Thursday, July 17, 2008


From a different direction

I'm approaching the Breval "Sonata" in a new way. I'm currently focusing only on the exposition (the first 39 measures). Rather than just work my way through it measure-by-measure as usual, I spent a lot of time studying the piece without my cello. I wanted to flag the various technical challenges before stumbling into them with my old measure-by-measure approach. There are lots of grace notes, trills, sixteenth-note pairs, and even some 32nd notes. Interesting variations, close but not exactly the same. Also, I noticed the common rhythmic sequence - a dotted quarter note followed by five eighth notes. And of course those opening chords, some of which also show up again later. And last but not least that set of eighth-note string crossings bracketed by the triplet runs.

There aren't any new or tricky positions to worry about - in fact just one small shift so far, and except for the gymnastics involved with those eighth-note string crossings, the fingerings aren't very difficult.

I transferred each of these segments into Finale PrintMusic, so I could better compare them and focus on them. So, I started working on each of these "practice points" one at a time, not worrying about where and how they fit into the music. I spent more than a week on these alone (even avoiding the rest of my practice routines). I got to where I was able to play through most of them fairly well (except for the chords and string crossing sequences). A few days ago I finally began playing through the whole piece. Using the measure-by-measure approach I was able to put it all together in just a few days. I was pleasantly surprised how nicely it is coming along.

At yesterday's lesson (#54) I played it through well enough. My rhythm and timing weren't that good (as usual), but the notes came out more-or-less at the right times, in their proper sequences and with passably good intonation. I showed my teacher my practice points worksheet and we talked a lot about each of them, focusing on the trills, grace notes, and the like. We also worked on the chords and crossings. I've got a long way to go to get past that small dragging screech across the D string... but it's coming along. Another challenge for me is the 4-2 trill. The 4-3 trills and 2-1 trills, etc. aren't that difficult, but my third finger seems to get in the way on the 4-2 trill.

Practice! Practice! Practice!

I've also been working on the Mooney Double Stops book. Again, my fourth finger seems to be an issue, but it's getting better, too. These exercises are sure helping to play using my fingertips. My teacher wants me to finish the Mooney Position Pieces book. I can't understand my resistance to those pieces. They're not that difficult - but they just don't seem to click with me. I can play these through dozens and dozens of times, yet when I pick one again up after a few weeks, I stumble through it as if it were the first or second try.

At our next lesson I'm supposed to play through the "Allegro Moderato" in one sitting, with my teacher playing the duet part. Whew. That's going to be hard to prepare for since I have a concert to get ready for in less than two weeks... both our orchestra and Cellocracy.

Still cloudy, still drizzling, still cold... not much of a summer.

A practice worksheet sounds like a great idea. Somehow, taking them out of the context of the page seems like it would be easier to work on. There would be less temptation to continue on to the bits that don't need as much work, and less intimidation via the 'whole bunch of black on the page' phenomenon. Thanks for the tip!
The practice worksheet sounds great to me too.

Don't forget about the string crossing exercise in that same Suzuki book. It's on page 12. (Etude for Changing Strings) I remember that being a help to me when I was working on the Breval. Ahh ... but I must say, you're working much more diligently than I did on the Breval. However, I'm going to apply that worksheet tip to Chanson Triste.
Those string crossings are annoying, that's for sure. My teacher has me practising my bow hold flexibility with a pencil whilst I'm at work to help with it. It's hard to explain, but it involves holding a pencil like the bow, and then bringing it up into the palm of your hand and down again, imitating the way you change the height of the bow to get to different strings. Having more fine control over that makes that passage much, much easier for me.
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home