Saturday, June 10, 2006


Lesson 10

Today's lesson was really satisfying. For whatever reason I played a whole lot better - looser and more relaxed - than I ever had before. As always I made a couple of mistakes, primarily forgetting a few notes (but surprisingly - since I've had these memorized for so long; I guess my memory wasn't as good.) But I pushed past it and went through the pieces quite well - still not as well as at home, but for the first time I felt pretty good about it as I was doing it.

I described my frustration with playing the C on the G string, that I was finding it hard to get a good ringing tone. My teacher said she heard it loud and clear. Maybe I've lost some hearing sensitivity at that particular frequency (from 25 years of working in the plant?)

My bow hold was quite a bit better than before. My thumb and forefinger are used to push the bow into the string. I should feel the bow move around in my hand on each stroke. The occasional (sometimes frequent) fuzzy sound I get on stacattos and tenutos - are the result of not enough pressure or force into the string.

I have to do much more counting aloud during tricky rhythms and on longer notes. I found it hard to coordinate the fingering with the counting, so she suggested I count while doing open bowing along with the counting, then count doing pizzicato, and finally combine everything.

On the Bach Minuet (I actually played it quite well today - not perfect by any means, but almost satisfactorily), I should work on the string crossings. Play these out slowly, using the arm to lift and drop the bow. Another good one to practice - slowly, slowly, slowly - with is the Long, Long Ago in C. Also on the Bach piece my extension for G# was OK, but I should move my thumb along with the extension.

As we went through some of the fiddle pieces, we talked about the extensions (F# on C-string, and C# on G-string). I told her I wanted to start working on the lower register D Scale and the A Scale. I learned that I wasn't doing these right - the extension is not just the pinkie, but the whole hand - second, third, fourth fingers and thumb - except for the first finger - should move up half a step, so the second finger plays the third's note, etc. (on C-string; 2=D#, 3=F, and 4=F#) and (on G-string; 2=Bb, 3=C, 4=C#) and (on D-string; 2=F#, 3=G, 4=G#) and (on A-string; 2=C#, 3=D, 4=D#). The first finger stays in place.

I asked again about the dots and dashes above/below the notes. The dot is called stacatto, the dash is tenuto. We talked about how to play them. My earlier assessment wasn't quite right. There is space between notes, but it is less formal than I had thought. As much it is important for the stacatto to start the note with a crisp bite and then stop it without a "second" sound. The amount of time between the notes is somewhat variable. For the tenuto, the stop is more of a sliding out after the crisp start.

I begin the second piece in Book 2, "May Time" by Mozart. The only "teaching point" is to learn 6/8 time.

My teacher suggested I get a copy of Mooney's "Position Pieces for Cello" (I had already picked this up several months ago.) Rick Mooney is a Suzuki teacher who has developed several companion books. Normally she waits till mid-way into Book 3 to bring this out, but she thought I'd be interested in starting it. I'm supposed to bring it to my next lesson. We will probably start the 2nd Position then.

So, again, a good lesson!

Thursday we went back to Anchorage again, to get the MH's "Check Engine" light diagnosed. I guess I wasn't too surprised to learn that the fuel lifter pump was bad - $625 to replace it (we had to replace the main fuel pump in the summer of 2000 - within two months of purchase). It seems as if I've lost a lot of fuel pumps on my vehicles over the years - three Subarus, a Suburban, another motorhome, etc.

I picked up a few more CDs from Title Wave:
1) Mstislav Rostropovich playing cello concertos by Lutoslawski and Dutilleux (I've never heard of them);
2) Raphael Wallfisch playing the Barber Cello Concerto and Shostakovich Cello Concerto #1;
3) Stephen Isserlis playing Faure' complete works for cello
4) Yo-Yo Ma playing several cello pieces by John Williams
5) Mischa Maisky playing Prokofiev and Miaskovsky.

And then a couple from Barnes and Noble:
6) Ha Nan Chang's "Swan" with assorted pieces;
7) Yo-Yo Ma playing Japanese Melodies.

Finally, from Amazon:
8) Maria Kliegel playing Saint-Saens' Cello Concertos #1 and #2.

Now I've got way too many new cello CDs to listen to...

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