Friday, December 22, 2006

Cello lesson

Yesterday was a wet and dreary "welcome home". The rain began early in the morning, and by noon the trees were covered with ice buds. The rain changed to snow soon afterward, and the commute to my lesson was Andante: slushy, slippery and crowded. Coming home was downright scary. The on-ramps looked wet, but that was from the ice, so slick that SUVs were sliding off the side. Unfortunately, when they got on the road they insisted on driving twice as fast as general traffic whenever there was enough open road to do so. Idiots.

I did have a lesson, though, and as a transplant from a city which nearly closes down at the sign of a snowflake, am quite proud of myself for accomplishing the snowy commute. Having shared my desire to perform in the recital on the 11th, we started with a scale but spent most of the time on those two pieces. Brain dump follows.

Scale: d harmonic minor, 4 octaves. Linked half notes only.
* Intonation of the highest octave needs higher LT and lower 6th. I've noticed that I can't really pre-hear that augmented 2nd when I am playing in that octave.
* When shifting upward in thumb position, thumb should stay 1/2 step behind 1st finger, and not lag lazily behind.
* Vibrato is good in thumb position (Yay! That took a painstaking year to develop.) but is not so good passing from finger-to-finger in lower positions.
* Worst shift was from C# III to Bb IV in both directions, but especially downward. Coordinate extension and string crossing. Don't keep hand in an extended position when vibrating (can't vibrate in extension!). This discussion led naturally to the next piece.

Chanson Triste
Technical points
* Instead of maintaining open extension in 1st two measures, try shifting downward to the Bb (1/2 step), then quick extension to C while passing the vibrato.
* Maintain a "vibrato mitten" when vibrating. The angle of the hand to the FB changes on 1 vs. 4. Use 3 to help support 4 in a curved position. If the motion is not relaxing, I am doing something wrong.
* In a cantabile song with continuous vibrato (like this one), lower the elbow so that the flat finger comes away perpendicular to the side of the FB. This decreases the need to collapse at the DIP in order to get the fleshy pad on the string.
* Moving down a 5th across strings
- When using a higher finger, stop the lower string with the next lower finger prior to crossing to lower note. Pulling lower string slightly close may help. Sledge finger over without lifting.
- When using 1, keep finger angle flat to FB. Contact on upper string closer to DIP than usual (below callous), though not actually a DS. Roll finger up slightly to catch lower string closer to finger tip.
* Descending qu-ei-ei under slur motif - that is a slur, not a phrase marking. Don't fall away from the eighths. Musically, they should lead to the next qu.

Musical points
* Tempo a little slower than the one I chose. (Initially I played much slower - before video I posted yesterday.)
* Discussed the character I was aiming for. I considered my too-slow tempo lacrimose. (T- calls a too, too slow tempo lugubrious.) Not what I want. I hadn't come up with a good term for my too-fast tempo. Love-sick, perhaps. We discussed the Russian concept of "smiling through the tears", with a short diversion to Chekhov. That called to mind nostalgic as a possibility. I'll work with that this week.

Breval Sonata in C
Technical points
* Open chord string crossing measures (I told you this was my worst part.) Practice as gestures. Character of note (down- or up-bow). Character of next note, after string crossong. Link the notes in tempo. Add the next note. etc. Get in character - oompah band. Enthusiasm!
* Opening chords. In tune!!!! Slight break on 3 notes, big one on 4.
* Opening measures. First note in the string. Full tone. Exciting.
* Need to work on all of the trills.
* Not too short on the slurred up-bow staccatos.
* Add a little staccato in the repeated triplets (piano) to change the character more obviously.

Musical points
* Yes, this piece is at high risk of sounding boring - if I play it that way!
* Make it not boring. Right.

An excellent lesson. My marching orders are clear. I can't wait to practice.


Terry said...

"collapse at the DIP?" I must not have my brain plugged in. Wazzat?

My teacher's big on supporting 4 with 3, too. It's a concept that's not at all accepted by the CC powers-that-be, but we gotta do what makes sense for us and that it makes sense to me.

Gottagopractice said...

Sorry! Lots of abbreviations in this post - I should probably provide a

DIP - distal interphalangeal joint (the knuckle closest to the finger tip)
DS - double stop
ei- eighth note
FB - fingerboard
III - G string
IV - C string
LT - leading tone
qu - quarter note
SUV - stupid utility vehicle
T- - teacher

Anonymous said...

How do you remember all these details from your lessons? I usually write down the main points when I get home, but the minor details seem to get lost along the way. A few times I've called my teacher to clarify an imporant point.

Anonymous said...

I'm cross-checking your instructions on the Breval sonata. Lots of similarities. I like the oom-pah band idea.