Friday, April 27, 2007

Cello lesson 4/26: Cello #3

Yesterday afternoon I stopped at the violin shop on my way to my lesson, returned the lovely French cello I have been playing and picked up a 7/8-sized Goronok, 2001. I'd noticed that, as lovely as the French cello sounded, long practice sessions and rehearsals were causing my long dormant left elbow tendinosis tendencies to stir. And sure enough, when I finally measured the string length it was 27.25 inches. So I asked that the next loaner be 27 inches or shorter, a length that has reliably caused no problem for me. Thus, the 7/8.

It's so much fun to try all of these different cellos while I am waiting for the varnish to dry on my new replacement. This week I went from a smooth antique sound to a brash youngster worth a log less, from a longer string length to a smaller cello, had less than a half-hour to warm up and walked in to my lesson, then a strings-only orchestra rehearsal where we had our only rehearsal on a new piece (Vivaldi Spring) before we play it in concert next week.

While I may not be entirely happy with my sound, I am delighted to finally discover that I do have a characteristic sound that is similar on every cello I play, and I no longer feel like if I could just find the right cello (or strings) I would sound better. That's not to say I can't tell the difference - I certainly can, and I have a much clearer idea of what I like best. I wonder - did anyone notice that I am playing 3 different cellos on the videos I've posted so far?

Back to my lesson. This week I again spent half the time on my scale (F MAJ again) and half the time on the Bach Prelude #2. We spent a good chunk of the technical time making more adjustments to my bow hold. I have a strong tendency to change position during the course of the note, and T- really wants me to retain the same flexible hand position for the entire stroke, changing with the bow change. Yesterday we experimented with moving my hand a little more toward the frog, so that my 3d and 4th fingers straddle the eye. This necessitates a little less pronation of the forearm, and facilitates movement that feels more side-to-side. I wish changing the bow hold was easier. Habits die hard.

On Bach, I struggled a little more with intonation than I had during practice this week, at least partly because of the foreign cello. I'm also in that half-memorized place where I can't trust myself to play from memory under pressure, but when I look at the music it appears unfamiliar. However, I played well enough that we were able to address the musical intent of a couple of passages instead of the technical requirements.

T- asked again what else I wanted to play besides Bach. I told him I'm OK for now, working on the Hummel piano trio, Op 12, which I don't bring to my lesson. I really should choose something else to work on there. All Bach all the time is grueling.

1 comment:

Liz said...


Found your blog through Cellomania. Looking forward to reading it (yay another practice blog!)