Chinese Proverb

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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lesson #97C (10/28/12): Amaj, Fanfare & Minuet No 1&3

I didn't get a lot of time to practice the pieces that he assigned so I warned him that I wasn't going to be very good when I played the pieces. Fortunately, we had our lesson after our group ensemble so I was already warmed up, which made things a little easier.

A Major scale
Clayton wanted to move on to the next scale, but I requested that we practice this for another week since I didn't get a lot of practice time.
  • Shifting - we focused on making sure that my notes were "connected" 
  • Exercises - he reminded me to do my shifting exercises which I haven't been doing.. oops!
Shifting exercise from finger to finger.

1 => 1     1 => 3      2 => 1

1 => 2     1 => 4      2 => 2

  • Glissando - to practice these shifts he wants me to lightly touch the string and shift to the next note. We spent a lot of time on this trying to get the mechanics of it and for some reason it's very difficult for me to lighten the pressure as I gliss to the next note... I need to figure out why that is... 
    • However I discovered that if I focused on the top of my hand while I shift towards the scroll that I tended to get a cleaner more accurate shift, and that I feel like I'm doing a small "scoop" or something - I think it may be the thumb adjusting which creates the scooping feeling??..I don't know... 

I requested to work out of this book, and this was the first time we covered it. I didn't really get time to practice this so my rhythm was a bit off, but I was hitting the notes pretty consistently - though  my shifting technique was a bit off.

So far, I've really enjoyed working on these etudes! They're "easy" enough that I can focus on shifting and finding the position without having to worry about other technique.

Minuet No. 1
Clayton recommended that we apply the shifting concepts to this piece, but this went fairly well. I played through this a few times and had a few minor things to clean up; mostly I just need to polish this up a bit and make sure that I get ringing tones.

Minuet No. 3
Clayton decided that I could move on to the next piece so he recorded this piece to work on before our next lesson.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lesson #96A (10/25/12): May Time & Gmaj

This was a really good lesson, but at the end of the lesson I realized I locked my keys in my car and had to call a company to unlock my car!! First time that's ever happened to me...

Ironically, the week before that, my two front tires went flat on my way to work - first time I had a flat tire too! I had to get to work so I had my hubby drop me off at work, left my spare key in the center console, and had my car towed to a tire shop. Long story longer, I forgot to put my spare key back which is why I had to pay over $90 to get my car unlocked. It was a weird few weeks... anyway, back to my cello  post...

Gmaj 2 octaves
  • We went over Gmaj since it had been about 3 weeks since our last lesson. This went fairly well, except I kept playing a F natural instead of an F sharp because I was practicing my other scales and was confusing the two scales. 
  • I've discovered that as long as I say the note in my head before I play it, I typically play it correctly and in tune (more or less), but if I don't think about it first, than I tend to miss it. 
  • It's really starting to become difficult to keep track of the notes and scales especially with all of the scales I've been learning. I'd better stick to a method and start practicing it more methodically! 
  • I decided that I would take the method of knowing the notes (instead of the fingerings) by visualizing where the note is on the fingerboard before playing it, which is really difficult to do! I tend to play a note without being consciously aware of the note and location of the note is on the fingerboard. 

May Time
  • This was a disaster and a half!! My intonation was all over the place, my bowing was all over the place and it sounded horrible! It's really strange that I was able to play it fairly well a few days ago and then all of sudden I can't! I'm trying to figure out what occurred between those times and what has caused my bad habit to return. 
  • String crossing - my weak point! I just don't get it... 

[Fall CE Lesson #2]

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lesson #95C (10/21/12): Amaj & Minuet No. 1

I haven't had a lot of time recently to practice cello which has been really frustrating! I miss my cello... ;(

We covered a few new things during this lesson:

Position Pieces
  • I finally got around to requesting that we play Position Pieces by Rick Mooney, which was highly recommended by two cello teachers at RCMF, Abigail's YouTube Channel and a bunch of other searches online! Clayton agreed that it looked good and he mentioned two of his other students were using Thumb Positions for cello, so he assigned the first etude to have ready for the next lesson. 

Amaj Scale
I know I keep whining about not having enough time, but I hadn't really practiced this scale so this was kind of a disaster so we worked on this for the majority of the time!
  • I was having some trouble shifting back to 3rd position and kept missing my mark. 

Minuet No. 1
  • Bowing - for the most part I sounded good, but my bowing was all over the place again! That is the one habit that consistently returns when I don't practice!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lesson #94C (10/15/12): Amaj scale

New Scale: A Major
Clayton asked if I wanted to learn a new scale and I happily agreed! I didn't get much progress with the Bb scale, but I was bored with the scale and a bit frustrated that my intonation was off, so I agreed that we should move on.

Clayton doesn't think I need to perfect each scale since I'm fairly secure with first position, and just wants me to become comfortable with moving around the fingerboard, learning notes and becoming familiar with the scales. He thinks that "advanced" concepts can be done by beginners and even teaches some of his beginner students thumb position to correct bad arm positions and to get over the fear of that position! Clayton mentioned since we'll be rotating through the scales, as I become more familiar with them we can really start drilling down and adding exercises, rhythms, slurs, etc. Fortunately, Adam has me focus on one scale at a time and drills down on each one so it's a perfect balance! :)

I was skeptical at first about Clayton's method, but I have to admit that I'm starting to like it and it definitely has benefits! I've tried memorizing the circle of fifths and how many sharps and flats each scale contains, but it's never sunk in before. Now that I'm learning it this way, it's definitely sinking in! And, although my intonation is off, I have to admit that I am getting more comfortable moving around the fingerboard.

A Major 
  • Amaj: 3 sharps - C#, F#, G#
    • Instead of fingering, I always try to remember notes... so he was a little surprised when I asked for the notes instead of the fingerings, i.e. how many sharps and flats there are in the scale. I think I'll have to start associating fingerings and notes from now on too.
  • 2 Extensions 
    • I think I'm getting used to extensions because I don't freak out as much and I'm hitting the mark more often. It's weird because I used to really dread doing extensions and avoid them as much as possible! Although I still rather shift than do extensions. 

We also worked on bowing concepts but I didn't write down any notes... oops!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lesson #93A (10/11/12): Gmaj, May Time & Minuet No. 1

GMaj Scale
  • Intonation - my intonation was off during the majority of the scale and Adam recommended that I move my elbow back because it was too far forward 

May Time
  • This was a bit of a disaster - I don't know what happened! Last time it went fairly well, so much so that Adam assigned the next piece. But this time I couldn't get any of the bowing or intonation correctly! Very frustrating! So we'll be covering this during the next lesson again. ...ugh...  should've recorded this when it still sounded good! 

Minuet No. 1
  • This one was a lot easier to play than May Time and I played it fairly well. Adam suggested that I stop the bow completely to make it sound more elegant.

[Fall CE Lesson #2]

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lesson #92C (10/07/12): Bflat, Intonation & May Time

I warned Clayton that I didn't get a chance to practice the past few days, probably something that most teachers don't like to hear... but when I don't pick up the cello for more than a couple days I sound AWFUL!! 

Bb Major Scale
Bb scale... well, it's getting there...ish..
I'm fine going up to 4th and 6th position, but going back down from G to F, I keep missing the darn F! I can't feel how its supposed to feel like and its totally driving me nuts!

Intonation & Double Stops
Clayton had me do some double stops to listen to see if I could hear if the notes were in tune. I still can't tell with Bb and Eb though... but we discovered two things:

1) I really need to work on my double stops, so he assigned just bowing on two strings at a time. Yes - its that bad!!! Back to the beginning...

2) My angles were off again, so he assigned the 'Rock and Rolls'

May Time
Since I was also working on May Time with Clayton, he wanted me to work a little bit on phrasing.
He mentioned that typically the crescendos occur 3/4 way through the phrase and even 3/4 during the piece as a whole. So he had me try doing a crescendo on the E on measure 3. It was pretty difficult selecting different places to increase and decrease the volume.

Also, because it's Mozart, he mentioned that this should sound more flowy and smooth, which mine was pretty heavy and "stacatto-ish." Although I think some teachers teach it so its on the "heavier side" because of the hooked bowing. To make the piece sound more smooth he had me work on using more bow and making sure my bow changes were more subtle.

In Measures 11 & 15, he suggested that when I play the slurs that I make them more even and smooth and not so "sing-songy" because it's Mozart after all. I discovered that if I place my fingers down more gently this accomplished this. I had been working on hammer-ons and pluck-offs so I was dropping my fingers down pretty heavily which can change the sound.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Lesson #91 (C - 10/01/12): May Time

I didn't take many notes during this lesson! :(

May Time
  • We worked on phrasing on May Time and bowing.

  • Recommended releasing the bow into the string to get a more open sound.

  • My shoulder and right bowing arm were getting tired pretty quickly from reaching over to the A string to work on the Bb scale so Clayton recommended playing the cello at a slight angle.