I have been a bad blogger, but the good news is I’ve been a decent cellist, managing to squeeze in at least an hour a day. As a result, I sounded halfway decent at my lesson today. (Another bonus side effect of playing in orchestra, I no longer feel nervous about playing in front of my teacher on lesson day – after all, she doesn’t expect me to be perfect and it’s her job to help me identify what’s going wrong and help me fix it – it’s all in the perspective) I felt like I did my best to bring my ‘A’ game so that we could keep moving forward. We covered a lot: the Zoe Keating show to my new cello goal piece, so I’ll just hit the highlights:
Etude Suzuki 1: I made sure to go only as quickly as I knew I could without error. Next I played the doubled note variation, which is one of my favorite variations in Suzuki. For a challenge, we alternated playing the standard and the variation which totally tripped me up at first. When I practice I only do one or the other, so my brain hiccupped a couple of times, trying to add a double note at points in the standard and dropping the double from the variation. More to work on.
It’s been a while since my last lesson, so a lot of time was devoted to bow hand technique and really developing the ability to bring movement into my fingers for shorter notes. Watching and listening to Kaia I could really hear the difference a small amount of movement made. I also have a tendency to overly shorten notes – particularly eighth notes – so we worked a bit on letting notes fill the space of their full count and keeping my bow pressure even across the length of the note so the sound didn’t “weaken” at the end of the note.
Armed with these tweaks I played Etude again, which got a little slower and more stumbly at parts when my brain shouted “loose fingers!” or “let it ring!” but overall was much better.
For Schroeder 16 we hit another one of my work in progress spots: tone. We talked about harmonics and sympathetic vibrations – and why I can hear when things are wrong but not know how to fix it. Then I learned how to listen for when the note was “fixed” which will come especially in handy for Brandenburg (G#s anyone?).
To close I got a fantastic left hand exercise with a demo that ended tantalizingly, thus: “when you get that down in first position I’ll show you the rest.” Gasp. It’s a challenge, a goal and a deadline all wrapped up in one. Don’t be surprised if it’s all I practice this week.
Since tomorrow is orchestra rehearsal, we went over one particularly difficult section of Pavane and as a result I have much better fingerings.
1. Practice holding an unweighted object (aka pencil, toothbrush, etc) like a bow, get comfortable moving fingers without worrying about dropping the “bow.”
2. Left hand finger isolation exercise. I’d try to explain it but it would just be a series of numbers (1434 x4) so next time I’ll try to figure out if it has a name.
3. Pieces: Schroeder 17 and Happy Farmer. I’m so close to the end of Suzuki 1 I can taste it (mmm, those pages are good. Kind of gummy, but good)