Chinese Proverb

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

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lesson #26 (10/03/11): Perpetual Motion & Bowing (slurs & bow control)

I did poorly this lesson since I had erased three fret-lines from the fingerboard (I left the 3rd line) and removed the thumb sticker from the neck three days before my lesson. I was focusing so much on my left hand that my right hand bowing wasn't cooperating, but what else is new right?

My lesson notes below:

D Major Scale

1) Bowing:
  • Flat wrists: my wrist was more upright than usual, so I need to start working on making sure my wrist stays more flat and my fingers more rounded instead of straight.
    • Looking at my previous videos my wrists doesn't seem to be very flat in the first place so I think I'll have to work on this more. 
      • I think my wrists were less flat because I stopped focusing on drooping my elbow, i.e. if the elbow is higher than the wrist than the slant of the wrist increases instead of being flat. I'll have to refocus on this during practice.
    • Pinky: my pinky was also straightening out and was more stiff than my previous lesson so I need to round this out more and relax it. It felt relaxed to me, but when I compared it to my previous video I definitely noticed that it looked more stiff and straight than it did previously.
      • I think it's because of my elbow again... a higher elbow causes a more slanted wrist, which makes the fingers straighten more as well!
  • String Crossing to A:
    • I wasn't lifting my elbow high enough to get to the A string so I was hitting the D string. I need to practice lifting my elbow higher and moving my entire arm as one unit. Ack - another elbow issue!
  • Slurs (two notes per bow): I tried two notes per bow, which I had to do a lot faster than what I was practicing at home so I couldn't quite get this.
    • I was practicing with a tempo of 50 with 2 beats on the metronome at home, so I think I need to increase this a bit during my practice time. I'll put the metronome at 60 and see if that works.
2) Left & Right Hand Coordination:
    • To start training myself to get my right and left hand doing things more separately, my teacher recommended playing with the idea of using different dynamics with each hand; that is, playing forte with my left hand while my right hand plays in pf and vice verse, but not both at the same time.  
      • If I wanted a soft sound from my cello I should play forte with my left hand, which means really attacking the fingerboard with precision and the weight of my left fingers, but playing softly with the bow.
      • If I wanted lots of power and volume from my cello, my fingering should be softer (but enough to get a clear note) on the fingerboard, but attack the strings and use more weight with the bow. 
      • Why not both?
        • If I were to play forte with both the left and right hand, my entire body would become more tense up, which would affect the sound (i.e. a more choked sound from the cello), and I would also tire more easily. 
        • If I were to play softly with both the left and right hand, the sound would be fairly weak and the notes won't be as distinct and clear. 

    Perpetual Motion in D Major

    Before I removed the frets and thumb marker I had this pretty much down, but it all went out the window once I removed them! Although I guess out of all of the pieces so far, this would be the best to work on relearning intonation since most of the notes are fairly close together and don't jump around (disjunct).

    Items I need to work on:
    • Consistent volume throughout
      • The volume for the notes I play on the A string were a lot quieter than any of the notes I played from the D string. I should make sure that all of the notes have the same volume throughout the piece. 
      • Try doing the following:
        • Same as the last lesson - accentuate all of the notes on the A string for now
        • Use twice the amount of bow for notes on the A string for more volume
    • Coordination
      • In measure 10, continue working on moving my fingers over to the D string while I'm bowing on the A string.  
        • As I play the first D note (A4) on the A string, move both my first, second and third finger over to the D string while still playing the D on the A string to prepare to play the F# (D3).

    During this lesson my sound was very muted and lackluster. I think it was because I was really self-conscious about my intonation that I reverted back to my bad habit of playing more quietly. Whenever I feel like I'm going to mess up or know a note is going to be off (because I can feel my finger placement isn't quite right), I play very softly and more timidly, which is what happened during this entire lesson because I was so concerned with my missing frets and thumb sticker!

    Besides getting over being self-conscious, some things I can do to improve on sound: 
    • Listen to a lot of cello pieces
      • Also, count along with the piece to get used to timing, finding the beat and to learn how to count with a steady rhythm
    • Find an UNFORGIVING practice room
      • I always sound so much better when I practice in the middle of my living room, and sound much worse during my lesson which in a practice room at the university. The university practice rooms are more soundproofed and therefore less forgiving. Which is good because the better one sounds in one of these small practice rooms, the better they will sound in a larger room. 
        • I think in a larger room, it may sound better (albeit quieter) because the soundwaves(?) are dispersed, but in a smaller room, the sound is amplified because soundwaves bounce back at a faster rate so it can be more harsh and therefore less forgiving.
    • Or, practice closer to a wall 
      • I used to practice closer to the wall (right in front of my mirror) in my living room, but moved the chair back to the center of my living room while I worked on getting more volume. However, I've noticed when I move my chair closer to the wall that I don't sound as good and it takes me a while to get a good sound again!
      • Although the volume is much louder closer to a wall so that may be a bit deceiving as far as getting the correct volume to come out of my cello. 

    My teacher playing Perpetual Motion at 5 years old! 
    The search function in Blogger couldn't find this video from his channel, so I just downloaded it using a free online software and uploaded it to my YouTube instead. Hopefully he doesn't mind me stealing his video!

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