An American who has lived in Europe since 1994, I have been lucky enough to work with some of the most renowned period instrument ensembles in the world and play an average of 80 concerts per year, ranging from solo to chamber music to full orchestra. I first started teaching when I was at Oberlin Conservatory and since then have developed a clear and focused approach; while theory and structure is of vital importance, we must never lose sight of the enjoyment of music-making.
The viola da gamba is an unusual instrument, not one that most parents would pick out for their kids. It is often an instrument that one falls in love with later in life, either from hearing a recording or from becoming interested in historical instruments. It is a bewitching sound, and there’s some good news -- it’s not the most challenging instrument you can pick up! If you’ve never played an instrument before, but are fascinated by the sound and its repertoire, I can help you master beautiful tunes within the first few months. Or if you’re a professional cellist who has just vaguely heard of the gamba, I can help you with the tricks you need to use to sound like a natural. Equally, if you’d like to learn some baroque cello technique or how to improve your continuo playing on modern cello, I can help you with that transition as well.
My teaching philosophy can be summed up in one word: Why? The musical whys: What makes this particular work important, interesting, unusual? Or, conversely; Why do I find it boring, uninspiring? Why do we feel a certain way when we hear this cadence? This modulation? The technical whys: Why is this a difficult passage? Why am I missing that shift? And even more globally: Why should we learn an instrument at all? I have consciously developed a technical and analytical approach to teaching; if you can understand it, you can learn it. My aim is not to supply you the answers but rather to awaken your curiosity by posing the questions in the first place.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
Cassandra's cello lessons are creative and inventive. She teaches me new and different ways of studying. (Her) thorough knowledge of musical theory is of added value in her lessons. This theory is laterally captured in her classes and this is enlightening, it is fun and educational.
De masterclasses: meteen op het juiste niveau les en commentaar geven. Pedagogisch sterk (goede mix van streng, gefocust en respect voor wat iemand kan/niet kan). Ik ben gegroeid... vanwege beter begrip voor de theorie van de muziek; dat opende echt mijn oren. Echt gaaf. Ik kan nu niet meer zomaar luisteren naar een stuk muziek.
She has a huge amount of knowledge and she sure has an opinion on how to interpret a particular composition. But she never says “Play it this way.” She goes on a kind of journey with the ensemble members and together we discover different ways of playing a piece.
Hieke van Hoogdalem,
viola da gamba