Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I think I've got it

Maybe. An interesting week in the practice room. A few days ago I had the distinct sensation that something about my bow arm is different. I've been working on a major change to everything about using my right arm for a little over a year now. It started with my new teacher's (T-) demand for "more sound, more sound", and to get my bow into the strings. From his side, we worked on supple fingers, a more horizontal and less pronated bow hold, and good "bow change motions" at the wrist. From my side, I continually put too much pressure on the strings to try to play louder. Even when I thought I wasn't. I'm sure that is partly what has contributed to a little right elbow tendinosis I've been struggling with since summer.

But... At my lesson a couple of weeks ago T- said something that just clicked. He asked for a folding in of my arm during an up bow stroke. Wow. That felt different. At that practice a few days ago I felt it again, and all of a sudden I was spinning a huge sound with almost no sensation of pressing onto the strings. As these things go, practices since then have been a real struggle, with nothing feeling right. But today... IT'S BACK!!!

I am so excited. I think I'm breaking through to a new plateau.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Luke in Sink

I know, it's 2 days in a row of Luke, but this video is just begging to be posted. If you haven't heard of the web site Cats in Sinks, you should stop over and take a look. As many hundreds of photos of cats in sinks (duh) as you care to click through. (I uploaded a picture of John there - let me know if you see it.) I don't know why cats find sinks so interesting, but if you have lived with a feline, you know that they do. I'm pretty sure Luke didn't see anyone else doing this; his pea brain figured out how to play here all by itself.

Monday, January 29, 2007


I can't believe a month has passed so quickly. My mother left today, stronger after her time here at "The Spa". I'll bet she's glad to get away from the crazy daughter who made her work out to Bond every other day.

The kittens will miss her. She was here all the time, while I was out at lessons or rehearsals or doing chores. Her bed had a great polartec "headboard" (now disassembled) that was perfect for daytime naps. And they slept with her at least part of every night. I could always tell where they had been. Most kittens don't smell like cocoa butter.

Luke thought the packing process was quite fascinating, his first experience with suitcases.

He does look rather forlorn, sitting on the packed case. And he's been in my lap nearly continuously since I returned from the airport. I think he gets it.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Master Class

It's feast or famine. Yesterday I attended the second cello master class in 2 weeks, but I don't think there is another scheduled this academic year. This class featured Fred Sherry as the master teacher, again with four students, but this time in the standard performance auditorium. Must say, I enjoyed the class at the jazz club last time.

According to the bio materials, Fred Sherry is best known for his role as a champion and expositor of "new" music. He is also on the faculty at Juilliard, and has done hundreds of master classes in his career. Rather than addressing microscopic musical elements of the performance of each piece, his approach was to choose one macroscopic core element of each student's playing to discuss both in and out of context of the piece performed.

There were some recurrent themes, but rather than present you with the didactic summary, I am going to list the details as they occurred during the performances. (These are my notes and reflections, not an article on master classes ~g~.) On the program (ages are approximate this week):
(1) M~13 Saint-Saens Concerto in a 1st mvmt
(2) M15 Elgar Concerto in e 1st mvmt (same student played Faure Elegie at last class)
(3) M~20 Bach Prelude of c Suite (college student)
(4) F~16 Lalo Concerto in d 1st mvmt (another of my teacher's students)

Student #1, Saint-Saens
* FS described the "Rostropovich Method" for practicing fast passages. This involves lifting the fingers high off the string at a comfortable, slower-than-performance tempo. I can add this to my repertoire of ways to bring music up to speed, which already includes rhythms, accents, and gestures.

* Sometimes the R hand should respond to the L hand. FS made a point of labeling each student as predominantly right hand dominant (Rostropovich) or left hand dominant (Yo-Yo Ma). I think the biggest idea I took away is to be aware of your tendency, and look for places in the music where you might need to focus on your weaker handedness or on cooperation between the hands. We discussed an example of this at a recent lesson, moving to the high B in Chanson Triste, and "pulling" the shift upward with the down bow.

* Cuing of the accompanist can be done with a breath OR a bow motion. I usually focus on the former, but realize I do the latter unconsciously at times.

* In the "hours of boring passagework" section, keep spinning the sound on the longer notes with the bow. There should be life at the ends of the notes. This keeps the section from *sounding* boring.

* In discussion of shifting, FS stated his opinion that the half-step shifts are the hardest, requiring the highest level of perfection of intonation. He demonstrated an exercise for shifting (that can be extrapolated for larger intervals and also include or be limited to thumb shifting). Here it is by fingers for 1/2 steps, where the "-" indicates the shift:
1-1 (up) 2-2 (down) 3-3 (up) 4-4 (down) 4-4 (up) 3-3 (down) 2-2 (up) 1-1 (down)
ex. On the D string in 1st position, the notes would be:
E-F F#-F F#-G G#-G G-G# G-F# F-F# F-E
Ways I can think of to check intonation (accuracy): play against open G drone, use tuner drone at various pitch to check each time it is played, check G only against open string, check that departure E is same as arrival E with either G-E or E-A chord.

Student #2 Elgar
* The core element for this student was his sitting stance. He had a tendency to bend at his waist while keeping his hips open, rather than bending from the hips ( a definite no-no in Alexander Technique!). So FS led us on an amusing diversion through Bruce Lee films while moving the student through some martial arts stances. The point was to take the active crouching at the hips over to the cello chair, and to get the feeling that the legs are active and ready to support your movement there.

Two other points he made about stance:
* Use hands with non-dominant playing hand loosely fisted and other hand either with palm gently pressing top of other fist or curled around it. This student was left-hand oriented, so that meant R fist and L wrap. I'm not sure what practical application this has.
* Always look up when you bow. In the film he was citing, a bow while looking down led to charges of disrespect and death of the practitioner. Rather serious consequences for not being aware of the situation surrounding him. Again, I'm not sure of the practical application, other than it does tend to keep the back straighter with the bend at the hips as opposed to curled over the cello.

* Use all of the emotional palette. Example: FS called the initial note of the Elgar the death blow. That shouldn't just sound like a large, pleasant sound. Sometimes nice is exactly the wrong thing.

* Regarding the tenuto marks later in a slow section. Pay attention to the small differences between sections and bring them out. Ex. here the notes are the same as while the tenuto marks differ from an earlier section.

* The twin pillars of every piece of music are Pitch and Rhythm. These are non-negotiable, while other aspects of the music can vary based on interpretation.

Student #3 Bach
* About the piece: the twists and turns baffle the memory. There are more relationships among the notes than notes themselves. (All the students played from memory, and there were a couple of small slips here. This was empathetic as well as acknowledging the particular difficulty of this piece.)

* An aside here. I noticed this student played entirely with his eyes closed. At my last lesson, T- asked me to play the opening of my piece (Bach, d Suite, Prelude) with my eyes closed. How disorienting, but how much better to focus on the tactile aspects of playing. I shall have to adopt PFS's habit of playing in a dark room. But without candles. They result in too many singed whiskers at my house.

* Though this prelude is often referred to as a Prelude and Fugue, FS expressed the opinion that it is more like a French overture with corresponding allegro. Bach was just an early adopter. (He also noted his use of double dotted rhythms before there was a way to annotate them, using 1/8 note, 1/16 rest, 1/16 note.) He recommended choosing the tempi by first playing the "fugue" section, then transferring the pulse to become the beat of the "prelude" opening.

* The roll of the many chords should happen outside of the beat, so that the top of the line is heard in tempo.

* The core element for this student was about bow grips. FS made the observation that the student seemed overly finicky about getting his bow hair tension and grip "exactly right". So he had him play little improvisatory licks using different bow grips, including thumb under frog, thumb and fingers moved forward around thumb grip (thus origin of the term), more forward still at the balance point, and at usual place on frog but using only very tips of fingers. Guess what. There was not much difference in the quality of the sound.

* An exercise for bow hold: monkey climb with R hand only up to tip and back to frog while holding the bow steadily horizontal. This is good for developing strength of the intrinsic hand muscles, finger coordination, and also leads to a comfortable, balanced hold when arriving back at the frog. (This is one of my "cello gym" exercises. I should write about that some day.)

* This really had nothing to do with Bach or this student that I could see, but was an interesting diversion. FS set up a little improvisatory conversation between him and the student. The rules were to stay within a 3/4 frame, stay out of each other's register as much as possible, and to use non-overlapping notes. This was done by one player sticking to the C MAJ scale and the other to an F# pentatonic scale, which is to say, all the leftover notes. That would be F# G# A# C# D#, or the black keys. It was very cool. Maybe I can sweet talk the violinist in my trio into trying it out with me.

Student #4 Lalo
* FS asked this student to begin by playing a d melodic minor scale, 2 octaves, half notes at a modest tempo. Just as a warm-up, since she had been waiting for over 1.5 hours to play. Yikes. I was sweating. For the past year I have played only harmonic minor scales, with the Duport fingering (no open strings.) I'm not sure I could have done it, and forthwith promise to spend some of my scale practice time reviewing Klengel 2 octave scale fingerings.

* Another aside. The student played the scale the first time with the big extroverted sound favored by our teacher. FS then asked her to play it a second time, more relaxed, mf. She cut back considerably, but he still commented that this was louder than he considered mf. I noticed that I got a lot of those comments at my various summer camps last year. I'm thinking T- may be a little divergent from the masses in this regard.

* So anyway, this student played the heck out of the Lalo. I was in awe of her fast passage work. I sat in on a number of her lessons while she was learning this piece, but they focused on the rhythms of the Theme 1 sections and development. I guess she didn't need any help on the fast parts! And FS chose to work on sound quality and interpretation for her core element.

* At the beginning of the mvmt, tell a whole story on each long note. Technically, this is done in the usual way, by varying bow speed, weight, and sounding point. I point this out because it wasn't discussed, with the focus kept on imagining the sound and making it. Cello-playing should be a piece of cake, with only a few tools broadly applied.

* The dreamy part requires a total change in tone color, not merely a change in dynamics. (I was impressed with how much more emotionally intense the piece sounded.)

* Vibrato. There are many different styles. Its purpose is to enhance the tone, not merely to intensify it. A player must learn to control speed, width and timing in order to develop a large palette of vibrato colors, and then must purposefully choose the style of vibrato in order to achieve the desired effect. (I am beginning to become aware of all of the details that can be consciously chosen. It's nearly overwhelming.) Styles demonstrated:
-- accent - fast, wide attack, then decrease width to shimmer
-- continuous - the same on all four fingers, including across shifts
-- shimmering - narrow, fast vibrato with bow close to the bridge

* FS also advocated an open, relaxed hand while vibrating on each finger independently. This contrasts with T-'s recent instructions to vibrate with my other fingers relaxed but apposed in a "vibrato mitten". The adult student sitting next to me commented that her teacher was asking for the same thing (the mitten). Until I hear otherwise, I will consider that to be another instance of "more than one way to do it right".

* Almost forgot. Back to the initial scale: when playing a scale having open strings, the notes on either side of the open string should be played with a relatively small vibrato to decrease the aural jarring that would occur otherwise on the unvibrated open string.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cello lesson 1/25

Scale: A MAJ
T- is tired of hearing E for a year, and I had questions about the fingering, so that's where we stayed. For whatever reason, I find this to be the most difficult scale.
* Fingering: avoid open strings, so it's standard Duport
G: 1x2-4 1x2-4
D: (G#) 1-2-4
A: (C#) 1-2-4 1-3-4 standard upper 2 octaves (1212123 1212123)
* Vibrato in thumb position. I've been working on touching the thumb lightly to the next lower string. It does reduce tension, but I'm still a little awkward. Keep the motion vector parallel to the knuckles, which means angled away from the fingerboard, not parallel to the string.
* Arpeggio.
- Play at qu=66 instead of ha=88.
- All arps start on C string, most with 2
- Demonstrated Magg variation which checks location of thumb after shift
- Reviewed 3 standard fingerings
-- 2-1-3 2-1-3 2-1-3 2-1-2-3
-- 1-3 1-3 1-3 2 1-3 1-3 1-3
-- T-2 T T-2 T T-2 T T-1-2-3

I had one question. Near the end, after the trill, I have been clipping the C en route to the coda beginning on E, probably because of the 1-1 shift across strings.
* Trill
- Do not remain in extended hand position. Relax 1 while trilling on 2-4
- Think of how many times you can remove the finger from the string rather than how many times you can press it down. "Hot stove" technique.
- Then add low ceiling, keeping finger lift close to the string.
* Shift
- extend to C to finish the trill, but with finger tip long to D string
- shift old finger (1) to E but already on new string

Bach, Prelude to 2nd Suite
Played through. I can really feel where I am able to play freely and where I need to think about how to play the next notes. We discussed my cadenza, which I finally have an idea about, also memorizing, phrasing, playing convincingly, confidence, the little guy on my left criticizing my technique, and the little pipsqueak on my right criticizing my emotional content. (It's a wonder I can play at all!) I may be able to flesh out some more notes later, but for now, let me just document my cadenza so maybe I'll remember it.
m1: A Bb C A F E F G D C Bb A
m2: A Bb C A
m3: D A F A
m4: A G F E D
(Need to play this again. Can't quite remember.)
Memorizing: assessment
* Auditory. OK, I could sing the first phrase. But I know I need to clean up about 10% where it's not quite remembered.
* Kinesthetic: I really need to work on being able to imagine all of the motions of playing when I'm not playing.
* Visual: really weak, but also the hardest for most people

I may have forgotten to mention that T- wants me to play this in the next studio class on 2/17. Therefore I would not have mentioned that I am terrified of playing in front of all those teenage prodigies. I'll do it if I must, but more realistically I am aiming for the next adult recital on 3/6.

Watch this space. I think I might still be able to remember a little more with another practice.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's been a long day

Go, go, go, go....

Gp 4 Day 28. That brown smudge on Luke's nose is the antibiotic we started today for a little upper respiratory infection. Looks like I'll be holding on to these monsters for another 10 days. I'm glad, but a little worried that I'll be*really* attached to them when it's finally time to return to the shelter.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My insipient personality disorder

This won't surprise my friends.

You May Be a Bit Obsessive Compulsive...

Meticulous and detailed oriented, you have some irrational obsessions.
Maybe it's your super neat closet or washing your hands a gazillion times.
You probably know it's weird, but you just can't stop thinking about it.
In fact, the more you think about your quirks, the more you have to do them.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Further to my last

Continuing my experiment with Silly Putty, I think what I showed in yesterday's post is too much. Today I used just a pea-sized pellet and flattened it quite thin, probably to less than a millimeter thick. That gave me a patch of about 2 x 2.5 cm, which I placed in the concave part of the frog, covering the eye but not extending up or over the stick. It's much less noticeable (to my fingers) and still performs well.

Just got home from trio rehearsal, our second coached session on the first mvmt of Hummel Op. 12. I think we made good progress, stopping at the end of the exposition today. I had only a few mental glitches switching between bass and "trouble" clef (treble clef transposed down an octave), but we played under tempo much of the time. Still, that was a nice reward for hard work.

My most frustrating moment came when the coach (C-) asked me to start a note in motion before catching the string, instead of from the string, as I was. I spent a long time eradicating the bad habit of starting notes from the air, something 'cellists often do because of the need to get that big mass of string vibrating. This was a little different, of course, and after the light bulb lit I could do it.

I still remember the first time T2- asked me to do something a different way after I had worked so hard getting it right the way she had requested the previous week. My first glimmer that there is more than one right way to do something. Something very complicated for a rule-bound first-born like me to comprehend!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Cello toys

Whoopee cushions. I know Silly Putty sounds bad, but really, PFS. Playing the 'cello is a serious pursuit.

Here are photos of my recent acquisitions. Much easier to explain this way.

The "sitting cushion" looks like a Frisbee from the top, but you can see the little feet around the bottom edge. Unless you're into some kind of spikey buttocks massage, I would recommend sitting on the smooth side.
It works really well for filling in the indentation and backwards slope of the cafeteria or office-style chairs many of us have to put up with in rehearsal spaces.

Here I have divided the "egg" of s.p. into approximate thirds. I used one small third to make a little saddle over the top of the bow in the middle of the frog.
This is how the s.p. looks after it is flattened into an oval, about 2 mm thick, before being placed on the stick.
A quick bow hold to show you where the s.p. falls under my hand, approximately. It's just there to add friction, so it doesn't need to be a specific thickness (just not too) or very accurately placed.
This is what happens when you try to perform any activities involving Silly Putty in the vicinity of a kitten.

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.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

They can't possibly know this

Your Life Path Number is 4

Your purpose in life is to build your vision.

You are practical and responsible. You work hard, knowing that there are no shortcuts in life.
You work for a better life for yourself and those you love, but you are not an idealist.
Trustworthy and honest, you also demonstrate great courage. People can count on you.

In love, you are a loyal and committed partner. You are the ideal spouse.

You don't give up easily, and sometimes you can be too stubborn and unwilling to change.
You also can be too conservative at times. You sometimes miss out on good opportunities.
Also remember that not everyone can work as hard as you, as disappointing as that is!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Glamour kitties

Doesn't this remind you of those official family portraits your folks dragged you downtown to make as a kid? The crossed hands were the perfect touch.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Itty Bitty Kitty

She may be tiny, but she's a dynamo. Now that she's gaining weight she has lots of calories to spare for instigating wrestling matches. After she wears out her brother, she goes for Uncle John.

I must say, the first time I saw John wrestling with Leia I thought he was murdering her. But no. He had good training, wrestling with 18 lb. Ballou in his foster home, and has learned how to play with a teensy tiny without harm. For a variety of reasons, Luke and Leia have been wholeheartedly accepted into the family. John wrestles with Leia, and Cricket cleans Luke's butt. All the comforts of home.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Recital recordings

At long last...
Thanks for your patience. The Odeo widgets should work for you now. If they still aren't, please comment again to let me know.

I finally listened to my recording of the recital. I used to listen right afterward, and always hated what I heard. Too many emotional overtones, I guess. I now let an adequate period of reflection pass before I listen, following the excellent advice of my last cello teacher (T2-). My far more generous assessments:

Chanson Triste

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I am still amazed at how difficult it is to maintain character and intonation for the entirety of a note. I was really struggling with concentration during this piece, so was happy to finish without major snafus. I was also glad that my piano teacher had asked me to perform this for my piano class earlier in the day, because the harmony from the piano wasn't what I had imagined. It would have been really tough to hear that for the first time during the performance. There are the two shifty bars in the middle interlude that need more work. T- recommended a sequence of double extensions to avoid having to shift between every note. And I would like to polish the interpretation some more. It sounded too monochromatic to me.

Breval Sonata in C, Allegro

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I thought this went very well until I completely murdered that triplet entrance near the end. I liked the character overall, but it could stand more exaggeration. I didn't notice too many technical details that need work, so feel free to point out anything I am deluding myself about.

Beethoven Piano Trio Op. 1 No. 1, 4th mvmt

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Alas, the pre-performance run-through was better, but for being under performance pressure this was not bad. I'm very happy with the tempo, much faster than we believed we could achieve when we started. And it hung together well even through the technical bobbles, also far fewer than we anticipated. We'll be performing this again next week, the first time we've repeated a performance. It will be interesting to hear what two weeks of rest will do, as we've switched gears to start working on the Hummel.

And an aside regarding recording quality. This was recorded on a Sony minidisc recorder model NH1, using an inexpensive mono channel microphone, buried in a bag under a chair in the second row, below the level of the stage. Certainly adequate given those parameters, but I really should get a decent mic and set up to record more optimally.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Luke and Leia Playtime

DH checked my blog today and complained that it was all cello stuff. Poor guy. Not his thing. So for him, and anyone else who has been missing the kittens, here is a video that will warm the cockles of your heart, not to mention bring your blood pressure down and send you on your way with a smile on your face. Nothing special, just a couple of kittens doing what kittens do.

Monday, January 15, 2007

It's Christmas at my house

The upside of SheetMusicPlus is that they have an extensive catalogue. The downside of SheetMusicPlus is that the economy shipping can take forever. I can't remember how many months ago I placed the order I received today. I didn't even remember what I had ordered until I opened the box. (It must have been before Christmas... one of the books was carols for 2 celli.) (No, it may have been closer to Thanksgiving... two of the books were Beatles arrangements for cello that I would have ordered while working on that wedding I played right afterward.)

But the most exciting thing, in addition to the new Bärenreiter edition of the Duport Exercises, was two volumes of CD Sheet Music: Cello Music Part I, Baroque and Classical and Cello Music Part II, Romantic and Early Modern. Since I was frustrated at not being able to find a complete Table of Contents for these, I am going to post them here. They may be of use to someone else, and then I have someplace easy to refer to them. This is very cool - a 90% complete library for less than 40 bucks!

OK, on further review while typing it's not 90%. But it's still a lot of music.

Cello Music Part I

Baroque and Classical
(CD Sheet Music Table of Contents)

J. S. Bach
Suite No. 1 in G, BWV 1007
Suite No. 2 in d, BWV 1008
Suite No. 3 in C, BWV 1009
Suite No. 4 in Eb, BWV 1010
Suite No. 5 in c, BWV 1011
Suite No. 6 in D, BWV 1012
Three Sonatas (Originally for viola da gamba)
1. Sonata in G, BWV 1027
2. Sonata in D, BWV 1028
3. Sonata in g, BWV 129

Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata No. 1 in F, Op. 5 No. 1
Sonata No. 2 in g, Op. 5 No. 2
Sonata No. 3 in A, Op. 69
Sonata No. 4 in C, Op. 102
Sonata No. 5 in D, Op. 102, No. 2
Sonata ina, Op. 47
Romance in D, Op. 40
Seven Variations, WoO 46
Andante from Piano Sonata in Ab, Op. 26
Menuet from Septet in Eb, Op. 20
Allegretto frm Piano Trio in Eb, Op. 70 No. 2
Moderato from Piano Sonata in e, Op. 90
Allegretto from Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92

Luigi Boccherini
Sonata No. 1 in A
Sonata No. 2 in G
Sonata No. 3 in A
Concerto in Bb

Justus Johann Friefrich Dotzauer
113 Etudes for VC (Books I - IV)

J. L. Duport
Exercises for VC (Part II, for 2 VC)

Henry Eccles
Sonata in g, arr. Moffat

George Frideric Handel
Sonata No. 1 in g
Sonata No. 2 in d
Sonata No. 3 in Bb

Franz Josef Haydn
Concerto in D
Concerto in C
Romance from La Reine
Aria from die Schoepfung

Marin Marais
Five Old French Dances
Suite No. 3

Benedetto Marcello
Six Sonatas for VC and Continuo

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Priest's March from "The Magic Flute"
Aria from Don Giovanni
Chorus from "Idomineo"
Ave Verum Corpus
Duet from "The Marriage of Figaro"
Sonatina in G

Bernhard Romberg
Sonata in e, Op. 38 No. 1
Sonata in Bb, Op. 43 No. 1

Franz Schubert
Sonata in a, Arpeggione
Entr'act from Rosamunde
Moment Musicale
Marche Militaire
The Wanderer

Antonio Vivaldi
Concerto in G
Six Sonatas for VC and continuo

Cello Music Part II

Romantic and Early Modern
(CD Sheet Music Table of Contents)

Ernest Bloch
Schelomo (Rhapsodie Heraique)

Johannes Brahms
Sonata No. 1 in E minor, Op. 38
Sonata No. 2 in F Major, Op. 99
Concerto in A minor for violin and cello, Op. 102

Max Bruch
Kol Nidrei, Op. 47
Four Pieces, Op. 70

Frederic Chopin
Introduction and Polonaise Brilliante, Op. 3
Sonata in G Minor, Op. 65

Bernhard Cossman

Claude Debussy
Sonata in D Minor

Ernst von Dohnany
Sonata in Bb Major, Op. 8

Antonin Dvorak
Rondo, Op. 94
Concert in B Minor, Op. 104

Edward Elgar
Sospiri, Op. 70
Concerto, Op. 85

Gabriel Faure
Elegie, Op. 24
Papillon, Op. 77
Sicilienne, Op. 78
Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 109
Sonata No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 117
Apres in Reve (After a Dream), Transcribed by Pablo Casals

Auguste Franchomme
12 Caprices, Op. 7

George Goltermann
Concerto No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 51
Concerto No. 4 in G Major (Konzertstuck), OP. 65
Concerto No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 67

Edvard Grieg
Elegiac Melodies, Op. 34
Sonata in A Minor, Op. 36

Friedrich Gruetzmacher
24 Etudes, Op. 38
(Book I, Nos. 1-12)
(Book II, Nos. 13-24)

Victor Herbert
Concerto No. 2, Op. 30

Leos Janacek
Pohadka (Tale)

Julius Klengel
Technical Studies, Vol. I and II
Concertino No. 1 in C Major, Op. 7
Concertino No. 2 in G Major, Op. 41
Concertino No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 46
Concert Piece in D Minor, Op. 10
Andante Sostenuto, Op. 51
Scherzo in D Minor, Op. 6

Zoltan Kodaly
Sonata, Op. 4

Edouard Lalo
Concerto in D Minor

Sebastian Lee
Twelve Studies for Perfection of Technique

Bohuslav Martinu
Variations on a Slovakian Theme
Sonata No. 3

Felix Mendelssohn
Sonata No. 1 in Bb Major, Op. 45
Sonata No. 2 in D MAjor, Op. 58
Variations concertantes, Op. 17
Song Without Words, Op. 109

Ludwig Mendelssohn
Student Concerto in D MAjor, Op. 213

David Popper
High School of Cello Playing (40 etudes), Op. 73
Fifteen Etudes (w/ 2nd vc accompaniment), Op. 76
Hungarian Rhapsody, Op. 68

Sergei Prokofiev
Ballade, Op. 15

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Two Pieces, Op. 2
Sonata in G Minor, Op. 19

Maurice Ravel
Piece en Forme de Habenera
Two Pieces: Menuet and Pavane de la Belle au Bois dormant

Max Reger
Romance in G Major
Three Suites for Solo VC, Op. 131c
No 1. (G), No. 2 (d), No. 3 (a)
Sonata in G minor, Op. 28
Four Pieces for VC and Piano, Op. 70

Camille Saint-Saens
Concerto No. 1 in a, Op. 33
Allegro Appassionato, Op. 43
Carnival of the Animals: The Elephant
(No, really - no Swan)
Sonata No. 1 in c, Op. 32
Sonata No. 2 in F, Op. 123
Suite, Op. 16

Florent Schmitt
Chant Elegiac, Op. 24

Robert Schumann
Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70
Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73
Five Pieces in Folk Style, Op. 102
Concerto in a, Op. 129

Otakar Sevcik
School of Bowing Technique, Op. 2 (Sections I - VI)

Jean Sibelius
Malinconia, Op. 20

Richard Strauss
Sonata in F, Op. 6

Peter Tchaikovsky
Pezzo Capriccioso, Op. 62
Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33

Who knew I was orange?

While looking for this week's Carnival of the Cats I came upon a reference to Blogthings on Leslie's Omnibus. I love incidentally discovering ways to waste time on the web, almost as much as finding out how interesting people are and what kind of things they write about. Whatever did I do with all my time before I discovered blogs?

You Are Pumpkin

Realistic and practical, you see the world for how it is.
You know what it takes to succeed in life...
And you're happy to help others reach their goals.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Master Class

I haven't practiced since Thursday, but think I should be able to today. I typically need a day or two to process after a performance, and I no longer force myself to try until I am feeling ready again. Yesterday my cello-related-but-not-practice activity was attending a master class featuring Matt Haimovitz. A master class is like a public lesson, where usually the student begins by performing a piece or movement of a piece, and then the master teacher chooses elements of their playing to work on for the rest of the allotted time. Yesterday there were four students, and each got 30 minutes.

The program and age/gender of the participants:
(1) 12M Saint-Seans Concerto, 3d mvmt
(2) 15M Faure Elegie
(3) 21M Ligeti Dialogo
(4) 17(?)F Elgar Concerto, 1st mvmt (She wasn't asked her age, but she is also a student of my cello teacher, and that's what I think I remember from studio class.)

Matt Haimovitz is best known for his "concert tour", crossing America to play the Bach Suites in bars. His passion seems to be presenting classical music in non-classical settings. Between that and his youth I admit I wasn't expecting too much, having never seen him perform and suffering from reverse ageism. But he's also a cello professor at Amherst, and studied with Leonard Rose. He knew every piece performed from memory (how do they do that?) and had lots of great advice and good teaching skills. By the way, the class was in a local bar and jazz club, which was much more comfortable than the usual performance auditorium from the audience perspective. It was a fairly large and very dead space, though, which presented an additional complication for the performers, and thus even more opportunity for learning.

I'll post my notes from the class a little later.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Different day, different card

You are The Hermit

Prudence, Caution, Deliberation.

The Hermit points to all things hidden, such as knowledge and inspiration,hidden enemies. The illumination is from within, and retirement from participation in current events.

The Hermit is a card of introspection, analysis and, well, virginity. You do not desire to socialize; the card indicates, instead, a desire for peace and solitude. You prefer to take the time to think, organize, ruminate, take stock. There may be feelings of frustration and discontent but these feelings eventually lead to enlightenment, illumination, clarity.

The Hermit represents a wise, inspirational person, friend, teacher, therapist. This a person who can shine a light on things that were previously mysterious and confusing.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Missing my duet partners

It was a very small recital last night. The music school where I have my cello lesson, a group piano class, and piano trio coaching organizes a variety of adult recital opportunities throughout the year. Most teachers have studio recitals as well, but are more or (usually) less successful at enticing their adult students to perform with the kids, hence the separate opportunities.

Last night was a Strings Dept. recital (as opposed to All School = all instruments), and here is the program:
(1) Violin, scheduled to play a Mazas etude and a piece by Zogelchts, but canceled a couple of days before performance
(2) Violin, Telemann Fantasie
(3) Violin, Meditation from Thais
(4) Cello (me), Chanson Triste and Breval Allegro
(5) Piano trio (mine), Beethoven Op 1 No 1 Finale
Short, and with the cancellation of one violinist I was scheduled to be half the program!

The organizer padded the lineup with the last-minute recruitment of a cello duo after the New Horizon orchestra rehearsal on Wednesday. They grabbed a couple of short duets from the library and played them for us after one rehearsal. So not sight reading, exactly, but close. And very competently played, as one would expect from two people who get together every week to play duets.

In my immediate past life I had two dueting friends. One was also an excellent pianist, and we played piano trios in addition to cello duets for a few years. One year, disgusted with the limited playing opportunities in our cello-heavy chamber music group, we got the harebrained idea of playing the violin instead, and organized a group lesson. I had to stop after about a year and a half, but she continued, and even switched to the second violin section in orchestra. I guess that's when I moved over to take the role of principal cello. Maybe she had an ulterior motive? She died over three years ago, from lung cancer, very rapidly. I miss her greatly.

My other buddy was another student of my teacher's, but we didn't meet until he started playing in orchestra. When I switched teachers he followed soon after to my new studio, and somehow we got into the routine of spending the hour between his cello lesson and orchestra rehearsal reading duets. An hour devoted to playing music that was easy enough to sight read, just for fun, but it was also interesting to observe how the level of difficulty increased over time as a result of other study. I still see him every month or two, but it's a lot harder to organize duet time. That's been awhile.

No cello buddies yet in my new life. I guess last night I just remembered how much I miss them.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The good, the bad, and the ugly

I'm thinking of changing my blog title.

This is what the horoscope on my google home page said today:
Your key planet Mercury is quite active today, receiving its share of stress from authoritarian Saturn. This planetary heaviness leans on you now, preventing you from enjoying what would normally be quite pleasant. Although you might want to break your routine, the pressure of responsibility will likely keep you in a rut. You must follow through on previous commitments, but don't worry; you will get your chance for change soon enough.

Sounds about right. I'm glad I played this recital, but didn't really enjoy it. I played... OK. One major flub starting the last run of triplets in the Breval, but I have come to expect at least one completely unanticipated SNAFU. I'll post the recording, if it came out. This is a learning experience, right?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How I know my brother loves me

He sits on me.

He steals my toys.

He bites my tail.

He bites my neck.

He strangles me.

He steals the biggest part of the heating vent.

He washes behind my ears.

He keeps me warm.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

D - 2

I have a recital on Thursday, and I am in full blown avoidance mode. The best news is that my cello sounds great after having the seams glued back together. Slightly less good is that I didn't get it back until today, so I played (or avoided playing) all weekend on my back-up. Better news is that the final run through with my piano trio this evening went very well, starting cold at the beginning of the session. That bodes well. Totally suboptimal news is that rehearsal ran over just enough minutes so that I was late to meet the accompanist for my solo pieces. Late enough that he was gone already. So I guess I'll hear how those go with piano on Thursday.

I give up

Leia has amazingly big eyes. She looks like one of those 70's greeting cards, but they're all hers. Here's a tiny tummy shot for Tummy Tuesday.

It's Tummy Tuesday. To see more of the (feline) sunny-side-up variety, visit LisaViolet.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Mystery solved

A few nights ago I noticed that Luke's fur was sticking out all over, and looked like he had somehow gotten wet, and then dried. No puddles to be found in the house, but my suspicions were aroused.

Later in the weekend, this is what I discovered.

Here we have Luke on the top level of the Colonade with Uncle John, who is in the process of giving him a very thorough bath. When I started taking in fosters I had hoped that it would stir Cricket's maternal instincts. Instead, it's John who has taken on the role of Chief Babysitter. Though, I have also caught Cricket taking a few licks at Luke. Like I said before, he's a special kitten.

Friday, January 05, 2007

It was a day

Yesterday was my all-music-all-day day. After a too long and leisurely blog read and cup of coffee (with fringe benefit of purring kittens in lap) I spent 30 minutes cramming for my piano lesson. (I haven't practiced since mid-December. Bad me.) John came tearing down to the piano and settled in at my knee. You could almost hear the sigh, "At last!". (I can see I need to review the rules for punctuation in dialog.) Then I was off, from 1130-1930.
1 hr piano lesson
1.5 hr cello practice
2 hr cello lesson
1.5 hr orchestra rehearsal
plus transportation time.

It was supposed to be 1 hr cello lesson and 2 hr orchestra rehearsal, but the student following me inexplicably failed to appear, so I had a double lesson. Much as I hate being late to orchestra rehearsal, it was well worth the opportunity. I got quality time on both of my recital pieces, as well as the scale and etude. Plus the administrative bonus of taking care of a make-up lesson.

During my practice time I did a Chuck and Don seam survey of my cello, and found a 3 inch opening in the posterocaudal lower bout. (Don't want to waste all of that hard-earned medical vocabulary.) Chuck and Don, you say? That was just the receipt I happened to have in my purse. I have yet to hear an opening on percussion (another medical term, in this case refering to thunking around the perimeter with a knuckle or fingertip), but have good success with using a thin piece of paper to poke in the seams. So Ian went to the shop for gluing this morning, and Emma will be called into service, hopefully just until tomorrow, but possibly all weekend if they have to open the seam more to glue it adequately. Maybe I'll treat myself, and change her strings. I've been meaning to for at least a year.

Brain dump of cello lesson will follow. I was too beat to attempt it last night. This will be a memory triple whammy, with a double lesson followed immediately by a rehearsal and then a 24-hour delay in getting to paper. But I'll do my best.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Leia report. We didn't have to make that trip to the shelter, afterall. With a little culinary enticement (kitten pate and formula) frequently offered (every 2 hours) she perked up. Though she hasn't gained much weight, her energy level is much better. I'm happy with that for now. She's decided that she really prefers big cat kibble and pate, though. I suppose that's fair, since John has been leaving his untouched in favor of sneaking into the nursery to eat kitten kibble.

D- says that I am too lenient. I would not have made a good pediatrician, because I can't stand to hear babies crying. All of my fosters have been orphans, so while they're here I become Mom, and if they hear me in the house they want to be where I am. This group is the worst for making that need known vocally. So yes, I'm a sucker, but in my defense, D- usually has the mom with the kittens so she doesn't have to suffer with this like I do.

Luke has a new trick. He discovered that he can't climb up the kitchen towels hanging from the cabinet drawers, but he can pull them onto the floor. So now whenever he walks by and they are hanging he does so. Little brat.

This was my solution to keeping Leia toasty when she wasn't feeling so well. I teased them that they must have been kangaroos in a previous life.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I was back-tracking while sorting out my thoughts for a completely 'nother post, when I came across Beth's blog eschewing traditional New Year's resolutions in favor of a theme word for the year. I like that. Then I went to look for one of Josh's entries that referenced a link to what I wanted to write about, and found his New Year's motivational poster with a link to the factory. So I went to Flickr, quickly photoshopped a photo (thanks for the raw materials, L8), and memorialized my most important resolution. This is so cool.

Sunshine Luke

Is it my imagination, or is Luke a member of an accelerated race of cats? He's reaching milestones in days that took previous kittens a week or two. Example: he could jump out of the tub on the first night. Now, Group 1 could also do that at 25 oz, so that's not too surprising for his size. But after a couple of days he figured out the bedtime routine, so now he just settles himself down for the night and waits for me in the morning.

I considered letting him out into the house early to give tiny Leia a break from his constant pestering, but fully intended to wait at least a week. Two nights ago John did a clumsy hop out of the office that left the box blocking the door askew, and there Luke was in the kitchen. I put him back in the office, and he promptly proved that he could climb over the 2.5-foot barricade by himself, thank you.

OK, fine. He explored the whole house, greeting all the big cats with an absolute lack of fear, and stopped to play with toys downstairs. His favorite was the pink mouse-on-a-string. After catching it he tried to dismember it, growling all the time. He scared Madeleine so badly she ran back into the bedroom to hide. His momma obviously taught him good hunting skills, though he seemed confused that he couldn't eat that mouse.

The next morning I just left the office door open, and here comes Luke giving Leia a tour of the house. Straight to the mudroom where the big cats' food dishes are. Mmm. Big cat kibble. Thank you very much.

Luke has also learned that it's just as effective to sit at your feet and wait to be picked up than to clamber up your leg with his needle toes. I really appreciate that he learned that lesson so fast. This morning he figured out how circle ball works. And, best things last, it took him all of 2 minutes to figure out that the nicest place in the world to be is in a human lap, purring wildly to the sound of tippy tappy typing. All in all, I'd give this kitten an A+.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Traveling the US

I really have been reviewing my past year and contemplating what I might do with this one, in a desultory fashion between kitten chores and reading other peoples' blogs. (And practicing. Goes without saying.) I've run across a few that list the desire to see all of the states in the US, but didn't find that very interesting myself. After a little detour with direction from Heavy Duty Power, I realized why. I've already been to (or at least through) all but 3 states: Rhode Island, Alaska, and Arizona. Maybe a visit to Guanaco should be in my future, after all!

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

(Oops. I just realized that I have been to Phoenix for a meeting. That's in Arizona, which leaves only Rhode Island and Alaska. Have I really never been to Rhode Island?)

Mini tummies

A little fun for a Tuesday morning. Luke loves to be handled. When he's not doing the frenetic kitten thing, he wants to be cuddled. You can see here he is relaxed, confident, and trusting.

Leia is quite interested in the proceedings. Luke appears to be thinking "What you lookin' at, sister?"

And then Luke reverts to form, and shows us Leia's tummy, too.

It's Tummy Tuesday. To see more of the (feline) sunny-side-up variety, visit LisaViolet.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Anything that moves

Happy New Year, everybody. Look - it snowed!

Instead of contemplating resolutions in a leisurely fashion, I spent the day keeping a very tiny kitten warm and fed. I guess you could say I was busy being a momma cat. I think Leia and I will be taking a trip to the shelter tomorrow to check on her hydration status. She doesn't seem to be sick, she's just not thriving yet.

Here is a clip of morning play time. See how much bigger and more energetic Luke is, but both put on a pretty good show. If it moves, it must be a toy.

These were the commas in my day. What would life be like without a little punctuation?