Saturday, January 24, 2009



My previous post maybe should have been called "Adding Directions".

Yesterday when I began to practice, I realized I did not want to abandon the Breval piece after all, nor the double-stops. I've invested way too much time in them over these past several months to simply set them aside. But, in the meantime I added some Bartok duets... And, I started working on the Trill Drills in the back of Suzuki Book 3. Now what?

What I decided to do instead was to work on all these things but to spend a lot less time on each item. Here's today's practice session:

1. warmup - long bows on open strings
2. scales - majors and minors using several variations of fingering and bowing
3. vibrato exercises (I've reached 192 bpm)
4. "Suzuki Book 2" - Judas Maccabeus using vibrato on all notes (I've just begun this one)
5. "Suzuki Book 3" - trill drills
6. "Percy Such: Position Etudes" - Six Studies in Third Position; play first four sets, then finger the fifth set
7. "Mooney Double Stops" - only one "tune" at a time
8. "Suzuki Book 3" - Beethoven's Minuet in G or La Cinquantaine
9. "Suzuki Book 4" - Breval Sonata; just one "passage" a day (8 to 10 measures)
10. "Bartok Duets" - first three pieces, playing both parts [these are fun!]
11. Cellocracy pieces - two or three items

Hmm, on reflection this seems somewhat ambitious, but I've tried to spend no more than ten or fifteen minutes on each item; and then move on. The last two days' practices lasted 2-1/2 hours; but I'm not complaining.

I am trying to narrow my focus to shorter segments in each piece, and attack just one or two "issues" per item per day. Maybe it's the change-up, but I've found myself anticipating my practice sessions more and feeling more invigorated afterwards.

Right after I started practicing this morning, we experienced a 5.7 earthquake centered about 75 miles Southwest of here. It lasted longer than normal, but it was not enough to knock things off shelves, or anything. It did cause the dog to bark a a couple times in surprise... Cellists would be proud to hear that my first reaction was to wrap myself around my cello in case something did fall.

I'm not sure what to think about the Yo-Yo Vanilli (or should that be Celli-Vanilli?) affair. I've never had to deal with playing outdoors in the cold, much less for the President; and I certainly have no right to judge anybody, much less Yo-Yo Ma or Itzhak Perlman. But still I guess I'm a little disappointed for some reason...

Ambitious is the word, but I'm glad you found a way to get going again. I'm still working on it.

I think the air-bowing issue is much ado about nothing. They recorded the piece ahead of time due to the expected adverse conditions. It had to be amplified in that outside performance for millions, anyway. I think people are shocked because they don't realize what a common practice this is, and the media needs flames to fan.
I don't have a problem with the whole pre-recorded thing. After all, there is no way their instruments would have stayed in tune in 20-degree weather! It would have sounded terrible!

The thing is, they still performed the piece. It was just... not performed at the same time we all thought it was.
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