Monday, March 27, 2006


Fifth Lesson

Nice drive to Homer, with clear skies and a bright sun. The snow-covered volcanoes across the inlet were sharply outlined against the blue sky. Cresting the hill just before dropping down into Homer revealed a spectacular view of the deep blue bay with all the white mountains surrounding it. It never ceases to amaze me; each time I wonder why I didn't drop everything and move there years ago. Imagine looking out my window every morning onto that vista... If someone could somehow "package" that view, they'd become a billionaire in no time. Simply remarkable, every time I see it!

We setup in the same small room at the church that we'd used before. I still had to sit on some bibles... (I think I'll go ahead and pick up one of those folding stools from Walmart next time I go to the big city).

The recital is scheduled for May 14, with a practice session or two - yet to be specified - before then. We worked through the pieces to be done in the recital - several are included in Rodney Yarrow's Fat Notes CD. We played several of these against the CD. My teacher told me to play at home with the CD on headphones, and to work at it until I can keep up with the recording. We also played several of the Suzuki pieces - especially the last four in the book. While I played better than I had before - she commented that my improvement was significant and that it was obvious that I am practicing regularly.

I have to stop trying to play everything through at tempo - at least until I've sorted out all of the difficult parts. For each tricky section, I need to break it down to the basic elements and play them slowly - very slowly - not trying to make music but just to get the fingering and bowing right. Then play it over and over up to 20 times each session - slowly - until I finally imprint the fingering and bowing patterns. Then I can gradually pick up speed. She also suggested using multi-syllable words instead of counting using the old 1-and-2-and: try "jel - lo" or "ice - cream", etc. It can't hurt to try it... I'm not doing very well counting in my head.

She also discouraged me from using the metronome for these new pieces - not to worry about the overall tempo yet. Instead imprint the timing and patterns then come back and work on the tempo.

On the hooked bowing for "The Happy Farmer", draw the bow out on the initial dotted quarter note "like a smile", pause and arc the bow to the right string, and then do a rapid eighth note (using only an inch or two of the remainder of the bow). Do this slowly, just those notes, until I've gotten that imprinted. Same with the Minuet #2, take the first two measures and play them v-e-r-y slowly, resetting the bow and then the fingers before making the next note. Do this over and over and over again, slowly.

Other suggestions include using greater pressure with my forefinger on the up bows - maybe slide my hand out just a bit to let that finger press harder - so the stick is pushed down almost to the hair. Keep up the daily workouts with the basic scales and arpeggios. Also she noticed I needed to relax and drop my right shoulder a bit when I'm playing the A string.

Next lesson in two weeks!

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