Chinese Proverb

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

The new Miss Universe is a "cello-nerd" and was a "chubby, weird" girl

Good exposure for cellists!!! :)

"A 20-year-old Boston University sophomore and a self-described 'cellist-nerd' brought the Miss Universe crown back to the U.S. for the first time in more than a decade when she won the televised contest on Wednesday."
- Daily Mail

"The daughter of two professional musicians, Culpo has played the cello alongside world-renowned classical musician Yo-Yo Ma and followed in her parents' footsteps with performances at Carnegie Hall in New York City."
- Associated Press / December 20, 2012


Playing orchestra:

And a Filipino was a runner-up!! Nice!! :)

I missed watching the pageant and came across the news article, and no, I don't watch these pageants regularly (the last time I watched it was in high school I think), but when I do stumble across one I do enjoy watching them. Lol! =p

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lesson 107A (12/17/12): Performance, etude, minuet No 1 & No 3

We went over a lot of information during this lesson and was a lot of fun!

It was great having Adam playing at the performance so he could give me some feedback which I'm always interested in hearing. :). So a few things that he noticed: 
  • Get settled and ready - Since I was running around like crazy getting everything set up (putting up signage, putting out the programs, setting up my camera, etc) for the performance, I really didn't have time to get settled and was working on stuff until the very last minute. 
    • Next year I'll delegate some tasks, but since this was the first time setting up at this venue I wasn't really prepared with what needed to be done until I had a chance to really see how everything was set up - although things went smoothly. :). Anyway, he suggested that I take some time to get settled. He mentioned a lot of times organizers will "compromise themselves" which doesn't help the ensemble in any way and can hinder or throw them off instead, so its best to get myself settled and ready to play rather than getting things setup
  • Adjust if needed - if I need to adjust, take the time to adjust! I had told him that my bun kept getting stuck in my G peg! He said when performing, what feels like a really long time - is not! So it's better to fix my hair than to have it keep getting caught during the entire performance, and maybe next time not to put my hair up the way I did! :). Although I did adjust my endpin during the beginning of one of the pieces and am glad I did! 
  • Mistakes aren't that obvious - mistakes done on stage seem to be amplified, but they really are not as obvious as they seem. Really great advice! I watched the videos and none of the HUGE mistakes that I thought I did were as obvious on the video. 

Feuillard Daily Exercises 
Adam had assigned this etude book during the last lesson and I was able to practice a few measures, so we went over some specifics. 
  • Trill Exercises, page 1
    • Start off really slow and increase the tempo. I should start at 60 
    • Since I have issues with my thumb and first finger, I should make sure that my thumb is "grounded" and not moving around too much. He also recommended that I keep my first finger down to practice feeling the space that is needed to complete a successful extension 
  • Thumb - my thumb kept moving down the neck of the cello
  • Reading Tenor Clef - the trill practice uses a Tenor Clef so I asked that teach me how to read this 
  • Spread between my 1st & 4th finger - my fingers seem to be too close and I need to keep my fingers more apart 

Minuet No. 1
  • This was a little bit better but my first and fourth finger was still a bit off.
  • Know where my notes are located 

Minuet No. 2
  • I played this a lot easier and better than Minuet No. 1 so we didn't spend as much time on this piece. For my semester test, I'll be playing Minuet No. 1 for Adam. 

[Fall CE Lesson #7]

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My 2nd Holiday Recital

My second recital! :)

I did a lot worse during this performance - I missed some notes and for some reason everything kind of just went crazy:

1) My Christmas lights on my stand stopped working.
2) I broke three bow hairs over a period of 2-3 pieces, which has never happened during a performance. I've had broken bow hairs 2-3 times during practice over the long period of time since I've owned my bow and one hair at a time! I think it may be time to get my bow re-haired since it isn't gripping the strings as well any more either, and rosin doesn't seem to help or last as long.
3) My hair was up in a loose bun and kept getting caught in my G peg! It was surprising that when I kept yanking my hair out of the peg that my cello didn't go out of tune!
4) I turned to the wrong piece of music and started playing the wrong piece during O Christmas Tree. Luckily, not too loudly!
5) I couldn't hear myself in the room so I wasn't quite sure if I was playing correctly and I wasn't hitting my notes like I typically do.
6) My camera decided to turn off 15 minutes into the performance - I think I didn't enter the settings correctly. Luckily, my teacher Adam had his video recording as well.
7) This performance wasn't as well attended like the previous one (the other performance was packed!), so that was kind of odd playing to a half empty room too. Although we had residents come in slowly over the performance so at the end of the performance the room was more full. I think next year I'll have to schedule it Sunday afternoon or on Saturday in the early evening to get more attendees.

It was just a weird performance! Maybe I should do a blooper reel!! :)

Although I have to admit that I was proud of the fact that I didn't freak out like I normally do!
I had one of our ensemble member's wife come up to me to say that they watched me the entire performance and that I looked really relaxed, and looked like I was enjoying myself. That was a nice compliment, and in the videos it didn't look as obvious when I was messing up either.

The room's acoustics made a huge difference in sound too. I could not hear myself playing, but the sound definitely developed and was more beautiful towards the back of the room.

My two teachers are facing each other: Clayton is playing part I and Adam is playing part IV since our other part IV cellist was unavailable to play during this performance. Thank you Adam! Hope you play with us more often! :).

Clayton had also been sick past couple of days, and had his dissertation the following day so he was stressed and feeling crappy, so thank you Clayton too! :)

Below are some photos and videos of some of the pieces. I tried to select some different videos to post.

Carol of the Bells

We had to slow down the tempo quite a bit for this piece so we could stay together.
I have to admit that I love the two Jewish holiday music we played, they're so upbeat and beautiful, and fun to play! Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of cello ensemble music out there. I'll have to research some songs and get those arranged for next year.

Jingle Bells (Sing-along)
Hee, hee...messed up a few times here, but's its not as obvious in the video. Very difficult to sing and play at the same time, but it's coming along! :). I didn't know the verses to Jingle Bells either; even though I've heard this song a billion times!

Waltz of the Flowers
I LOVE this piece!! We also played March from the Nutcracker, but that didn't turn out as well. 
Maybe next year when a lot of us have been playing for awhile March will sound better so I can post it. :)

O Chanukah

Theme from Judas Maccabeus
This was a really beautiful piece, so we decided to repeat the entire piece since it was fairly short. 

O Christmas Tree
Oops, turned to the wrong page! I was able to get back in at 0:11, but the sour notes in the beginning coming from section IV was ME! Lol! I decided to play really quietly after that... ;)

We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Sing-along)
I didn't know any of the lyrics for the verses (just the chorus) for this song either. My favorite verse "Bring us a figgy pudding!" Had to look up what a figgy pudding was!

..hmmm... I'm the only person not doing vibrato... Goal for next year's holiday recital: play with vibrato!!



Yaay - I can finally focus on my individual pieces! Yes!! ;)
I'll get my last three lesson notes from Adam's lessons posted tomorrow as well and will finally get caught up on my blog posts.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My 1st Holiday Recital

I had my first holiday recital last Saturday, and I am so unbeliveably proud of the cellists in our group!

The cellists in our group include beginners who have never played in a concert before, to cellists who have played a little longer than a year (like me), to cellists who studied the cello when they were younger and are returning to the cello after a long hiatus, and even cellists who play regularly in orchestras.

I have to admit the first couple rehearsals were a bit... ummm...let's just say a lot of us beginners didn't know how pieces were supposed to sound or how our parts fit together!! LOL! :)
But we (including myself!) managed to pull it together, which is why I'm just so proud of the group!!! YEAH!!! Not to say that they were perfect or anything. I think we were best described as "authentic!" LOL! ;)

We all went out for drinks and a bite to eat afterwards - such a beautiful wonderful bunch of people!
LOVE THIS GROUP!! :). And the retirement home was so welcoming and warm, talk about feeling the warmth and spirit of the holidays!

And I am just so impressed by Clayton!! He's totally amazing, unbelievably patient and generous, and extremely talented and brilliant! He volunteers all of his time to the group and I'm certain we wouldn't have sounded as good if he didn't lead/help us. He also made it so enjoyable to play and rehearse together!! I LOVE rehearsals, and I've learned so much! *sigh*...I really hope he'll be around for a while....

Anyway, one more recital this upcoming Sunday which I'm really excited about!!
Both my teachers will be playing in it! Adam is going to play part IV to help out my section out and Clayton will be playing Part I.
Therefore, I think our next performance is going to sound even better. Clayton told us once that the most important parts are the melody (which is usually in Part I), and the part that plays the lowest notes because it "sets the foundation" (which is typically Part IV). So we're going to have two really talented strong cellists playing the important parts! Can't wait! :)

Below is five out of the fourteen pieces that we played; and of course, I selected my favorite ones! I'm not quite ready to say what group I play in and organize just yet because I kind of feel like I don't want my opinions or whatever to affect the group in any way, so I'm going to keep that under wraps for a while. None of them know I have a blog, ;). Well, Adam knows I have a blog, and I told Clayton, but I never gave him the address...

Angels We Have Heard on High

Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker

O Chanukah

O Christmas Tree


Things to work on for the next performance:
  • Moving around too much... again!
  • My elbow is flapping all over the place! Adam mentioned that this may be causing some of my intonation issues, which I think he's absolutely correct!
  • Look at the audience! Clayton recommended that we try to look up to acknowledge and engage the audience, I tried it 1.5 times. The first time I looked up and couldn't believe how many people were watching us and totally freaked myself out! :). The second time I half glanced up and then thought it wasn't worth it to scare myself and get all tense!! LOL!!
  • Louder Pizz - I thought I was plucking the strings fairly loudly, but it's barely noticeable on the other side of the room!



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lesson #103C (12/02/12): Minuet No. 3

I'm just getting over the flu, which I caught during Thanksgiving, and I've been swamped with organizing and work. I also had my final dress rehearsal last Sunday for our very first holiday concert this upcoming Saturday!

Have I mentioned that I organize and play in an all adult cello ensemble yet? :). Anyway, I'll be playing 14 holiday songs (originally 18 but we cut 4!) for two retirement communities with twelve other cellists. It's been a busy few weeks to say the least, so I haven't been practicing any non-holiday pieces, and I was sick...and it was Thanksgiving... so my individual pieces have been thoroughly neglected and aren't very good right now.

Surprisingly, even though Clayton also leads the rehearsals, we haven't taken any time during our lessons to go over holiday repertoire or work on ensemble technique. I think I'll have to ask Clayton or Adam to work on ensemble playing with me!

Anyway, long story longer, I had a lesson before our rehearsal so it was a long cello day for me! :).
We worked on Minuet No 3 since my goal was to have Minuet No 3 & No 1 recorded by the end of this semester, but I think I can get it done by the end of December instead. After the recitals, I'm going to buckle down and get those two done and recorded!!

Minuet No. 3
  • Phrasing - we worked mostly on phrasing and feeling the rhythm 
  • Exercise: 
    • To feel the downbeat, he wants me to play the first note forte, pretend there is a rest, and then crescendo to the the next downbeat. After I'm able to play it that way and start to feel the rhythm, then I can remove the rests and make the crescendos less obvious. 
  • Bow - I need to make sure that I don't use too much bow during the slurs because I'm getting a skating sound. 
    • I switched all of my strings to Passione strings, and the G & C are gut strings so I have to be more conscientious about giving more time for the strings to speak. So far, I'm loving the strings - although it has taken awhile for them to break in and for me to get used to them. Looks like my cello likes low tension strings and also gut strings! 

Clayton also mentioned that I could probably start working on Judas Maccabeaus if I wanted to, but I think I'll hold off. I have too many pieces to work on right now. Although I was able to sightread the majority of it and it didn't sound to bad either! :).

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lesson #102C (11/18/12): Left-hand and bowing

Clayton will be graduating this month so I'm just counting down the days when he'll be offered a job out-of-state or something. Bummer for me, great for him! He's just way too good that I don't expect him to be around long after he graduates! ...darn...Luckily, Adam won't be moving any time soon!

During this lesson we went some technique.

Thumb Placement 
  • My thumb seems to move around a lot so we focused on making sure my thumb is secure on the neck, but of course, not squeezing! 
  • I've discovered that my hand feels more secure because my thumb typically "floats" above my cello neck and doesn't really touch the back of it
  • Shifting seems to be easier because I can feel my cello pass beneath my thumb which helps me determine the amount of space I've moved my hand to shift  
  • For the next few days, Clayton recommended just bringing attention to the thumb while I play to see what it's doing 

  • Sustain my notes and use smoother transitions between bow changes. 
  • I tend to decay my notes. Clayton provided a few ways of thinking about this:
    • Think of the bow going in diagonal lines 
    • Remember to feel the bow and string => this is what I like the best
    • Think about releasing or relaxing the bow into the string 
  • The funny thing is, I like how decaying notes sound sometimes. A legato, consistent sound is kind of boring to me... maybe it's time to start bothering my teachers about doing vibrato again! 
    • In a few months, I know when I look back at the sentence about decaying notes and vibrato I'm not going to like it! ;) 

Position Pieces

  • Fanfare 
    • I was hitting the notes more consistently, but my rhythm was terrible. I really need to start counting instead of feeling how long a note should be! Not very accurate...Lol! :) 
  • Assigned the next piece: Skating
  • This is a great book - highly recommended! :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Practice Log #17: May Time, Suzuki Book 2 (after 101 lessons)

Whew, finally recorded May Time!! I recorded these a couple of days ago but didn't have time to post it. ..ugh...I look as tired as I felt!


Things to work on:
1) Elbow moving around too much - Aha! That's what Adam was talking about!! My elbow is moving all over the place! What's up with that?! I should have recorded this sooner and I would have realized what was going on.
2) Tempo - LOL! I seem to only have one tempo, which is always slower than what is marked! This sounds like my last recording with regards to speed and sound.
3) Intonation - I can sometimes hear when I was off and moved my finger to adjust which is really noticeable in the video. I need to work on my finger placement more and get it right the first time.
4) This supposed to be light and happy, but it sounds heavy and very "dirge-like"! Well, I guess working on this piece was a pretty somber experience...LOL! I guess it definitely shows in the sound! :). I just don't relate to this piece and the string crossings were difficult!
5) I also need to have more legato bowing in this piece and to make sure each note is going somewhere. I tried focusing on making my bow flow more seamlessly and smoother, but I didn't quite get there... it's still a bit sing-songy.


Oops, rough start to this one! :)

I've come across some interesting "issues" working with drones. I'm starting to hear when I'm off better, but it's also making me move my fingers around to find the note which makes my notes squirrelly!

Also, when I'm not using a drone, I think I sound better but only because I don't know whether or not I'm in tune! :). Although I'm starting to recognize when I'm off...It's much more obvious when I'm not in tune with a drone, which makes me wonder how often I was out of tune during my first video! ;).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lesson #100A (11/10/12): Gmaj scale & May Time

I had a great lesson with Adam. :). I was super stressed and irritated when I got to his house because I arrived to my lesson late (again) because of construction and rush hour, and I didn't realize it was going to be so dark!  I really have bad night vision...I was going to turn around and head home, but due to construction I couldn't exit off the highway!

Any way, when I got to his house I was in a really bad mood, but I've got to say, when I finally left my lesson I felt good and I learned a lot! I think I'm about to make a break through in my shifting, i.e. if I have time to practice it!

We went over the GMajor Scale, Shifting and May Time, but unfortunately I didn't take any notes! :(
I'll try to remember and enter the notes later.

Cheers to a GREAT 100th lesson!!! :D

[Fall CE Lesson #4]

Lesson #101C (11/10/12): May Time

I had my lesson with Clayton after our ensemble rehearsal and I thought I should go over May Time one more time before I record the video.

May Time:
  • Make sure the notes are going some where - don't just play one note after another and another... each note should be doing something and going somewhere. He explained that this is what makes music fun and interesting. 
  • Clayton also mentioned that sometimes it's easier to work on phrasing and then often times the technique will just happen. 
  • Work on sustaining my notes more - my notes tend to fade out and die instead of being consistent throughout 
  • Make sure my bows are more legato and smooth 
He also commented that I was moving around too much, especially with my string crossings. Which I told him that was something I was aware of (and Adam had also mentioned) and was trying to do less of ...ugh, bad habits... :(

He gave me lots of great information, but I don't think I'm skilled enough to implement his suggestions - one day! Although I think it's great to be aware that these things beforehand because then I know what to expect and look forward to! :)

Monday, November 5, 2012


I'm going to catch up on my posts since I've fallen behind again! My goal after this post is to try and keep up. I know I said that last time, but this time I mean it! ;)

Also, I will post May Time by the end of this week. I tried recording it last week but it sounded BEYOND horrible so I couldn't make myself post it... I guess that's what I get for not practicing consistently. :(

Approaching 100 lessons - that is just depressing!! :(

Good thing I didn't know beforehand that it would take me 100 lessons to get to Book 2 (and only the 2nd piece!), otherwise I probably would not have learned how to play the cello!

Truthfully, I am a bit disappointed about how far I've gotten - especially since I know of other adult beginner cellists who at this point were able to play a couple of the Bach Suites!!I know I'm not supposed to compare myself to others, but... *sigh* Okay, getting my butt in gear and will be practicing more consistently!! Grrrr!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lesson #99C (11/4/12): Eb Maj scale, position piece

This was a fun lesson!

1) New Scale: Eb Major 
Learned a new scale!
  • Eb Major = F Dorian Minor 
  • 3 flats: Eb, Bb, Ab

     IV     III                           II           I  
    2   4   0   1  2  4   1  2  4   1  2  4   1  3  4  0
1st pos                    4th         3rd        2nd

Things to work on:
  • Shifting more smoothly - I need to make sure my notes are "connected" 
  • String crossing with left hand - make sure available fingers are moving to the new string while the current ones are in play. This allows for more accurate shifts since there is a reference point. Clayton wants me to be more aware of opportunities to move fingers over to the other strings when possible. 

Fanfare from Position Pieces
I really enjoy working on intonation because it's difficult to work on intonation by myself. Even with a drone it's difficult to hear if it's correct; that is, I can't recognize if something is correct if someone doesn't point it out to me first. Now that we've been doing these intonation exercises I'm starting to hear the beats more easily and recognize when notes played together are in tune.
  • Ringing tones - Clayton recommended that I work on ringing tones before starting this piece so I can "get it in my ear" 
  • Play with a drone - I typically play with a drone, but I think what I will do is record the second part which is an easy chord (open D&C and A&D) 
  • We worked relative intonation and hearing the clarity of each note and making sure that it rings 

Minuet No. 1
We went through this pretty quickly, the primary thing I need to work on is getting ringing tones for the notes, especially the C on the G string.
  • Shifting 
    • Clayton wants me to shift more smoothly since I tend to be jerky and rushed. 
    • Also, I tend to leave my finger behind which causes my shift to be sluggish and jerky, so he had me shift to 2nd position and play C on the G string, hop my pinky to the D, and then make sure the rest of my fingers move to the D string before starting my shift. 
      • I discovered that it's difficult to reach over and "hop back and forth" between the two strings which made me realize that my hand may be too tense, and that I may possibly be squeezing a bit...I've got to test this out... 

Minuet No. 3
I really love this piece! This is going to be fun to work on!
  • Extensions - in measure 17 he wants me to keep my hand extended. Surprisingly, I'm getting used to doing extensions! I know in my previous posts I complained a bit about them, but now they're not so bad... 
  • Shifting - I'm having the same issue with leaving my finger behind so we worked on this a bit on this piece too. 
  • Intonation - same as always, listen for ringing tones. I'm always a bit timid on new pieces that I haven't played in front of my teachers so my intonation wasn't as good as I normally play it at home. 

I think after this piece, I'm going to request that we work on something other than the Suzuki Book and go back to learning Jazz, or doing ensemble work, so I keep my two lessons more separate.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lesson #98A (11/01/12): May Time & Gmaj

Adam's lessons this semester are only 50 min since I take them through the university to get credit for taking the class - the time just flies during these lessons! 50 minutes is just not enough time...

G Major Scale
Adam likes providing different ways of doing shifts and the two that I found most helpful and remember:
  • Hit the note the first time - don't squirm my fingers around until I hit the note. Practice hitting the note once and if I'm off don't squirm my fingers - just start over. This is important to building correct muscle memory and squirming my finger around to find the note won't build an accurate shift, it will only reinforce my habit of squirming my fingers around to look for the note. This is where a lot of repetition is needed and what most people don't like to practice, but it's what makes a good cellist good instead of mediocre. 
  • Rotating body - some cellists do the "swoop" with the arm before the shift. Adam mention rotating the body slightly before the shift which puts the arm and body in alignment before the shift. For some reason, this concept just really works with me! Although I tend to exaggerate my movement, so I need to make sure that it stays small and subtle. 
I'm feeling a bit guilty about not really focusing on this scale. I think I'll have to practice this a lot before my next lesson.

May Time
What can I say...I totally hate this piece. It just doesn't make sense! I don't connect to how it sounds and it has a bunch of string crossings, which I have discovered is my greatest weakness!
In fact, I tried to record this last week and it sounded AWFUL, so I couldn't bring myself to post it and decided that I should work on it some more.
  • String Crossing - Adam gave me an exercise to do to which was to play the A string and D string in a slur and then both at the same time and to really focus on how my arm feels, the level of my elbow, etc.  
  • Bowing - my sound was better than my previous lesson, but still pretty bad since I'm losing the string when I do string crossings. 
  • Eighth notes - he reminded me to give more time to the eighth notes and that I was rushing through the notes again. 
  • Left Hand intonation - my intonation was really bad as well and Adam diagnosed that I was bringing my elbow/arm forward again. I finally realized what I was doing wrong and found the "feeling" again with regards to how my arm felt when I was playing the notes correctly. Hopefully now I can play the piece more in tune!

[Fall CE Lesson #3]

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lesson #97C (10/28/12): Amaj, Fanfare & Minuet No 1&3

I didn't get a lot of time to practice the pieces that he assigned so I warned him that I wasn't going to be very good when I played the pieces. Fortunately, we had our lesson after our group ensemble so I was already warmed up, which made things a little easier.

A Major scale
Clayton wanted to move on to the next scale, but I requested that we practice this for another week since I didn't get a lot of practice time.
  • Shifting - we focused on making sure that my notes were "connected" 
  • Exercises - he reminded me to do my shifting exercises which I haven't been doing.. oops!
Shifting exercise from finger to finger.

1 => 1     1 => 3      2 => 1

1 => 2     1 => 4      2 => 2

  • Glissando - to practice these shifts he wants me to lightly touch the string and shift to the next note. We spent a lot of time on this trying to get the mechanics of it and for some reason it's very difficult for me to lighten the pressure as I gliss to the next note... I need to figure out why that is... 
    • However I discovered that if I focused on the top of my hand while I shift towards the scroll that I tended to get a cleaner more accurate shift, and that I feel like I'm doing a small "scoop" or something - I think it may be the thumb adjusting which creates the scooping feeling??..I don't know... 

I requested to work out of this book, and this was the first time we covered it. I didn't really get time to practice this so my rhythm was a bit off, but I was hitting the notes pretty consistently - though  my shifting technique was a bit off.

So far, I've really enjoyed working on these etudes! They're "easy" enough that I can focus on shifting and finding the position without having to worry about other technique.

Minuet No. 1
Clayton recommended that we apply the shifting concepts to this piece, but this went fairly well. I played through this a few times and had a few minor things to clean up; mostly I just need to polish this up a bit and make sure that I get ringing tones.

Minuet No. 3
Clayton decided that I could move on to the next piece so he recorded this piece to work on before our next lesson.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lesson #96A (10/25/12): May Time & Gmaj

This was a really good lesson, but at the end of the lesson I realized I locked my keys in my car and had to call a company to unlock my car!! First time that's ever happened to me...

Ironically, the week before that, my two front tires went flat on my way to work - first time I had a flat tire too! I had to get to work so I had my hubby drop me off at work, left my spare key in the center console, and had my car towed to a tire shop. Long story longer, I forgot to put my spare key back which is why I had to pay over $90 to get my car unlocked. It was a weird few weeks... anyway, back to my cello  post...

Gmaj 2 octaves
  • We went over Gmaj since it had been about 3 weeks since our last lesson. This went fairly well, except I kept playing a F natural instead of an F sharp because I was practicing my other scales and was confusing the two scales. 
  • I've discovered that as long as I say the note in my head before I play it, I typically play it correctly and in tune (more or less), but if I don't think about it first, than I tend to miss it. 
  • It's really starting to become difficult to keep track of the notes and scales especially with all of the scales I've been learning. I'd better stick to a method and start practicing it more methodically! 
  • I decided that I would take the method of knowing the notes (instead of the fingerings) by visualizing where the note is on the fingerboard before playing it, which is really difficult to do! I tend to play a note without being consciously aware of the note and location of the note is on the fingerboard. 

May Time
  • This was a disaster and a half!! My intonation was all over the place, my bowing was all over the place and it sounded horrible! It's really strange that I was able to play it fairly well a few days ago and then all of sudden I can't! I'm trying to figure out what occurred between those times and what has caused my bad habit to return. 
  • String crossing - my weak point! I just don't get it... 

[Fall CE Lesson #2]

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lesson #95C (10/21/12): Amaj & Minuet No. 1

I haven't had a lot of time recently to practice cello which has been really frustrating! I miss my cello... ;(

We covered a few new things during this lesson:

Position Pieces
  • I finally got around to requesting that we play Position Pieces by Rick Mooney, which was highly recommended by two cello teachers at RCMF, Abigail's YouTube Channel and a bunch of other searches online! Clayton agreed that it looked good and he mentioned two of his other students were using Thumb Positions for cello, so he assigned the first etude to have ready for the next lesson. 

Amaj Scale
I know I keep whining about not having enough time, but I hadn't really practiced this scale so this was kind of a disaster so we worked on this for the majority of the time!
  • I was having some trouble shifting back to 3rd position and kept missing my mark. 

Minuet No. 1
  • Bowing - for the most part I sounded good, but my bowing was all over the place again! That is the one habit that consistently returns when I don't practice!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lesson #94C (10/15/12): Amaj scale

New Scale: A Major
Clayton asked if I wanted to learn a new scale and I happily agreed! I didn't get much progress with the Bb scale, but I was bored with the scale and a bit frustrated that my intonation was off, so I agreed that we should move on.

Clayton doesn't think I need to perfect each scale since I'm fairly secure with first position, and just wants me to become comfortable with moving around the fingerboard, learning notes and becoming familiar with the scales. He thinks that "advanced" concepts can be done by beginners and even teaches some of his beginner students thumb position to correct bad arm positions and to get over the fear of that position! Clayton mentioned since we'll be rotating through the scales, as I become more familiar with them we can really start drilling down and adding exercises, rhythms, slurs, etc. Fortunately, Adam has me focus on one scale at a time and drills down on each one so it's a perfect balance! :)

I was skeptical at first about Clayton's method, but I have to admit that I'm starting to like it and it definitely has benefits! I've tried memorizing the circle of fifths and how many sharps and flats each scale contains, but it's never sunk in before. Now that I'm learning it this way, it's definitely sinking in! And, although my intonation is off, I have to admit that I am getting more comfortable moving around the fingerboard.

A Major 
  • Amaj: 3 sharps - C#, F#, G#
    • Instead of fingering, I always try to remember notes... so he was a little surprised when I asked for the notes instead of the fingerings, i.e. how many sharps and flats there are in the scale. I think I'll have to start associating fingerings and notes from now on too.
  • 2 Extensions 
    • I think I'm getting used to extensions because I don't freak out as much and I'm hitting the mark more often. It's weird because I used to really dread doing extensions and avoid them as much as possible! Although I still rather shift than do extensions. 

We also worked on bowing concepts but I didn't write down any notes... oops!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lesson #93A (10/11/12): Gmaj, May Time & Minuet No. 1

GMaj Scale
  • Intonation - my intonation was off during the majority of the scale and Adam recommended that I move my elbow back because it was too far forward 

May Time
  • This was a bit of a disaster - I don't know what happened! Last time it went fairly well, so much so that Adam assigned the next piece. But this time I couldn't get any of the bowing or intonation correctly! Very frustrating! So we'll be covering this during the next lesson again. ...ugh...  should've recorded this when it still sounded good! 

Minuet No. 1
  • This one was a lot easier to play than May Time and I played it fairly well. Adam suggested that I stop the bow completely to make it sound more elegant.

[Fall CE Lesson #2]

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lesson #92C (10/07/12): Bflat, Intonation & May Time

I warned Clayton that I didn't get a chance to practice the past few days, probably something that most teachers don't like to hear... but when I don't pick up the cello for more than a couple days I sound AWFUL!! 

Bb Major Scale
Bb scale... well, it's getting there...ish..
I'm fine going up to 4th and 6th position, but going back down from G to F, I keep missing the darn F! I can't feel how its supposed to feel like and its totally driving me nuts!

Intonation & Double Stops
Clayton had me do some double stops to listen to see if I could hear if the notes were in tune. I still can't tell with Bb and Eb though... but we discovered two things:

1) I really need to work on my double stops, so he assigned just bowing on two strings at a time. Yes - its that bad!!! Back to the beginning...

2) My angles were off again, so he assigned the 'Rock and Rolls'

May Time
Since I was also working on May Time with Clayton, he wanted me to work a little bit on phrasing.
He mentioned that typically the crescendos occur 3/4 way through the phrase and even 3/4 during the piece as a whole. So he had me try doing a crescendo on the E on measure 3. It was pretty difficult selecting different places to increase and decrease the volume.

Also, because it's Mozart, he mentioned that this should sound more flowy and smooth, which mine was pretty heavy and "stacatto-ish." Although I think some teachers teach it so its on the "heavier side" because of the hooked bowing. To make the piece sound more smooth he had me work on using more bow and making sure my bow changes were more subtle.

In Measures 11 & 15, he suggested that when I play the slurs that I make them more even and smooth and not so "sing-songy" because it's Mozart after all. I discovered that if I place my fingers down more gently this accomplished this. I had been working on hammer-ons and pluck-offs so I was dropping my fingers down pretty heavily which can change the sound.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Lesson #91 (C - 10/01/12): May Time

I didn't take many notes during this lesson! :(

May Time
  • We worked on phrasing on May Time and bowing.

  • Recommended releasing the bow into the string to get a more open sound.

  • My shoulder and right bowing arm were getting tired pretty quickly from reaching over to the A string to work on the Bb scale so Clayton recommended playing the cello at a slight angle. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lesson #90 (09/29/12): May Time

We went over May Time and it went fairly well, except from some spots with regards to intonation, but I get to start on Minuet No. 1! Adam mentioned as my technique gets better and better, we should start to notice that we can go through the repertoire a lot faster! :D

I'll try to record May Time this weekend (hopefully).

I've been so swamped with work stuff, school stuff and my cello project that I've fallen way behind on my entries so they're a lot shorter than usual. I just wanted to get the posted and updated. Hopefully, going forward I can start entering more detailed lesson notes. They definitely help the concepts sink in a lot more.

[Fall CE Lesson #1]

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lesson #89 Jazz (09/23/12): May Time & Bflat scale

Since Adam was busy, I had Clayton go over May Time with me since I wanted to practice it before having to play it for Adam.

I have to admit it was a COMPLETE DISASTER!!! I was having a lot of issues with string crossings again and I was getting a bad skating sound, and I hadn't practiced much on it, so we spent half the time working on May Time and the other half on practicing the Bflat scale.

I've found it's kind of fun going to sixth position, although it still sounds pretty awful and my shifting is still a disaster, but I feel like I'm actually moving around the fingerboard! Yaay!! Definitely a confidence booster!! :).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lesson #88 (09/12/12): Long Long Ago video, Gmaj & May Time

I had taken a break from taking lessons with Adam since he was really busy, but we went over my last video, which I thought was a great idea! :). He asked what I thought about the video, and I had my usual response that "I didn't like it" although I had liked the second section (the variation) better because I thought I felt more relaxed and it sounded better.

He commented that he liked the first section better because it was more focused and sounded better overall. We then got into a great conversation regarding things we like to focus on, when they may not be the things we should be focusing on or having issues with!

After the lesson I went back and looked at the video, and I have to say everything he commented on, I 100% agree with! It's so weird getting feedback and then re-watching a video and getting a completely different perspective! Going forward I'm going to have to ask him to review the videos, since this is such a great way to look at something more objectively.

We went over the Gmaj scale and I recorded May Time so I could start working on that piece for the next lesson.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lesson #87 (Jazz 09/09/12): Bflat scale

I did really well learning how to do the Dmaj scale and didn't have too many issues with the extensions, so Clayton decided I should start on the Bflat scale in two octaves. Yikes, he's definitely tossing me some difficult stuff to do!

bflat   C   D   Eflat   F   G   A   Bflat   C          D    Eflat   F           G   A   Bflat
2        4   0     1     x2    4   0     1       x2         1     2       4            1   x2    3
III            II                        I                           4th pos.                    6th pos.

Ouch - 6th position... no, sorry that isn't a cat screeching... what is it? ..ummmm....

For the arpeggio, I need to go down and then back up since I haven't covered some of the other positions.

Fingering;  2      1      4      2      0      2      1
String:      III     IV   IV    III     II      II     I

It's the strangest thing, but I have the worst trouble in recognizing whether Eflat and Bflat are in tune. Those notes are just really hard to tell... ugh..

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lesson #86 (Jazz 09/03/12): D Major & Shifting Exercises

I haven't been practicing consistently lately and am trying to get back into a routine. Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things shortly and start enjoying practice time again.

D Major Scale (2 octaves):
Since our focus on this semester will be trying to learn as many scales as possible, he gave me the D major scale in two octaves to work on. LOTS of extensions... I hate extensions. ...oops, I mean I LOVE extensions... ;)

I don't quite have F Major down yet, but Clayton wants me to start another scale... Although he explained that he wants me to start being comfortable moving around the fingerboard more and to become "familiar" with the scales so we can start jazz stuff. I guess the scales don't exactly need to be perfected just yet.

Shifting exercises:
He also started me on some shifting exercises. I hate shifting... ugh... *sigh*  I'm starting to feel like everything has gotten SO MUCH more difficult all of a sudden. I just want to make "beautiful music." Can't it just be easy and beautiful?! ;)

So the shifting exercise from finger to finger.
1 => 1     2 => 1
1 => 2     2 => 2
1 => 3
1 => 4

Vibrato Exercises:
Vibrato exercises! My husband came down to grab a snack while I was having my lesson and commented that I should start working on vibrato!! The little weasel...

I have mixed feelings about starting vibrato though... I want to start doing vibrato, but I don't think I'm ready for it yet. Too many things to work on anyway!

Luckily, it's just an exercise without actually doing vibrato.
  • Thumb Vibrato - "place hand in a position with natural balance, then lift up fingers and leave thumb, initiate forearm with loose thumb"

Clayton instructed that my thumb should be loose at all times and that the forearm was moving and not my wrist or hand. He held is hand close to my forearm and instructed me to bump up against it with my forearm while keeping my thumb nice and loose, and to keep the angle in line with the fingerboard.

I told him about my blog, and asked if I should continue avoiding any concepts that we go over during our lesson, and he said that would be best. However, he'll be done with his paper in November and I could post about it then, and in the meantime, blogging about my assignments are perfectly fine.

Which is too bad because we go over some really cool concepts and ideas... I was thinking about maybe typing it up and then posting the details later, but that's just too much work, and writing about concepts takes a really long time!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Practice Log #16: Book 2 Long Long Ago and Variation (after 85 )

Wow, it's been a little over 2 months since I posted my last video! :(
It's been a busy summer - with the cello workshop and camp, and also organizing a cello group. 

So here's my Long Long Ago, which I pretty much gave up on. I really wish I had recorded it when I thought I had it!! It sounded so lovely back then.... Trying to re-learn something to get it back the way it used to be is beyond frustrating, the things I thought I fixed are back in full force and it just doesn't sound right any more. I can't focus on this piece any more so I need to move on. 

I also have a drone on in the background. I recorded myself playing a C on the G string and looped it for five minutes. I've found it's easier to hear if it's my own cello and its in the same octave. The electronic tuner is just really hard for me to hear because its electronic and is higher. It a good exercise to get a smooth legato stroke too. 

Things to work on:  
  • Tempo: this is definitely on the slow side again and should be a LOT faster 
  • Rhythm: I can hear myself slow down and speed up in certain sections 
  • Intonation: my fourth finger - flatty, flat, flat!! Darn you fourth finger! And first finger E. 
  • My bows is sliding all over the place again and I was using the rests to re-position my hand, I think I should be less obvious doing that... 
  • A positive: I was working on dynamics and I think I was able to go much quieter in the sections I'm supposed to

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lesson #85 (Jazz 08/26/12): F Major Scale 2 Octaves

Doing the workshop and camp, made feel more confident about trying to do jazz again, so Clayton and I set some goals for this semester. He recommended that I learn as many scales first before proceeding with the Jazz stuff.

I won't blog a lot of details about my jazz session since Clayton is writing his paper, and he doesn't know I have a blog yet. I'll have to tell him about my blog during our next lesson to see what I can and can't post on my blog. In the mean time, I'll just list my assignments:

F Major 2 Octaves

  • Clayton recommended that I learn as many scales first, so I told him I know Cmaj (2 octaves), Dmaj (1 octave) and had just started learning Gmaj in two octaves with Adam. I think we also did E major or E minor at the camp, but I don't remember how to do that. So Clayton had me start learning the F Major scale in two octaves

Bowing arm
  • We also worked on bowing technique and making sure that I'm not pushing down to get a more open sound with my cello
  • Assignment: "Bow Releases" 

Articulation Exercises
  • Using Hammer-Ons & Pluck-offs (with and without the bow)
  • Cossmann: 
    • 1434
    • 1424
    • 1323
    • 1234
    • 4321
  • Trill: 
    • 1,2
    • 1,3
    • 1,4
    • 2,3
    • 2,4
    • 3,4

I also asked that we work on ensemble pieces that we'll be playing in my cello group. We'll be doing a holiday recital and I'll need help working on ensemble skills - so we'll also be practicing on that as well. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lesson #84 (08/23/12): Shifting in G Major (2 octaves)

We started on the G Major scale and immediately I got a lot of corrections with my intonation and bowing. The first thought that ran through my mind was, "ugh, I haven't even warmed up yet and he's correcting me already! How can he possibly know what I've done to correct my mistakes from the last lesson?"

Followed by, "well... I really shouldn't need 20 minutes to warm-up to get it right in the first place; and if I really corrected it and understood what was happening then..." which ended my thought / complaint process!

We focused mainly on shifting during this lesson.

  • Arm position - moving the whole arm and feeling like I'm "pushing something down." My hand likes to tilt forward so my hand tends to be sharp  
  • Thumb - the thumb should rest in the saddle. For some reason, this works for everyone except for me...yet. I think I haven't felt how it's supposed to feel like in the saddle so I keep missing it. 
  • Hand position - should be slightly slanted and should be the same hand position as my "first position hand"
Adam said what is most important in learning how to shift is: have a method!

He said there are a lot of methods out there and as long as it works for me, and I'm consistent, than I should continue using it. It's those that don't have a method to get from point A to point B that consistently miss the note.

Prior to this discussion he asked what my method was, which I replied that I think about lines on my fingerboard and skipping one line to get to E. Which at first he thought was kind of "interesting" but said that it works. I tried practicing and thinking about the saddle, hand position and arm position and was too sharp each time I practiced it, but thinking about where E is located and moving over "one line" gets me to the spot more consistently.

I think after a while of "thinking about skipping a line" and doing that for awhile, I'll start feeling it in my body and then I can start using the saddle as a physical marker.

May Time

Before I started the workshop, I was really getting Long Long Ago, but now I feel like I have to re-learn everything and I can feel myself getting bored and losing focus, so I requested that we move on to May Time.

We recorded May Time for me to start practicing for the next lesson. Yaay - new piece!! :D

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lesson #83 (08/20/12): G Major Scales

One of the things that I've noticed was that my intonation has really gone out the window since I've started shifting and trying to learn/cram a bunch of repertoire in a short period.

Before this summer, I would typically learn only one piece of repertoire in approximately 2 months, but the last 2-3 months I must have played/learned 13 pieces (3 for the Denver workshop, 3 for the camp and about 7 for a cello group I'm playing with).

So now we're going back to drilling down to technique, intonation and bowing - which I'm extremely happy to be doing! A definite relief to go back to technique - I LOVE working on technique, it's just so calming...

G Major Scale (2 octaves)
  • My first time learning the G Major in 2 octaves! Now I'll know two 2-octave scales: C Major and G Major! Yaay! :D
  • Adam instructed that I do really slow bowing using two clicks, so I'll eventually be able to do 16th notes on one bow. I actually find it easier to do slower bows than fast bows though, but for slow bowing, I'm to focus on consistency of sound and intonation 
  • We started on shifting (which I've been doing a little bit with Clayton), but now I've "officially" started learning how to shift. Lol! 

Long Long Ago
  • My main issue again was my bow angles! I started pushing the bow too far out again and not bringing the bow back around in a curve.  I wanted to get this recorded by the end of August so we reviewed this piece again.

Friday, August 17, 2012

NSC Day 5 (08/17/12): Last day & large ensemble performance

I was a little worried about getting back home since I was flying standby and they kept messing up  my reservations. It's always more difficult to fly back into Denver, especially since Denver is a major hub for international flights and cross-country flights. I packed and organized some of my stuff the night before but still had a lot of packing to do.


7:30 -8:30 Breakfast
Before heading for breakfast we had to pack up our things by 9 AM so the camp's staff could start cleaning out the cabins, so I had to store my luggage in my roommate's car. Another reason I'm driving next year too, it's just so much easier having a car around! 

Dirty laundry! Sheets and towels in the pillowcases.

9:15-10:30 AM Large Ensembles
We concentrated on dynamics some more (I really enjoy working on dynamics!), and Abigail recommended that we hold back our energy for the performance. Although I wanted to go all out, I held back a bit which felt a little weird to me. 

11 AM Concert: Large Ensembles
I thought our group ensemble went fairly well, and I really enjoyed playing this piece, although I messed up in a couple of parts and during a quieter section of the piece I could hear my hands trembling again! Which I thought was kind of odd that it occurred in the large ensemble piece and not during the quartet performance.

One of the campers came up to me and complimented me on my playing and said they really enjoyed watching me play because it looked like I was really feeling the music - I was just me moving around more than I should again! ...oops!

Anyway, I don't take compliments very well, for some reason compliments just remind me of things that I should be doing but I'm not; and therefore, I never feel that I deserve the given compliment! I know, I have a strange sense of logic.
My apologies to the campers and instructors who were being so wonderfully supportive, caring and friendly - if I seemed to have blown you off it's because I become flustered, self-conscious and embarrassed when I receive a compliment! I know, I'm weird!

My husband is right - I really need to learn how to take a compliment! :(. I always feel so bad afterwards because I never know how to respond and it always ends up with me pretending not to hear their compliment or something, so it feels like I'm blowing people off. *sigh* to anyone who reads my blogs, in person please don't give me a compliment! It'll avoid a lot of unnecessary awkwardness on both parts! Lol! ;). ...seriously though, don't... not that I get very many compliments or anything, but you know what I mean!

12:45 PM Lunch
I was happy to learn that lunch was being served early, otherwise I would have had to wait until I got to the airport which was 3-4 hours away. They had some items to prepare sandwiches with a lot of meat, so I just had some cheese and fruit, and some brownies.

One of the campers offered me a lift to the shuttle location since it was on her way to Berkeley where she lived, which I was really thankful for because the cab ride was more than $60 plus tip just to get to the shuttle pickup.
As we were walking to the car we discovered an inconspicuous sign hidden between two tall trees. At first we thought it said '1061' because we were walking on the other side of the trees, but we realized that it read '1901' the year the camp, St. Dorothy's Rest, was established - 111 years! What a great discovery during our departure from the camp! 

The year St. Dorothy's Rest was established.

2:00 PM Shuttle 
We arrived at the shuttle pickup with 15 minutes to spare. This time the bus was empty with only two other people besides myself on the bus so I was able to put my cello by the window. I think the last time I was unable to place the cello by the window seat because the person sitting in front of the cello had his chair reclined. It was definitely more comfortable sitting by the aisle! 

My cello riding on the bus. Lol!
During camp, Eliza had commented that my case looked like a beetle and started saying, "beetle juice, beetle juice, beetle juice!" every time I walked by with my case! Lol! ;).
I thought all beetles were pretty much in shades of brown or black, so I Goggled it when I got home, and now I'm going to think of a huge beetle every time I see my case. ..eeewww...gross...!

I can imagine a huge bird spotting my case, and swooping down to carry it off with me still attached to it by the straps! Lol! ;).

...eeewww, bug !! I do see the resemblance though... time for a new case??  j/k

4:00 PM Airport
I arrived at the airport around 4:00ish and as usual they couldn't find me in the system so I had to wait in another line to get it sorted out. My flight was schedule for 6:26 PM so I had a lot of time left to reflect about the camp. 

I have to take my hat off to Marion and Marcia for cultivating a very supportive and friendly environment. The leadership of these two wonderful caring cellists, and their focus on creating a nurturing environment has truly made this a friendly, inviting and supportive camp!

I was hesitant about describing what we worked on for each of the classes or the camp in general, but then I thought everyone would learn and leave with different experiences, and classes are never taught the same way twice. To keep the openness and nurturing environment in tact, I avoided listing camper's real name (except for the teachers since its part of their profession anyway) and avoided personal conversations that I had with campers and just focused on my experiences.

This was just a wonderful camp, one that I thoroughly enjoyed! Ha - now I can say, "this one time, at string camp..." Lol! =p

Group photo!!
Where's Waldo?? Such a dork... ;) 
Note to self - don't wear glasses in photos!
NSC August 2012
(Photo Credit:

Attending my first workshop and camp this summer I feel that I've gotten more confident in playing with others and really look forward to playing with others more!

The two events definitely had a different feel to them and I would recommend both of them - pretty much a workshop versus a camp/retreat experience. Workshops tend to focus on cramming as much information into you as possible (so it's a little stressful), whereas I think camps are generally geared to have fun and more relaxing, so:
  • Rocky Mountain Cello Fest challenged me and I feel like it pushed me to the next level. I think there were only nine adults and the level was higher since it was mostly kids who had been playing since they were really young and even a few that had completed the Suzuki method! Wow! I had to work my ass of to be able to play the pieces, but it was highly satisfying to be able to play them when I didn't think I would be able to (although I tried to play the pieces a few weeks after the workshop and couldn't!). After the workshop, I had to take a a long break, and it was very difficult for me to start practicing again. 
  • Navarro String Camp was nurturing and relaxing, and more like a retreat-like atmosphere. It was extremely energizing and it made me want to play with people even more! And it was my first time staying at a camp ground so that was especially fun.

I would definitely recommend both events!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

NSC Day 4 (08/16/12): Chamber group performances

I woke up really tired from staying up the last two previous nights, but I didn't want to miss anything the camp had to offer and feeling tired was a small price to pay to get as much from the workshop as I could! :)


7:30 -8:30 AM Breakfast
Baked french toast and syrup. Yum!!

8:45 – 9:30 AM Cello warm-ups with Burke
We continued working on hammer-ons and pluck-offs and Burke mentioned that the fingers and the arms should be very relaxed and that the most important thing is that the fingers and thumb are not squeezing.

He had us put our first finger on the C string on D, and then rotate our upper body to get the weight into the finger. He said the famous pictures of women looking over their shoulder is not because they're posed, its just good technique! For some reason, that concept just really sunk in and I was excited to start practicing this!

Guilhermina Suggia
I tend to over exaggerate my movement - something my teachers are trying to break my habit of, so I've been working on less movement and being more calm, and I think rotating the upper part just a little bit to feel the stretch is what I was missing! I feel like it opens up the shoulder area and lengthens my arms more too. I'll have to practice this during my scales practice.

Burke also mentioned that the finger is just planted on the fingerboard while everything is relaxed. I imagine the fingers being like those clear plastic suction cups that are placed against a window or glass with a toy monkey or something dangling loosely from it. The suction cups being my fingertips and the loose dangley monkey would be my arm, shoulders or whatever.

He demonstrated this by having Jenny hold out her hand out to him and then had her move her body slowly away from him while keeping her arm and fingers (except for the tips) to remain relaxed, which creates the stretch and weight.

In Lindy Hop, we call this type of connection/feeling "stretch and release" and feels like a rubber-band tightening and loosening as our bodies move closer and  farther apart. 

He then had us plant our fingers and then watch our fingers to make sure that the joints, fingers and arm was nice and loose by wiggling our arm and fingers about.

He said that we shouldn't be working hard to play the cello and we should be as relaxed as possible. It was quite amusing when he started playing the Dvorak concerto (one of my favorite pieces!) and then exaggerated being relaxed and proceeded to fall asleep with his head resting on the cello's shoulders as he played the piece! LOL! ;)
Both of my teachers had mentioned at one point in their cello education, that they were told / or heard that when playing the Dvorak concerto that by the end of the piece they should be completely exhausted and covered in sweat! So seeing him pretending to fall asleep playing the concerto was hilarious - who would be able to fall asleep to that piece any way? Ha! ;)

9:45 - 11:15 AM Rhythm Skills Series #3
We continued saying Ta-Ke-Ti-Na, but this time she had us also clap on the off beats. As we progressed through the class, Marcia tried to "trick" us by clapping different syncopations and other distracting things like dancing around in the circle and waving her arms crazily in the air. It was funny trying to watch her out of the corner of my eyes making funny faces and trying not to loose my rhythm!

11:30-12:45 Chamber Group with Elizabeth
We practiced more on the piece and we decided that we wanted to have instructors accompany us during the performance. After that decision was made, Elizabeth suggested we work on the different dynamics. She had us play really softly, and really loudly and then something in the middle. I think I was being too loud again and over-powering the other members of the group. I think the idea was to calibrate to each other to see what dynamics or different volumes meant for each of us.

At that moment I was really thankful for my two teachers: Adam for insisting that I work on volume and for Clayton for helping me with my tone. Attending both the workshop and camp, I noticed that volume was something that was usually on the quieter side. I now know why Adam was always on me for volume, even though I thought I was being loud when I really wasn't.
It makes a HUGE difference when I'm able to use different dynamics. Even though I was on the "louder" side with this chamber group, I think I could have been louder and it made me realize I'll have to start working on being quieter as well! Although for now, I think I'll continue on working on more volume. 

Elizabeth also had us decide whether at the end of the piece if we wanted to crescendo or diminuendo. I voted for a diminuendo since that was easier for me to do, but everyone wanted to do a crescendo so we did that instead.

1 PM Lunch
Tofu wrap and brownies for desert.

2-3 PM Free time
I practiced Largo with Jenny again since we felt like leaving the chamber piece alone, and continued to work on dotted notes. Surprisingly, I was able to count out the notes "1 & 2 & 3 &" while playing, which I wasn't able to do before. The rhythm class definitely was working!

3:15-4:30 PM Concert: Chamber Groups
It was fun watching everyone playing their pieces and absolutely heart warming and great to see how supportive everyone was!

We had Burke and Elizabeth accompany our chamber group, and at one point Burke got up to write something down on the music before we started playing our piece and someone jokingly asked if he was writing down his fingerings, which got everyone laughing and more relaxed. He wasn't of course, which made it even more funny!
So while introducing our group, Beth commented that we were teaching the coaches how to play in a chamber group! It was hilarious! Everyone was just so relaxed and light-hearted about everything.

To be honest, I think we sounded better when we were practicing, and I actually had some issues with my intonation and couldn't find / blend with the rest of the group. I think my nerves definitely got me. Also, I've noticed that every time I have to perform in front of people, my brain kind of shuts down and it's really difficult for me to remember what happened while I was playing!

5:15 PM Free Time
My cell phone decided that it was going to start working again (darn you AT&T!) and I started to get wireless, so I spent some time on emails after having FOUR days of no contact with my husband or able to access email or text! That was tough!

6.30 PM Dinner
I don't remember what I had for dinner, but we had ice cream for desert! :)

7:30-8.15 PM Master class w/Burke
The trio consisted of the camp's assistants/instructors Karen (violin), Trevor (viola) and Elizabeth (cello). They played two movements of a piece and after each movement Burke gave them some suggestions.

It was funny when Isabel commented that they would purposely be making mistakes for Burke's benefit so he could make corrections and that we could all learn! Everyone was quite the comedian! ;)

A few suggestions that he gave was when the notes are repeated it should be played similarly especially if using hooked bowings so the spacing between the notes stays the same, which also helps with articulation. 

Also, when there are a lot of the same notes grouped together, it's nice to emphasize the first couple of notes so its easier to communicate when a phrase starts.

Trevor was having issues with intonation during a passage where he was playing the same note over and over again, so Burke commented that he shouldn't stay on the note if he wasn't in tune. During those measures Isabel was playing too quietly so he joked that she be louder to cover up his bad intonation! ;).
He didn't say it mean-spiritedly, and it was all in good fun, since they were joking back and forth with one another, but it definitely hit home for me because sometimes I get scared to move my finger to the correct spot because I think it'll be more noticeable and draw more attention to my bad intonation!
Although Adam did mention that no one has great intonation 100% of the time, and those who are able to react more quickly than others to fix it is what makes them sound better.

Another really great suggestion/exercise was when he had Karen and Elizabeth who were sitting across from one another, play and project towards each other to get a beating sound! To get the beating sound they had to match their volume and if Isabel was too quiet they wouldn't be able to  hear the beats. He mentioned that one of the famous quartets said they had a "fifth player" who was in the middle who they would constantly try to project their sound into. By the end of the master class, their sound was definitely sounding much more full and rich! 

8:30-9 PM Evening of sight reading 
We played Grandfather’s Clock - I picked out a really easy piece of music to play for beginners.

9:30 PM Chamber Music reading Burke’s Choice
The music was a bit difficult for me so I was struggling through the pieces.

Continuing his tangent on being in tune, he asked the group, "when are we in tune?" I jokingly said, "never." So he rephrased the question and asked, "when should you be working on being in tune?" To which someone replied, "always."

Things to work on: sight-reading, volume, rhythm and intonation - pretty much anything relating to how to play the cello! Lol! :)

Memorable Moment
In between the sight-reading groups, my roommate and I decided to play outside by an old shed to wait for our turn. We decided to play some Celtic music which she had brought with her to the camp, and we just had one of those "magical moments." She describes it much better than I do, but imagine this...

Against the dark background of the night sky, two beginner cellists huddle beneath a single lantern sitting on a rickety bench, their music illuminated by the soft glow of a single stand light. The gentle sound of cellos playing Celtic music echoes softly and eerily into the dark, drifting and fading into the surrounding redwood trees. The notes float into the quiet air, often jaggedly, sometimes smoothly, but every once in awhile, the notes blend to create a beautiful harmony, like clouds opening up to allow the moon’s rays to shine through...

Yes - it really was one of those moments! :).

Anyway, the next day, at breakfast my roommate shared with our table that she would always remember me and that moment, and proceeded to share and describe that enchanting memory with the group.
Then a few minutes later our hostess gathered our attention to make an announcement to thank us for being guests at the camp grounds. She thanked us and told us how wonderful it was to host this string camp and that it was quite a treat for herself and for the staff; and compared it to walking through a movie set while hearing beautiful classical music.
The hostess then proceeded to describe how late last night, as she was getting into her car, she heard and saw two cellists playing outside under the lantern, and as she drove away the music had followed her home, and that image and music captured what the camp was all about!

I don't think we were playing particularly well (...she must of heard us when the moon's rays were shining through! Lol!...), but it was really heart-warming that she had shared our moment with us and it had affected her, and we didn't even realize it!