Thursday, November 20, 2008


Closing in on the Breval Sonata

We started out with the Breval Sonata at today's lesson (#61). I played it a whole lot better today than I ever have - even at home. That first triplet run followed by the string crossings were almost perfect - finally! I stumbled a bit on a few bowings in the next section and didn't quite get those dotted-eighth-32nd-32nd-quarter note groupings right. Although I still had a few more minor "issues" here and there after that, it went really well up to the last line with the whole-note slur and two more dotted-eighth-32nd-32nd-quarter note parts. I still have a problem with endurance - I'm not sure I'd be able to play the entire piece at tempo with all the repeats. My left hand did start to cramp - so we talked about relaxation in general and about how I'm using my thumb. Although I'm still not ready to start on the next movement of this Sonata, I sure feel good about today's performance.

Practice points for the next few weeks will focus on:
  1. those four segments, working on rhythm/tempo, and making sure the fingering is right - slow it down for a while, first;
  2. improve articulation on the sixteenth-dotted-eighth phrases, making sure the bow bites into the string on the sixteenths and eases off through the dotted-eighths;
  3. practice wrist action to articulate the short upbow runs of hooked eighth notes °;
  4. work on the transitions into the triplet runs, especially at the end;
  5. practice the whole-note D/E trill at the end;
  6. overall relaxation and breathing - try playing it only with the left hand fingers tapping onto the strings as I watch my breathing patterns.
Next we began to play through La Cinquantaine... but I must have used up all my good karma for the day, because I couldn't even find that first shift. I was able to play with appropriate rhythms, etc., and eventually I got my intonation under control. but this wasn't my best effort, by far... We also worked briefly on the Double Stops book and my teacher gave me some pointers on ways to practice these... she emphasizes getting comfortable (fingers, hand and arm) with all these new finger placements; taking them one at a time; and separately working on the double string bowings one by one.

I've been working on vibrato almost daily for a couple months now, and I briefly demonstrated what sort of exercises I've been doing. My techniques are good, although I do have to make a minor adjustment to my fourth finger vibrato. I'm taking this slow and easy working steadily up the metronome. I've still got a long way to go, but it appears I'm definitely on track. I'll also start playing scales using vibrato...

I left the lesson feeling pretty good - with renewed confidence.

I started cello lessons a couple of months ago, just finishing up Suzuki book I, well, the older one seems the new book one is twice the size.
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