Chinese Proverb

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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lesson #20 (8/2/2011): Strings, Bowing for volume & G Major Scale

I thought this was a fairly relaxed lesson and we just went over a bunch of information and not much playing.

1) String Recommendations

  • I asked for some string recommendations from my teacher for the cello I was trying out and thinking of buying. What I was looking for:
    • Strings that don't change the voice of the cello too much because I already like how it sounds. I just need the strings to talk to each other better: D is too quiet, G doesn't want to talk. C argues with G and doesn't work well together (not a very clean chord).
    • For A&D - strings that make it sound warm and smooth (nothing bright).
    • For G&C - dark and meaty, but not so meaty that it sounds "messy." However, I also like warm and buttery, but I guess that depends on the cello and how the other strings sound.
  • For A & D Strings
    • The current setup is Larsen strings for both A & D, the main issue here is D is to quiet compared to the other strings and compared to other cello's D strings.
    • Adam recommended Kaplan Solutions for A & D Strings since my rental had a set of Kaplan Solutions and I really liked how they sounded on that cello. 
      • We tried one of his used Helicore strings but it sounded a little bit too bright and tinny to me, and it brought out a wolf on the D string.
    • Luthier's recommendations: For more brilliance on A & D, I should try Evah Pirazzi strings. First, try changing the A string only because a lot of times changing the A string can open up the D string. 
    • Good article: Review of A & D Strings
  • For C & G Strings
    • The cello's current strings are Spirocore mediums which sound nice and warm, but they have a very sluggish response and I have to put a lot of weight to make them speak and the chord sounds fairly muddled. 
    • Adam recommended Tungsten Spirocores instead to get the strings to speak faster, the current strings are quite a bit thicker than the A & D strings and the Tungstens will make the strings thinner. Adam uses Belcanto for his C string.
    • Luthier's recommendation: Tungsten Belcanto or Tungsten Spirocore will give me more on C & G. Some ideas:
      • For a cleaner, warm and smoother sound Permanents on G with Spirocore Tungsten on C with Permanents on D and perhaps Evah Pirazzi on A.
        • Permanent C is responsive when Spirocore is not, and vice verse.
      • If using Belcanto - she recommends using them on both the bottom strings.
        • Belcanto G isn't as raspy and Belcantos generally have a dark meaty sound. 
    • Good article: Review of G & C Strings

      2) G Major Scale
      • Things to work on:
        • Make sure the volume stays the same when moving from the C string to the G string. Most beginners like me will add more weight because its easier to add weight due to the position of the bow and string. Therefore the notes on the G string are often times louder, so the volume needs to be controlled to ensure they notes are consistent.
        • Watch the bow angle moving between strings, but for the most part it was correct and I was aware when it wasn't right and corrected it.

      3) D Major Scale
      • Some improvement (yaay!). My fingers seem to be much better and he didn't have to adjust as much with the accompaniment, especially for F# where I was having some issues before.

      4) Things to work on for Bowing 
      • More volume (of course) - I should try using longer, faster fluid bow strokes.
      • Bowing and breathing - I tend to hold my breath when I get nervous which tenses up my muscles. Also, breathing should help my nervousness.
        • Adam recommended during scales to inhale when I'm ready to start and then exhale with the down-bow using two beats, and then inhale with the up-bow during two beats.
        • I ended up exhaling way too fast so I was still holding my breath near the end and then inhaling too quickly so I was holding my breath for a beat! I definitely was getting light headed at the end! :)
      • Use my whole body during bowing - initiate from the back, open up the armpit area, forearm leads and then wrist and bow follows.

      6) Repertoire
      • O Come, Little Children
        • Make the sound more fluid with not so many stops.  
        • Bow management - I kept running out of bow because I was using too much bow when I should have used less. So I need to be conscious of how much bow I'm using and should always be aware of how much bow needs to be used and is available. Time to add those lines back onto my bow!
          • I keep taking them off and then putting them back on because I don't want to become dependent on them, but they're really helpful. Once I get the specific bowing into muscle memory I take it off, but if I have to change something its much quicker to put it on and then figure out what I need to do to for bow management, i.e. bow to a specific line or slow between two lines, or stay within certain lines or whatever I need to do to accomplish correct bowing.
      • Go Tell Aunt Rhody
        • More bow! Work on using dynamics.  

      7) Objectively  
      • So I was a bit negative during this lesson because things just weren't working for me! Really frustrating because that weekend I had nice consistent bowing and sound, and for some reason during this lesson everything went out the window...again!
      • My teacher said to look at this objectively:
        • 1) My left hand has much improved and he doesn't have to adjust his playing as much when he does the accompaniment
        • 2) My bowing is better
        • 3) Overall my technique has improved in the last 6 months that I started practicing more seriously
      • My teacher is super nice! ...BUT...a monkey can improve with as much practice that I do! I was just hoping I would see improvement a lot faster. Yeah, I know - I'm the impatient type!