Thursday, October 09, 2008


Slow it down

From Lesson #58: Use the metronome and take that one passage in the Breval "Sonata" (that first run of triplets followed by those eighth-note string crossings) way down until each note is separate and distinct. Pay close attention to the triplet pattern vs. the paired eighth notes. On the string crossings, break the movements down into their individual detailed segments - set the bow, play the note, stop, rapidly reset the bow on the new string, play the next note, stop, and so on...

But first, take a few days where I don't play the piece through, but instead listen to it on the CD, and with the metronome sing/hum each note in proper rhythm and tempo. I've fallen into the habit of playing different tempos for different passages, depending on my comfort level with them. In order to put all the parts together I have to get used to hearing and thinking the right rhythms and tempo for the entire piece.

We also spent some time working on bowing. It's funny how I can easily do these motions at home, but during the lesson, my hand and arm feel so wooden.

I've made some changes to my daily practice routine, in part out of boredom, but also to deal with certain areas where I need to improve. I recently started playing minor scales for about 15-minutes in addition to my 15-minute warmup on the major scales. Then about half an hour playing second-position etudes in my new Percy Such book. After than I work on double stops for 15 minutes or so. Then half an hour in Book 3 and half an hour on the Breval piece. And since I work on orchestra/Cellocracy pieces for another half hour or so, my practice routine is now almost 3 hours a day. At least, as the darkness and the cold creeps up so rapidly, forcing us indoors, there does seem to be plenty of time available for practicing.

Tomorrow evening, our string orchestra and Cellocracy will each perform a piece at the annual Kenai Peninsula Orchestra "Evening of Classics" fundraiser. Cellocracy - as a quartet - has worked pretty hard on our piece (by Rudolf Matz), even rehearsing it with our coach a couple times. I'm pretty confident about it. I'm a little less comfortable with the orchestra's piece - it's a really fast Vivaldi concerto. On the whole it sounds good too, although I'm not as sure about my particular role in it, yet.

"set the bow, play the note, stop, rapidly reset the bow on the new string, play the next note, stop, and so on..." is what my teacher has told me too, not just for that part, but for other similar string crossing situations. It's something I don't do as well as I would like, but it gets better as the months and years go by. Maybe Emily could talk about this some day.
I will! Maybe that will be my next blogcast. One thing to do, that I think you are describing here is the following: make sure you're on the new string before you start playing on it. Sounds like common sense, but a lot of folks make the "new bow" (new bow stroke, or new note in the same bow) motion the same as the motion for your string crossing. There are two things going on, and you have to make that they both get accomplished. The smoothness we crave is what makes it blurry and sometimes inaccurate. Does that make even a little sense?

Fearless leader (with eyepatch and scar) :)
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