Blog: Cutting Through the Noise

Blog of Cellist Joshua Roman

The Popper Project: Part Three (now it's your turn)

Here it is, the last Popper Etude. The big four-zero. A project that was supposed to take 40 weeks and only be seen by a handful of friends has turned into a three and a half year journey with more support and musical rewards than I ever could have imagined. The question now: What's next? In my two previous posts I've written about some of the musical, technical, and practical lessons the project has taught me. On a not-just-musical note, having finished the whole set I am now experiencing the joy and continued inspiration of an Actually Completed Project, and hoping to build on that momentum.

Some stats: At the time of this writing, My YouTube Channel is now approaching 300,000 views and has over 1200 subscribers. Etude no. 1, the most watched etude, is almost at 30,000 views. I have two blog posts, one near the beginning and one at the middle of the project.

All of this has led to some exciting ideas for the evolution of the Popper Project, and I've also started on my next project (the working title is "Everyday Bach"), which I'll expound upon in a later post. First, here's Phase Two of the Popper Project, in three parts. This is where I begin to turn it over to you:

1. Vote on the top three etudes to be remade. On my Facebook Page you will find the voting apparatus, where you can choose which etudes you think are most deserving of a second take. This can be for any reason; better microphone/placement, prettier background view, correcting dropped notes (as in no. 6) other technical/musical reasons, iron my shirt first, etc. Voting will end on January 31st, 2013, so there's plenty of time to spread the word (please do!) and get more Popper fans involved! If you're not on Facebook, simply email your votes to and I'll add them to the tally. Following the results, I will re-record the three most voted on etudes and post with written and/or spoken commentary.

2. Upload your questions about practice techniques. If there is an etude (or passage in an etude) that you have difficulty with, make a video and upload it to YouTube by February 28th, 2013, describing (with demonstration on your cello) what it is you'd like help with. You can submit as many videos as you'd like, but please, focus on only one etude per video. Technical, musical, any issues you might have are on the table! From the submissions, I will choose five to seven to respond to, and create videos for each with tips and suggestions. For now, if you upload a video, email it to and I will create a playlist for these video submissions so that others can see your questions as well. If there is a more efficient method, please share! Check back here or on my Facebook Page for updates.

3. Write your own cello etude for me to record. I am very excited about this one! You do NOT have to have any compositional experience to participate, just a willingness to learn more about music and your own musical voice. This is a challenge to all cellists (and non-cellists, why not?) to expand your abilities by creating an etude that is unique, musical, creative, and tackles one or more cello-specific techniques, especially those not included in the Popper Etudes. Pizzicato, other extended techniques, modal counterpoint, all are fair game. Popper-length is ideal (3-4 minutes), and feel free to submit more than one. I will choose three or more submissions to record with a good mic and nice clothes on and post to YouTube so you can share with your cello colleagues. TO SUBMIT YOUR ETUDE: attach it as a .pdf (from any music writing software, or a scan of handwritten music if it is legible) and email it to no later than March 31st, 2013. If you have tips for other cellists as you write your etude, feel free to create a video and share it with me, and if appropriate I will repost.

That's it! I can't tell you how excited I am to hear from YOU. Please share this with other cellists and encourage them to vote, play, and write, and let's make 2013 a year of exciting developments for cellists everywhere!

Before you go, thank you again for your support of my Popper Project. Here's a preview of my next project, Everyday Bach. More to come!