Chinese Proverb

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

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lesson #40 (Jazz #5 01/15/12): Extensions, finger games & jazz pizz

Clayton is finally back from break! Yaay! :).
We covered a lot of technical stuff this lesson which was really fun! Lots of technical stuff, so another long post...

  • Clayton's commented that:
    • The angle and position stays relatively the same. 
    • The fingers should NOT be stretching horizontally or vertically, they should be stretching diagonally! I forgot about this (which he covered in a previous lesson), and that totally helped my extensions click for me! 
    • For the most part, when extensions are done, the second finger is used first - I kept playing the note with my third finger and then trying to extend with my first finger! I'm just so used to the D Major scale where I only use my third finger.
  • Backward extensions notes:
    • There should be weight in the second finger with my thumb behind it, while the first finger reaches towards the nut.
      • My second finger had no weight to it and was just loosey-goosey, which was why my hand was moving around and drifting towards the nut.
    • The mechanics/movement should be the same with backward and forward extensions.
    • For now, he recommended that I don't move my thumb until I start learning how to do vibrato.
  • Forward extension notes:
    • There should be weight in the first finger instead while the second finger moves with the thumb as one unit towards the bridge.
    • The mechanics/of moving the second finger higher (towards the bridge) should feel the same.
    • I should watch my hand to make sure the shape of my fingers and my wrist don't change.
  • Extension with moving from one string to another notes:
    • I can try keeping the same shape of my hand in an extension and just move to the next string by moving my whole hand-forearm-elbow as one unit.
    • Or, I can shift and than do a backward extension. He recommended that I try both.
  • Exercises:
    • Downward extension (play on D string; Drone C) 
      • 4 2 1 2, 4 2 x1 2 :||
    • Upward extension
      • 1 2 4 2, 1 x2 4 2 :||

After the corrections, I feel like I have more control over what my hand is doing! Now for lots of practicing!

Bow exercises:
  • I really liked the bow exercises he provided. I have very stiff fingers and wrists, and initiate a lot of my bow movement from my wrist, which is incorrect. After doing the exercises he gave me a few weeks ago, I'm starting to feel a difference in mobility in my wrist, thumb and fingers. I'm still very stiff, but now I'm aware of my lack of flexibility/stiffness and tension, so I know what to focus and work on.  
  • Grasshopper exercise:
    • Do a short stroke at the tip and lift off of the string and move the bow on the correct track and angle without touching the strings in an upbow and then land the bow silently on the string at the frog, and then do a bow stroke (make a sound) at the frog lift the bow from the string into a downbow and land silently at the tip. Imagine a grasshopper hopping from the tip to the frog. 
    • I should focus on the thumb straightening when the bow is at the tip and the thumb being bent when the bow is at the frog.
      • This is really hard and needs a lot of bow control! My bow just wobbles all over the place when its off the string and looses its path!
    • I couldn't find a YouTube example of this exercise. 
  • Knuckle flexibility exercise:
    • He gave me this during my last lesson, but I was actually doing incorrectly and was doing the opposite of what I was supposed to be doing!
    • Knuckle raises
      • Hold bow horizontally, the left hand holding the tip and the right hand at the frog. 
      • Relax the hand and fingers and thumb should be straight - this is what the thumb should be doing when the bow is a the tip and the down bow is completed. 
      • Raise knuckles and thumb should bend - this is what the thumb should be doing when the bow is at the frog and the upbow is completed
    • Knuckle raises part 1
      • After I get that down (which I was completely doing backwards), I hold the bow the same way, but pull the bow to the left to mimic the bow at the frog. Then push the bow, which mimics the bow at the tip. 
        • Pull bow = thumb bends
        • Push bow = thumb straightens
    • Below is a YouTube video. It's not the same exercise that my teacher was teaching me because I couldn't find the same exercise on YouTube, but it's the same concept.

  • Spider crawl exercise:
    • This is a lot harder than it looks! I can go up the bow, but going back down... really hard for me! My fingers are so uncoordinated and stiff! 
    • YouTube video on how to do this:

Jazz pizzicato:
  • Really fun stuff! Clayton went over how he typically does pizz on a bass and said he doesn't need to use as much strength since bass strings are so much thicker than cello strings. Also, the elbow height applies to jazz pizz just like in bowing. 
  • He covered using two fingers to pizz faster for faster tempo'd songs and how bass players can use different types of pizz. I asked him why cellist don't use this type of pizz because to me, it sounds so much more robust. He commented that he thought it was because typically when cellists are doing pizz they also have a bow in their hand so they can't turn their hand downwards with their palms facing outward.  
  • Homework: 
    • YouTube bass players and watch their fingers.
    • Work this into my scale practice. 
  • Below is another YouTube video from Erik Friedlander (who is a jazz cellist) doing jazz pizz. One of the many ways it can be done. 

Next lesson, he'll go over more "jazz stuff" instead of "technique stuff" since we've been working a lot on technique. However, I can't work on a lot of the scales he assigned (which is important in knowing what modes to improvise in) until I learn how to do forward and back extensions and shifts.

During my next lesson, I think we'll be going over how to do a walking bass line, how to swing notes, and a piece he assigned from the Mello Cello Method Book. We haven't been able to get to the pieces or improv because we've been doing a lot of scale work and technique work. I really love working on technique anyway! :).

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