Focus today was on remembering pitches between long shifts, and getting ready for the F to F scaley parts. Now in prepping for this the focus was on arm weight and ‘pushing’ the bow just slightly on the up-bows for the two-octave F major scale that occurs in this piece. The right arm needs to be a tad higher than usual C string position
I’ve been given a new piece – the second of the Schumann ‘Pieces in the Folk Style’ - Langsam (=literalliy: slow, but in a contemplative way. I’d almost translate this as ‘lingering’) Here’s a link to an interesting essay by W.D. Seiffert, pointing out the context of these pieces in relation to his cello concerto and relationship to the cello later in life.
Here’s an quote from this page. Apparently, I need to get to work on some story-telling!
Geringas sees the key to these pieces in the title. In his opinion the musician must invent a story to match the piece and “tell” it through the music, like folklore.
The theme is tricky for me to read. I’ll try to come up with a few stories and start working on that opening theme. For me, it brigs up feelings of autumn, though, and impending but not imminent goodbyes.
We talked about the F-scaley parts of the Kol Nidre today. The big riffs, the descending of which needs to go into thumb position to do. But generally for the ascending scales, we talked about keeping one’s hand very light and almost fluttery while practicing the scales. Then imagine the left hand is driving the right and try to do it in one motion. Easy to say, right? We worked our way through those two lines, which is pretty much going to be the focus of my practice this week, along with keeping the Prelude in working order.
It’s very hard for me to pick what to work on, because there’s so much. I think I’ll play through the ‘B’ section of Kol Nidre and see what needs work there, and the Bach Suite #1 also need to take a middle section. For my scale, I’m going to work with Ab and Eb major again.
Mostly, I’m afraid to be judged. I’ve been doing this for about five years now, although with some breaks and life getting in the way, it would be more accurate to say that I have really been playing only for four years of progress. If you saw the videos, you might say less.
We went back to the Bach (Prelude, Suite #1) to talk about hand frames in the first five measures. Last week, we worked through my difficulties with the third measure of the F# and C. My left hand wasn’t strong and the bow kept crashing because my underconfidence transmitted to the right hand as well. At the most recent lesson, we moved to the next measure, and worked through the hand frame for B and G. The trick was to keep the thumb out of the picture. This was confusing because in the previous lesson to that, we looked at ways to use the thumb to strengthen and relax the hand in first position. Now no thumb. But it works. Once a problem is solved though, it’s necessary to play through in context so that the body can prepare for the change in posture.
Last night’s practice log: Dotzauer, #3. Review of first four lines, applying these lessons to the extensions needed to play measures with lots of F# and C#, then get back to first position.
Today was my first lesson since 8/19, and we had a lot to recover. Sitting at a different angle, Dan could easily see aspects of my LH technique that were less obvious. So, today was focused on the left hand for the prelude. I’m squeezing too much and flattening my thumb. We discussed doing whatever we can to strengthen the finger playing the note.
- supporting my fingers by doing things other than squeezing. Consider elbow and hand=shape as a way of delivering 3 in particular.
- When 4 curls up, there is tension. Try to fix it.
- Creep the desired hand shape forward using the fingers to deliver 3 to play F# in the third bar. Bring the elbow back a bit more.
- have your thumb in the median playing position supporting the finger you are on or near.
I’m recovering from my procedure, and I’m not supposed to lift anything heavier than about 10 lbs. My cello, being unusually heavy, weighs 12 so I don’t want to risk it. While waiting for the time I can practice again, I came across this page of music games: Thanks originally to Olga Redkina for pointing this to me!
Note – all recommendations from my site are always totally from me without expecting any thing in return.
As the summer winds to a close, I am reviewing some of my old pieces while continuing to get the end of the “B” section of Kol Nidre done. Sometimes i like reviewing my pieces so that I can see if working on the more challenging music has shown progress. This is hard to do when you’re always at the edge of your technique.
Also, next week I am going in for a procedure that will make practice impossible for a few days during on expressiveness and listening while I’m at the cello. As an example of tying this together, I worked on the Nina sections that go high up the D string. Working on the high sections of the Kol Nidre paid off here as well. Last night my goal was to make the D-only sections sound in-tune with the previous sections that were on the A string.
i’m noticing that blogging helps me log my practices, and stay more efficient when I’m practicing So, I’d like to stay with this, and not use the various life interruptions as an excuse to stop blogging.
One other impetus to resuming this project was that I feel that I’m struggling over the same issues I was a few months ago, and without the blog to return to, I don’t remember the solutions. Or to put it more aptly, if we don’t remember where we came from, we can’t know where we’re going! That’s one other aspect of being an adult beginner (or can I stop calling myself that yet?, nah.) one cannot rely on a razor sharp memory to help with me with problems from my past. Yes, my body does remember some past solutions but only with impressionistic detail.
The current memory problem I’m referring to is that I’m working on my Prelude to the first suite, reviewing where I left off after a big Kol Nidre blitz, and realizing that I have absolutely no left hand balance as I come into the third measure. The whole thing comes to a screeching crash. Now, there’s a little Dan bell ringing now that says the problem is not exclusively where one thinks it is; it may manifest in the left hand but originate elsewhere. in one’s left and there are always correlated RH issues as well as balance. But somehow releasing and recovering the F# is problematic for me. I put too much top weight on the cello and it pops the endpin out of its stop. So tonight I did a focused practice to see if I could solve this problem.
Perhaps there is a way to play this without releasing my finger from the F# position? Anyway, I need to find the way to play the F#-C as well as the G to B in the next measure and stay in balance. That’s it for tonight.
No scales tonight, but I did work on my C major arpeggio, 2 octave because I want to get used to hearing those chords. I guess i need to be brave; at my level I should be doing threes.
In other cello-y stuff, had a great afternoon reading Strings Magazine, (http://www.allthingsstrings.com) where they had a Cello Suites special edition as well as an article on high school orchestras by the inimitable Emily Wright. (Disclosure: I did contribute to her recent fundraiser, but she was inimitable before that, too).
But I will be back to regular blogging on August 1. Need to get some of my repertoire pieces back up to speed as well. Have a great summer, and when I start again, there WILL be periodic recordings.