Friday, November 30, 2007

Cello lesson 11/29

Yesterday's lesson was all about bowings. We're working on a theme here.

My scale for the day was g minor, 4 octaves, using our standard fingering so I start with 1st finger on the C string and play no open strings in the harmonic minor pattern, same fingerings both up and down. After the usual linked half notes at qu=88, we focused on the first four notes, then the first octave, eighth notes then sixteenth, up and down. T- is trying very hard to help me feel faster notes as groups and gestures, but it seems as though right now I can do either the notes OR the gestures, but not both together.

I noticed in orchestra rehearsal afterward, as we were reading Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy, that I can keep up with the fast notes quite fine, I just don't actually play them. It's like my eyes go out of focus when I see all of those black note heads grouped together. My bow goes on autopilot, while my eye tries desperately to grasp at least the highest or lowest note in the group and get that in sync.

Anyway, we applied some of my rhythms and accents to playing the fast one octave scale gestures, and as usual, when you add one new thing one of the old ones flies out the window - in this case, the shifting. The two shifts in this part of the scale are a whole step between IV and III and an extension between III and II, and the faster we went the more randomly those shifts were happening. I laughed, but it was in frustration.

We also looked at the first exercise in Sevcik Op. 2, Part 2. This is an etude in triplets covering the fingerboard through 4th position (it looked like on a quick glance), with 105 bowing variations. The idea is to learn the notes very, very well so that the bowings can be experienced in one-measure gestures. That's something I will enjoy, and can substitute for some of the Galamian scale bowing time I have been putting in. I can also use the myriad scale passages in the Tchaikovsky to practice chunks and gestures and rhythms, and maybe will gain the benefit of actually being able to play the right notes in orchestra.

And finally, we took a quick look at two more variation in my chord etude, the ones that have two or three down bow, then one quick note up bow, and then the next down bow is either up the arpeggio again, or down. There are several ways to get back to the frog for the down bow: 1) a fast martele stroke, so that the bow is moving faster on the up bow than the down, 2) a quick almost spicato up bow at the same bow speed as the down bow notes then move the bow through the air back to the frog, and 3) jump back to mid bow and play the up bow like a hooked note. #2 is the best approach, not only for these variations, but also for the one where the arpeggio up is slurred followed by 3 short notes up-down-up. Application: this bowing is found in the Saint-Saens concerto.

I like when I leave the lesson with a clear idea of which are the core elements I want to focus on for the next week.

1 comment:

CelloGeek said...

we played the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy last year - it is a tough piece and those solid black parts aren't very easy - good luck with it! My problem with fast notes is that I do exactly the wrong thing; I start speeding up and really get myself worked up into a frenzy where I can't play all of the notes. It's as if my brain thinks that if I just played it faster it would be over with quicker...