Chinese Proverb

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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lesson #17 (7/5/11): Even more left hand and bowing

I had this saved under my drafts and I accidentally deleted it!!! Gosh darn it!! :(
I was really super mad about that... accident prone tech self at it again!! Ack, if it wasn't for the laptops, PCs, iphone, ipad, etc.I have, I'd be a complete luddite!! Although my husband already calls me one since I seem to break just about everything I can get my hands on (not on purpose though).

So here's what I could recall from my deleted draft....only about half of what was originally there. *sigh*

Worked on D Major scale for most of the lesson, which was fine because this is what I was working on for the past week.

1) First Finger
  • I trained my first finger well! Even when my other fingers were off, my first finger always seemed to get to the right spot. Adam thought it was "interesting" because normally if the other fingers are off, the other fingers will drift off too.
2) Fourth Finger - My Weak Pinky
  • I have a bad habit of squeezing my hand when I use my pinky because I always feel like my pinky will collapse since it feels weaker compared to the other fingers. 
    • So my teacher asked me to collapse my pinky and guess what? It wasn't so bad! Surprisingly, it didn't completely ruin my hand, it did feel less stable once it collapsed but I was able to correct it easily and it wasn't the end of the world. Plus, I can just learn to correct it more easily when it does collapse and eventually get to the correct hand position. Now I just have to train myself to relax when I feel like I want to squeeze.
    • He also said that what I see and feel is most often not what the audience sees and that it may look worse to me since I'm sitting behind my cello. He said it didn't look so bad to him even when my hand did collapse.
  • How to get a stronger pinky immediately 
    • When using my pinky, I need to use my third finger. I seem to recall that he said this during my second lesson which I had completely forgotten about! I'll have to train my third finger to drop when my pinky goes down too.
3) Third Finger - Helpful Little Bugger!
  • Use this finger to help out the pinky and make it stronger. Apparently in vibrato this helpful ring finger helps out too - can't wait to start doing vibrato!
  • Use the third finger to align the other fingers! If I can make a nice tunnel with the third finger, than the other fingers should fall more naturally into place. 
  • On another Lindy Hop crossover to learning cello - when I learned partner connection I pay attention to the ringer finger because it creates a stronger "hold" or "hook" than any of the other fingers. 
    • A dancer had mentioned that there's a muscle that runs down the third finger down the forearm (I don't remember what muscle it is), which makes it quite a bit more stronger and efficient than the other fingers.
  • Adam also told a quick story about a pianist who tried to make his fingers independent from one another and ended up not being able to play any more. I think he strained his finger muscles or something so they wouldn't work properly any more.
     4) Need more volume!
    • I'm still having issues with my volume - I'm still way too quiet! I have a feeling that I will be working on this for a while...this is just not clicking for me. 
    • I think its got to be related to my tenseness issue - same as I used to have with my dancing: if I'm not 100% relaxed than I'm unable to make my body "sink" into my triple steps or whatever move I'm doing.
      • I think this lack of being relaxed has to do with my elbow, arm or something, i.e. dropping my elbow and "sinking" my weight into the strings - I'll have to experiment with this. 
    5) Violinist story
    • Another story - I think he was on a roll of telling stories or something! :). There was a cellist that was in an orchestra for a famous violinist.The violinist would get rave reviews but the cellist couldn't understand why. From where he was sitting, what he heard was a very harsh and scratchy sound from the violinist, but the audience always seemed to love the sound. One day, he some how got the day off and attended the violinist's concert to see what all the fuss was about. To his amazement the violinist sounded amazing - from the back of the concert hall no less! Apparently, the harsh, scratchy sound the cellist heard while he was in the orchestra for the violist only carries a few feet and drops away, while the rest of the rich sound carries forward into the audience.
    • I guess the moral of the story is, I need to be louder (still), and for now, don't worry about the scratchy sound that I really dislike hearing. Actually, I don't like playing loud, which Adam noticed, and recommended that I stop using my mute!
    6) Exercise for louder sound:
    • Try bowing close to the bridge with short bow strokes.
    • He went down the hall and did some short loud strokes while I stayed in the practice room and it sounded good, but when he tried it in the practice room with me it sounded harsh and loud.
    7) For next lesson, I need to work on:
    • Bowing
      • 2 notes for bow
      • Smoother transition 
        • Don't bow faster or louder at the end of each bow stroke, the change of bow direction will create the same effect and will be less obvious
    • Louder, louder, louder... bow close to the bridge

    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    Cello Practice Log #6: Back to basics

    After my lesson on Wednesday, I was pretty bummed, so I took a "break" on Thursday. Okay - more like sulked, moped around the house,and complained and whined to my husband about my slow progress and terrible playing!

    I decided to have an open practice session Friday and today; i.e. I worked on whatever I wanted and didn't watch the clock or use any technique books. I did this because I wanted to get out of my "funk" and get back into practicing mode. Friday and Saturday definitely was NOT productive, but it made me feel a little bit better, and I got to play with the new cello a bit.

    Going forward, until my next lesson, I think I'll focus on basic technique rather than working out of any of the books. I'll try to apply and practice the correct basic techniques to the repertoire. I'll also re-review my lesson notes and videos on posture, bowing and left hand fingering.

    I've watched the videos below several times in the past and found them to be very helpful, so I'm reviewing them again too. Have I mentioned how AWESOME these Cello Talk videos are? :)

    To help with my posture issues:

    To help with my bowing issues:

    I'm still trying to get out of my surly mood, so I'll be taking it easy for the next few days. Besides, it's the Fourth of July Weekend!  Which reminds me - I'd better go visit my parents....*sigh*

    Below is my practice log:
    I've changed the format of my practice log on Tuesday. I added a column for metronome beats and tempo, and moved the total time practiced to the bottom so I could use that column for notes instead. 

    I'm still in a bad cello funk, so I've just been practicing scales to try and get out of it.

    I went to 4th position in the G Major Scale, but it's still hard for me to get there on time, and I don't think I hit the notes. But I learned 4th position 3 lessons ago, so I guess that's not too bad.

    Things to work on:
    1. Curve my fingers more - My fingers didn't look as curved as I thought they were!
    2. Watch the angle of my bow with string changes
    3. Hmmm...not sure if my elbow level is correct for the G string - it looks too high
    4. Need to be less tense in my left arm - my forearm muscles are really noticeable!...maybe its just the lighting...
    5. I'm still over-rotating my upper body when doing the string crossing from D to A