Sunday, January 24, 2010


Learning Vivaldi

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.

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