Chinese Proverb

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lesson #21( 08/16/11): Strings, Bowing & New Repertoire: Song of the Wind

I didn't have a lesson last week because my teacher was busy, but during that time I was working on my bowing, specifically dropping my elbow. I think I figured out a way to do that, but wasn't sure it was correct, so it was nice to finally go over it with him. And, that it was correct! Yaay me!! :). Otherwise, I'd be spending some time un-doing what I thought was correct from muscle memory - which is such a pain!

1) Strings
  • My teacher went over some information about different strings and their construction. He mentioned that Belcantos were originally made because a cellist was allergic to a commonly used material found in a lot of strings (I think he said nickel) so Belcanto came up with strings that didn't use that particular material. He also went into the different windings and how different string makers create the strings and such. This is another interesting topic I'll have to look into further! 
  • I'll post another blog on my string review so far and other information I've come across.

2) Scales
  • Left Hand
    • I’m off on my left hand again. I was focusing mostly on my bowing for the past week. I had figured out how to drop my elbow to get more volume, but the sound wasn’t coming out very smoothly so I was concentrating on that and neglecting my left hand. It kind of sucks, if I change one aspect (e.g. my elbow), I have to readjust everything! I’ll have to work on my left hand intonation with my new bowing so I can do them simultaneously! Right now I can only work on one or the other, but not both at the same time.
  • More internal rhythm
    • When I concentrate on timing, I do much worse! Its funny, I have to sit there for a few minutes (actually only a few seconds, but it feels interminably longer) thinking about the beat and tap it out with my foot. At the same time, I’m thinking to myself, “he must think I’m totally SLOW for having to think about the beat so hard!” At least, that’s what I’d be thinking, but then again I’m fairly impatient. Seriously, it shouldn't be that hard... but apparently its fairly hard for me! 
    • It’s ironic, it comes easily and naturally for me in dancing, but applying it to playing music – not so so much! Maybe that's where the issue stems from: rhythm has always come naturally to me so I haven't really had to put much thought or effort into it, but now that I do, it completely eludes me! Darn you rhythm... hmmm...that reminds me of a song... I've got rhythm, I've got music, I've got my man - who can ask for anything more?... :). lol..
    • Back to reality - Adam recommends tapping the beat out with my foot. This way, I have an internal and external clock to keep the beat.
    • I think I may want to use the metronome, turn it ON and match the beat and then turn it OFF and continue with beat, and then turn it back ON to see if I’m still on the beat. I think for the most part I panic because I think I’m too slow and am falling behind so I speed up the tempo!

3) Bowing
  • G String
    • I’m pushing out with the bow again which is making my bow point upwards instead of down. I had it correct during the last lesson, but for some reason changed it... I think it may have been because it feels different with my elbow lowered so I was compensating by pushing it out.
  • First Finger
    • I’ve noticed that dropping my elbow puts more pressure on my first finger which has made my pointer finger a bit sore. Not so bad that hurts, but I feel like I have to pop that knuckle. Yeah, I’m one of those people who pop their knuckles a lot! 
    • I asked Adam about the soreness and he said it’s normal, just as long as it doesn’t hurt. If its different or uncomfortable that’s fine, but if it hurts than I need to stop immediately. He showed me his callusses on his first finger and the indention on his bow from where his first finger rests. Apparently, there is a lot of relaxed weight on the first finger! 
  • Keyhole analogy
    • I forgot that the bow’s position should be so the end of the frog would fit into an imaginery keyhole to keep a good amount of bow hair on the string. 
    • See there it is again, change one thing and I have to revisit all the other stuff and reincorporate it! With lowering my elbow, I think I need to almost have my fingers more straight to get the key to fit... I'll have to test this out.
  • Wrist should move laterally
    • I’m pushing my wrist up again and way too soon. The wrist should want to bend naturally and I should allow my arm to do it. The wrist shouldn’t pop up until it reaches very close to the strings. He said its helpful NOT to concentrate on the wrist but to focus on the arm and forearm area so I don't unconsciously shift my initiation point to the wrist because I'm focusing on it so much. 
    • Another interesting thing I should try: Adam normally wears this yellow band on his wrist (which he's recently changed to a men's silver chain linked band) and he uses it to remember to keep his wrist flat. Its a good way to figure out if the wrist is moving laterally/correctly because if its not, than the bracelet will shift around on the wrist or drop to the forearm.

4) Repertoire
  • O Come, Little Children
    • Take more time and more bow on the small notes. Adam’s teacher had also told him to emphasize the smaller notes more, which often times gives it the correct amount of bow and timing for people like me who like to rush through it. With shorter notes I  think, "oh crap, get that note right and then hurry up and get off it before I mess up!" I guess I should be thinking, "Here comes that note again, lets spend some time with it and use more bow!" ;)
  • Go Tell Aunt Rhody
    • Nice smooth bowing for everything. Same thing here, take time on the smaller notes and don’t rush it.
  • New Repertoire: Song of the Wind
    • Same thing here – don’t rush the short notes! My reoccurring theme for the week and what I'll be working on! We didn’t really have time to go over this one. I’ve been forgetting to take videos of my teacher playing the songs. I’ll have to take videos of the last three. It helps to play along to get the timing of the songs to see how he wants me to play them. Otherwise, I always seem to rush through everything. 

5) Summer overview 
  • Hmmmm…. I learned 3 songs over the summer, 4 songs if I include Song of the Wind. Maybe I’ll be able to finish the Suzuki book by the end of the year! :). I was talking to my husband and he reminded me that technically I really didn’t start practicing until April 13th when I rented my first real wood cello (the other being laminate). In fact, I only had 1 lesson in January where we just went over cello parts, 1 lesson in February to go over hand position and pizzicato, and 3 lessons in March where I started to learn how to bow, and during this time I didn’t practice at all! Well, kind of, but not really... I was pretty much AVOIDING lessons! LOL ~ I was NOT a very good student then!!  Good thing the lessons were for a grade, otherwise I don’t think I would have continued playing and eventually start to LOVE practicing! Go figure! Funny how things work out…

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