Sunday, December 31, 2006
I don't have a true spare bedroom in our down-sized townhouse, so Mom sleeps on the fold-out couch in the den. It's not bad, really. A private room with a dedicated bath only a few feet down the hall, telephone and TV with VCR/DVD. I've stayed in worse hotel rooms. And we wouldn't want it to be too nice, you know.
The cats don't mind Mom, which is one less potential source of stress. In fact, when The Twins heard she was coming they decided to help me make up her bed. It's a good thing she is not allergic to cats.
Hey, you. I can't put put the elastic around the bed with you under the sheet.
What? Were you talking to me?
Come on - get out of there.
I think you need to pull up a little on your side.
I'll fix the top while you smooth the rest of the wrinkles.
Would you cut it out, already? She can't sleep in a bed with you big lump under there.
It can get cold here at night - she might need this polartec throw.
Thanks. Can't forget the cat bed, whatever the excuse.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
|F 12/29||18||25 |
|M 1/1||18.5||26 |
|Th 1/4||18.5||25.5 |
|Sa 1/6||20||26 |
|Mo 1/8||20.5||27.5 |
|W 1/10||22||26.5 |
|F 1/12||22.5||27.5 |
|Su 1/14||23.5||27.5 |
|Tu 1/16||25.5||30 |
|Th 1/18||26.5||31 |
|M 1/22||31.5||38 |
F 12/29 Kittens arrive
W 1/10 2nd dose of deworming meds
Th 1/25 Start doxycycline x 10 days
Su 2/4 Kittens return
Friday, December 29, 2006
Luke (orange/buff tabby) and Leia (calico tabby). Two sibs from a found litter of I don't know how many. Cricket and John greeted them at the door, and don't understand why they aren't allowed in the Nursery yet.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
In spite of a few out-right wrong notes, I do see progress since last week. I have changed the fingerings to eliminate extended extensions. I think the phrasing is better. I have eliminated most of the extraneous facial tics (what does one do with one's expression in a piece like this?)
After watching, I would prioritize my tasks as follows:
1) Finalize and lock in one set of fingerings
3) Fix the floating little finger on the bow
I think that will be enough for a week.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
So last summer I invited her to join me for a week at SummerKeys, thinking that an intensive week of lessons and playing would be a good jump start. It worked. She loved it. She's practicing regularly, though has yet to locate a teacher anywhere near the small southern town where she lives, and has purchased a better quality and slightly smaller viola (via eBay *grin*).
She's attending a very small church, whose musical contingent consists of two elderly pianists, the 10-year-old pastor's daughter who recently began taking piano lessons, and her, a fledgling violist. I can't believe it, but she and the 10yo got together, learned a couple of Christmas carols, and performed them on Monday. She said she achieved a lovely vibrato sound because her right arm was shaking so badly during the performance. I told her that's called bow vibrato.
She's amazing. I'm so proud of her.
(BTW, the Blogger spell check thinks that violist is misspelled, and suggests vilest as the alternative. And foulest. Cellist passes without comment, though Blogger is also not in the dictionary. What a hoot.)
Sunday, December 24, 2006
I think my ability to remember so many details and then to write them down in a somewhat organized fashion is a useful side effect of my medical training. That is to say, it is a skill I developed through practice. As a medical student, I learned to take a detailed history and perform a physical exam on a patient, then in somewhere from immediately to 24 hours later organize the information in a standard format, and present it to a senior physician for the dual purpose of taking care of the patient and receiving a critique of my own process.
These are the factors I think important in producing a useful synopsis of a cello lesson:
(1) During the lesson, pay attention to the teacher. No kidding! That means listen and observe without fiddling or trying things out until the teacher has made his/her point. I make mental notes of what I am doing as I then try it, with the idea always in mind that I will want to record it later.
(2) Begin reviewing the lesson material immediately upon departing. I run through the lesson mentally as often as there is enough time during the drive home. Details start falling out of short-term memory even before the end of the lesson. This slows the decay, and results in more remembered details when you finally get to the keyboard or paper.
(3) Use a standard format for recording the information, as this will provide a memory jog when writing. My current format is fairly simple, and aided by my teacher's organized use of lesson time. As you have seen, I record bullet points of technical and musical things I need to focus on during the coming week, broken out by the musical element (scale, etude, piece) where they were discussed.
(4) Write down everything you remember as soon after the lesson as you can. I usually do this that evening or, at the latest, the following morning.
A fun experiment to try: record your lesson. Over the course of several lessons, do a brain dump at various times from immediately after to just before your next lesson. Compare what you remember with what you hear on the recording. If you are not already convinced that you forget so much so quickly, that will do it!
And the last step to make this a useful exercise is to use your notes at each practice session. A variation on the previous experiment is to do a brain dump after your lesson, but practice all week without looking at your notes. Do a second brain dump just before your next lesson, and compare the two.
I'm in the process of transitioning from one style of practice log to another, yet undefined, style. I'll write more about that later.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Then I took a shower. The twins kept guard on the sink, as they often do. As I stepped out of the shower, John softly pawed the plastic cover from DH's razor that was still lying on the sink, gently picked it up in his mouth, jumped down from the sink and exited the bathroom. I think I need to search the house...
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.
* 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.
* 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
* 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.
* 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.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Forgive me for not writing more. This is the first time I've done a video recording (a Digital Elph is a dangerous thing), and I'm feeling overwhelmed at the number of things I had no idea I do when I play. Plus, I'm really tired from my recent travels, and I need to exercise and prepare for my cello lesson this afternoon.
So, feel free to offer constructive criticism now, or to wait until after I post my own critique.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Two hours in Vegas, and not a PacMan in sight. I just don't understand the thrill of watching little pictures go round and round. DH tells me there is an excellent gym here, but it's outside of security, and the security lines can be an hour or longer. What a waste.
So, I'm carrying an extra bag in order to take home two new pairs of running shoes. Since I gottem, I might as well usem. I have run in Nike Air Pegasus since 1981. There were no Pegasus's on sale, so I bought a pair of... Maxair, it says on the side of the shoe, and a pair of the new Free 5.0's I have been wanting to try. So far I have taken 1.5 laps around the D concourse in the Maxairs. They feel fine. New, but fine. Stopped to take a call and charge my phone battery. Too much blogging today.
I notice that many of the pillars in the airport have "This is a smoke-free facility" signs on them. I also notice clouds of smoke wafting from the bars and from the glass-enclosed slot machine islands. The latter remind me of the old patient-waiting areas in the hospital where I trained. We used to call them CIU's, Cancer Incubation Units.
Have you noticed my improved hyphen usage for the past couple of days? I have a bathroom book (you know what I mean) called BUGS in Writing: A Guide to Debugging Your Prose, in which I read about hyphens this week. A timely topic.
I think I have time for one more lap before boarding the last leg.
Here I am, somewhere over America. Well, not am as you are reading this, because I can't connect to the Internet while I am in the air. But am as I am typing. I can't tell where, exactly, over America I am (or was), because of the thick cloud cover below. I remember the first time I flew above the clouds in an airplane. Even with my junior-high-school-level knowledge of geography it didn't seem right that we were flying over Antarctica to get from Pennsylvania to Michigan.
This is the first-class leg of my journey, which I assume is karmic payback for suffering overnight in that cramped coach on the way out. Ordering lunch was interesting. Instead of going from front to rear in an orderly fashion recording choices, the flight attendant flitted randomly from seat to seat. But not randomly. Apparently, this was in order of priority on her list, as she addressed each passenger by name. Alas, I was next-to-last, and had no choice. But I got what I would have chosen, anyway. Let's hear it for liking the road less traveled.
I indulged in a glass of wine with lunch, even though it was before noon on the east coast. After all, it's late afternoon at my destination, and besides, I wanted one. I didn't see the label, but there were kangaroos hopping around the neck of the bottle - a White Tail chardonnay (is that one or two words?)? Must be the wine-of-the-month, as they had the same selection on our Hawaii flights. DH didn't like it, but maybe it was the food. I thought it was fine with the butter and cheese in my sandwich today.
A humongous oatmeal cookie and decent cup of coffee for dessert, and I'm ready to... nap? No, practice. I'm working on memorizing Chansome Triste, by visual, auditory, and intellectual approaches. I've finished reading Cumberland (see sidebar. Unless you are reading this post from the archives, in which case the sidebar will have changed. Instead, look for a book report that I will post later.) and am working on application. My seatmate is sewing away on a doll's quilt, and I am singing. What a creative little corner we have.
It's the big day. Last travel day of my year. I started at dawn, waiting for the bus. Two trains to the airport. (I love the place that Metro crosses over the Potomac, especially in the early morning hours.) On-time departure, and now I'm in Detroit, waiting for the next leg. Should board in 10 minutes or so.
This is probably not very interesting to read, but I wanted to e-mail posts from my Treo, just because I *can*, you see. (Oh, good. Looks like the Blogger gateway is open.)
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Yesterday's trio was an All Schubert Day. We started out on string trio reading the Allegro of D471, the only movement completed in that trio, followed by the Minuetto and Rondo of D581 (first version), having made a valiant but unsuccessful attempt at the first two movements. Then the violist wanted a switch so we moved on to the piano trio, Op 99. It was a Bb kind of day. That piano trio has a wicked cello part, and I haven't practiced it at all this month. I think I have a subliminal conviction that it is impossible, so what's the point of practicing? I gave up on trying to read the notes, and just played it by ear, a surprisingly successful strategy. Yesterday, anyway.
I also had P- accompany me on piano while I tried out a couple of recital options, with T- as audience. I found out last week that my music school has two adult recitals coming up in January, one for string players on the 11th, and a second for chamber music on the 25th. My trio there will play the 4th mvmt of Beethoven Op 1 No 1 on the 25th, but the organizer also asked me to consider playing on the 11th. Since my Bach Prelude is nowhere near performance ready, I'm considering a couple of other options.
I don't have a lot of solo performance experience, so I thought I'd choose something that is technically well within my grasp, and that I could confidently buff for performance in only three weeks. My candidates are (1) the 1st mvmt of the Breval Sonata in C, since I worked on it a little this month while both assisting Pink Fluffy Slippers by recording a practice accompaniment track and avoiding my own practice requirements, and (2) Chanson Triste, by Tchaikovsky, a second selection from Suzuki Book 4. My secondary motivation for considering these two pieces is that they are the audition pieces required to get approved to take beginning level Suzuki teacher training.
I haven't played Chanson Triste before, but it is very cellistic, and was the vote by my trio members. (The Breval is actually rather boring as a solo, somewhat better as a cello duet, but that isn't an option.) I played it again for my neighbors yesterday evening, and they enthusiastically endorsed that plan. A-, the 9yo cello player in the family, is really getting into it, choosing to practice rather than almost anything. I hope I provide additional inspiration. So that is my tentative plan. I have until Thursday to commit.
Monday, December 18, 2006
I got to DC early yesterday morning, having spent the night on three flights via Las Vegas. That's the nuts part. I was only a couple thousand miles short of making the next frequent flyer status level. I've heard stories of people booking a flight to Alaska, then turning around and coming home to meet year-end mileage requirements. Maybe next year I'll see if Guanaco is up for a visit. But this year I spent an afternoon researching flight options and discovered that, for a mere $200 (extra) and 26 hours of travel time, I could expand my scheduled trip to DC and get the extra miles. I'll find out next year whether it was worth it. That flight from LAS to DTW in a fully booked coach was pretty miserable.
Today in addition to business I have a rehearsal with my favorite piano/string trio, and tomorrow cello quartet followed by the annual Christmas "party" with my old orchestra. A little seasonal music-reading is what the doctor ordered to call up some Christmas spirit after this month of travel. And after I get some rest I have some thoughts about memorizing music, practice journals, and studio classes I want to post.
Friday, December 15, 2006
You are The Wheel of Fortune
Good fortune and happiness but sometimes a species of
intoxication with success
The Wheel of Fortune is all about big things, luck, change, fortune. Almost always good fortune. You are lucky in all things that you do and happy with the things that come to you. Be careful that success does not go to your head however. Sometimes luck can change.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
1. Hatches on-board ships can be dangerous. One form of injury occurs when the hatch slams down on your hand, fracturing all four proximal phalanges (the finger bones closest to the knuckles). This can be fixed, however, and the construct looks like a set of crossed hairpins, one "X" in each finger.
2. Orthopaedic (and other) surgeons spend one year after they finish their residencies and pass a written exam collecting details about the cases they perform. They submit these cases to an examining committee, and must successfully defend their treatment decisions in an oral examination in order to become board certified. There have been a number of orthopaedic surgeons who spent their entire case collection period in areas of current military operations. That is an interesting set of case decisions to defend! Good news - all of them passed their boards.
3. I saw an interesting poster about hamate fractures (one of the bones in the wrist). This is usually caused by a strong blow to a closed fist. Perusing the list of injury mechanisms, it is reassuring to note that in the midst of current world event, boys will be boys. Four of them had punched a wall, and one a tree.
4. Waikiki beach is still beautiful, though hemmed in by tall buildings in increasing density. It also gets very crowded when the local running club trots by.
5. A Hawaiian Luau features mostly Tahitian Hula. What's up with that?
6. The Honolulu airport has no glass in most of the windows. What a great place to live.
7. When Oahu experiences an earthquake, they turn off the electricity.????
8. When there is a traffic fatality, the highway is closed for the duration of the investigation. If you happen to be in a car on said highway, too bad. People have been known to leave the car on the highway and get a hotel room for the night, returning to retrieve the car the next morning after the highway reopens.
9. Sending blog entries via e-mail is a nice feature, but having to log on to Blogger in order to complete the post kind of defeats the purpose. Scratch that. The last two posts have bounced at the gateway. Fortunately, I had copied the post to my e-mail account and was able to grab the post there and paste into a post when I did get access to a computer. And I can't believe there is no way to mail a photo in.
10. I have a piano trio rehearsal scheduled tomorrow evening, and I haven't touched my cello since last Wednesday. This is going to be painful.
11. I am nearly over my cold, but still have fluid in both ears. More pain anticipated.
That is all.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
One less desirable aspect of the guest bathtub, from the feline perspective, is that the lip around the back of the tub is fairly narrow. I guess I wasn't paying attention when John got bored and tried to walk around behind me, because I was sure surprised to hear a splash and subsequently feel a sudden pain in an otherwise unspecified dorsal aspect of my corpus as he vigorously pushed off out of the tub. Fortunately, I didn't need to wash out the wound. I did help to dry the cat. That's a lot of water to try to lick off.
It occurs to me that my biorhythms must be at a nadir this week. URI, barotrauma to both ears, scalp and posterior person lacerations. What next?
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I'm not a guy, and I'm not an orthopaedic surgeon, but I found the first session on treatment of trauma in the current areas of conflict to be... simply excellent. You can't imagine the quality, professionalism, and thoughtfulness of these military surgeons. One of my overwhelming impressions from this morning is how proud I am to have served with people like these (including the one I married).
So I'm here in Hawaii in mid December collecting some needed continuing education hours and a few thousand miles toward a higher frequent flyer status for next year. I'm also reveling in a few days respite from winter cold, visiting friends and classmates who are stationed here, reviewing some medicine I haven't thought about since medical school, and enjoying a meeting where there is never a line in the Ladies Room.
Monday, December 11, 2006
I was right about dinner on Saturday night. My taste buds were out of order, but I enjoyed dinner at per se anyway. The wine was excellent, and I focused on the more extroverted tastes in the meal. That's a good tactic for getting through nine courses, anyway.
And now it's Monday. Thanks to the URI I have some residual barotrauma to my ears, which did not clear well on the landing yesterday. My nose is still draining maliciously down the back of my throat. And last night after scooping kitty litter under those lovely spiral stairs you may have noticed in previous photos I stood up short and hit the top of my head on one of the oak posts. Hard. Today I have a healing 1 cm. laceration and a very sore crown. But nevertheless, I'm leaving for Honolulu in two hours, so I had better go pack.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Yes, it's cold in NYC this week. I brought my parka knowing that it is not at all fashionable, but I've been intercepting lots of envious looks. Unfortunately, I've not been much up to going out, now being at day 4 of an upper respiratory infection. I used to tell my patients that a typical cold lasts a week, but if we add treatment with "x" medication we could probably shorten it to 7 days. (I'm easily amused.) Three more days to go, so I'm expecting the worst today and tomorrow. Too bad I won't be able to taste the lovely dinner we have planned for this evening.
Another cello sighting yesterday. We went to see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Circle in the Square last night. The band consisted of keyboard, a reed doubler (mostly clarinet and sax), one cello, and percussion. The cello played pretty steadily, more countermelody and harmony than rhythm, and an occasional solo line. Wonderful instrument. It's amazing what one string player adds.
Friday, December 08, 2006
OK, I'm traveling. And I'm posting. Maybe. That depends upon whether my Treo can handle Blogger Dashboard. I like the feature of being able to e-mail my posts, but last time I tried this I still had to edit and publish through Dashboard.
I'm sitting at the Crowne Plaza in Times Square thumb typing on said Treo. NYC is enjoying a seasonal cold snap. The westerly winds were so brisk around this corner of the hotel last night that I thought I was sleeping in a wind tunnel. That led to some interesting dreams, I'll tell you.
This morning I caught a few minutes of the Today show with my breakfast coffee. They were broadcasting a number by Il Divo. I'm not big on vocal groups, but these are four guys who sounded like a classical answer to the Back Street Boyz. They were performing on a Persian rug covering an outdoor bandstand, surrounded by a 20+ piece orchestra who seemed to be all women. Very cold women, dressed in wool coats and hats and playing with gloves on. Sure looked that way in a closeup on one of the violinists, anyway. I didn't see any short fingers on those gloves. The orchestra was playing with great enthusiasm - probably to stay warm!
I think it's time to hit the streets in my hardy midwestern parka.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
powered by ODEO
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Today was Round 2 of Feline Leukemia Virus vaccine. The master tactician (that would be me) succeeded in boxing up all three cats in under 15 minutes. I always worry that I'll fail, we'll arrive too late for our appointment, and be denied access. That's probably a little leftover neurosis from my youth (my mother was never on time for *anything*). But having done this a couple of times now I think I've got a routine:
(1) Brush Cricket where she is napping at the foot of the bed; snag her and carry to open box in the next room.
(2) Pick gentle John up off the top of the cat tree and put into second box.
(3) Close all bedroom doors and disassemble the bed in order to extricate Madeleine from underneath it. After several minutes of chase, corner her by the door and carry a large squirming kitty who doesn't like to held under any circumstances 10 feet to place in the last box.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
It's Tummy Tuesday. To see more of the (feline) sunny-side-up variety, visit LisaViolet.
Monday, December 04, 2006
On Saturday I attended the wedding of a close cello friend. We were stand partners for a long time, he on the inside and I in the outside seat. (I'm thinking six years, but that could be just a magic number I am pulling out of the air.) I taught him everything he knows about turning pages. Having played in a cello trio at one of his employees' weddings, he thought it would be a shame to waste all of that prior experience, and he would like to have his old trio play at his own wedding. The bride agreed to have us, but would not part with the groom for the purpose of the musical interlude, so he recruited a fellow student to take his place and we dusted off the old trio books. I played Cello 3.
I wonder how many gigging cello trios there are? It's certainly not the first combo that comes to mind, but I think it's rather pleasant for background music. We are playing as the crowd is gathering, prior to their trooping outside for the ceremony (hence the background chatter in the clip). In fact, it may be better than an ordinary string trio or a flute trio, as the violin and flute would be much more demanding of attention in their higher registers.