Chinese Proverb

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

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lesson #54 (3/4/12): Minuet & Duet

I'm trying to post my entries in a more timely manners so concepts sink in better. Now that we're working on Bach's Minuet in C and Minuet No. 2, I think I'll post Happy Farmer in the next couple of days, probably Wednesday since I didn't have time tonight because of class and I have a dance class tomorrow after work.

Lesson Notes:

Bach's Minuet in C
  • My bowing has become really light again, not sure bowing was getting much more relaxed on Etude and Happy Farmer but lighted up again in this piece. I need to remember to rest my bow on the strings to keep constant contact between the string and bow. 
    • I think it may be because during the previous pieces I was concentrating on my elbow level so I was getting better bow contact with the string, but when I started learning this piece my focus turned to my left hand so my bowing kind of went crazy again. Hmm.....I'm going to have to to test that out later.
  • Intonation
    • My C on the G string was constantly flat. I could hear it was flat, but kept missing it each time! I've got to remember to stretch my pinky a little bit farther or rotate my upper torso more.
  • Keep same tone/feel throughout string changes
    • Make sure the notes on my A string match the tone of the rest of the notes on the D & G strings, i.e. I played the notes on the A string so they really stuck out and was really obviously I did a string change since it had a different tone and volume then the rest of the other notes. 
      • Adam mentioned that phrasing shouldn't be based on my hand position or bowing (or lack thereof), but rather how I would like it to sound, and right now my phrasing is being determined by what I am able to do with my fingering and bowing. 
  • Smoother more connected bowing
    • More connected bowing, though not quite legato, but so there is less of a pause between the notes so it sounds like one long phrase - kind of like this run on sentence...  
      • Bach should have the feeling of very connected notes with nice flowing phrasing.
    • I have to think about not stopping the bow and having a continuous smooth arm motion to make the notes sound more connected. Adam mentioned that I could accomplish this by prepping my left hand sooner for string changes. 
      • While I'm bowing on the D string, I can move my 1st & 2nd finger to the A string while leaving my elbow at the D string level. Then with the left hand, move my 1st & 2nd finger on to the A string. Make sure my fingers are curved, and then once I bow on the A string, I can adjust the level of my elbow to the correct A string level. This should create a more seamless string crossing. 
  • Specific measures that I need to work on:
    • Measure 17: My fingering wasn't very clean and my bow wasn't resting completely on the string either, so I was getting a fairly ugly sound in this measure! Yikes..
    • Measure 2: Should be louder, with a crescendo. Work on phrasing. 
  • We played this together after going over the piece, and my tone sounded a lot better when Adam played the accompaniment with me.  I was using a much "heavier" bow stroke to match his tone and volume which seemed to fix my overly-light bowing.  However, I could tell my timing was off because I was ending my notes sooner than he was, and I was a bit off in intonation. 
  • Overall, I really like this piece and can't wait until I get this more polished! :).

Duet (Country Dance) 
  • My coworker and I decided to start playing duets together so we could get some practice with playing with other people. We had actually played a couple of Suzuki pieces at work a few weeks ago, and it sounded fairly decent, although the receptionist next door complained that she could hear us! Lol! ;). Anyway, we have to find a place outside of work to practice the duets. 
  • This has 3/4 timing but has a pickup in the beginning. However, Adam recommended playing it differently that what is written to get a different rhythm and feel. 
    • He recommended that I feel it on the 1 instead of counting it out as three beats, so I feel the gestures instead of counting it out.

No lesson with Adam next week since he's busy, so my assignment for the next two weeks is to:  
  1. Make sure bow contact is consistent over the strings which may mean a little weight on the upper strings, i.e. as long as I make sure the bow hair wraps around the strings and I don't get a skating sound.
  2. Keep working on the intonation - make sure I can hear the ring in my 4th finger notes on each string.
  3. With Minuet in C, Adam wants me to keep the space between notes at a minimum. For now, he would like it minimal since it's easier to put the space back in rather than taking it out. Prepping my left hand earlier before the string crossing will help make it smoother.
  4. Work on Minuet 2 and try to make it as clean as possible, with a nice articulated sound and no wishy washy floating bows.


  1. Hi there!

    I love this piece too (Minuet in C)!Love the C major to G major shift in the 2nd verse - so bach-sounding with that big fat minim on tonic G before returning to C major :) Dunno we have this kind of music at this beginner level!

    While i was working on this last weekend, I observed some of your problems in my playing too!For example, on A string my bowing became rather lighter, thus making it steely sounding (while i am looking for big rings especially on staccatos).I also hate my sharper D intonation on A string and the little-too-bright tone and volume just amplify my desire to get it replaced to mellower jargar or something :P

    My teacher also asked my quaver to sound more connected by moving the wrist in response to elbow direction (sorta like inertia response) but i just can't! it just sits there frozen though i've tried so hard to make it relax that it feels lifeless :P (ok i am exaggerating but you get my point).

    Btw, I was reading on your last 2 post of ear training and all, and I'd like to promote a free software that is quite good for your jazz prep. It is called GNU Solfege and it has this lot of trainings your ears would ask for :) I've been using this for sometime and it helps that now I kinda could tell the simple transition from scales (like major to minor) by listening to interval changes in riffs - been experimenting this on sweet child o mine :) It's not jazz per say but i guess the fundamental is quite the same. Hope this would help with your upcoming jazz sessions!

    Happy cello-ing!
    p/s: last time when i was playing a bouree in Em of bach's Lute suite and kinda murdered the piece, i jokingly said bach must be rolling in his grave. My teacher said," No worries, that rolling means you are putting life into Bach, many musicians will thank you for that". Key takeway, do play Bach badly? :S

  2. Hey Thad!

    Thanks for sharing GNU Solfege, I’ve downloaded it and will try it later today. The interface is a little different than what I’m used to so I’ll have to take a better look at it later today. By the way, which interval exercise do you use most often?

    LOL! Your teacher was quick on the draw with: "No worries, that rolling means you are putting life into Bach, many musicians will thank you for that."
    Us beginners must really slaughter Bach all the time! :).

    Yeah, with the two Bach minuets, I feel like I really have to have those polished before I can post them since it's the first "real" piece of music that I've worked on, and I really don't want Bach rolling around in his grave either! Putting LIFE into Bach, but not as a zombie…! ;).
    There's a level of expectation when playing great composers' pieces, even though it's a beginner level piece, so I think I ‘ll stay on these minuets for a bit…

    Isn't that so weird? Bowing on A works, and then all of a sudden it doesn't, just because we're working on a different piece? What string do you currently have on your A string?
    I’ll have to check in to see what my wrists are doing too… I haven’t really looked at that!

    …soooo you’ll be posting a video of you playing the minuets right? ;)

  3. Hey Gemini!

    Happy I could help. On the exercise i'll usually do "2nd major or minor" and "Perfect 4th, perfect 5th or Octave" exercises..I'd like to do more but my bro asked me to master these 2 execises 1st..Couldn't remember the exact reason why, but it has something to do with recognising common scales transition..

    I know right, A string just hates us beginners!it wasn't so obvious when i am playing with my teacher (no mute), but at home when i am having the mute on - less overtone, it's so freaking obvious that i'd rather go for 4th and 5th position to some extent for those easy 1st pos notes on A string! I am not really sure what string i am having currently but my teacher agreed it's a little way too bright, though he asked me to hang on a bit - to see whether i am still hating it next 3 months.

    Ouch, I should start recording it right?I am a little camera shy, but yeah i'll make myself anyhow :P it's part of my new year resolution anyway..