Chinese Proverb

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

The new Miss Universe is a "cello-nerd" and was a "chubby, weird" girl

Good exposure for cellists!!! :)

"A 20-year-old Boston University sophomore and a self-described 'cellist-nerd' brought the Miss Universe crown back to the U.S. for the first time in more than a decade when she won the televised contest on Wednesday."
- Daily Mail

"The daughter of two professional musicians, Culpo has played the cello alongside world-renowned classical musician Yo-Yo Ma and followed in her parents' footsteps with performances at Carnegie Hall in New York City."
- Associated Press / December 20, 2012


Playing orchestra:

And a Filipino was a runner-up!! Nice!! :)

I missed watching the pageant and came across the news article, and no, I don't watch these pageants regularly (the last time I watched it was in high school I think), but when I do stumble across one I do enjoy watching them. Lol! =p

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lesson 107A (12/17/12): Performance, etude, minuet No 1 & No 3

We went over a lot of information during this lesson and was a lot of fun!

It was great having Adam playing at the performance so he could give me some feedback which I'm always interested in hearing. :). So a few things that he noticed: 
  • Get settled and ready - Since I was running around like crazy getting everything set up (putting up signage, putting out the programs, setting up my camera, etc) for the performance, I really didn't have time to get settled and was working on stuff until the very last minute. 
    • Next year I'll delegate some tasks, but since this was the first time setting up at this venue I wasn't really prepared with what needed to be done until I had a chance to really see how everything was set up - although things went smoothly. :). Anyway, he suggested that I take some time to get settled. He mentioned a lot of times organizers will "compromise themselves" which doesn't help the ensemble in any way and can hinder or throw them off instead, so its best to get myself settled and ready to play rather than getting things setup
  • Adjust if needed - if I need to adjust, take the time to adjust! I had told him that my bun kept getting stuck in my G peg! He said when performing, what feels like a really long time - is not! So it's better to fix my hair than to have it keep getting caught during the entire performance, and maybe next time not to put my hair up the way I did! :). Although I did adjust my endpin during the beginning of one of the pieces and am glad I did! 
  • Mistakes aren't that obvious - mistakes done on stage seem to be amplified, but they really are not as obvious as they seem. Really great advice! I watched the videos and none of the HUGE mistakes that I thought I did were as obvious on the video. 

Feuillard Daily Exercises 
Adam had assigned this etude book during the last lesson and I was able to practice a few measures, so we went over some specifics. 
  • Trill Exercises, page 1
    • Start off really slow and increase the tempo. I should start at 60 
    • Since I have issues with my thumb and first finger, I should make sure that my thumb is "grounded" and not moving around too much. He also recommended that I keep my first finger down to practice feeling the space that is needed to complete a successful extension 
  • Thumb - my thumb kept moving down the neck of the cello
  • Reading Tenor Clef - the trill practice uses a Tenor Clef so I asked that teach me how to read this 
  • Spread between my 1st & 4th finger - my fingers seem to be too close and I need to keep my fingers more apart 

Minuet No. 1
  • This was a little bit better but my first and fourth finger was still a bit off.
  • Know where my notes are located 

Minuet No. 2
  • I played this a lot easier and better than Minuet No. 1 so we didn't spend as much time on this piece. For my semester test, I'll be playing Minuet No. 1 for Adam. 

[Fall CE Lesson #7]

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My 2nd Holiday Recital

My second recital! :)

I did a lot worse during this performance - I missed some notes and for some reason everything kind of just went crazy:

1) My Christmas lights on my stand stopped working.
2) I broke three bow hairs over a period of 2-3 pieces, which has never happened during a performance. I've had broken bow hairs 2-3 times during practice over the long period of time since I've owned my bow and one hair at a time! I think it may be time to get my bow re-haired since it isn't gripping the strings as well any more either, and rosin doesn't seem to help or last as long.
3) My hair was up in a loose bun and kept getting caught in my G peg! It was surprising that when I kept yanking my hair out of the peg that my cello didn't go out of tune!
4) I turned to the wrong piece of music and started playing the wrong piece during O Christmas Tree. Luckily, not too loudly!
5) I couldn't hear myself in the room so I wasn't quite sure if I was playing correctly and I wasn't hitting my notes like I typically do.
6) My camera decided to turn off 15 minutes into the performance - I think I didn't enter the settings correctly. Luckily, my teacher Adam had his video recording as well.
7) This performance wasn't as well attended like the previous one (the other performance was packed!), so that was kind of odd playing to a half empty room too. Although we had residents come in slowly over the performance so at the end of the performance the room was more full. I think next year I'll have to schedule it Sunday afternoon or on Saturday in the early evening to get more attendees.

It was just a weird performance! Maybe I should do a blooper reel!! :)

Although I have to admit that I was proud of the fact that I didn't freak out like I normally do!
I had one of our ensemble member's wife come up to me to say that they watched me the entire performance and that I looked really relaxed, and looked like I was enjoying myself. That was a nice compliment, and in the videos it didn't look as obvious when I was messing up either.

The room's acoustics made a huge difference in sound too. I could not hear myself playing, but the sound definitely developed and was more beautiful towards the back of the room.

My two teachers are facing each other: Clayton is playing part I and Adam is playing part IV since our other part IV cellist was unavailable to play during this performance. Thank you Adam! Hope you play with us more often! :).

Clayton had also been sick past couple of days, and had his dissertation the following day so he was stressed and feeling crappy, so thank you Clayton too! :)

Below are some photos and videos of some of the pieces. I tried to select some different videos to post.

Carol of the Bells

We had to slow down the tempo quite a bit for this piece so we could stay together.
I have to admit that I love the two Jewish holiday music we played, they're so upbeat and beautiful, and fun to play! Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of cello ensemble music out there. I'll have to research some songs and get those arranged for next year.

Jingle Bells (Sing-along)
Hee, hee...messed up a few times here, but's its not as obvious in the video. Very difficult to sing and play at the same time, but it's coming along! :). I didn't know the verses to Jingle Bells either; even though I've heard this song a billion times!

Waltz of the Flowers
I LOVE this piece!! We also played March from the Nutcracker, but that didn't turn out as well. 
Maybe next year when a lot of us have been playing for awhile March will sound better so I can post it. :)

O Chanukah

Theme from Judas Maccabeus
This was a really beautiful piece, so we decided to repeat the entire piece since it was fairly short. 

O Christmas Tree
Oops, turned to the wrong page! I was able to get back in at 0:11, but the sour notes in the beginning coming from section IV was ME! Lol! I decided to play really quietly after that... ;)

We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Sing-along)
I didn't know any of the lyrics for the verses (just the chorus) for this song either. My favorite verse "Bring us a figgy pudding!" Had to look up what a figgy pudding was!

..hmmm... I'm the only person not doing vibrato... Goal for next year's holiday recital: play with vibrato!!



Yaay - I can finally focus on my individual pieces! Yes!! ;)
I'll get my last three lesson notes from Adam's lessons posted tomorrow as well and will finally get caught up on my blog posts.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My 1st Holiday Recital

I had my first holiday recital last Saturday, and I am so unbeliveably proud of the cellists in our group!

The cellists in our group include beginners who have never played in a concert before, to cellists who have played a little longer than a year (like me), to cellists who studied the cello when they were younger and are returning to the cello after a long hiatus, and even cellists who play regularly in orchestras.

I have to admit the first couple rehearsals were a bit... ummm...let's just say a lot of us beginners didn't know how pieces were supposed to sound or how our parts fit together!! LOL! :)
But we (including myself!) managed to pull it together, which is why I'm just so proud of the group!!! YEAH!!! Not to say that they were perfect or anything. I think we were best described as "authentic!" LOL! ;)

We all went out for drinks and a bite to eat afterwards - such a beautiful wonderful bunch of people!
LOVE THIS GROUP!! :). And the retirement home was so welcoming and warm, talk about feeling the warmth and spirit of the holidays!

And I am just so impressed by Clayton!! He's totally amazing, unbelievably patient and generous, and extremely talented and brilliant! He volunteers all of his time to the group and I'm certain we wouldn't have sounded as good if he didn't lead/help us. He also made it so enjoyable to play and rehearse together!! I LOVE rehearsals, and I've learned so much! *sigh*...I really hope he'll be around for a while....

Anyway, one more recital this upcoming Sunday which I'm really excited about!!
Both my teachers will be playing in it! Adam is going to play part IV to help out my section out and Clayton will be playing Part I.
Therefore, I think our next performance is going to sound even better. Clayton told us once that the most important parts are the melody (which is usually in Part I), and the part that plays the lowest notes because it "sets the foundation" (which is typically Part IV). So we're going to have two really talented strong cellists playing the important parts! Can't wait! :)

Below is five out of the fourteen pieces that we played; and of course, I selected my favorite ones! I'm not quite ready to say what group I play in and organize just yet because I kind of feel like I don't want my opinions or whatever to affect the group in any way, so I'm going to keep that under wraps for a while. None of them know I have a blog, ;). Well, Adam knows I have a blog, and I told Clayton, but I never gave him the address...

Angels We Have Heard on High

Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker

O Chanukah

O Christmas Tree


Things to work on for the next performance:
  • Moving around too much... again!
  • My elbow is flapping all over the place! Adam mentioned that this may be causing some of my intonation issues, which I think he's absolutely correct!
  • Look at the audience! Clayton recommended that we try to look up to acknowledge and engage the audience, I tried it 1.5 times. The first time I looked up and couldn't believe how many people were watching us and totally freaked myself out! :). The second time I half glanced up and then thought it wasn't worth it to scare myself and get all tense!! LOL!!
  • Louder Pizz - I thought I was plucking the strings fairly loudly, but it's barely noticeable on the other side of the room!



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lesson #103C (12/02/12): Minuet No. 3

I'm just getting over the flu, which I caught during Thanksgiving, and I've been swamped with organizing and work. I also had my final dress rehearsal last Sunday for our very first holiday concert this upcoming Saturday!

Have I mentioned that I organize and play in an all adult cello ensemble yet? :). Anyway, I'll be playing 14 holiday songs (originally 18 but we cut 4!) for two retirement communities with twelve other cellists. It's been a busy few weeks to say the least, so I haven't been practicing any non-holiday pieces, and I was sick...and it was Thanksgiving... so my individual pieces have been thoroughly neglected and aren't very good right now.

Surprisingly, even though Clayton also leads the rehearsals, we haven't taken any time during our lessons to go over holiday repertoire or work on ensemble technique. I think I'll have to ask Clayton or Adam to work on ensemble playing with me!

Anyway, long story longer, I had a lesson before our rehearsal so it was a long cello day for me! :).
We worked on Minuet No 3 since my goal was to have Minuet No 3 & No 1 recorded by the end of this semester, but I think I can get it done by the end of December instead. After the recitals, I'm going to buckle down and get those two done and recorded!!

Minuet No. 3
  • Phrasing - we worked mostly on phrasing and feeling the rhythm 
  • Exercise: 
    • To feel the downbeat, he wants me to play the first note forte, pretend there is a rest, and then crescendo to the the next downbeat. After I'm able to play it that way and start to feel the rhythm, then I can remove the rests and make the crescendos less obvious. 
  • Bow - I need to make sure that I don't use too much bow during the slurs because I'm getting a skating sound. 
    • I switched all of my strings to Passione strings, and the G & C are gut strings so I have to be more conscientious about giving more time for the strings to speak. So far, I'm loving the strings - although it has taken awhile for them to break in and for me to get used to them. Looks like my cello likes low tension strings and also gut strings! 

Clayton also mentioned that I could probably start working on Judas Maccabeaus if I wanted to, but I think I'll hold off. I have too many pieces to work on right now. Although I was able to sightread the majority of it and it didn't sound to bad either! :).