Sunday, August 30, 2009

 

Warming up


With surprising progress with the first of the Bach Minuets, I began working this week on the second Minuet in Suzuki Book 4, just pizzicato, measure by measure.

On the other hand, I've gotten stuck somehow, trying to increase my tempo on the Breval Rondo. I keep stumbling at those sixteenth-note runs.

I'm tackling this in a different manner than I've previously used. After my warmup scales, I decided to play each of these isolated sections as if I were warming up with a new scale. Starting slowly with the metronome, playing note by note, listening for accuracy, clarity and smooth transitions across strings and positions. Once I'm completely satisfied, I then increase the tempo a few notches.

From the three pieces I'm currently working on, I've isolated five tricky sections for this intensive treatment. The past few days, I've spent 5 to 10 minutes on each of these sections. I've not yet reached my desired tempo/accuracy with any of these, but I can hear definite progress with all of them.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

 

Burger Birthday


For Z's 17th birthday yesterday (also our 38th anniversary) I made this cake - inspired by his summer job at [Large Hamburger Chain].

I guess I've watched too many episodes of Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes.

[The bun top was baked in a large glass casserole dish, the bun bottom and the meat were baked in regular cake pans. I sliced each cake part in half and layered them back together with butterscotch pudding. The meat was iced with chocolate icing with crumbled dark chocolate cookies pressed in for texture. The bun was iced with cream cheese icing tinted with food coloring. Chopped macadamia nuts were sprinkled on top. The cheese, tomatoes and lettuce were made from marzipan paste mixed with food coloring. Overall, the cake was about 9" in diameter and 6" tall.]

Comments:
Oh, my, I had no idea you had such talents. Very impressive.
 
What a great cake! You did a beautiful job.
 
Given your remarkable book list, I couldn't help but comment. I'm the editor of a new book called THE LOST CELLOS OF LEV ARONSON: Frances Brent and provided your interest in music---particularly the cello---I thought I'd share this recent Wall Street Journal review with you in the hopes that you might pick up the book and possibly blog about it! Best wishes!

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203863204574345470308684710.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
 
You need to talk with Cello Muser. His wife makes amazing cakes too. Perhaps I can lure both cake making entities to CA as part of Cello Fandango of the Future that I am trying to hustle together.

Food. Cello. Spa Treatments.

How could that be bad?

Happy Birthday Z!
 
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Friday, August 14, 2009

 

BLOGGING CELLISTS


238 BLOGGING CELLISTS
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  • Academic Ronin
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    • Comments:
      Hey there! Thanks for providing this list! I just realized that the link to my blog is incorrect. It's now simply www.emilyannpeterson.com
       
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      Friday, August 07, 2009

       

      I'm feeling a little scalene tonight


      I strung my 4 new Jargars onto my cello yesterday, making this morning's practice quite an ear-opener. For the past five or six months I've slowly and patiently worked through the Breval and Marcello Sonatas, only picking up the tempos when I was ready. I'm nowhere near proper tempos yet, but I'm playing them through comfortably, without errors. These last two weeks I've enjoyed applying my learning technique to the "Suzuki 4" Bach Minuets.

      All along, I've been assuming that my sound quality would eventually improve, but that seemed a long way off, so I'd stopped even thinking much about it. Now with the rehair and the new strings, I'm realizing that I have progressed beyond simply playing out the notes as scored. Now, with all these improvements I'm starting to think I can hear a little quality in my sound; I'm even testing certain variations in my bow control to try to improve that sound.

      Interestingly too, the new strings and new bow hair made it easier to play my current double stops pieces.


      I found another novel written by a cellist! It's titled "Backtracked" by Pedro de Alcantara, a Brazilian cellist who teaches and writes about the "Alexander Technique". I don't think it's about the cello. His first novel, also for 'Young Adults', is called "Befiddled". More on all this later, maybe...


      After working steadily at his new job all summer, Z has saved up enough money to buy a computer - "for school". At the beginning of summer I offered to pay for half of it, since we'd planned to buy him one next year as he heads off to college **sob**. This job has taught him a lot of new things - primarily 'responsibility' and 'accountability', learning to take orders, and learning to do multiple, demanding tasks repetitively but efficiently and safely. He took his job quite seriously and worked pretty hard at it, earning 'employee of the week' after just four weeks, and 'employee of the month' after his second month.

      I hadn't realized he'd been conscientiously saving at least 3/4 of each paycheck and was now planning to get a rather high-end laptop system. He spent weeks studying all the options, comparing features and prices of a dozen systems. Finally, after an almost unbelievable effort in dealing with online and telephone order and help desks, we were finally able to order a customized system from Big Computer Company's website. We're hoping it will arrive in time for his birthday next week.

      Tuesday morning I spent well over an hour and a half on the phone with them trying to sort out what proved to be a simple error in their own website that wouldn't accept our shipping zip code. It took another two days for Big Computer Company's tech services department to fix their own bug. At one point I was talking to their sales desk team leader who had conferenced us with a service rep at Major Parcel Delivery Service, who'd then brought in her own tech rep. The combination of time lags, line static, and language obstacles made it hard to even establish the basic facts - that was just weird. At one point I'd considered hanging up and starting over - hopefully connecting to a new sales rep with a more understandable accent. Then I realized that this chaos was oddly interesting and challenging. Still, I wish I'd recorded that bizarre 4-way call.


      As August begins we're already starting to sense the waning of summer. Sunsets are coming a little earlier - 10:30 tonight. And I had to turn on the lights when we got up this morning - the first time we've even used the lights since early May. But most of all, the fireweed has begun to bloom - this August phenomenon turns all the fields and roadsides a bright pink, which gradually darkens to red over the next couple weeks.

      Comments:
      I'd been waiting for Pedro's new book to come out-thanks for the heads up. Befiddled is about a violin player. Cute book. Also love Indirect Procedures, his book about cello and Alexander Technique.
       
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      Sunday, August 02, 2009

       

      Ch-ch-ch-changes


      It glides across the strings with little effort; my newly rehaired bow not only plays easier, it draws out a full, rich sound. As if some of that sound was being lost, somehow, when the hair was worn out.

      A long time ago, I wrote about my inability to measure my progress along this path. Weeks would go by where I didn't feel as if I'd gained one bit, then suddenly I'd sense a step-change. Each time the glow of success quickly faded, as I once again saw how much more needed to be learned.

      Playing with this rehaired bow has made me see that my bowing skills have improved far more than I'd realized. I feel more in control, able to make subtle adjustments to the "personality" of the sound. Who knew?

      And my new strings (Jargars) are in the mail. Thanks, Ellen!

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