Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I think as the cross-cultural pollenation between Americans and Chinese continues, opportunities cellists and erhu players will also increase.
Your seizing this cultural opportunity seems high in possibilities.
I hope you have a happy holiday season.
What sorts of scales does one practice on the erhu?
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
After looking through the RCO folder, I realized that even if I worked all month at three hours a day, I'd still never get far enough to be able to hold my own and enjoy the experience. While it was challenging to be able to play with the KPO last month, I just didn't feel like I was ready to be there, and most of the time I wasn't hitting the right notes anyway. In hindsight, the experience wasn't worth all the time and effort and stress I put on myself.
The bottom line is I am just not ready, technically, to play at this level. The RCO only has two (possibly three) cellos, so my inabilities would be difficult to mask. When there were seven or eight cellos, it was easy to lay low in the crowd.
My cello abilities are improving - slowly and steadily. I've thought a lot about what I want to get out of cello playing, and playing in the RCO and KPO are definitely included; but not until I'm ready - technically. I have a good idea of what I should study during the next year in order to get there - this includes work on pieces in Bb Major and Eb Major, rapid bowing exercises (that B part of L'Arlesienne makes a good etude), playing rapid scale and chromatic runs, and generally working on fast tempos. I have no doubt I'll see gains in each of these areas over the next year, especially if I post these goals on my music stand.
* The Redoubt Chamber Orchestra is a local version of the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra. About half of the KPO orchestra is based in Homer and half in the 'Central Peninsula' area - Soldotna and Kenai. The RCO appears to be made up mostly of this central peninsula half, and in recent years has only gotten together for the Christmas concerts.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Halloween Concert Report
The best part: I played the entire "In the Hall of the Mountain King" piece at tempo with no mistakes! I've mentioned before that this piece was my first "classical" favorite - from second grade. Being able to actually play this particular piece - with its intense cello part - in my first performance with a full orchestra is a milepost of sorts in my cellomania. Yeah!
Another high note - our strings orchestra's two pieces, "Joust" and "Deep Sea Fandango" went really well - the best we'd ever played them.
My costume did not interfere with my playing, I made sure to keep it loose and to avoid possible entanglements of the cloth strips in the strings. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of me playing the cello in costume. If I do this again next year, I think I'll try something a bit less elaborate.
I didn't do that well with the "Funeral March for a Marionette", but not really so bad. Also, "Pirates of the Caribbean" was OK. I avoided some of the runs in Brahms' "Hungarian Dance #5" and most of "L'Arlesienne". The rest of the pieces were fine...
What I Learned
I don't feel as if I'm really ready for this level of performance, yet. It was gratifying to have this chance to play, and for a few brief periods I actually did feel like I belonged...
I devoted two full months of two- to three-hour practice sessions - at the cost of my lessons - along with lots of additional rehearsals. I did manage to "learn" all the pieces, but I wasn't able to get them quite up to speed. At the rehearsals and the two performances, I easily played the slower parts, but when we got to the fast sections my fingers seemed to forget where they were supposed to go. For most of it, the sound of the full orchestra was distracting (especially the five trombones and the tuba just behind my right ear - especially in "Pirates"). On several occasions, I couldn't even see the notes - they all seemed to blur together...
At my lesson this past week, I spent quite a bit of time fine-tuning some fingerings and bowings, but mostly we discussed my list of "issues" that I've been putting together:
1. My first finger extensions (x1) to Bb/A#, Eb, and Ab; and my fourth finger extensions (x4) to Eb, G#/Ab, and C# are sloppy. Worse yet are the transitions from x1 to x4. I need some etudes, I think...
2. I have difficulty playing scales and chromatic runs rapidly, going up and down. The problem seems to be both with coordination of bow and fingers and with the left-hand fingers simply getting in the way of each other.
3. I have trouble with rapid bowings, such as repeated short strokes - even on the same notes.
4. I need to work on ways to increase tempos, although I did succeed with "Hall of the Mountain King".
5. "L'Arlesienne" will stay on my music stand. It's a familiar tune, the cello has a strong role, at least half is in tenor clef, there is a lot of position work, and one part is made up of rapid double-stroke chromatic runs.
I took the day off, today, from my cello - it's funny how I felt so guilty skipping practice. Tomorrow I return to my lessons. And at tomorrow night's rehearsal of our strings group, we'll start working on Christmas music.
Thanks for a great performance!
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