Bow Trial - We looked at the two bows that I have on trial that come with the cello outfit (cello, Eastman Z-tek case and bow).
Just a quick reminder: these are just my thoughts on how the bows felt to me and are not recommendations to purchase bows.
As Lee aptly stated in the comments below, picking out bows is: "sort of like a Harry Potter wand selection experience - i.e. very personalized and that you will just know... So it's something your teacher can only help you with..."
- My current bow: CodaBow Diamond SX ($615)
- This came with my first cello outfit, but I didn't realize this was a really good bow for the price. My teacher says he's able to do advanced bowing technique with this bow and its fairly responsive. I'll take his word for it, since all I know how to do is legato, legato and more legato!
- This bow is a carbon graphite diamond weave with an acoustic kevlar core, but I've managed to break it already! See... I can break anything! :). I broke the eyelit a couple of days ago - the screw has been giving me trouble for the last couple of weeks and when I tried to loosen it a couple of days ago - I heard it snap and the hair go completely limp! Fortunately, it only cost $25 to replace the eyelit which the bowmaker had on hand so it only took 10 minutes to fix
- I think I've been spoiled...since I've used this bow from the very beginning, the standard for finding a bow that is as (or more) responsive seems to be fairly high and with that, a higher price tag!
- On trial: Eastman Cardenza Master Model 305 bow (value $650)
- Description: Hybrid bow with Carbon core with a pernambuco exterior. Silver-mounted and inlaid frog and buttons, and French-style grip
- This felt a little too heavy and awkward for me. I think this produces a colder sound than the Paeshold bow, although it may project more, but I haven't tried it in a larger room yet. My teacher seemed to like it though
- On trial: Paeshold 237C (value $930)
- Description: Ebony frog Nickel/Silver fitted, Ivory tip, pernambuco, round, 82 gms 9.25" balance
- I like how this feels in my hand. I've always had an issue with my thumb tightening up, but for some reason this doesn't have the same effect on my thumb. I also think this has a richer and more fuller sound than the Cardenza, but I have to remember that it doesn't need as much weight to produce sound
- My teacher brought up some interesting points regarding pernambuco bows:
- 1) The heart of Caesalpinia Echinata tree, commonly known as Pernambuco, has been used for making bows for the past 250 years, so they've become increasingly rare. So much so that many bow makers are now using other types of wood and materials (e.g. snakewood, rosewood, carbon fiber, etc.). Therefore, he suggested that it may be a good idea to buy a decent pernambuco bow since the price may go up. He mentioned that his handmade bow has tripled in price - his are higher quality professional bows, so I don't know the extent the value will increase for beginner/intermediate pernambuco bows, although I would assume they'd also increase somewhat
- hhmmmm...maybe I should look into getting a good pernambuco bow sooner than later!
- 2) Also, I already have a Carbon Fiber bow so getting a pernambuco bow would be a good idea so I can get two different sounds:
- Carbon fiber bows generally make the sound more sprightly and bright
- Pernambuco generally makes the sound warmer with a richer timbre
- My teacher mentioned that my intonation was better but I haven't really been working on intonation since I haven't been able to practice on my new cello, which is sadly back at the shop because a few open seams developed a couple of days after I got it back from an adjustment...I have all the luck!
- I think it may be because I've had to pay more attention to where my fingers are located because the finger spacing for all three cellos are different
- Also, changing out strings has caused me to pay attention more to the sound because breaking in some of the strings takes a few days and some strings change pitch fairly rapidly when breaking in (Obligatos & Evah Pirazzi to name a couple) so I've been placing my tuner by my sheet music as I play and have been checking to see if I hit the notes instead of looking at my fingers
Worked on repertoire:
I've been remiss in posting videos and since I'm already working on Perpetual Motion and haven't posted May Song or Allegro, I thought I'd better post those first. They're still a work in progress, but I thought I'd better just record and post them before I get too far behind in video recordings.
These videos are after working eight hours, going to an hour cello lesson and going on a walk with my hubby so I look pretty tired! ;).Yep, I know - I should have done a repeat for May Song, but I was being lazy!
- Tried to add dynamics - I thought I played measure 7 & 8 more softly, but it really isn't that noticeable in the video. But being behind the cello it sounds more noticeable to me! Really, I swear! :). I guess, that's why my teacher's been saying to make it more obvious and have more contrast with regards to volume!
- A bit on the sloppy side, but I just wanted to get this recorded and over with, and I'm still having trouble with my string crossing from F-sharp to the A string...blah...
Perpetual Motion in D Major
- The bowing for this piece is NOT supposed to be smooth, but with more articulation, so I need to stop the bow after each note
- A string, work on:
- Playing notes on the A string with the same volume I do on the D string
- Lifting my arm to get the string crossing over to the A string correctly so that I have better contact between the bow and string
- Using the same weight on the A string as the D string to get the sound consistent
- Play closer to the bridge
- Try playing closer to the bridge to get better articulation, but not too close or the notes/sound will "break"
- Use the same tempo throughout the piece
- At the end I rushed through the piece to get the song over with. I have a very bad habit of rushing through things, especially when I know I'm about to mess up! If I know my finger isn't in the correct spot and it feels like its slipping or the sound is about to break I'll rush through it to prevent that from happening! Or if I'm running out of steam, I figure I'd better rush through it before it all goes out the window! ;). Okay, I know - not good...I'll need to rethink my way of thinking!
- Adam recommended going through the repertoire slowly and doing a small section at a time and then build on the previous section to build up muscle memory and stamina
- Double notes - my teacher wants me to get this variation down
- This should be interesting because I have ISSUES with short fast notes - my hand either tenses up and cramps up, or my hand gets way too loose or sloppy
- The bowing technique is what Suzuki calls "
scrubby" => "ribbit" bowing.
- "Scrubby" bowing is in Allegro! Oops! The analogy being if I had a scrub brush and was washing the floor and was scrubbing back and forth, that's how it should feel like (or is reminiscent of)
- Perpetual Motion in G Major
- I should give this a go - however, we didn't do this during the lesson and my teacher said it wasn't required. However, the other variations he definitely wants me to get down before I move on....darn...
- F# exercises
- Why in the world do I always have issues with my F#'s? At the end of measure 10 and the beginning of measure 11 where it jumps from D on the A string to F#, I always have trouble with my left hand. It's just not very coordinated doing this, so Adam gave me some exercises to do
- 1) Keep first finger and pinky finger down on the A string and jump the second and third finger to the D string.
- For some reason, my fingers just don't want to do this! I can feel my pinky and my hand tensing up. Adam said that it takes time to build up the muscle memory
- 2) Play that section as a chord - hold down D on the A string and F# on the D string
- This isn't how it is written, but it will give me some practice to get my fingers where it should be. The idea is to over-exaggerate the motion first to get comfortable with it before fine tuning it and having the fingers jump to their correct spots
- 3) Play the arpeggio: F# on D string, open A, then G on A string
- This uses the same notes, but gives my hand a break with the open A string, but I can use this to get familiar and more coordinated for F#
- Also, try increasing tempo for more of a finger workout
- Use more bow especially for the first measure (D on the A string and open A note) since this is supposed to be forte. I think I was using maybe half of the bow, but it should be closer to 3/4 of the bow or as much bow as possible
- Okay, the four notes that are supposed to be in forte in measure 1 seems to be a little forced (yikes!), so I think I definitely need to relax more into the bow and not push on the bow! I can definitely hear it in the sound - it sounds very choked and not ringing at all!
- I think I'm trying to hard so I've stiffen up quite a bit. I can tell that my wrist is kind of leading... I need to remember to lead with the forearm more and use my entire arm. Ack, I've gotten really stiff again!
Assignments for next lesson:
- D Major Scale: work on full sound, articulated clean notes and good rhythm
- Two notes per bow
- Three notes per bow
- Four notes for bow
- Work on Perpetual Motion
- Work on bow articulation
- Try the variations - double per note
- Work on exercises to get fingers jumping from A string to D string for those darn F#
I keep saying that I'll start my practice log, but this time I really mean it! I've noticed a decrease in learning new technique and also a decrease in my technique in general. And, I haven't had time to learn anything new from my other method and technique books because I haven't been using my time as efficiently as before - so starting tomorrow I'm back on it!