an administrator masquerading as a performer, but it sure was an odd feeling to be in the middle of Hansel and Gretel and to look up and see two of our biggest local funders peering in from the hallway, in the middle of what was clearly a school site visit.

After the first presentation, the rest of the morning went off without a hitch.


Day Two. A word about the Meeting Street School. When I started this post by calling it an incredible place, I wasn’t just talking about the gleaming new facility. The school is a national model for classroom inclusion of children with a wide range of developmental disabilities, include those that are quite profound. Not only is it a school, but Meeting Street also boasts a national center for research and professional development for teachers and therapists. Right in our neighborhood!

We start again at 9 am. This time we have all of our music, and I’m playing on my own cello (instead of my wife’s), freshly adjusted by Gary Davis and with four new strings.

I can’t say enough about how well Chloe and Jesse handled these 45-minute presentations (read: carried me on their backs). Both of them have that special ability to connect with kids, and it’s easy to see why each of their CMW students have grown so attached. Chloe, as the witch threatening poor Hansel and Gretel, cackled with evil glee and got volunteers from the audience to wear witches hats and chop wood-she had the little ones in the front row in the palm of her hand! Jesse ended up "helping" several youngsters to play the Sesame Street theme, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Happy Birthday, and Twinkle Twinkle when we put down our own instruments and spent the final ten minutes of each session giving the kids a chance to scrub away on smaller instruments that we had brought over from the CMW office.

Meeting1The teachers and therapists at the Meeting Street School are downright impressive. The level of care and connection that they clearly have achieved with even the least connectable kids was so wonderful to see. I think we each walked away feeling completely exhausted, but also changed and inspired by our brief experience. I have a feeling that this won’t be CMW’s only interaction with the incredible Meeting Street School.

-Heath Marlow, CMW staff