Saturday, December 02, 2006



For our part of the upcoming community Christmas concert, our string orchestra will play a medley of Christmas songs that includes several changes in rhythm, with several rest periods for the cellos. Not really a difficult piece, note-wise, although it has made me pay extra attention to the fourth finger extensions on the d-string and the g-string.

My biggest challenge is counting it in my head - starting with mostly quarter notes then switching to half notes in 4/4 time, then to dotted half notes and half-quarter note measures in 3/4 time, and then to a sequence of eighth-note/eighth-rest measures in 2/4 time. I've learned the fingering and can play even the trickier parts at tempo. But I find myself losing track of the half notes and then the dotted half notes. Since the cello part doesn't carry much of the melody, I can't rely on the tune itself to keep me on track.

Finally, after several days of frustration trying to play it through, today, I put the cello aside and just counted the whole piece aloud four or five times, then just the half note measures four or five times. Then, I slowed the metronome down, picked up the cello and played these half note measures slowly while counting aloud. After several tries I was finally able to speak the beats and play the notes at the same time (equivalent - to me at least - to patting my head and rubbing my stomach at the same time). Then, a little faster, until I got to tempo and was finally able to play it all the way through. Two weeks left to get this perfect....

I've not been able to devote as much time as I've intended to the two latest Suzuki pieces. Still, when I do, I feel as if I'm progressing. I've put a lot more time on several of the older pieces that still had "tough segments". I think I've completely overcome a few of these segments, and I'm making good progress on most of the rest of them. I sure hope I'll be able to demonstrate these at my lesson this week.

This week we found out that Ipods aren't designed for washing machines. Egad! You'd think that Apple would have taken into consideration that their most loyal fans are 14 years old, who are only now learning to put their jeans into the laundry hamper themselves - but learning to empty out the pockets first is a whole different issue. How hard would it be to make the darn things waterproof? At first, I didn't want to try popping the cover - in hindsight I should have, at least I could have dried it with a hair dryer before the hard-drive rusted. Anyway, after a day or so sitting near the heater, we plugged it in and the screen lit up(!) (no information, but there was light), then the hard drive started clacking, and then it died.... bummer. Z is devastated.

Hippos are descended from the same ancestors as whales. There's a town in South Africa, called St. Lucia, where hippos wander through town, feeding on lawns at night. Z added it to his list of places to see one day...

Re counting: sounds like you're in the same place that I'm in. If only the cellos had the melody in these medlies. We're doing several of them for our concert, and I find it quite difficult even though the notes are not that hard to find on the cello. It's not about the notes .... it's about when to play them. I too have been counting away from the cello ... (see my most recent blog entry.) And that's also the reason I haven't been at the computer much this past week.
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