The Bridge - Summer 2016
Last fall, one of our region's most dedicated and fantastic teachers, Anne Tschetter, was purchasing a cello for her own use and I asked her which cello string brand was her preference. Anne, an accomplished violist (South Bend Symphony), asked great questions about cello strings and the differing elements of their comparative sound. Her questions inspired me to ask her if she would like to try a few popular brands to find her preference. From there I further asked her if she would entertain an idea whereby her cello section would engage in a study to evaluate our more popular cello string brands. If nothing else, it would awaken their young ears to aurally evaluate the different brands.
Recently, the major string companies have introduced new “upper end” string brands and few people have had the opportunity to experience them. Cello strings of this level are very expensive and few players have the available funds to experiment to find their preferences. So they rely on what the “word on the street” tells them.
I’ve known Anne for a few decades. She replaced me when I left a position to further my academic studies. I left a wonderful orchestra and they were in good hands being in her care and standards. I knew if anyone could manage a cello string evaluation study in addition to all the other obligations inherent in teaching middle school, Anne had the chops for it.
I sent Anne a bucket full of new cello strings which are our most popular selling at Quinlan and Fabish. No sooner had she received them that I get word that her students had formed a string evaluation team and also had an elegant design for the study where all students would use different brands of strings for a period of time and then exchange them with another brand. And so on. There is even a spreadsheet they presented of the rotation. Plus, I was happy to learn that their private cello teachers were also involved and interested in hearing the various brands.
My first meeting with the Team was so cool. We established some common dialogue and lingo to provide a communication standard which most musicians would understand. What was at first a gaggle of middle school kids within minutes transformed into a young professional Team of Evaluators. I was impressed with how seriously the Team took on their task. This is the beauty of teaching middle school kids. Those moments when you see them as young adults – the people they will become – taking their first steps into a new level. Bravo to all of you who do this for them daily. So cool.
The brands evaluated were: Jargar, Larsen, Magnacore, Spirocore, Eva Pirazzi Gold, Eva Pirazzi Green, and Kaplan.
Here are some comments about the different brands as expressed at a Team meeting last week:
“Love darker. Evah Priazzi Gold too bright for instrument.”
“I like the full round and darker sounds”
“My preference is Spiorcore G and C and Jargar A and D”
“Evah Pirazzi Gold is rich, EPGreen is too bright and twangy, Kaplan twangy, Likes: Larsen – darker smoother. Spriocore is bright”
“I have an older cello and I like the Magnacore because it is fuller and richer”
Note to readers: Remember, the study is not finished yet. After all, when the Cello String Evaluation Team designed their project, they understood they had the full school year. No way was I going to ask them to hasten their elegant study design just to suit my needs due to a publication date for this article. So, there is a formal presentation yet pending and I am looking forward to that greatly. To date, the journey has already exceeded my expectations. Next year, VIOLA STRINGS! Contact me if you have a group of serious minded and studious research type violists for a study. (Hey! No jokes!) firstname.lastname@example.org.