Buy New
$18.89
Qty:1
  • List Price: $20.99
  • Save: $2.10 (10%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Just Play Naturally: An a... has been added to your Cart
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $4.01
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Just Play Naturally: An account of her study with Pablo Casals in the 1950's and her discovery of the resonance between his teaching and the principles of the Alexander Technique Paperback – May 19, 2006


See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$18.89
$18.89 $18.89

Best Books of the Year
See the Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Frequently Bought Together

Just Play Naturally: An account of her study with Pablo Casals in the 1950's and her discovery of the resonance between his teaching and the principles of the Alexander Technique + Never Too Late: My Musical Life Story
Price for both: $31.07

Buy the selected items together
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Xlibris (May 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1425708692
  • ISBN-13: 978-1425708696
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

...the insights into Casals' teaching...are thought-provoking and fascinating. Well worth reading for every cellist--really, for any musician. -- STRINGS, August 2002 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

From Joe Armstrong, Publisher and co-author

In 1970, toward the end of my first year of training in London London to become a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I heard that Vivien Mackie, a professional cellist who had studied extensively with Pablo Casals, was going to join the class too. Since I had come to revere and respect Casals as the greatest musician of our time, the prospect of getting to know and maybe even work closely with someone who possessed something of his understanding and approach to music was beyond anything I could have hoped for at that stage of my quest as a flutist.

So before I even met Vivien, I knew I would try to question her as much as I could on every facet of her experience with Casals. As luck would have it, we seemed to be on the same wave-length right from our first meeting, and what's more, she actually seemed to be grateful - even somewhat relieved - to have the chance to talk about her work with Casals, because, to my surprise, I was the first person she knew who was really interested in hearing about every detail of it.

Also lucky for me, Vivien turned out to be a natural raconteur, and I began taking advantage of that by roping her into many long conversations. I was struck right off by her telling me how she, like me, had lost touch with something precious in her playing by the time she'd left music school, and it had taken her intensive study with Casals to bring it back. It was soon clear that her experience with him was unique not only because of that, but also because she had worked with him longer than almost anyone else.

But I realized that however illuminating our talks might be, they were probably only scratching the surface of what she had actually learned from her three whole years with Casals; so I decided to ask her if she would consider teaching me how to play the cello--thinking that it could be the most direct way of experiencing and understanding, at least 'second-hand,' the elements of how Casals had taught her that not only brought back what she had lost but also took her to the highest professional level. She liked the idea very much, and we began 'doing cello' there together several times a week during our lunch breaks over the next year and a half or so.

I was amazed at what transpired in the lessons--esepcially compared to some instruction I'd had in a year of string class in music school. (I was actually supposed to be qualified to teach beginning strings merely by taking that course!) I'd hoped that because of this earlier experience I might be a little more receptive as a student, but I soon saw that none of that was even relevant to the way Vivien was teaching me. It was totally different from--even opposite to--what I thought most other string teachers were probably doing in their teaching, because she was getting me to experience a far broader range of expressive and kinaesthetic possibilities all over the instrument right from the start by completely bypassing the conventional dwelling for a long time on the progression of distinctly confined left-hand positiions. In a few months I was able to begin learning pieces I could never have conceived of playing at the end of my college string course. And this difference in Vivien's approach only seems to me more pronounced today, after having had the chance both to work extensively with a large number of fine string players and teachers in my many years of Alexander teaching in Boston and to watch Vivien bring these revelations to most of them in Alexander string courses we've given here together.

As our collaboration developed and we probed further and further into the elements of musical expression, I could see that it would be very valuable to others if we could create some record of Vivien's experience with Casals and show how his great legacy can be understood and passed on--especially with the aid of the Alexander Technique, since the process of learning and teaching it involves so many of the same understandings applied to life in general that Casals brought to cello teaching and all his music making. So in 1984 I suggested we start recording some of our conversations by harking back to Vivien's initial study with him, continuing from there through her experience with the Alexander Technique, and then going on to her amalgamation of the two into her own unique way of teaching--not just cellists, but musicians of every kind--all around the world. She agreed, and this book is what came out of the project. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Mitchell on August 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
For most of us, Pablo Casals exists only through recordings. It's wonderful to encounter him alive through the living voice of Vivien Mackie--to imagine her in a high window-ledge in Prades as he made his magnificent recording of the Schumann Cello Concerto, to hear him regretfully but kindly telling this brilliant new student, "You do not know what you are doing," to learn how she learns his great lesson: "Do only what is necessary." Often, she found, "doing what was necessary meant doing a great deal more than I had ever done before," but sometimes it meant doing a great deal less. Her conversations with Joe Armstrong show us that "doing more" must include a patient but insistently revealing discipline that can allow the musician to "see all the colours and shades" of the music, "and all the texture, where it tightens, where it loosens and where the turning moments are,...to take time to examine it and bring it all into being." "Doing less" means "getting rid of clutter"--not just "questionable intonation,...and inadequate articulation, and any sort of doubt" in the playing, but also, and chiefly, any habitual clutter of mind and body that might prevent a release of "life and energy." The lesson applies beyond music.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Jonny Mar on August 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
I've been with the Alexander Technique with over a year now and during this period I have read many books and articles on the subject along with specific approaches on how to apply it to music playing. This book goes beyond the Technique and has very little *direct* mention of it (which I personally loved). It is based more on Vivien Mackie's experience with reconnecting herself to her instrument and a deepened, if not different, approach in HOW she learned, play and interpret music.

Some of the principles she learned from Casals *resonate* with some principles of the Alexander Technique. But as Nelly Ben-Or, pianist and AT teacher, says "in music making so many different elements have to come together and an improved, consciously directed use is but one of them". I have a DVD with a Vivien Mackie masterclass and she goes on by saying that "Through intelligent training of something other than the head and neck you can actually achieve the use, I believe". This is clearly exposed in this book. How Casals brought life back to her fingers without the head-neck-back experience of the Alexander Technique. The Technique is about removing unwanted habits that can help music playing but these bad habits usually show up because of poor music technique itself. So removing the "clutter", as Mackie puts it, does not solve technical limitations as AT teachers are not trained to give music technique. One of the things I learned from this book is the importance of how the player relates to the instrument and how much understanding of this relationship is necessary to overcome plateaus in the learning curve.

Also, one of the things I loved about the book is that it doesn't have a patronising "I am the panacea" attitude like some other AT books I have read.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
22 of 30 people found the following review helpful By alexander murray on September 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
My problem with this book is that it contains so much. Joseph Campbell would occasionally begin a talk with"The greatest truths cannot be spoken, the lesser are always misunderstood." Before you read on, listen to the Casals recordings of Bach Suites, and if possible place yourself in the hands of a teacher of Alexander's work. In her quest for the art of "Playing Naturally" Vivien was guided by one remarkable teacher and the spirit of another. Alexander had died by the time her three years with Casals were over. Casals metaphors were drawn from Nature, Alexander found the natural "use of the self" in his search for the skill to give expression to the genius of Shakespeare.
Vivien's lesson by lesson account of her relationship with Casals is unique in biographical writings on Casals. Accounts of lessons with Alexander are available from a variety of distinguished sources. This is the first time two such important influences have been united in the sympathetic environment of a conversation between friends. It is a valuable contribution to available writing on the Alexander Work and Music.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Arthur M. Royce on August 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book and got a lot out of it. Reading what amounts to an interview is a bit strange, but this allows you to understand Ms. Mackie's experience better. In reading the book I got a few "ah ha" moments, which I have incorporated into my daily practice routine. I found some of her experience really clicked with me. Personally, this has been a very useful resource. I will give it a second read shortly to see what other gems I can get out of it. I also developed a greater appreciation for Pablo Casals and his contributions to the musical arts. Good read.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had watched Pablo Casals Master Classes on PBS back in the 1960's, so the book somewhat "came alive" for me. As a cellist, I was able to glean some tips that I found useful to my own approach to practice. There are also some concepts that I believe would be easy to incorporate into teaching a student to play the instrument - especially the idea of "do this".

The only negative remark that I have to make about the copy of the book I got is that the pages are assembled out of order and it took me a while to figure out that I could search through the book to read in sequential order!! (The pages went from 1- 75, followed by 115, 114, 113 ... down to 76, then picks up again at 116 to the end!!!)
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?