Sunday, January 24, 2010
I'm carefully working through the first 6 measures of the "Largo" of Vivaldi's Sonata in E minor
, paying particular attention to the shifts and trills, while constantly thinking: "tenor clef, tenor clef..." At the same time I'm also learning the first three lines in the second section, the "Allegro" (in bass clef), which has those interesting string crossings. Progress is slow, but steady. I really like this phase of learning a new piece.
It struck me today how far I've come in the past year, especially when it comes to learning new music. It was about this time last year that I finally starting doing what my teacher had been saying about the best way to learn a new piece: slowly and patiently with the metronome - first tapping out the rhythms, then working out all the shifts, and then pizzing the notes slowly. And only when it all feels good, begin using the bow.
Although I've had a few low points this past year, I've felt pretty good about how I've been doing on the new pieces I've been learning. Instead of tearing through a new piece as fast as I could, slamming into the same stumbling blocks over and over and over until eventually resolving them, now I'm seeking out those stumbling blocks right at the beginning and working through them before tackling the rest of the piece.
Meanwhile, I'm continuing to polish the last three pieces in Book 4, focusing on bow control and sound quality. Sometime last week I noticed that I wasn't really having to think about their fingerings and shifts that much anymore. I've also started working on the next etude in my Percy Such etude book, one by S. Lee, which is definitely a refreshing change from the Schroeder etude that I worked on for so many months.
A few days ago I installed new Pirastro 'Passione' A and D strings suggested by Ellen G. at Cellos2Go
. So far I'm rather pleased. They seem to open up my cello in these ranges better than the Jargars did before them.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
It took me a few minutes to relax and loosen up at the start of today's lesson. This was my first lesson since early December, when I began working on Chanson Triste.
I've really worked hard on this piece. The A part was "relatively" easy, even with its high Bbs. The B part was much more challenging - at one point each new note seems to require a separate shift. So I carefully deconstructed this segment and began with the hardest shift - playing the two notes across that shift over and over, listening for the sweet sounds, getting comfortable with the proper locations on the string. Then I added another note (and shift) and repeated the process. I spent a few days working on just these three measures. Then when I played it with the bow, it came out pretty good. There were two other small segments that got this same treatment.
At today's lesson - after loosening up on some of the "Percy Such" etudes, we played Chanson Triste through, together. For a change, I was quite pleased with how I had played it. I didn't miss any notes and kept the tempo more-or-less steady. My upper Bbs were clean, although my lower Bbs were a little sharp. Afterwards we spent some time analyzing those lower Bbs and I realized my thumb was gripping the neck too tightly, hindering the extensions as well as the upper third position extensions.
We also talked about some of the dynamics and bowing techniques - I need to concentrate on keeping my bow hand loose and use the "paintbrush" technique. Replaying just a few measures this way produced a noticeable improvement.
I was really quite pleased that I had managed to play this piece as well as I did at today's lesson.
Then we opened "Suzuki Book 5" ! and began talking about the Verdi piece, Sonata in E minor. I'm going to spend a little time working on the first line of the opening section (the part in Tenor clef) and also begin working on the second part (in bass clef) before the next lesson.
I'm also going to start the next piece in the Percy Such etude book...
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Another geek's binary day (01 10 10 = 26).
My cello practices the past few days have targeted three of the trickier passages in Chanson Triste. I've spent hours just patterning their fingerings. Each passage is only three or four measures long, but each one presents a slightly different issue. The most difficult passage for me is the middle third of the B part, which has a bunch of position changes back and forth over just a few measures. Yesterday, after a long set of repetitions I went back and played that part really slow just listening for those sweet ringing sounds, helping me to fine-tune those position changes.
On this one, at least, I've had no problem adapting to tenor clef...
Last night, in a rare evening practice session, I played the entire piece from memory. By the end of an hour I managed to play it all the way through without any errors or hesitation, and I was getting those clean ringing notes on those shifts... But this morning I didn't start off nearly as well, although it eventually got better by the end of the session.
Tomorrow I start orchestra again, and Wednesday another lesson after a month off.
Friday, January 01, 2010