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

My challenge tonight


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Arpeggio Practice

Arpeggio Practice – from Brown, p. 7.

Trying to get from that C# on 2 to that F# on 1.  I can do it using the tape on the cello or some form of visual inspection. The interval is a perfect fourth, so I should be able to work it out aurally. But right now, it does not feel automatic or natural. Feels like I’m guessing every time. I’ll work it out, but this is the problem I’m working on now.

[The reason this is tagged “A minor” is that it is part of an exercise that begins with A minor, then moves to A major, F# minor, D major, then D minor. It’s on the A minor page of her book]

Yesterday’s Practice


Thoughts on the Schroeder #14:

I’m messing this up right and left – no pun intended.  First thing to work on is the tempo.  I’ve been sustaining the low A on each phrase longer than needed, but really I need to keep it going; it’s not a finale.  So, yesterday, rhythm was king.  Today, I’m going to focus on the EFGAGA parts and try to get those string crossings smooth.




Installing a mirror on the wall near where I play was one of my best cello moves in a long time. However, it now seems that all this time I thought I was drawing the bow horizontally, really I wasn’t. It looked more like a 30 degree angle!

As a result of this distressing revelation, I now am watching myself in the mirror, trying to train my RH to draw the bow horizontally across the D and G strings. In my frame of reference, it feels like I am moving my hand in an arclike pattern, but my bow at least is moving horizontally. I wish I had done this earlier.

Status update



On both the Schroeder #14 (Lee op. 70 #2) and the Bach Minuet #1 (Suzuki Book 2), the left hand technique is basically there, so I need to add the next layer. The next layer is conceiving of the entire piece and playing it through at a consistent tempo. Only then will I start to really hear the relationships between the parts. What I need to avoid is playing it like a series of excerpts. The same goes for my Arpeggio studies (A minor).

Is it possible to spend too long on an etude?



A period of backsliding can occur

Graph of etude progress over time

My teacher and I were discussing this, after I realized I was making steady negative progress on an etude that I was on the verge of owning three weeks ago.  Is there such a thing as too much time on an etude?  Certainly, there is always more to be obtained with more diligent attention and study,and equally certainly, I have not mastered it.  When is the right time to move on? We agreed that the best course of action for Schroeder #12 is to move on, since I was messing up my bow angle and a number of things that I had really started getting a command of.  On the other hand, I have been on this etude since May.

The verdict was to come back to it. In retrospect, an ever better solution is to move on but include it in practice once every few days, but not every day, just to make sure I don’t forget.

We’re starting two new pieces – Schroeder #14, and Suzuki #2, “Minuet #1” Fun times. Anyway, in the Bach, the first idea he had was to get the shifts down by isolating the notes before and after and really hearing the intervals (ignore the open string note during shifting).

What do you think?  When is the right time to move on?   What factors influence your deicsion?


At our last lesson, we reviewed angle of the bows, since I kept coming down too hard on the strings during the Schroeder study.  The main focus was on the back.  You need to think of your back contracting like a butterfly and the rib cage expanding. To practice this, I have new exercise to practice double stops using this method.  WE also discussed keeping the bow moving along a straight-ish trajectory, using the angle of the arm to maintain.   And to avoid an angle that was too sharp, or hurting shoulders, tilt the cello towards the right slightly.

Above all,remember shoulder goes BACK, not up.  Having the mirror should definitely help.

Final Stempie Post



With some trepidation for the safety of the cello making a cross country trip,  I decided to continue the chain of goodness that Shirley started with me by gifting me Stempie back in June of 2009.   Stempie arrived safely in Oregon, and thanks to the people at David Kerr vioilns, both cellist and cello are looking great.  I hope to hear and see more good things from Stempie, since I know he’s in good hands.

Picture used with permission.

SW with cello

Stempie’s New Owner, Sara Whatley of OR

So, this happened


Picture of my hand

I was reaching into my basket to get some scissors when my LH 3 chanced upon my five blade razor, facing up. It took about an hour to stop the bleeding, and after that it’s been too tender to play with, although I’m going to try again with the band-aid on it.

Why do I encounter such mishaps.  ADHD plays a role, sure.  But, would a real cellist take such a risk with his or her hands?  On the bright side, there is time to type this blog, and I’ll be doing some stuff with open strings this week, and maybe a few position pieces where I can possibly work around not having to use 3.   It might even force me to be creative about devising alternate fingerings.  I’d never really put thought into how fingerings worked.before, just assuming that so long as the fingerings I was given worked, I’d just use them.

Did you ever have an injury situation to work around?  How did you approach it?  And for those of you who make open strings practice part of routine, what do you typically work on?

[update; teacher suggested extended position exercises.  Good thinking!]

Anyway, I expect all will be playable by mid to end of week.  Just a bit discouraged though.

PSA – be careful with those hands, people.


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