Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cello lesson 3/29

Scale: Db MAJ, 4 octaves. Scale in linked half notes only. Paused on the shift on the A string from F/3 to Gb/1. To make sure I was not playing the shift with the bow, played open G while shifting up, then back down, then bowed the A string during the same shift. Observe: there should be no extraneous bow sounds on open G. Also don't overplay the arrival note. Shifting finger releases tension during the shift, then recovers tension as the note is reached without excess tension or vibrato. Parenthetically, I am doing much better at releasing tension during downward shifts. This was a good exercise.

Etude: Duport #21, also in Db MAJ. This was not a coincidence. I had chosen the scale to complement learning the etude. Spent the rest of the time working on bow change motions, accentuated when playing short legato notes near the tip, which is where the 1/16 notes in the opening are played.
* Bow motion is horizontal. Think opposites. To-away, from-to, east-west, open-close. Just not push-pull, because it should be pull-pull.
* Think of bar sideways through wrist, along which wrist slides in its to and fro path.
* Thumb curved on down, straight on up.
* Hand changes in response to change of direction, not in preparation.
* Feel the breeze as the arm approaches the side during a big up bow.
I also need to spend some time with shifts across strings, making sure I am crossing strings with my arm, not my wrist, and preserving the bow change motion at the wrist. Example: from II 4/Ab to III 1/Db focus on new finger, new string, new bow and make sure everything happens at the right time. I think I could profitably work on just those 2-note string crossing + shift places.
We got to the first treble clef section today. Should have worked out the rest of the etude by next lesson.

Also discussed two more Cello Gym exercises.
1) 6 count, down p to f, up f to p dynamics. Use the "power bow" stroke, in which the arm stays firm at the elbow so that the pressure on the string is generated from the back, with primary arm motion at the shoulder. (Rather than most of the motion occurring with the forearm at the elbow in the upper half of the bow.) Use the scale. (Right hand strength.)
2) I don't think I quite got the details of this, but the essence is a trill exercise beginning on A-D in 4th position, 3,4 on A, 1,2 on D, trilling between 4-2 and 3-1. This is probably one of the first Cossmann daily exercises. Start with 8 notes /bow? /beat? Repeat in each 1/2 position down to nut. Ascend with 7 notes. Descend with 6 notes. etc. (Left hand strength, especially outer fingers.)
As with all Cello Gym exercises, each day perform only to the point of fatigue. Stop *before* there is any pain. The point is to build strength gradually over time.

T- would like me to start working on a Sonata in addition to my very slow progress through the Bach 2nd Suite. I have next week off, so my plan is to spend some time with the first movements of Grieg and Beethoven g minor and we can choose at my next lesson in two weeks.

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