I was gifted a copy of the new Mark O’ Connor Method Cello Book 1, “A New American School Of String Playing”, and am going through it bit by bit, exploring some of the tunes with my cello students. This latest is probably the 6th book of fiddle tunes I’ve acquired. I’m not an obsessive collector. Usually. The reason for my continued acquisition is that I have yet to be impressed with a fiddle book for cello.
Before continuing to review the O’Connor Method for Cello, I have to make a distinction. There are method books, and there are collections of tunes. Although the O’Connor Method seeks to combine these two categories, I’ll evaluate each component on its own merit.
As a method book, so far I’m finding the O’Connor solid but unexceptional. The Eight Principles don’t say much that Suzuki’s “Nurtured By Love” and an ECC Suzuki intro also don’t. The “Feeling The Cello” section is a bit rambly, and feels geared toward an adult student attempting self-study. Since I can’t even begin to imaging attempting to learn the cello without a teacher, the point of this section is lost on me.
There’s a great glossary and then two really cool pages of graphics — one showing the notes on the fingerboard and the other a series of pitch visualizations. It’s hard to describe the ‘pitch’ page in words, but it’s pretty cool.
As a collection of thoughtfully selected, appropriately sequenced fiddle tunes for a beginning cellist, the book is amazing. Every tune has chord symbols (perfect!), there a several duets, and there are recurring variations on Bile ’em Cabbage Down of ever-increasing difficulty (brilliant) throughout the book. What’s more, the collection succeeds where I think others fall short: the selected tunes are simple, and timeless.