Friday, February 23, 2007

Cello lesson 2/23

I see I haven't posted a lesson summary in a couple of weeks. I'm still trying to figure out what's useful, as I transition from my old lesson and practice log system to... something else. I played the loaner cello. It's not really to my taste, but I thought it might be to T-'s, and it was. The bigger and more extroverted the sound I can make, the happier he is. And it's interesting that after a week of playing it it sounds less harsh to my ear, and more like me with an added edge. I don't know whether the primary factor is habituation, or more likely that my physical approach has subtly modified to get more of the sound that I want to hear.

This week we worked on two etudes and several core elements.
* Lee #5. I'm working my way through the Lee melodious exercises. We no longer spend months on an etude, like we did with the first three. I now work up an etude for a couple of weeks, play it and drive on. I take the comments home and apply them to that etude while also working up the next one. Like T- says, if I can just clean up my string crossings by (1) keeping the weight in the bow and (2) making good tunnels over the strings I will have nailed all of these exercises. Just. Also concentrate on leveling off the string changes, more "bow strum" and fewer terraces.

* Gruetzmacher #13. This is the beginning thumb position etude that I've been playing for at least a year. I like it, and time and repetitions have really been key to developing strength, coordination, and good finger positions and hand patterns. I've increased the tempo from 1/8=80 then to 120 now.

I still struggle with physically backing away from the cello when I play "up there", which leads to the vicious circle of unpleasant sound, followed by more tension. Today we worked on the bow change motion at the tip, with the desired end again of keeping the weight in the string. I am to practice by making the motion with my hand for now, extending the fingers and thumb on up-bow and rounding them on down bow. T- demonstrated a good way to practice this using Duport #21, where the bow distribution leads to playing fast notes at the tip. He thought that etude is too difficult for me right now, but I can use that bow pattern when I practice scales or other etudes where I already know the notes.

After a short time working on the bow change motion I was able to get much more sound on this etude. Personally, I thought it a not very pleasant sound, but T- was delighted. He has been telling me frequently that I am trying to refine too early, a common adult failing, and that first I need to have a sound to refine. So I guess this is progress.


Anonymous said...

This all sounds very technical and advanced. Will I ever get there? BTW, Iam desperate to hear news of the cello! Is it still in intensive care?

Terry said...

Making good tunnels over the strings?

For many of the things you, and PFS, and Guanaco describe, I nod my head and think, "Yeah, I know whatcha mean." But sometimes... Good tunnels?

Gottagopractice said...

Never fear, rallentando, you too can look forward to a future of endlessly working to master fine motor skills.

Terry, the tunnels are a left hand thing, and have to do with timing. It involves keeping the finger on one string down until after you are securely playing the next note with the next finger on the next string. This decreases the audible "pop" off of the last note, especially when moving from a stopped note to an open string to another stopped note.

My big issues are forgetting to hold the note down when I have an open string in the middle, and crossing to the lower string on my 4th finger, which is very short and results in another extra sound when it inadvertently touches the string above. Everything sounds perfectly clean and lovely if I make nice tall tunnels for the upper string!

Erin said...

Ahhh interesting thought on the trying to refine your sound too early. I definitely do that, but I hadn't figured out exactly what it was I was doing!

Guanaco said...

My teacher has me slow way down and make each of the string crossing movements separately, stopping completely between each movement. She says I should practice this "way more than I want to" - until it happens naturally.