Chinese Proverb

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

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Lesson #64 (05/05/12): Flying with a Cello & Minuet No. 2

This summer I decided to sign up for a beginner adult strings summer camp in August. The problem is I live in Colorado and the camp is in California.

I didn't know much about traveling with a cello so I asked Adam what I needed to do if I wanted to fly with my cello. Fortunately for him, he has an expensive cello case and is able to check-in his cello. I have an Eastman Z-Tek, which he did not recommend that I use for airline travel since it's not specifically made for it. He's flown several times without incurring damage to his cello (knock on wood) and only had his cello "lost" a few times; that is, it didn't arrive at the airport when he arrived.

I think he mentioned that his case was a BAM cello case, so his cello is completely suspended, but he would also wrap some towels around his cello before putting it in the case and would also duct tape the latches. He also mentioned often times if a latch is accidentally knocked loose or something, the integrity of the case is compromised so the cello can be more easily damaged so it was best to use duct tape and then use some GooGone to remove the tape.

Unfortunately, way too expensive for me to buy!

Adam also warned me that the fees (e.g. oversize baggage, carry on, another ticket for the cello etc) seemed to change depending on how knowledgeable the check-in counter person was or if they were having a busy day, because every time he flew he was charged a different amount even though the departure flight and return flight was on the same airline. He said it was pretty much a luck of the draw or lack thereof!

After the lesson, I was feeling pretty good about flying with my cello, but I decided to look online to see what my airline (United) would charge for my cello and discovered a bunch of horror stories about traveling with a cello instead! It seems United is notorious for how they deal with cellos. Apparently, my teacher has had more luck than most cellists when traveling.

Some discouraging cello travel blogs & articles below:
Great info on how to travel with a cello:

Anyway, my husband recommended that I just rent a cello once I get there (if they have one available, which they haven't confirmed yet), but I really, really, really want to bring my cello! *pout*
Maybe a month or two ago, I wouldn't have cared and would have used a rental cello, but lately I've started to really hear when I'm tune and can hear my cello's resonance much stronger than I did before. And, I think traveling with my cello and playing a minimum of 4 hours (not including practice time) for 5 days straight will really cement my recognition and muscle memory with regards to intonation, current fingering and positions. Check out the camp's schedule, it's exactly what I was looking for at my level. Actually, I think it's above my level since I haven't really worked a lot on shifting yet, but I think it's always better to have something right out of my reach. :).

After researching the different airlines online, I decided that I may want to drive to California instead, only to discover that it would take 20 hours and 34 minutes to get there... ouch! My husband definitely was making fun (and complaining) about my choice of musical instrument! - "Why did you have to pick such an expensive bulky instrument?!"

Although, so far, driving to California seems to be the choice for me. However, I would have to drive solo, which I've never done before! I've driven to places in California, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Texas (and Tijuana!) before but never alone, so it's kind of a scary thought driving alone. - What if I get stranded or something? Ugh..
I decided to rent a car since my old '93 Toyota probably won't make it to California. The cost of the rental from Saturday to Monday only costs $272.19 with unlimited miles, but I'm not sure how much gas is going to cost... I've always loved to drive (I'm kind of a speed racer and I've had my license revoked back in the day for speeding tickets, but that's another story...) so I'm kind of looking forward to this! Just me and my cello on a road trip... lol! :).

Anyway to my lesson notes:

Lesson Notes:

We talked mostly about traveling, but we also worked on Minuet No. 2 for a bit.

String Crossings
  • Keep my left hand down, and don't "jump" from string to string. I was lifting my hand when I don't really need to, I can just slide my fingers across, which will also help with my intonation. 
  • Slurs in Measure 29 & 30
    • My slurs were really obvious, and in this piece he wanted me to be much more smooth and "sneaky," i.e. I shouldn't be announcing my string crossings. He mentioned when I get to play The Swan, the string crossings need to be as inconspicuous as possible and this is a good way of starting to learn how to do this. 
  • Exercise #1
    • Example Measure 29: Think long bow on the open D, but I need to slow down before transitioning to the second note. Then grab the string on the 3rd note and do a short bow. I should think about using only half of the lower portion of my bow since I was using too much and it was affecting my sound. Then do the same for Measure 30.
  • Exercise #2
    • Insert a chord. For the slurs, I was moving my bow too fast, so Adam recommended adding a chord between open D and G, so it would slow my bow down and my transition wouldn't be so out of control.


  • My intonation was off, even though I got to warm up for 15 minutes before my lesson started. I really need to start doing scales again... slacking on that! :(
  • Specifically the measures that are similar to 2 & 4 - my C was just always flat! Adam recommended that I "visualize" or think about reaching further down, but not actually stretching my hands further. He said sometimes just thinking about it will correct it, but when I try to do it physically some people tend to overshoot it, so just thinking should help fix the issue. 

Start Book 2, Long Long Ago 
  • Recorded how to play this piece and went over bowing, but I didn't get to attempt this during the lesson since we ran out of time. 
  • Exercise #1 
    • To work on bowing, play the hooked bowing without the left hand first 

Behind on lesson notes again! Hopefully I can catch up today... 

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