Sunday, January 21, 2007

Cello lesson 1/18

Scale: E MAJ
I have spent the best part of last year working on harmonic minor scales, so thought it time to revisit Major this week and reinforce both the tonality and the difference in fingering the upper two octaves.
* Biggest issue was intonation. I insist on hearing the third a little too flat, and from there on each pitch becomes a little flatter. Part of the problem is that I lose the tonic as I am playing. My intonation is much better playing against a drone. So my assignment for this week is to play the scale in linked half notes three times, against drones on I, IV, and V. The other thing I have tried in my practices since the lesson is to stop and sing the tonic at random points in the scale.
* At that slow tempo, shifts should also be slow and relaxing. Enjoy each one.

Etude: Lee #2
I wanted to revisit this etude to talk about the first arpeggio section, about half way through. I have been trying to block in each chord, not very successfully. I end up with a tense hand and bad intonation, plus I can't move quickly between frame positions. T- had demonstrated a more rocking motion with extensions rather than shifts between positions, but I wasn't getting it in my practice room. The sequence goes something like this:
* Shift to first finger on first note
* Rock hand slightly toward bridge to play second note, 4th finger, same string
* Pivot slightly away on 4 while preparing hand shape for next note
* Rock hand slightly toward scroll to play next note with either 2 or 3 on the next highr string
* Rock hand back toward bridge, pivoting on and playing next note on 4, lower string
* Rock hand back toward scroll, playing final note (of 4) on 1. Sometimes this requires an extension to move down 1/2 step.
* If the third note (on upper string) is also played with 4, bar both notes while playing the second note instead of pivoting

After a few tries I got the hang of it. I like it. The hand doesn't have a chance to get tense because it is always in motion, and thus I can play the passage faster with smoother transitions between chords. It looks (and feels) rather like dancing over the strings.

That's all we had time for musically, but there were a couple of interesting asides.
* I should be having more fun.
* I need to spend more time in the saddle. Less critical evaluation and more playing. I had come to a similar conclusion myself over the last few weeks, so that is a good affirmation.
* Amateurs are much more critical of each other than are professionals, in T-'s opinion. (The CBN board would support that conclusion, at the moment.) He didn't say this, but the theme I have been hearing lately is that criticism is the enemy of music making.

I also had a couple of my new toys with me for evaluation and discussion.
* A small (~12 inch diameter) air-filled exercise disc to use as a sitting pad on my cello chair.
* Silly putty. I shaped a thin blob over the top of the bow in the middle of the frog. It provides a little more friction for my 3d and 4th fingers, an aid to keeping my hand position from pronating. And is easier to clean off the frog than is double-sided tape.
Both got thumbs up. I'll try to remember to post pictures of them tomorrow so that you can see what I am talking about.


PinkFluffySlippers said...

I think you're well on your way to more playful playing, what with sitting on that whoopee cushion and having silly putty on your frog :-)

cellodonna said...

Silly putty. You mean to sort of keep your fingers from slipping on the frog? How much silly putty?