Wednesday, March 19, 2008


This is my 400th entry!

In honor of my blog's theme, I will describe today's practice session in detail.

I've been focusing on the two hardest shifts from Humoresque.

After my warmup, I started working on "finding" the E on the A-string - alternating the open A with the E, using each finger; and trying to get it accurate every time. Then, I added in the D, playing A-D-E-D-A by alternating 0-4-1-4-0, 0-2-4-2-0, 0-1-3-1-0, and 0-1-x2-1-0. I played these in random variations over and over for ten or fifteen minutes until I was getting the same quality sound for each note regardless of the fingering. Then I played this same fingering combination for a while on each of the other three strings.

Next I played E-G-E in fourth-position for a while (1-4-1) and then D-E-G-E-D with various fingering choices. Finally I played the D-C-G combination (2-x1-2) and ended up at D-C-G-A-G-F (2-x1-2-x3-2-x1). This is the tricky fifth-position shift in measure 36 of Humoresque. I played these slowly, over and over until the notes sounded clean and crisp. After a while I started using the appropriate bowings and rhythm - still keeping it slow until each note was just right, every time. Finally I added in the rest of the notes from measure 35. Fifteen minutes later this passage was sounding pretty good.

Then I switched to the seventh-position shift in measure 40 starting with D-C-Bb-A (x1-3-2-1), and expanding it to the full passage in measures 39 and 40. Fifteen minutes later it was still just "close" but I was getting tired.

So, after all this work I figured I should now play the entire piece. It all went good until I reached measure 36... and I stumbled. And I stumbled again at measure 40. Aargh.

But I went back and played just this segment (measures 33-40) and I nailed both those shifts accurately and cleanly!

Two hours...

After a short break I spent another half hour or so playing through my Cellocracy pieces.

Tomorrow, I go back to La Cinquantaine, which is coming along nicely. What a pretty piece! The shifts to the harmonic and back are coming along well. I've worked through the first half so far, and yesterday I started on the second half. The hardest part is playing it softly.

Congratulations on your 400th post!

I am sure that your attention to detail in your practicing is contributing to your excellent progress. It took me much longer to buckle down and work in a disciplined way on this section. And then I was so surprised that I could actually play this section that I had labeled "impossible." Thanks for the inspiration. :-)
I kept trying to work "the Old Man of cello blogging" into a sentence, but I couldn't do it. I am continually amazed at your attention span. 10-15 minutes on one set of fingering variations? I just can't!
Guanaco, you're amazing! And truly an inspiration.
I'm sure you, Oh Thorough One, already practice this way, but I always work on shifts over a slur. So if I'm on the A and want to work 4th finger D into 1st finger E, I go D E, E, D, slurring 2 to a bow. The slur has a way of keeping the left hand honest because the right hand doesn't have the opportunity to obscure any nefarious activities with a pause of obtrusive bow change.

Also, doing this with a metronome cleans this up even further. I've been sort of AFK for a few weeks, and it was good to read and catch up on your blog today. Always a good read. :)
Good lord was that a poorly written comment. But since I can't edit it, I will leave it and just be sort of dissatisfied.
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