Practice Log 8/7 through 8/13


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August 7: 

Today is my first day back after a week off. I had started a new job that required some travel, and chose not to take my cello with my that first week.

Current priority in practicing is getting a pulse going and reducing rhythmic irregularities.  I need to start giving that job to my right arm instead of simply trying to do it all in my head (and then pass it to my right arm).   In other words, I need to let my right arm BE the metronome.

For my scale today, which was 2 octave A major, my focus was on the first octave, trying to keep my place with my 1 so that I don’t lose my bearing by lifting my LH too far away.

I reviewed my Schroeder 16 with metronome at 50, and the March in G with metronome at 42.  This sort of metronome work  I can actually do off the cello if I decide not travel with it next week.  Most hotel chairs have wheels, which is not what I want, so I may need to get a cello chair.

Last week we also picked up the Suite #1 prelude again, but now using the 3-slurred 5 separate bowing pattern. (Don’t hate me, Dan)  Some things felt easier, but it’s now going to take some work getting it sounding smooth.


Menuet + Schroeder 16 practice.


Pinching the bow too much.  Went through my pieces as light-handed as I could get away with.  Also , practicing my learning-orchestra pieces, especially those parts where the cello section plays solo.  Schroeder #16 is starting to sound alive, so I’ll be interested to see what area of this piece my teacher wants to explore next.

Also, I am setting a goal to perform the Beethoven Minuet #2 from Suzuki book 3 next fall.  So, I’d like to be woodshedding the trio section for a while.

I listened to the original piano piece today.  Took me a bit of work to track down, so here is the Youtube link to the SheetMusicPlus version.  I will confess that this is the first I found, not necessarily endorsed as the best.

Lesson tomorrow; we’ll see how it pays off!

Scale-y Sunday


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Mostly scales today, and some review of past pieces to see if my current work has made older pieces easier.  Anyway, D major in the morning and  B melodic minor at night.  Trying to make up some time at work, so not as much practice today as I had hoped.  For the B, I worked on the upper octave descending, trying to get that right.  And of course, there’s still trying to get my left elbow to positioned to make things easier for my left hand.


Quick Practice Log



Just tempo training today – it’s much harder than it looks.  It’s also hard for me to be in time in real life.

One measure repeated indefinitely (mm 1 of Schroeder #16) until it feels like I’m working with the clock instead of fighting it.  Every now and then I get that moment of being in time but it slips out.  But it is getting better, and I sound more even.  Still time for improvement, though.

Still keeping an eye on my left hand shape.  There are no shifts in this exercise.



Time is getting short



I could not help notice the following on a very addictive game I play, and have asked myself some very hard questions about why more of hose hours are not being assigned to the cello.  I’m not suggesting that 100% percent of my spare time be cello related.  That would make it hard for me to have conversations or common experiences with most other people.  But still, that’s a lot of time I will never get back.


I could blame the accident, but that took only three months out of my life, 90 days at 3 hours practice a day equals only about a tenth of the above.   Anyway, this is not intended to be a fair comparison, but just to provoke questions; am I making good use of my time?

That being said, I’ve been putting in some serious practice hours in April, and I’m again happy with my progress.  But I’m going to make myself accountable for practicing every day.  (For days I cannot take the cello with me, I’ll find some way to practice while off the cello).

As you may know, I am retracing quite a bit of ground that I covered in year 3. There is indeed a fair amount to remediate, including a flying pinky,  a consistent left hand position, and a tendency to squish my fingers, creating problems with intonation.  I do think it’s worth the time to focus on tempo and general musicianship.  It has helped me feel more confident.  (Thanks, Nelson).  So, today’s practice was

  • D major 2 octave scales
  • Some left hand “jumping jack” and string crossing exercises to promote a steady C position (within reason)
  • Schroeder exercise #16, but no metronome.  Focus on some tricky measures getting my LH comfortable.  Still a lot of wood-shedding to be done here.
  • Beethoven Minuet #2 in G, trio section
  • Hunter’s Chorus – focus on not resting on notes I shouldn’t be accessing.





Performing! Also Systems vs. Goals


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Our Music School is doing a recital for all of its students.  It’s a mammoth 3 day affair – I’m going on April 2 with one of two pieces in Mooney’s Position Pieces for Cello.   It’s a duet, and I will play with my teacher.  We’ll switch parts at some point in the piece.

I will have videos made (my sons have to earn their allowance somehow).

I’m excited, and I will be nervous, but I’m going to give it my all in terms of dedicating all of my spare time to it.  Other practice pieces will also take a back seat.  I need to play as though not only kids and their parents are there, but pretend my colleagues are as  well.

They’re not terribly difficult, so I can focus my effort on knowing it cold and making it musical.   The March we worked on extensively in February (but not much in March).

I would very much like to make more progress in the upcoming year, then the previous one, which means I need to put in the I hours so that I’m not  working on the same etude for three months.  Some of the etudes have a lot in them, so I shouldn’t feel too bad, but I need to remember my goals (play the Kol Nidre, as well as build my musicianship in general).

I was reading on LinkedIn this week about systems and goals.  According to this article, written by Scott Adams (of Dilbert Fame)  Goals  (favorite pieces) can be frustrating and arbitrary, but day to day the focus can be on systems (steady practice, scales and arpeggios)  build steady improvement and are more conducive to success.   I think we need goals too.  Systems are fine, but  you can be set adrift and survive.  Systems by themselves are the mantra of the bureaucrat.  The goal needs to be inspiring enough to keep you going, so it has to there to encourage you to take larger and more daring steps in that system.

As for the piece itself.

  1. Don’t dawdle on the first D.  It’s not a resolution.  Keep moving and honor the time value of the notes.
  2. Try to get that F# to D slur working nicely.  The left hand still feels cramped.





Until I post again (Early March 2016)


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My life is under a bit of reconstruction right now, but I will be back blogging in early March, starting with some videos.

Not related directly to cello, but I did buy some interesting books this past weekend, which I hope will help me improve my musicality.

Copland, A. What to listen for in Music

Wooten, V. The Music Lesson

And for the conspiratorially minded:

Dublin, R. How ET destroyed Harmony and Why you should care

The book has already turned me into a bit of a tuning geek.  All for the sake of a major third.



Right hand on Lee


I’ve been focusing on the Etude from Lee op 70 #6 from the Wohlfahrt book, just trying to isolate my right hand and get the angles right.  It’s been a successful approach, but I had to get used to focusing on the bow and ignore that I was only hearing fifths.

I’ve also been working on the Moody position pieces book, “March”, with both the top and bottom parts.

Also, been somewhat frustrated with WP lately, as uploading audio has not been seamless.  What I was really hoping for was to be able to record right from my smartphone and have the audio file automatically appear in my media library.


Current Work Log

Mooney – March

  • Work chord from bottom up
    • Tune octaves, notes with open strings
    • Fill in remaining notes
  • Work top and bottom parts, but focus on bottom
    • Mechanics
    • Rhythm
    • Intonation

Bach – Minuet #1 – Suzuki

  • Clap out by metronome before playing
  • Play bow to metronome (no LH)
  • Play pitches

Schroeder #14

  • Work out how LH seems to be creeping low (in pitch) just before the phrases starting with E