Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Benjamin Karp


This paper provides a system that helps diagnose and address the specific challenge to cellists of intonation in any passage. Learning to play consistently in tune is essential for every cellist. In the over three hundred years of cello history, teachers have tried approaching the topic from a variety of perspectives. While each technique is useful in its own right, there is scant attention to how they work together. Viewing intonation through its component sub-skills is the first step toward integrating existing exercises and paving the way for further advances in pedagogy. The following paper categorizes training techniques according to the sub-skills of playing consistently in tune. This approach makes the learning and teaching of intonation manageable and approachable to cellists at all levels. What we do before the note, How we play the note, What we do after the note, and Putting it all together are the four broad categories of sub-skills identified. Within each of these sections, relevant exercises are presented and their efficacy explained. Examples are drawn from a wide range of sources including music education, my own educational experiences, music psychology, the Alexander Technique, cello pedagogy, professional cello teachers’ responses to a questionnaire, physiology, and neuroscience. By integrating published research in these areas, this paper provides a more comprehensive understanding of intonation. Instead of a wealth of techniques each claiming to resolve the challenge of playing in tune, the introduction of sub-skills allows for a methodological approach to intonation pedagogy.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)