Chinese Proverb

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

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lesson #39 (01/11/12): Review of Rigadoon & New Rep: Etude

It snowed the day of my lesson so I got to my lesson late. My car was sliding all over the place! Note to self - buy some snow tires!

Lesson notes:

Cello insurance 
  • I had asked my teacher about his cello insurance after being reminded by Mark, a fellow blogger, who was also wondering about cello insurance. It's been on my To-Do List for a while now, so I figured I'd better get a policy inforce to cover my two cellos.
    • Coincidentally, my co-worker happened to damage his cello while visiting his family during Christmas. He had bumped his cello into the edge of a table which created a hole/crack. 
    • I can definitely see that happening to me, especially in circumstances where I'm not familiar with my surroundings. I would be totally livid if that happened to me! Unfortunately, I don't think he had insurance and he had only purchased his cello a few months ago, so cello insurance has been fresh on my mind as of late.
  • Adam recommended that I check to see how much it would be to add the cellos to my renter's insurance and in general commented that it's a good idea to insure items separately if they are higher than my deductible and travels between locations, e.g. a $1,000+ laptop or camera being carried to and from campus with a $250 deductible. Also, I need to be aware if it will be considered "professional" coverage (any instance that I get paid or refuse payment) or "normal" coverage, as in an amateur or student that doesn't get paid. I'll cover these details in a later blog.
  • I asked my luthier for his recommendations, which he also recommended that I check the cost of adding it to my current renter's policy, and then also comparing it to other insurance companies to see which is cheaper. He also recommended checking out Heritage Insurance.
    • So far, I've requested quotes from all of the major cello insurance companies (Clarion Insurance, Heritage Insurance & Merz-Huber Insurance) and from my current insurance - Farmers. I'm still waiting for a quote from Farmers, but as soon as I get that information I'll post it. Yeah, I know over-kill, but I want to get the most bang from my buck and to make sure my cellos are taken care of. 

Scale warmup
  • We warmed up with the C major scale, which I'm still having issues with not putting enough weight on the C string. 
    • Going up the scale I'm too light, so the sound doesn't resonant. However, coming down the scale I do just fine because I can gauge the weight and the angle from the other strings; whereas the starting point I don't really have a reference point. 
  • My teacher recommend that I make sure I grab the string before starting the bow stroke on the C string and to use more weight, which he had also commented in a previous lesson. I better start working on really feeling the "grab" before starting the bow stroke. 
    • Trying this after the critique, I did better on the open C and on D, but my stroke lightened again on E and F, so I'll have to really focus on those two notes. 
      • I think it was because I was unsure if my angle was correct because it felt off.  The bow didn't feel like it was at the right angle and wouldn't have full contact with the C string during the E and F stroke, so I also lightened my weight. I always lighten my weight if I think I'm about to play something incorrectly! 
    • I'm still hesitant with adding more weight to the C string because I'm afraid of getting the really heavy/closed crunching sound, which I've had to work really hard to get rid of on the D and G string, which is still an ongoing process!
    • Also, on the C string I think I'm still having the issue of pushing down on the string instead of  having a feeling of a horizontal pull, so I think I just need to work on the C string more.

  • We played through this a couple times, which went fairly well. I always seem to do well with pieces I like - the music just flows and I don't have to think about it to much! :).
  • My intonation was good for all of the notes, except for one note, which was way off! I over-extended my pinky...
  • Working on dynamics & phrasing 
    • Since I have this fairly down, Adam wants me to start working on dynamics and phrasing on this piece.
    • As an exercise, we're going to disregard the current dynamics that are noted on the sheet and use different dynamics to make sure there is more contrast between them, which will also help in my phrasing.
      • For lines 1 & 2: piano (instead of mf)
      • For lines 3 & 4: mezzo-forte (instead of f)
      • For lines 5 & 6: piano (instead of mf)
      • For lines 3 & 4: mezzo-forte (instead of f)
  • Working on phrasing
    • Using the different dynamics I should try applying the rules:
      • In general: higher notes should be played louder 
      • In general: longer notes can be used as a lead-in to a crescendo 
    • To me, it feels/sounds like falling in and out of steps in dancing, or I would imagine a train going up and down rollings hills or a rollercoaster or something...
    • Since I'll be using piano instead of mezzo-forte, I can really be loud/forte on the higher notes to make it really stand out. 
  • Adam is still working on the recordings for the accompaniments, but when I get it from him I think I may record myself playing Rigadoon with the recorded accompaniment and post it.
  • Recording of me playing Rigadoon - I haven't worked on dynamics yet and this is definitely still a work in progress since I have not had time to apply all the information from this lesson yet.

  • We reviewed this piece for the first time. Typically what happens is I record him playing a piece during a lesson with my iphone, but don't cover the mechanics or have me play it during the lesson. However, he will sometimes point out tricky spots to watch out for. Then I watch the recording and work on it at home, and then review it during the next lesson. 
    • I also have software that slows down or speeds up the video while maintaining the correct pitch so I can work on things really slowly
      • Typically I have to slow the video down to 50% at first and then slowly increase it as I get comfortable with each speed. 
    • I'll play it on my iphone with one earbud in my right ear so I can hear my intonation in my left ear. This has also helped my volume because I'm trying to match the volume from my earbud. 
  • For me, this works out really well because:
    • 1) It would be really embarrassing playing it front of him without trying it first - I'd be making a LOT of mistakes and that would make me even more nervous and I'd end up playing worse!
      • My nervousness of playing in front of him has definitely dissipated some, but I'm still fairly nervous playing in front of him. When I can play the way I do at home, then I'll know I've gotten my nerves under control! 
      • I wonder if this is an issue for a lot of cello students or because I just tend to be tightly wound! 
    • 2) Sometimes things just come naturally and I think finding something naturally on my own is better than learning the mechanics before discovering it may have occurred by itself.
    • 3) I think it's better that I get comfortable with the piece. This way, I can learn the notes and fingering so we don't waste time during the lessons going over this.
  • Corrections for this piece
    • As usual, use more bow!
      • A default of mine is to use very small bow strokes. My brain for some reason thinks it's easier to use less bow, when in fact it's harder (of course!). I'll have to train that unruly brain of mine to think the opposite!
    • Don't lift the bow 
      • Another default of mine is to lift the bow. I'm actually not sure why I do this, it's an unconscious habit of mine, so I'm going to have to really watch my bow movement to figure out what/why it's happening so I can correct it.
    • Left hand: use more conservatively 
      • Don't lift the first finger if I don't have to. I'm doing a lot more work than I should be doing! 
    • Try the Etude Variation
      • My teacher commented, "if I get bored of Etude" I should try the variation. It dawned on me that he may have commented on this because I lost my place a couple of times. My mind definitely wondered! However, it wasn't because the piece was boring (it's definitely a challenging for me), but because my attention drifted. My ADD kicking in! LOL! :)
      • This bowing is similar to Perpetual Motion, but what is more difficult for this piece is that there are more notes and string crossings. 

    Adam commented that I've been progressing nicely since I started my lessons and reminded me that I didn't even know how to read notes back then, which I hadn't even considered! I'll have to add that to my end of year review! :).

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