Chinese Proverb

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lesson #28: Another Bow Trial, More Perpetual Motion & More Intonation

This was an interesting, fun lesson!

I was hoping to test and record my other cello, but I still haven't received it from the luthier's yet, but I should have it soon! :D

Bow Test
  • I bought a cheap Chinese bow from eBay - I know, I'm not supposed to buy stuff from eBay...but I couldn't help myself! I won/bought it for $25.00 and the shipping was $29.99
  • Overall, I liked how it felt in my hand and how stiff it was; however, the bow doesn't give as rich a sound as the Paesold bow I'm currently using, but I did make a discovery - I prefer bows that are even more lighter and stiffer than the bow I'm currently using! 
    • Lighter bows to me feel more slender and fit better in my hand, and to me, it feels like I have to do less work to get a good sound from my cello
    • I also found that the current Paesold bow I have isn't as stiff as I want it to be, but I didn't discover this until I started working on Perpetual Motion. I found when I use a stiffer bow than the Paesold, that its easier to do this type of bowing
  • My teacher recommended that I send it back and try another bow, so I think I may have to do that 
    • Adam mentioned when we first tried out the bows that he didn't like the one I'm currently using because it wasn't stiff enough. However, I chose the bow anyway because it felt better in my hand than the other bow, which felt more chunky to me (oops, should have listened to him!)
    • He recommended that its best to go with a bow that can handle advanced bowing, even if it doesn't feel as comfortable. Bows that feel comfortable but can't react well or do advanced bowing is very limited in their capability, and I would get used to how "uncomfortable" the bow will feel anyway
  • Bow critique
    • I don't know how my teacher does it, but he was able to pick out a bunch of stuff wrong with the bow! I guess he has a fairly trained eye with regards to this type of stuff!
    • Adam noticed that the bow was a little warped, and the frog was starting to lift up off the stick. Also, he knew it wasn't made of Pernambuco, which it was made of IPE wood, and that the hair on the stick wasn't perfectly straight either! 
      • This is sometimes done to correct a bow that is warped and bending to one side - the bow maker will put more hair on one side to straighten it out. Sometimes its not straight because the bow-maker simply isn't that skilled to hair it perfectly straight 

Perpetual Motion
  • I thought I played this "okay" during the lesson, but my teacher said my bowing was much improved from my last lesson. I can't really tell though - maybe I've gotten used to how I'm supposed to do this type of bowing that I don't remember how I used to do it 
    • Although I did practice this very slowly for a while to get the right bowing for each note
  • The first half of the piece I didn't play that well, but once I got into the groove of things, which was half way through the piece, my bowing and the sound just came out on its own! 
    • I think if I were able to warm-up, instead up driving straight from work to the lesson, than I would be more consistent in my bowing
  • As far as intonation goes, it wasn't a complete disaster, which was surprising. :). However, I still need to work on my F# and watch my E. My finger keeps moving towards the nut which makes it flat when I move from the A string to the D string

Perpetual Motion Doubles
  • I was able to doubles during the lesson - Yaay! :). It also helped that he was pretending not to pay attention! And yes, he admitted as much! :).
    • I've mentioned this a few times in my blog, but my teacher still makes me nervous when he watches me play. It reminds me of a falcon watching a poor field mouse! Okay, it's not that bad, but I'm really self-conscious so I get nervous pretty easily. I'm still trying to get over that and I've gotten better for the most part - I think...
  • Anyway, it wasn't too bad since I had practiced doubles during the past two weeks, and I thought l played it fairly decently, especially since when he initially showed me how to do it two weeks ago I couldn't even get past the first measure and was unable to find the rhythm
    • I had recorded him playing the Perpetual Motion Doubles during that lesson, and had to slow it down to half speed to figure out the rhythm! Yeah, it was that bad! I also had to listen to it repetitively to get it into my head too. 
      • I put the video on a loop and listened to it through my headphones at work. 
    • Once I got the rhythm it into my head, I had issues combining my left hand and right hand. My left hand was moving faster than my right hand, so I had to slow it waaaay down - even slower than half speed to get my left and right hand coordinated
    • Anyway after that, I was able to play it at half speed and then increase the tempo slowly. It still isn't as fast as the way my teacher plays it, but I think I should be able to get there in another week or so
  • My teacher mentioned a story of a guy that didn't like making any mistakes. So much so, that he only practiced very slowly to prevent any mistakes from occurring and would only increase the tempo once he got it down perfectly, which was also very frustrating for the musicians he played with. However, his performances were pretty flawless. I'm not sure I have the patience to do that, but its a good idea

  • I was telling/complaining to my teacher that my ear isn't very developed; that is, I can't tell if something sounds off because right now chords that are supposed to sound dissonant sound good to me too! And, I really can't tell when an individual note is off. I can tell when a note is really off, but other than that, not really, which is obvious in my E and F# notes 
    • My teacher kind of laughed when I told him this, and said he was wondering why my E's and F#'s were kind of all over the place when we kept going over it! 'Cause I can't hear if its off! =p.
    • I can only tell if my E and F# are off because my hand position feels off to me, but the sound itself is difficult for me to determine
  • My G on the D string and my D on the A string sound good, so my teacher recommended that I "ground" these fingers and move the other fingers to the appropriate spot. For me, its easier to hear G and D because it rings so much easier than the other notes
  • Spacing between fingers 
    • Need to work on keeping my fingers slanted and making sure my third finger has a bigger gap from my first finger 
  • We kind of got off on a tangent when we started talking about Janos Starker, who is one of my favorite cellists. I think it may be one of my teacher's favorite too, he called him a "great technician." I know some people find Mr. Starker to be to robotic and unemotional, but I don't find that to be true at all! I think I may have mentioned this in a previous blog - I can't remember what I've posted any more since there are so many!
    • As a dancer, I like to evaluate body movement and when I watch Mr. Starker play it's simply AMAZING! I've watched several YouTube videos of Mr. Starker, which I I've put on mute to watch for body movement and then play it with audio and I can't believe how precise, relaxed and controlled he is! I want to be able to do that!
    • I also have two of his MP3s, Suites for Solo Cello and Cello Essential, and I really love his phrasing, dynamics and expression! It definitely is NOT unemotional or robotic! Although I understand the dichotomy between his movement and the sound can be misleading to some, but just listen to any of his music (without watching him) and its just so very expressive! IMHO
    • I liken this to dancing, most people who are beginner dancers love watching aerials and "flash & trash" (i.e. lots of tricks), which for the most part doesn't need a lot of technical skill, and think that more advanced dancers who are more subtle and technically sound who do less "flash & trash" to be boring! ...I don't know, I'm just drawn to really good body movement! 

  • Continue bowing and getting comfortable with the new bowing, once this is down try putting it on autopilot and focus on my left hand and intonation. I should be comfortable enough with this new bowing to put it on "auto-pilot," and need to continue working on it until I am  
  • Work on intonation specifically on E and F#
  • Work on left hand fingering and making sure that my hand is tilted correctly

Next Lesson

  • Go over Long, Long Ago and possibly Allegretto. I have Long, Long Ago pretty much down so I think we should go through that piece fairly easily and do Allegretto as well during the next lesson. I've actually been working Happy Farmer and Minuet C because I wanted to skip ahead and have some fun. Who doesn't skip ahead, right? ;).

I also have to rework my new bowing technique into the old pieces to get more contrast in my bowing and to make the pieces sound better, and to also work on my intonation on the older pieces now that I don't have markings on my fingerboard.
I've been trying to apply the new bowing I learned with Perpetual Motion to Rigadoon (skipped ahead again) so that should be pretty fun once we get to that piece.

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