To learn to play an instrument is to become a craftsman; to learn one’s musical heritage is to become the steward of a tradition.
Inspired by the discovery that famous cellist David Popper was a “great-grandfather”, the Pedagogical Ancestry Project became a journey of discovery into the great contributors to the Dresden School of cello playing. After months of research, a rough sketch was handed over to local artist and music teacher Joanne May (Joanne May Arts), who created this beautifully hand-painted and calligraphed rendering of my cello ancestors.
The goal from the onset was never to incorporate as many famous cellists as possible, a task that would become both unwieldy and misleading. What can be seen on this particular ancestry chart are the most prominent music teachers of a specific style of cello playing, namely that which was centered around a hub of education and performance in Dresden, Germany. The result is a deeply personal reminder of a direct connection to centuries of music-making, something that enriches both my performing and teaching styles.
Every time I play or teach a piece of music by one of the musicians on this tree, it elevates the experience to acknowledge that personal connection. It is my dream that my students will embrace their heritage, that it may give meaning to their efforts, and a sense of pride to participate in a centuries-old tradition.
Copies of this tree may be ordered directly from Joanne May Arts; it is particularly relevant to my students, who may be inspired to have such a keepsake. Joanne and I are also available to create custom musical ancestry trees for other musicians as requested! Please click on the link below for ordering options and prices, and check out this great time-lapse video of the calligraphy!