Friday, February 08, 2008


At odds with myself

I felt so disjointed when I began to play during Wednesday's lesson (#45). I had tried to warm up at home earlier that morning, but that dang phone kept interrupting, so I never was able to get into the groove. We started out playing some of the Book 2 pieces, which I regularly play at home; but for whatever reason, it seemed like I was sight-reading brand new music that was way above my level. I kept messing up on even the simplest things.

I was getting more and more frustrated and even briefly considered abandoning the lesson. But with her patient encouragement I persisted. By the time we began Gavotte in C-minor, I was finally playing better.

We turned to Humoresque. Last weekend I decided I needed to put down my bow for a while to focus on all those shifts, pizzicato. Suzuki introduces upper-third position in this piece, and I was floundering around trying to find that F# with my pinkie, and later on the F with my third finger. So, we worked through these slowly, pizzicato, several times. She said that I was just stabbing in the dark trying to make those shifts. So we went over which fingers should actually make the shifts - and on which strings - before actually playing the desired note. It made a huge difference.

Now I need to just find the time to practice.

Hello there! Even if the finger isn't going to be held down, I find accuracy and strength in thinking of where 1st finger is going. So, if you need that 4th on F#, 1st should aim for D#, which is how far from where it was before? Then it's science as opposed to optimism. But there's a lot of that needed, too. :)
I have a different system, one that sounds complicated but I feel works for me. The cello, you see, has 5 magical imaginary "frets": the fifth (D on A string), seventh (A on D string), tenth (G on A string), twelfth (A on A string), and to a lesser magic extent, the second (A on G string).

Each of those imaginary frets have notes that match an open string. If, after a few years, I've practiced many times finding the magical frets, I might know very well only where just 5 frets are on the cello, but I can accurately find any note up to mid-string thumb position.

So F# has 2nd finger on D string A (or A string E).

Ok, I'll stop being weird now.
I guess I do something similar to what Terry does. I imagine where the first finger sits in fourth position as an "anchor spot." Then I "feel" the placing of another finger on that spot, depending on what note I need.
I find those days so frustrating, when I don't play well; I know I've played whatever it is better; and no matter what I do my playing just isn't on that day. I guess the flip side is that it makes those days when you are playing well and it feels easy so much more special!

As for shifting, it really helped me to take the 'scientific' approach like Ms. Emily recommended - I wrote about the shifting exercise I was doing for weeks in this post - it really helped me develop a feel how far to shift for all sorts of combinations of notes. Good practicing!
Them again, there's some days when I show up for a lesson and, yep, I forgot how to play. My mind is too wound up from a day at work or other problems and I can't seem to settle down and find the cello part of my brain.
I guess we just need to forgive ourselves and let it go. Next time will be better.
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