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*


  1. hey there! it has been months since the last time i commented here :) oh, Happy 1st Anniversary! :D

    hey good job up there!Judging from it, your intonation has really improved - congratz!. Definitely better than my 1st few attempts on this piece (that blasted unison leap of D nearing the end of 3rd line!). Why i suddenly play suzuki tunes even though i am following ABC's of cello method? My teacher left me for 3 weeks now due to tight concert schedule, and asked me to try learn suzuki book 1 by myself. He thought i'd do ok since i am already on the intermediate book on ABC's but boy, Happy Farmer's articulation is sure a killer! Looking forward to your Happy Farmer (my farmer is nowhere near happy as of now).

    btw, how is it going with 2012 resolution? It's nearing March - the 1st quarter, so in my office we are busy doing the scorecard for 1st qtr review. If i were to apply to cello goals for the year, i'd say.....10% :P I rarely used metronome in my practices (2 times in 2 months to be precise), nvr on my tuner while playing (it's just feel so weird that my 1st finger NEVER hits yellow light! Not to mention i feel so restricted even though the tune blends in ok with recording) and my very own cello blog......not progressing :P Goootta step up my effort. Good thing the passion still hasn't faltered one bit.

    Wow, long comment after so long, i will stop this by saying don't worry too much about your pace, when your progress is so much more to talk about! I am in love with your intonation, and please don't lose that head bobbing, love it. Just shows that you are into it!

    Bye now :D

    1. Hey Thaddaeus! I was wondering what you’ve been up to! I’m glad you’re still practicing and passionate about learning the cello! :).

      Yeah, my articulation on Etude & Happy Farmer isn’t quite there yet. I think I should be able to post Happy Farmer by next week.

      It’s funny you should mention quarterly goals… the previous firm I used to work at was very goal-oriented and the place I used to work before that was really into time management and everyone was required to learn the Franklin Covey system. Thus, my task & goal oriented ways! Lol! It’s been very helpful though! :).

      Wow – no teacher again? Yikes… :(. That would drive me nuts, although I think I’m way too dependent on my teachers anyway.

      You should make starting a blog part of your 2nd quarter goals! :).
      You can always keep it private and delete it later if you change your mind. I’m telling you, it definitely keeps me on track!
      As far as the tuner, both my teachers say NOT to look at the light, and that it's better if I can blend into the recording, drone or who I’m playing with. I’ve been trying to break the habit of looking at the light to check my intonation and just listen to the sound, which has been a VERY difficult habit to break, so I think going with your instinct about blending is better.

      Not bad on my goals so far… I’ve found a group of musicians to play jazz (which I’ll be meeting for the first time this weekend), doing some some intonation training, and I’ve asked Clayton for vibrato prepatory exercises (but not doing vibrato yet). But I’m still avoiding practicing shifts and transcribing music…

      I’ll make you a deal – if you start a blog, I’ll transcribe a song!! =p

  2. Hi Gemini,

    Congratulations on your milestone!
    I wouldn't worry about your head movement while playing, too many other things to focus on I imagine. Well look at Stjepan Hauser.

    I hope I can sound that good after a year. :0)
    I am working towards moving at a snails pace, one just flew past me.

    I am struggling with the LH position and the bow hold. I am following the Potter book and starting with Pizzicato.
    I am hoping to afford a teacher by April. There are none near me so I am thinking of online options. I found a Russian woman who looks like a good place to start.
    She has a few very helpful lessons on Youtube.

    Happy practicing.

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks! :).
      LOVE Stejpan Hauser!! :). I’ve had his MP3 album Song to the Moon on repeat for a while now, and it's absolutely lovely! One day I hope to sound a tenth as good as him… ;).

      Yeah, in cello learning those snails are some fast buggers! …jet propulsion snail shells!! :).

      Hang in there! The initial left hand and bowing is the worse/tedious to figure out.
      My first few lessons were on how to hold the bow and left hand position, which was NOT very fun and quite boring. In fact, I had purchased Potters and Cello Playing for Music Lovers to study on my own to accelarate my snail’s pace, which made things more interesting, but I don’t know if that necessarily helped. And, at that point I still didn’t know if I wanted to continue learning how to play the cello because it wasn’t really that exciting. I was actually AVOIDING my cello lessons at the time… :).

      My turning point was when I purchased Essential Elements 2000 for Strings. I had my “Aha! moment” when I was able to play along with the tracks and was making ACTUAL MUSIC (well, to me anyway) – instead of bowing back and forth on open strings and plucking. Hearing myself play those simple songs is what made me want to continue, and is also why I have a bunch of different method books.

      I also wasn’t focusing on technique while playing EE, but my hand position and bowing improved drastically - probably because I couldn’t make a decent sound if my hand position or bowing was completely lacking so my body/ear adjusted my hand and bow into some semblance of order so I could play along. In the beginning for me, it was more about gettig comfortable with the cello and bow, and getting some enjoyment out of it.

      Sorry, long story longer… it can definitely be frustrating, but you can do it! :).
      By the way, I’ll add the audio portion of EE to my library this weekend if you want to review it. Let me know if there are any other audio files you want me to add.

      And here are some other online options. I haven’t tried any of them though.
      Sorry, I seem to keep throwing info at you!

      1) Emily Wright -
      She writes the blog Stark Raving Cello which I follow, and also wrote the book - A Modern Cellist’s Manual, which is in my library.

      2) Cassia Harvey -
      I think she teaches mostly intermediate students, but from the technique books she written, it seems she has teaching down to a science. I have a bunch of her beginning technique books.

      3) Emily Ann Peterson -
      She writes a blog I follow as well, and she just started offering online lessons.

      You might want to try each of them. Sometimes its more about finding a teacher that matches your personality and learning style, and not necessarily how qualified they are.
      Although I really like how Olga Redkina breaks things down on her YouTube channel. Thanks for pointing me to her channel, I wasn’t subscribed to her.

      Happy practicing to you too! :).

  3. Hi Gemini,

    Thanks for taking the time for the detailed response.
    Yes those snails seem to have their afterburners engaged some days.

    Thanks for all the material you've made available, it's very helpful. I haven't yet looked at the EE book but will tomorrow. Please put the audio files up, that will be very helpful. Also if you have the files for Jim Aikin's book available (Picture Yourself Playing the Cello) those would help too. The publisher no longer makes them available on their site.

    I have been following Emily Wright, but not Emily Ann Peterson. I am following her now.
    I'm not sure if the Skype type lessons will be effective, but will have to see after an intro lesson.

    Also do you think those bow hold devices help with the hand posture? (Like the Cellophant). I have found many helpful videos on bow hold and am practicing to get a relaxed hand.

    Thanks for all of your help.


    1. Hi John,

      I used the Cellophant for a while, before switching to surgical tubing, and now I"m trying to use the bow bare.

      Before the Cellophant I had an awesome death grip on my bow which was making my thumb extremely sore and my arm and bowing really stiff. It definitely helped me!
      My teacher kept saying relax my fingers, and/or thumb, which I THOUGHT I was... but I didn't know how a relaxed hand was supposed to feel like until I used the Cellophant and then it just clicked!

      I've put the audio files up for EE. Let me know if that works.
      Unfortunately, the CD for Jim Aiken's book doesn't work. I ordered it through Amazon, and for some reason the CD wouldn't play. I never exchanged the book to get a new CD because I had other books to use (and I was being lazy). Not sure if they'll exchange since it's been awhile...


  4. Hi Gemini,

    I may order the Cellophant (how can you resist with a name like that).

    Thanks for posting the audio files of the EE book. I have been reading through it tonight and it is fantastic! I will start using it tomorrow.

    I have Safari an online book service and Jim Aikin's book is on there. There is a notation that to send an email to the publisher and they will send the disc. So I will see if I get it. I will let you know.

    Thanks for all of your help!


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