Chinese Proverb

"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand." - Chinese Proverb.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cello Lesson #11 (5/31/11): Close, but no cigar...

Great lesson today!! :)

Getting closer to correct bowing, but not quite there yet. Well, at least that's what Adam says, but I don't really believe that I'm getting closer....  :). Only because it doesn't feel "natural" to me yet and I'm still thinking about too many things at once! 

A few more things I need to work on and remember:

Bowing Notes:
1) Make sure my fingers are down - I tend to lift my 2nd and 3rd finger, which I need to keep down. During a previous lesson Adam mentioned that he tries to feel (be conscious) of his fingers on the bow at all times. Think of "frog suction fingers"

2) Scooping - went over the feeling a scooping motion where the whole arm pronates/rotates inward. I tend to use my hand a lot instead of my whole arm. This should help with my sound (since I sometimes skate on strings) because using my whole arm adds weight so I don't have to use my hand as much. Also, "scooping" is more of a feeling and can't really be seen. It feels like its scooping because of the weight and rotation of the arm

3) The tip - when I'm at the tip I tend to lose my sound too because I don't have enough momentum to get back using the same energy/weight. Adam suggested that I could use a "down circle" or "up circle" to make sure that I have enough energy to go back the other direction. Using the up or down circle will keep the bow moving so I have enough momentum/energy to keep the sound consistent. Its analogous to a paint brush motion or fishtail.

4) Angle of my bow - this is my main issue! My bow always seems to want to point up. I've gotten better, especially since I've been working on making sure my wrist is more rounded when I am at the frog. More bowing in front of the mirror for me and making sure my bow is parallel to the bridge!

I've come to the conclusion that it may be helpful for me to "warm-up" before going to lessons, but I can't exactly do this because I have work right before lessons.I typically have to work on my bowing for 5-10 minutes before I can feel that I am doing it correctly, so going to lessons without practicing my bowing first, normally will result on working on my bowing longer than if I practiced beforehand. I can also tell when I'm not warmed up because I don't feel the whole weight of my arm.

We went over what makes a good sound: Speed, Weight and Placement of the bow on the strings.

Demonstration #1 - Adam played his cello with his back facing me and bowed with open strings with not enough weight, too fast, too much weight, etc. and I was surprised that I could tell when there wasn't enough weight used or if it was too fast just by the sound!!  Pretty cool exercise!! I also recognized the sound that I typically made - too slow/not enough speed! It was kind of weird when I recognized the sound and it clicked on what I had to do to fix my bowing!! Again, very cool demonstration!

Demonstration #2 - He then played at different places: close to the bridge, in the middle and close to the fingerboard. The sound was different for each, so when playing closer to the bridge, I should bow with less speed and more weight; closer to the fingerboard, faster speed and less weight.

Demonstration #3 -  He played a note and I was suppose to tell him if it was in tune or if it was sharp or flat. I could tell if it was "off" or sounded bad, but it was more difficult to say whether it was flat or sharp. Although I got most of it right! :)

Demonstration #4 - He played the D major scale and purposely had one or a few notes off pitch. This was harder to hear what was wrong! I think I only got half right.

Items to work on with regards to intonation:
1) More Speed - I'm hesitant in my bowing so my sound suffers. I guess, if I'm going to make a mistake, I should make a LOUD, CONFIDENT sounding mistake! :)

2) Get my 4th finger in the right position - I tend to have my pinky farther than it should, resulting in a note that is too sharp or a pinky that is not entirely on the string (falling off). My left hand position is not entirely correct. We will be working on this next week, which should fix the issue.

During my next lesson we will be going over left hand fingering. An exercise for me to do in the meantime:
1) Look at the fingerboard and place my hand correctly, play a note (do this 10x)
2) With quick peeks, place the hand correctly, play a note (do this 10x)
3) Without glancing, place hand correctly, play a note (do this 10x, if the note is incorrect, start over)
*I need to work specifically on my fourth finger.

Cello fixes:
I showed Adam my new endpin and he noticed that my fitting wasn't sitting flush to the cello and that my endpin was not straight when it was retracted. He instructed me to look through the f hole to see how my endpin was at an angle in relation to my soundpost. And sure enough, my endpin wasn't straight! He recommended I take it to the luthier to get it fixed because it may cause issues later. Since everything is being held up by tension, the incorrect angle of the fitting may cause unnecessary pressure in the wrong areas. I wonder if this could be contributing to the wolf tone on my D string?

He also reset my strings and straightened my bridge while I practiced scales on his cello, which was fairly difficult to do since he didn't have markings on his cello!
I always tune my cello with the fine tuners before I practice, and some of the fine tuners couldn't be turned to the left any more, so he loosened them and tightened them at the pegs. I need to start tuning my cello with pegs more often. Jeez, I didn't think my poor cello was in such a bad shape!

Whew - lots of stuff during this lesson!!! It was a good lesson though!!

I really enjoyed this lesson, and I'm not sure if it was because I've finally put my full confidence and trust in Adam's teaching ability or because I felt that I actually learned a lot today.... hhhmmmm...or maybe I learned a lot because I didn't ask a billion questions and just asked what he had planned and just absorbed what he had to say! In any case, I should keep my mouth shut more often and LISTEN more! :)

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