Chinese Proverb

"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand." - Chinese Proverb.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lesson #102C (11/18/12): Left-hand and bowing

Clayton will be graduating this month so I'm just counting down the days when he'll be offered a job out-of-state or something. Bummer for me, great for him! He's just way too good that I don't expect him to be around long after he graduates! ...darn...Luckily, Adam won't be moving any time soon!

During this lesson we went some technique.

Thumb Placement 
  • My thumb seems to move around a lot so we focused on making sure my thumb is secure on the neck, but of course, not squeezing! 
  • I've discovered that my hand feels more secure because my thumb typically "floats" above my cello neck and doesn't really touch the back of it
  • Shifting seems to be easier because I can feel my cello pass beneath my thumb which helps me determine the amount of space I've moved my hand to shift  
  • For the next few days, Clayton recommended just bringing attention to the thumb while I play to see what it's doing 

  • Sustain my notes and use smoother transitions between bow changes. 
  • I tend to decay my notes. Clayton provided a few ways of thinking about this:
    • Think of the bow going in diagonal lines 
    • Remember to feel the bow and string => this is what I like the best
    • Think about releasing or relaxing the bow into the string 
  • The funny thing is, I like how decaying notes sound sometimes. A legato, consistent sound is kind of boring to me... maybe it's time to start bothering my teachers about doing vibrato again! 
    • In a few months, I know when I look back at the sentence about decaying notes and vibrato I'm not going to like it! ;) 

Position Pieces

  • Fanfare 
    • I was hitting the notes more consistently, but my rhythm was terrible. I really need to start counting instead of feeling how long a note should be! Not very accurate...Lol! :) 
  • Assigned the next piece: Skating
  • This is a great book - highly recommended! :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Practice Log #17: May Time, Suzuki Book 2 (after 101 lessons)

Whew, finally recorded May Time!! I recorded these a couple of days ago but didn't have time to post it. ..ugh...I look as tired as I felt!


Things to work on:
1) Elbow moving around too much - Aha! That's what Adam was talking about!! My elbow is moving all over the place! What's up with that?! I should have recorded this sooner and I would have realized what was going on.
2) Tempo - LOL! I seem to only have one tempo, which is always slower than what is marked! This sounds like my last recording with regards to speed and sound.
3) Intonation - I can sometimes hear when I was off and moved my finger to adjust which is really noticeable in the video. I need to work on my finger placement more and get it right the first time.
4) This supposed to be light and happy, but it sounds heavy and very "dirge-like"! Well, I guess working on this piece was a pretty somber experience...LOL! I guess it definitely shows in the sound! :). I just don't relate to this piece and the string crossings were difficult!
5) I also need to have more legato bowing in this piece and to make sure each note is going somewhere. I tried focusing on making my bow flow more seamlessly and smoother, but I didn't quite get there... it's still a bit sing-songy.


Oops, rough start to this one! :)

I've come across some interesting "issues" working with drones. I'm starting to hear when I'm off better, but it's also making me move my fingers around to find the note which makes my notes squirrelly!

Also, when I'm not using a drone, I think I sound better but only because I don't know whether or not I'm in tune! :). Although I'm starting to recognize when I'm off...It's much more obvious when I'm not in tune with a drone, which makes me wonder how often I was out of tune during my first video! ;).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lesson #100A (11/10/12): Gmaj scale & May Time

I had a great lesson with Adam. :). I was super stressed and irritated when I got to his house because I arrived to my lesson late (again) because of construction and rush hour, and I didn't realize it was going to be so dark!  I really have bad night vision...I was going to turn around and head home, but due to construction I couldn't exit off the highway!

Any way, when I got to his house I was in a really bad mood, but I've got to say, when I finally left my lesson I felt good and I learned a lot! I think I'm about to make a break through in my shifting, i.e. if I have time to practice it!

We went over the GMajor Scale, Shifting and May Time, but unfortunately I didn't take any notes! :(
I'll try to remember and enter the notes later.

Cheers to a GREAT 100th lesson!!! :D

[Fall CE Lesson #4]

Lesson #101C (11/10/12): May Time

I had my lesson with Clayton after our ensemble rehearsal and I thought I should go over May Time one more time before I record the video.

May Time:
  • Make sure the notes are going some where - don't just play one note after another and another... each note should be doing something and going somewhere. He explained that this is what makes music fun and interesting. 
  • Clayton also mentioned that sometimes it's easier to work on phrasing and then often times the technique will just happen. 
  • Work on sustaining my notes more - my notes tend to fade out and die instead of being consistent throughout 
  • Make sure my bows are more legato and smooth 
He also commented that I was moving around too much, especially with my string crossings. Which I told him that was something I was aware of (and Adam had also mentioned) and was trying to do less of ...ugh, bad habits... :(

He gave me lots of great information, but I don't think I'm skilled enough to implement his suggestions - one day! Although I think it's great to be aware that these things beforehand because then I know what to expect and look forward to! :)

Monday, November 5, 2012


I'm going to catch up on my posts since I've fallen behind again! My goal after this post is to try and keep up. I know I said that last time, but this time I mean it! ;)

Also, I will post May Time by the end of this week. I tried recording it last week but it sounded BEYOND horrible so I couldn't make myself post it... I guess that's what I get for not practicing consistently. :(

Approaching 100 lessons - that is just depressing!! :(

Good thing I didn't know beforehand that it would take me 100 lessons to get to Book 2 (and only the 2nd piece!), otherwise I probably would not have learned how to play the cello!

Truthfully, I am a bit disappointed about how far I've gotten - especially since I know of other adult beginner cellists who at this point were able to play a couple of the Bach Suites!!I know I'm not supposed to compare myself to others, but... *sigh* Okay, getting my butt in gear and will be practicing more consistently!! Grrrr!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lesson #99C (11/4/12): Eb Maj scale, position piece

This was a fun lesson!

1) New Scale: Eb Major 
Learned a new scale!
  • Eb Major = F Dorian Minor 
  • 3 flats: Eb, Bb, Ab

     IV     III                           II           I  
    2   4   0   1  2  4   1  2  4   1  2  4   1  3  4  0
1st pos                    4th         3rd        2nd

Things to work on:
  • Shifting more smoothly - I need to make sure my notes are "connected" 
  • String crossing with left hand - make sure available fingers are moving to the new string while the current ones are in play. This allows for more accurate shifts since there is a reference point. Clayton wants me to be more aware of opportunities to move fingers over to the other strings when possible. 

Fanfare from Position Pieces
I really enjoy working on intonation because it's difficult to work on intonation by myself. Even with a drone it's difficult to hear if it's correct; that is, I can't recognize if something is correct if someone doesn't point it out to me first. Now that we've been doing these intonation exercises I'm starting to hear the beats more easily and recognize when notes played together are in tune.
  • Ringing tones - Clayton recommended that I work on ringing tones before starting this piece so I can "get it in my ear" 
  • Play with a drone - I typically play with a drone, but I think what I will do is record the second part which is an easy chord (open D&C and A&D) 
  • We worked relative intonation and hearing the clarity of each note and making sure that it rings 

Minuet No. 1
We went through this pretty quickly, the primary thing I need to work on is getting ringing tones for the notes, especially the C on the G string.
  • Shifting 
    • Clayton wants me to shift more smoothly since I tend to be jerky and rushed. 
    • Also, I tend to leave my finger behind which causes my shift to be sluggish and jerky, so he had me shift to 2nd position and play C on the G string, hop my pinky to the D, and then make sure the rest of my fingers move to the D string before starting my shift. 
      • I discovered that it's difficult to reach over and "hop back and forth" between the two strings which made me realize that my hand may be too tense, and that I may possibly be squeezing a bit...I've got to test this out... 

Minuet No. 3
I really love this piece! This is going to be fun to work on!
  • Extensions - in measure 17 he wants me to keep my hand extended. Surprisingly, I'm getting used to doing extensions! I know in my previous posts I complained a bit about them, but now they're not so bad... 
  • Shifting - I'm having the same issue with leaving my finger behind so we worked on this a bit on this piece too. 
  • Intonation - same as always, listen for ringing tones. I'm always a bit timid on new pieces that I haven't played in front of my teachers so my intonation wasn't as good as I normally play it at home. 

I think after this piece, I'm going to request that we work on something other than the Suzuki Book and go back to learning Jazz, or doing ensemble work, so I keep my two lessons more separate.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lesson #98A (11/01/12): May Time & Gmaj

Adam's lessons this semester are only 50 min since I take them through the university to get credit for taking the class - the time just flies during these lessons! 50 minutes is just not enough time...

G Major Scale
Adam likes providing different ways of doing shifts and the two that I found most helpful and remember:
  • Hit the note the first time - don't squirm my fingers around until I hit the note. Practice hitting the note once and if I'm off don't squirm my fingers - just start over. This is important to building correct muscle memory and squirming my finger around to find the note won't build an accurate shift, it will only reinforce my habit of squirming my fingers around to look for the note. This is where a lot of repetition is needed and what most people don't like to practice, but it's what makes a good cellist good instead of mediocre. 
  • Rotating body - some cellists do the "swoop" with the arm before the shift. Adam mention rotating the body slightly before the shift which puts the arm and body in alignment before the shift. For some reason, this concept just really works with me! Although I tend to exaggerate my movement, so I need to make sure that it stays small and subtle. 
I'm feeling a bit guilty about not really focusing on this scale. I think I'll have to practice this a lot before my next lesson.

May Time
What can I say...I totally hate this piece. It just doesn't make sense! I don't connect to how it sounds and it has a bunch of string crossings, which I have discovered is my greatest weakness!
In fact, I tried to record this last week and it sounded AWFUL, so I couldn't bring myself to post it and decided that I should work on it some more.
  • String Crossing - Adam gave me an exercise to do to which was to play the A string and D string in a slur and then both at the same time and to really focus on how my arm feels, the level of my elbow, etc.  
  • Bowing - my sound was better than my previous lesson, but still pretty bad since I'm losing the string when I do string crossings. 
  • Eighth notes - he reminded me to give more time to the eighth notes and that I was rushing through the notes again. 
  • Left Hand intonation - my intonation was really bad as well and Adam diagnosed that I was bringing my elbow/arm forward again. I finally realized what I was doing wrong and found the "feeling" again with regards to how my arm felt when I was playing the notes correctly. Hopefully now I can play the piece more in tune!

[Fall CE Lesson #3]