Chinese Proverb

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Practice Log #13: Etude (after 52 lessons and 1 year later)

Things to work on:
1) Transitioning from single bowing to double bowing - it always takes me a few bars to figure out my hand position
2) Louder with more bite on single bowing - but I need to remember to release the string so I don't get that harsh sound I'm getting now
3) Cleaner sound on doubles - watch my angles on string crossing
4) Work on getting a steadier, consistent rhythm
5) Memorize this piece
6) I'm still moving around a lot, and my head is bobbing around like crazy...what's the deal with that? Lol! :).

I'm not particularly happy about this video (although that seems to be a reoccurring comment on my videos), but since I'm working on Happy Farmer and Minuet in C, I thought I'd better post this one. :). I also messed up at the end, but it was late and I didn't feel like recording it again.

I had recorded Happy Farmer & Minuet in C on February 21st to try and get it in before my goal, but I thought those videos were fairly bad so I decided not to post them.  So...even though I really, really wanted to get to the end of Suzuki Book 1 by my one year goal date, I decided it's not worth posting really bad videos of me playing the pieces really poorly...and to avoid the embarrassment of looking at them later and seeing how awful I was! :).
I've also decided that maybe I shouldn't be rushing it and should be focusing on technique more. Well...I keep saying that, but I keep wanting to get to the next piece!

Anyway, I've also discovered even though I haven't mastered angles, string crossings and bowing technique for Etude, when I work on harder pieces and come back to the earlier pieces they sound much better, so I'm hoping that's what will happen with this piece.

Another thing I've noticed, now that I'm really trying to listen to my intonation is that some of my recordings are way out of tune! I was hoping it was my speakers, but I"m pretty sure it's me! ..ugh..

Also, taking one lesson in jazz and one in classical per week has really increased the amount of lessons I've taken, which I'm not particularly liking either! I was trying to keep that number low, otherwise it kind of looks like the only reason I'm improving is because I'm taking a TON of lessons (which I am), but I think practicing is what is more important. I think I may have to go every other week and stagger the lessons to keep my number of lessons down. Technically it's been one full year and there are 52 weeks in a year, so that works out perfectly! :).  Although, I still think I'm progressing at a snail's pace...*sigh*

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lesson #52 (02/26/2012): Happy Farmer & Bridge

Lesson Notes: 

New Bridge for my Lombardi cello
  • I had a new bridge (Belgian instead of French) made for my Lombardi cello, which has made it even more beautiful sounding! I really love that cello! <3. 
  • There is just something about the quality of sound that I really like, even though it sounds better under my ear than far away. However, with the new bridge, the discrepancy of how it sounds under my ear versus when it's far away has lessened a lot. Also, the strings react much more quickly and it resonates a lot more too! Both my cellos now have a Belgian bridge. 
  • Adam had me test my cello, and had me sit farther away while he played it loudly and then played my cello while I sat close by. It definitely sounded a lot louder in my living room than his spacious basement, but I thought it sounded a lot more open and resonant. When I sat closer, the harsh "scratchy" sound was more noticeable, which apparently becomes less noticeable a few feet away from the cello, which he wanted me to hear, so that I would know that it was okay to hear the "scratchy" sound under my ear because it the audience wouldn't hear it.  

Happy Farmer 
  • I didn't play Happy Farmer that well during this lesson than when I had practiced at home, although my string crossings were more clean. I had it memorized this at home (I swear!) but for some reason was confusing the different sections during this lesson. Ugh - my brain... everything just went out the window when I played it during the lesson!  
  • My articulation for some sections weren't as strong as others, but I could have sworn I was playing it the same way! 
    • I recorded myself after my lesson and I definitely was not keeping the same sound! It's kind of weird when I think I'm doing something, but am doing the exact opposite! Lol! ;).  

Assignment for Happy Farmer:
  1. Work on memorizing this, i.e. learn them as have an A section, B section and C section, instead of an A & B section even though they are very similar. 
  2. Verbally say aloud which section I'm are in to really remind myself where I am.
  3. Even with the new bridge, I still need to have a good contact point and weight in the string.
  4. Remember to keep my bow hand pronated and not have the first finger too far on top of the stick.

Minuet in C
  • I played this for the first time one time, but didn't have time to review it during this lesson and will review during the next. But he mentioned that I needed to add more weight and volume, but sounded good so far. 

I had a midterm that week and was really busy, so I was behind on my posts again, but what else is new! However, every time I don't post or at least jot it down and leave it in my drafts, I feel like I loose a lot of the information and the concepts just don't sink in like they normally do. So the next few weeks, I'm going to really try and jot down and post my blogs sooner than later. 

Lesson #51 (Jazz #11 02/26/2012): Lead sheets & Rep (Back to School Blues)

There is so much stuff I want to do with the cello - so many classical pieces, songs, genres (jazz, blues, fiddle, celtic, pop - everything!) - I want to be able to do it all! I just can't wait to get out of the beginner stages already - so frustrating!

What's really interesting about Clayton is he's played a lot of different genres using the cello, and it's really nice to know that he's able to adapt and give advice on other genres. He's just SO AMAZING! :).

Lesson notes: 

  • I'll be practicing with a jazz group this upcoming Saturday, and the person who organizes the practice sessions, Daniel, emailed me a copy of their lead sheets so I took it to my lesson to see what I could do to prepare for the practice session next weekend. 
  • The lead sheets/songs are harder than what we are currently working on, so Clayton's first advice was, until I know my role in the group, to play the harmony. I think that'll be really easy (I hope), which is totally fine with me, since I don't want to stick out like a sore thumb during my first practice/jam session there. He also mentioned that if they don't have a bass player, he would teach me how to do a walking bass line sooner than later since it was on our To-Do list, but we haven't gotten to it yet. 
  • I'm actually not too worried about the practice session either, which is kind of weird, since I'm typically pretty shy about playing in front of people - I wonder why that is...?

Back to School Blues
  • I'm still having issues trying to count, bow and do my left hand for this, but as soon as I turn off my brain and stop counting I can play it! He said that jazz is about feeling the rhythm, and although its important to be able to read the notes and swing them, its more important that I can feel it. Although he still wanted me to be able to read the notes as well. I think I'm definitely over thinking this, especially if I can play it if I stop counting! 
    • He also recommended that I take a 4 hour Baroque dance workshop this Saturday so I can really feel the rhythm and know how the minuets are supposed to be played, which I thought was an excellent idea and am really excited about attending. Wow - this Saturday is going to be FUN! 
  • Setting up my jazz goals:
    • I'm not sure if I want to start recording my jazz repertoire or any of my jam sessions... but I definitely want to set up some kind of goal system like my Suzuki videos so I have tangible proof of my improvement - not sure what that will be yet...

Anyway, it's been one year and I've been bummed about my slow progress, even though both my cello teachers say I'm progressing fine, I can't help but compare my progression to other beginner adults who have progressed much faster (like my coworker!). And their my teachers, so of course they have to say that, right? ;).

Anyway, Clayton gave me some advice on improving: 
  • Let the cello tell me when it's in tune.  
  • Make sure that I ALWAYS practice with intention.  He says mindless practicing is one of the biggest wastes of time.  The smarter I practice, the faster I will improve.  
Which reminds me, I really should go back to using my Practice Logs so I can have more efficient, productive practices.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lesson #50 (Jazz #10 02/19/2012): Rhythm & Repertoire (Back to School Blues)

I was thinking about joining a Bluegrass ensemble playing the cello, but with my schedule I couldn't do it this semester. I'll try during the summer though, but I wanted a little more experience in jazz and classical first anyway. However, I think I may have found a group of jazz musicians that may be open to me jamming with them in the future! This should be interesting - or a complete disaster! LOL! :).

Another really great thing about Lindy Hop/Swing dancers, they're are a lot of really nice dancers who play instruments and are very welcoming with regards to their jam sessions! :).

It's like in any partner-dancing: to improve quickly, one needs to do a lot of social dancing! For musicians, I guess playing with other musicians is the equivalent.  Reminds me of the "sink or swim" mentality, but in a good way! :).

Lesson notes: 

Back to School Blues
  • My understanding with regards to meter and subdivisions was incorrect, so I had written in 4/4 subdivisions instead of 3/4 timing so everything was completely off. For some reason I thought the meter affected what notes were accented, but it affects the duration of the note (not the accent). So when I played the piece for Clayton he immediately said that I was playing it in duples, not triples. 
  • I had no idea how he knew that (I'm sure he could hear it right away), but the subdivisions that I had written in for the piece was 4/4. He played the piece for me in duples, then triples and I could definitely hear a difference in how it was played, but my understanding beyond that...well...let's just say I'm still working on it - although I think it's slowly sinking in...
  • He reminded me as I break down the piece into subdivisions, that most of the notes will fall on the 1 or 3, and in triplets, the notes' duration will be much shorter. 
  • He also recommended getting a metronome that breaks down the beat in subdivisions. He looked at my Korg TM 40 tuner/metronome but it didn't have that function, so he recommended that I set it to 3 beats with the speed at 180. He showed me his Korg MA 30 tuner/metronome which does subdivisions, so I think I'll be purchasing that, especially since its only $17.49! 
    • Although I already have 5 tuner/metronomes (I also have a Korg CA 40 tuner/metronome), none of them do subdivisions. I have two on my music stand, and two in my bag and my husband uses one for his guitar. I like using two tuners/metronomes at the same time during my practice. I turn on one for a drone which I put under my chair and the other one I put in front of me on the music stand to see the tuner needle, this way I can see and hear it visually. The drone is actually quiet enough that the sound doesn't get picked up by my second tuner. 
    • He also mentioned a really expensive, popular tuner/metronome - Dr. Beat Metronome. It says the subdivisions aloud! Very cool! Okay, I have to admit I like gadgets, but I'll have to wait until I get good enough to purchase this one! :). Although he says that it's pretty big and uses up a lot batteries so its better to plug in and use at home. 
  • Intonation - my intonation was really off on this piece! Although, I've noticed that if I'm working on bowing or rhythm, my intonation is the first to go! No surprise there! So I'm not too worried about this, although he would like me to stop looking at my tuner to see if I'm in tune. He keeps flipping my tuner around during my lesson so I can't see the screen!
    • Okay whining moment... it takes a really long time to find the correct notes!!! Ugh...okay, just be forewarned, be ready to sit there for a long while until I'm able to find the correct pitch! =p
    • So, same as what Adam recommended, start playing notes against open strings whenever possible. Which I'm kind of sort of doing, it just takes a really long time...and I never really know if I'm spot on. *sigh* I've seriously spent 30 minutes or more during a few practice sessions going up and down a scale trying to figure out if I'm in tune by listening to my cello's resonance...did I mention it takes a really long time to figure out if I'm in tune or not? 
  • My assignment is:
    • Re-do the subdivisions to triplets 
    • Clap the notes to the beat 
    • Then say the fingerings aloud with the beat 
    • Practice this in pizz and make sure that I am landing on the correct beat
    • Do just the bowing without fingering 
    • Practice the different rhythm with scales 
    • Combine the fingering and bowing! Whew - that's a long process!

Minuet C 
  • I need to record the rest of the Suzuki pieces by the 23rd, and I didn't get a chance to work on this with Adam, so I had Clayton go over it instead. This is really a nice piece! 
  • Minuet C is a piece that was played for a dance (waltz), and the emphasis is on one. He mentioned that I should record this, and if it doesn't make me want to get up and dance, I should keep trying to get that feeling. He mentioned that Bach's pieces mostly have a light and airy feel to them, while Brahms has a more powerful quality to his pieces. He played it both ways, and it was amazing how different the sound and the feeling was! 
  • My bowing was very even and on the heavy-side, so Clayton corrected my bowing and said that it should be, "heavy-light-light," like the rise and fall of a waltz. Another way to visualize this, was to pretend to tossing a tennis ball in the air and catching it, with the throw/emphasis being on one, while everything else is light because I'm waiting to catch the ball. 
  • For this piece, to get a nicer, lighter feel to it, he recommended playing closer to the fingerboard and to get a louder sound to use more bow. The "heavy" bowing just means a little bit more weight and bow, which should be horizontal, while the "light-light" bowing should release of the bow and is a shorter bow stroke. 

Lesson #49 (02/19/2012): Etude & Happy Farmer

My year goal is coming up on the 23rd so I want to record the last pieces of Suzuki, although they're no where close to being polished or ready for recording, but I figure if I can "kind of" play them I've reached my goal! :). So the last Suzuki pieces I'm going to post will be kind of bad... I'll have to re-post them once I get them more polished.

Also, I convinced my co-worker to do duets with me. I figure I need practice playing with other people.

Lesson notes: 

  • I was having lots of trouble getting the correct bow angles for this piece, so I had started memorizing this piece so I can watch my bow angles. Unfortunately, this is a harder piece to memorize because the notes and finger patterns are fairly similar, so we went over different ways to memorize pieces. 
  • Singles:
    • Better sound since I was in the process of memorizing the piece so I can view my bow angles. 
  • Doubles:
    • This was still kind of a disaster, I think I'm not comfortable with the bowing just yet and I didn't have it fully memorized. 

Happy Farmer: 
  • I actually have this piece down, but for some reason I played this really poorly. I guess, I didn't know it as well as I thought I did! 
  • For this piece, Adam would like me to memorize the piece so I can focus on my string crossings and really knowing the piece since memorizing Etude really helped me get a better sound since I could watch my bow angles. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lesson #48 (Jazz #9 02/12/2012): Repertoire (Q&A & Back to School Blues)

We went over the previous repertore, which went really well! Yaay! :). So we started on the next piece Back to School Blues which is a lot harder.

Question & Answer: 
  • This went really well, my intonation was better and so was my timing, since it finally clicked for me on how to count, bow and do my left hand at the same time for this specific piece! Now I just need to increase my tempo!
  • For jazz pieces, it's really important to have the correct rhythm, more so than classical music, so Clayton recommended that I start practicing with a metronome from now on for jazz pieces until I can really internalize the different rhythms. Did I mention I am really horrible at rhythm?! Really, really, really bad...I would say out of all of the things I've learned and am working on so far, rhythm has got to be the hardest by far

Back to School Blues:
  • This piece is 4/4, but Clayton would like to do it as a triplet instead. I think he said triplets sound more like a "round." He also mentioned that it would be a good comparison to know and feel how a 4/4 and 3/4 rhythm feels like, which I can compare to the previous piece. 
  • I should apply the different rhythms to my scale practice again and to also break down the the long slurs:
    • Work on fingering without the bow
    • Work on bow without fingering
  • Also, when going from E on the D string to A on the G string, I need to make sure that my first finger comes straight across (I was dipping my first finger or something). I should also initiate my finger moving to the next string before my bow crosses over. 
  • This is a hard piece. I haven't had to do slurs yet in Suzuki, sort of, since we started Happy Farmer, but they're only two note slurs.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lesson #47 (02/11/2012): Etude & bowing

Wow, way behind on my blog entries again!! It's been a crazy busy month! Besides school & work, I've been doing a lot of dancing lately: troupe practice, social dancing, teaching a blues dancing class and taking a class in contemporary. Dancing definitely has been taking away some of my cello practice time, but I've put cello practice as my top priority...well, right after finishing my homework...blah!

It's pretty common to see Lindy Hop/Swing dancers be lured away to learn an instrument and I've always wondered how in the world learning an instrument can possibly compare or even compete with the love of dancing! I know of at least 4 top level international Lindy Hop dancers/instructors who play instruments, and at events would prefer to jam with the band rather than dance! Well, now I can understand why that is! :).  ...not that I'm jamming with other people yet, but hopefully soon...

I swear, since I've started learning cello (even though its mostly been in classical), hearing and dancing to music has taken a whole new meaning! Intuitively, I think the rhythm and phrasing of music has sunk in and I'm able to dance more musically and also have better partner connection because of it! Connection to music is such a HUGE factor in dancing. This is definitely a no-brainer and not a surprise to anyone, but it actually affects dancing even more than I had originally thought possible!! I can only imagine how awesome it would be to start off as a musician and then become a dancer, instead of vice verse.  Although, I can also see it being more frustrating as well.  

Anyway, below are my lesson notes: 

C Major Scale
  • The lower C Major scale in first position sounded much better, and I was able to sound more legato-like without having a very obvious sounding start to each note. I was practicing mostly the C & G string since that was what my weakest area during the previous practice - so I improved a lot on that. 
  • Unfortunately, I kind of neglected working on the upper C Major scale on the D & A string, so my spacing on between the first and second finger was off, which was correct during the previous lesson. 
  • Fingering 
    • For the upper scale think about having more spacing between the first and second finger, and always think about putting down the third finger as a unit with the second finger to get practice in spacing, plus it assists the third finger. Or I can think of it as having the second and third finger being closer to the fourth finger. 
    • My first finger is too far forward which is probably why my first finger feels a little sore sometimes. I need to bring it back closer to the rest of my fingers.

Playing in different chairs
  • I still have issues when I'm playing in different chairs! At home I practice in the same room, with the same chair, with the same stand and so on, so I know exactly where everything is in relationship with each other. But as soon as something changes, e.g. different chair or wearing heels, it completely throws off my bow angles and left hand fingering! I play on two different celli too which have different finger spacing and bow angles, so I would think I would know how to adjust to different environments by now, but no... :). 
  • Anyway, Adam recommended that I use different chairs at home and move to different spots so I can start adapting more quickly to each environment. He also mentioned, he used to practice the same way I do, with everything setup perfectly each time, but when he started college he was unable to set up a consistent practice area, so instead he purposely made each practice area different each time, e.g. when using one of the many practice rooms at the university, he would rotate through the rooms which had different chairs and stands, and also set up so he faced different directions each time. 
  • He also recommended that the reference point should be where the button of the cello hits my chest. I used to try to reference the cello position where the inside part of my leg touched the cello's ribs, but wearing heels totally screws that up since it puts my knees higher, even though the cello is where its supposed to be! I've stopped wearing heels while playing the cello, which was kind of weird for me since I used to wear heels 24/7. 
  • A David Finckel Cello Talk 95: Adapt! speaking just about that: 

  • Singles
    • Still not getting a very focused clean sound in this, so he recommended playing closer to the bridge. 
  • Doubles
    • Don't rush through the piece or speed up 
    • Don't exaggerate on angles - I think I was kind of lost where my bow angles were supposed to be so I was fishing around for them! For some reason, this entire lesson my cello felt like it was "off" or something because I couldn't find any notes quickly or get clean string crossing - which is why I thought my cello setup at the beginning was incorrect. 

Emailed Assignment from Adam: 
  • Try playing a scale with your pinky off the bow, so that way you can get your hand used to not really actually using the pinky for anything else than just balance.
  • Think of more space between fingers 1 and 2 in general.
  • I  think your intonation on the D string was out because you went from doing 1-3-4 fingering on the c and g strings, but when you have to swtich from that to 1-2-4 on the A and D things start to go a miss
  • Etude: More definition between notes... it was really quite legato, don't rush (get faster), Practice the different bow arm positions so you can get between the G string and C strings without hitting another string.
    • You want some angles, but not too many
    • Make sure your bow is by the sticker for doubles

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lesson #46 (Jazz #8 2/5/2012): Note values, Rhythm & Repertoire (Question and Answer)

We went over the repertoire, Question & Answer, from the Mello Cello method book.

Counting / Rhythm
  • We went over clapping out the rhythm to make sure that I was doing it correctly since after I left the last lesson I didn't review my assignment until later and had to Google it to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Fortunately, for the most part I got it correct! Yaay! :)
  • Clayton again reminded me the point of counting out the subdivision is to eventually be able to internalize it. I have a bad habit of keeping the beat/rhythm by tapping my foot or moving my head or something. My foot was tapping away during the exercise and so he held it down my foot for one of the exercises! Lol! :).
  • After counting out the rhythm, I explained to him that I wasn't able to count and play the piece at the same time, but I could play it without counting. So he had me play it without counting and I was way off! Which was obviously the entire purpose of doing the subdivisions. Silly me...
  • It's funny, he asked what I was thinking when I kept messing up during a certain section, and I immediately thought, "none of your business!" in frustration and embarrassment. Followed by, "what was I thinking?  Had I blanked out and was thinking about absolutely nothing?" Which I have to admit, that happens sometimes! ;). But I had been quietly thinking something, I was thinking "1-2-3-4." 
    • However, I wasn't thinking about what my fingers or bow hand/arm was supposed to be doing, so I kept missing it! ..too much to think about...brain overload...counting, bowing, fingering, intonation... I kept wanting to do a string crossing, but that particular section had slurs. In the Suzuki book, there aren't a lot of slurs so my automatic response was to do a string crossing when I saw a separate note! 

Applying different rhythms to scale practice
  • I think Clayton did come to the conclusion that it was more of a coordination thing again, that I couldn't count, bow and do my fingering at the same time, so he had me break it down into smaller chunks and also had me apply the different rhythms and bowing to the G Major scale. He mentioned that these practice techniques is something I'll be using for the rest of my musical life.
  • I have to admit I was really hesitant and shy to try this during the lesson because I knew I would totally mess this up. I did try it a few times but I recorded him doing it and told him I'd practice at home. 

    1. Work on bowing and fingering with the rhythms in Question & Answer piece for G Major scale
    • Quarter notes
      • 4 beats (1-2-3-4) per bow
    • Separate 8th notes
      • On 1st & 3rd beat switch bow direction
      • Then, on 1st & 3rd note, switch bow direction and add note 
    • Slurred 8th notes
      • Two notes per bow, on 1st & 3rd beat
    • Separate dotted rhythms 
      • On 4th & 1st beat, switch bow direction and note
    • Slurred dotted rhythms 
      • Two notes per bow, on 4th and 1st beat 

    2. Review bow angles
    • Do the exercise "Rock & Roll" aka "Bow Tie" 
    • Watch myself in the mirror (which I haven't done in the last 3 months or so!) 
      • He mentioned that when he went home for the holiday break, he didn't get to practice in front of a mirror so when he got back he noticed that his angles were off, so checking the mirror is always helpful and should be part of my practice sessions. 

    I love Sundays, nothing but practicing and geeking out on cello! :). 

    Lesson #45 (2/5/2012): More Etude & Happy Farmer

    I'm going to try and catch up on my lesson notes and blogging so I can focus on practicing, doing my assignments, and recording Etude this weekend. I don't quite have it down yet, but I think I can clean it up by Saturday or Sunday. My 12 month goal is coming up so I'm trying to get as much stuff done as possible!

    Lesson notes:

    • Intonation
      • Yikes, I was off during this lesson! I've been trying to use my tuner less and am trying to listen to my cello to see when I'm in tune or not, i.e. seeing/feeling when it resonates and also playing it against chords, and boy is it NOT working! Frustrating...I was much more in tune when I was going off of muscle memory and the tuner! It definitely is sounding like I'm regressing with regards to my intonation! :(
    • C& G needs to be more smoother
      • I forgot that when I'm at the frog I don't need to do as much work because the weight is already there, so the sound was much louder at the frog and very inconsistent throughout my bowing. 
      • At the tip, I can do a  little bit of an accents, as long as the accent is not from speed, but from using my first finger and using the weight of my arm. 
      • Also, the weight of my back and my arm wasn't translating down to my bow. I tried applying what I know with regards to partner dancing and right hand connection and that seemed to make it louder. I'm going to have to work on that a little bit more. 
    • "Exaggerate and then shrink down"
      • Once I get the grab or bite on the string, I can start making the bite less obvious and more smooth and legato-like, but for now its best to exaggerate it until I get used to the motion. 

    • Bow closer to the bridge for more focus. I need to find the sweet spot for my bow to get a nice clean sound! I could have sworn I had the sweet spot a couple weeks ago, but lost it when I started working on Happy Farmer! Darn you Happy Farmer... 
    • Doubles - bring the bow closer to the fingerboard 
      • Don't forget about my bow angles 
      • Work on string crossings - bring the bow back a little bit on the G string instead of straight to the side.
    • Endurance
      • Work on one section first, and then slowly add the next section, but only add the next section when I'm consistently getting a nice focused sound.

    Happy Farmer
    • I was finally able to play this during the lesson without totally messing it up! Overall, not bad! :). I was able to play (more or less) the way I play it at home! Yaay, finally... I did mess up in a few sections, but not that noticeable... I think.... 
    • Things I need to work on for Happy Farmer:
      • Reduce arm movement - I'm over doing the string crossings. Again, think less effort and conservation of energy.
      • Don't cut the quarter notes short
      • Work on bow angles and placement

    As of late, my teacher Adam has been sending lesson summaries, which have been very helpful! It's always interesting to see what I think I should be working on and what I come away with, as opposed to what my teacher was actually trying to teach! 

    I happened to type up the notes above before he sent me the email. Below is a list of items from the email that he wanted me to focus on:
    1. Bow placement - find bow placement appropriate for certain speeds of notes and strokes, keeping in mind the faster and scrubbier the stroke, the closer to the fingerboard it needs to be. Otherwise, I need to work the bow closer towards the bridge. 
    2. Use whole arm - find a way to think about using my whole arm and not letting all the energy end at my hand, i.e. the cello should be absorbing all the energy, not my right hand.
    3. Bowing - start with little pressure accents for C and G, and then make it less and less noticeable, but do NOT use a faster bow to get the string to move.
    4. Angles on Etude Doubles - make sure my bow angles are correct when doing doubles.

    And, big news, I finally told my teacher Adam about my blog - almost one year later! 
    ...not sure why I finally did though...I was pretty apprehensive about telling him, which is why I waited this long. hhmmmm...I don't know... I guess I felt if I told him than I couldn't be completely honest in my blog and I'd change how or what I'd write about since the majority of the information I post is about my lessons. 

    I totally adore the guy, but what if I wanted to have a long bitch session about my playing / learning or about him (not that I would) or something! Or if I were to post something that was completely incorrect, which it's a learning process so I'm sure I have somewhere in my long string of blogs. Ack... Oh well, I'll just pretend I never told him about my blog, although I have yet to tell Clayton...! 
    Well, I can only handle telling one teacher at the moment, I'm too self-conscious as it is, so I'll just tell Clayton next year! :).

    Note values & subdivisions (jazz cello)

    I recorded my teacher Clayton counting out the two pieces that we're working on, but I didn't review my lesson until a couple days later and forgot how to do it. Luckily, my co-worker Mike was also learning note values and subdivisions as well and recommended Googling how to do this. He also explained how to use "1 e & a, 2 e & a, 3 e & a, 4 e & a" to count note values for 16th notes which was super helpful!

    I got the images from Study Bass: Interactive Online Bass Lessons. They have some great information on that site!

    I first did the "1 e and a" method, which made more sense to me because counting to 1-2-3-4 got me lost most of the time. Then did it with the "1-2-3-4" method and that finally clicked. 

    I'm glad I'm learning this sooner than later because I think if didn't learn this now, I would have issues reading the notes to more complicated pieces. Right now, what I have to do to play something with the correct rhythm is to slow down the recording with a software I have, and then increase the tempo slowly. That's not exactly learning how to play the notes' value though... 

    Forgive my chicken-scratch handwriting! The pieces below are what I'm working on for my jazz cello lesson.  

    Using eighth note counting method

    Using sixteenth note counting method:

    I can count and clap these out, but counting, bowing and doing the correct fingering at the same time - forget about it! Not happening... yet...

    Since jazz really focuses on having good rhythm, knowing the notes' values are really important. So far, I've found that jazz seems to be very heavy on music theory, reading notes and scales! Hard stuff... at the end of these lessons my brain definitely feels like its full! 

    Lesson #44 (1/29/12): Review/correction of Etude & start Happy Farmer

    Lesson notes:

    • C String 
      • From last week's lesson, my C string was really quiet, so I've been working on getting it to be really loud, now it's too loud! And I'm adding accents to the bow changes because I'm trying to dig in more before changing directions, but this should be more legato-like and have the same volume throughout my bowing. 
      • My teacher recommended to try and rotate my cello to the left to get better access to the C string since I keep hitting the G string. 
    • Intonation
      • My intonation was off, so my teacher recommended that I practice playing E on the D string, and C on the G string and get that into my muscle memory, i.e. to remember the distance between my the spacing between my fingers. 
    • Bow placement
      • Work on bowing closer to the bridge to get a nice crisp sound, but bowing with doubles I should move closer to the fingerboard. 

    Happy Farmer
    • I was able to play this at home, but for some reason I wasn't able to play this very well during the lesson and only got up to two measures. I'll have to work on this some more and get comfortable with it so I can play it during my lesson. 

    My assignment for next week:
    1. Scales: with even big tone, 2 beat per note, 1 note per bow, and clean and clear string crossings.
    2. Etude: steady with a controlled bow closer to the bridge and  have doubles ready for review next week.
    3. If I have time look at Happy Farmer, and try to get that a bit more polished.

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Lesson #43 (Jazz #7 1/29/12): Bowing, Rhythm/Timing & Repertoire (March The First & Question and Answer)

    Wow, jazz is hard… *sigh*  I think I bit off more than I can chew!
    We’re still focusing and working on rhythm, something I don’t want to work on, but its definitely a weak point of mine, which is the reason I asked Clayton if we could focus on rhythm more.

    March The First 
    • Rhythm 
      • I practiced stomping and clapping this at home, so I was much more coordinated and on beat during this lesson! Yaay! But during the lesson, I started focusing on trying to have a good solid beat and my fingering went awry, which is really sad because the notes are SUPER simple – Twinkle easy! 
      • It’s so weird, as long as I play something and don't worry about rhythm, I can play it just fine, but I think thinking I know how to play a piece without actually knowing the note's time value or its relationship to the meter is the real underlying issue. If don’t know/understand how long the note should be, than how am I supposed to play on time right? avoiding learning this... 
    • “Play it convincingly”
      • Clayton mentioned that having good rhythm is something the audience senses, whether or not they understand what is going on. If someone plays a piece with really good rhythm (even with bad intonation) they will come across as being confident in what they're playing. So for me, to play a piece "convincingly," even though I might not feel confident inside, I have to play something on time and with a good beat - easier said than done! 
    • Bowing
      • With the Up-Up bowing with the chords, I need to make sure that I release the strings to avoid the harsh sounding sound.  I have a tendency to really put a lot of weight when playing two strings at the same time
    • The recording of the piece I'm working, which was included with the method book:

    Question And Answer
    • We started on this piece which also looks really easy, but there are a lot of different notes in this piece - quarter, eight, sixteenth and half notes.
    • I've put 'March The First' and 'Question and Answer' in a loop at work so I'm listening to them one after another for eight hours because I'm not familiar with these rhythms.   
    • The recording of this piece:

    Reading Notes
    • We went through and looked at the notes to make sure I knew what each note meant...ummmm...and I have to say I didn't know! ...kind of embarrassing.. Its been awhile since I reviewed reading notes, so I only recognized quarter notes, half notes and whole notes. I didn't know eighth, sixteenth or thirty-second notes. Oops! 
    • To read the timing / rhythm of the piece, Clayton said to first look through the entire piece to determine what is the fastest note. If that note can be found throughout the piece, than I should count at that tempo, but if the fastest note is in a small measure only, than its okay to count only a few measures ahead of where that note is located instead of the whole piece
      • I have to admit, I still don't quite understand how to count it out! I'll have to work on my assignment a bit more and see if it clicks. 
    • Meter 
      • We went over the meters that showed up in our method book: 4/4, 2/4, 6/8 and how that's affected by what notes are played, i.e. how the notes are grouped together. 

    This is still a mystery to me, so I'll have to revisit this again during my next lesson.