Chinese Proverb

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My "cello ensemble project" revealed...

It's been very difficult to keep the cello ensemble I organize and my personal cello-learning (cello blog) completely separate since they overlap so much!

My thought was that I didn't want my personal feelings and opinions to reflect poorly on my cello ensemble, which was the primary reason I kept them separate. I swear I've been busy practicing cello! ;) But just couldn't (and didn't have time) to write about it due to my conflicting ideas of keeping my two projects (cello blog & cello group) separate.

My other reason? I rarely have time to practice (too busy organizing!) so when I attend other events I really enjoy being a participant so I didn't want to put it out there that I organize my cello project. I also tried to avoid talking about the project when I was at events because then the focus became about the project and not my learning (selfish, I know!). Unfortunately, it also made me look a bit... um, not nice. ;) Apparently it's expected that one talks about their cello ensemble since it should be a source of pride and joy, right?
I've since discovered that once one falls into the "organizer role," it's really difficult not to volunteer, help out or talk about one's project no matter how much one tries! So why fight it?

I'm also fairly introverted, so I like sitting back and watching people learn to play cello and it's difficult for me to open up to people, so it's really weird (for me) when random people approach me to ask me about my blog and cello group...

"Hey, aren't you Gemini Cello? I just read your blog..." Totaling freaking out on the inside, "Wah??? How did you know that?" ...apparently from the YouTube videos., crap! Should have put a blur over my face or something!

Or, "So and so, said you organize the project, so what's that all about?"
That always catches me off guard (I should know better by now!) and then I get all flustered and don't provide a very coherent description! *sigh* ...such a spaz...

Anyway, I wanted to keep some anonymity, but obviously videos were a dead giveaway so I should probably stop worrying about that one! Unfortunately, I'm definitely not the best "face" for my cello ensemble project either since I can be really aloof and weird sometimes! Lol!

Long story longer, I think it just takes up too much energy to keep them separated, and I really need to start writing about my cello experiences so I don't get off track, which I feel I've been slacking quite a bit on keeping to my schedule of posting videos and entries!

Many have you have already figured it out, but my cello ensemble project is the Boulder Cello Project (BCP). I had initially started it because I wanted to play with other beginning cellists (I'm still very much a beginner myself!) and there weren't any opportunities locally for me, so the group was started with the help of my cello teacher Clayton (who has since left). Now it's become more about "creating a community of cellists to learn and share our love of music and the art of cello playing," and making the cello accessible to all abilities and levels! The project has grown quickly over the last year and a half and we now have over 90 cellists participating in the project.

Clayton provided all the "music know-how" like selecting and recommending music, concert programming, leading our play-ins, rehearsals, concerts, etc. while I did the "organizing" like marketing (website, flyers, etc.), scheduling, event planning, sponsors, collaborations, etc. We made a good team! ;) It's a lot of work which is why I haven't had a lot of time to update entries or post videos! ...I know, I know - excuses, excuses!

Hopefully "revealing" my other cello-related activity will allow me to write more freely regarding my cello endeavors and experiences, which will help me progress faster since I feel like I'm using more energy organizing my cello ensemble and keeping them separate, then on my own cello learning progress!

Anyway, I'm currently practicing and preparing for our holiday concerts below. Now that I can write about BCP, I'll write about my experiences during my next entry! :)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Improvisation play-in

I've been really inspired by our group's improvisation play-ins lately. It's really been awesome seeing and hearing the cello played in a way to sound like an electric guitar... or bass.... or "snare-cello" and using different articulations! I love the cello! <3

For our improv playin, we learned how to play from a lead sheet and played and improvised over Bojangles and things seem to be slowly sinking in... slooooowwwly... but it's getting there. We also have a very supportive group of cellists (and singer) so I don't ever feel like my "mistakes" are such a huge deal. No mistakes in improv though right? Just poorly timed notes? ;)

I'm trying to learn chords and my hand just get's SO tired reaching across the strings! I also learned a very cool "trick" to play minor and major chords. To play major chords, I just need to "smash" my first fingers across the C and G string and place my 3rd finger down on the next string over for a major chord, or use my 2nd finger for a minor chord! I knew there was an easier way to learn / remember chords! :) There's always an easier way!

Anyway, I need to start "seriously" practicing my scales again to become more familiar with my fingerboard and to learn more rhythms. SO MUCH TO LEARN!!!

Improv today... holiday rehearsal tomorrow... lots of celloing not enough PRACTICING!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lesson with Dr. G, new cello & holiday rehearsals have begun!

Lots going on again... I sold my Jonathan Li cello a few weeks ago to another cellist in my group, which I'm really happy to see it to go to a good home where I know it will be played often. :)
Anyway, I currently have a Raul Emiliani cello on trial, and I'm fairly certain I'll end up buying it, but I'm going to get my teachers' stamp of approval first. It's a much slimmer cello which I love because it feels really comfortable. I also had posture pegs installed for my C&G peg. I had posture pegs installed for my C pegs for both my cellos, Lombardi and Jonathan Li (which was sold), but decided to get both the C&G this time and I'm glad I did! My new cello also has a very unique dark voice and it's much louder than my other two cellos. I'll take photos and post them this weekend. :) I really need to do a recording soon too!

Anyway, I'm really busy with holiday rehearsals (practicing and planning the concerts), which isn't leaving me much time to focus on my solo repertoire or technique. 18 holiday songs to practice for our holiday concerts! Aaahhhhh! Luckily we're playing most of the same songs, but it's still difficult to relearn and practice that many pieces. I guess my goal of finishing Suzuki Book 2 by the end of the year isn't going to be met... *sigh*



I really enjoy taking lessons from different teachers because I feel that each one focuses on certain techniques and bring new ideas on learning how to play the cello, and this was definitely a very interesting lesson! I discovered that I'm truly still just a beginner after playing for over 2 years! I thought I was getting the hang of things like knowing how to hold my cello and bow (you know, the basics...) but apparently not!

Connecting to my cello?
This was a real eye-opener. It started something like this...
Dr. G instructs me to play the piece that I've been working on for him and I immediately start to play after a very brief pause as I read the first few measures and get the rhythm in my head. As my bow approaches the string he immediately stops me before my bow touches the string. ", no, no... connect to your cello first."

My immediate thought was, "huh? am I supposed to connect to my cello if you stop me before I put my bow on the strings?" Before I can comment aloud, he gives me a mental list of things to prepare before my bow even touches the strings:

1) Imagine my bow is an extension of my arm.
2) When lifting my bow to the string, think of an imaginary arm on the other side like a counterbalance. I guess this is a technique used in Tai Chi, which I have no experience or knowledge of.
3) Hover my bow and attempt some very small air bowing to determine how fast, loud, etc I want my bow to move.
4) Make sure I'm breathing and relaxed.
5) Think/know the first note.
6) Connect and play!

Apparently it's very obvious if someone doesn't prepare/connect before playing. He provided the example of the "most practiced" note (the first note in the Dvorak concerto - B!) because once the note is played "it's out there" so preparing to play each note is very important.

I walked away from this lesson feeling like I had no idea how to play my cello, but in a good way! ...what is this stick used for again?? wah? 

Open strings & string crossing
I knew my bowing was incorrect because I always felt that I was forcing my bow to stay in the correct track when it should be resting easily on the string, so we are working on open strings. Always back to basics!

Cmaj Scale 
I asked if we could start working on 3 octave scales, so Dr. G assigned Cmaj in three octaves. I had started working on this with Clayton, but it has been months since I practiced scales seriously so my goal is to practice scales daily again.

We started working on the Bartok Duets, which I am really enjoying working on! Since they're duets I'll post the part I'm working on if I have time. ;)

Goals, Goals, Goals
I keep setting goals, but I become so busy with "life" that cello practice seems to be put on the back burner more often than not. I'm going to have to change that...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lesson #141A (10/15/13): Violin shop, lesson notes and cats

Trying to catch up on lesson notes...

I suspected there was something wrong with my cello, and was excited to visit my favorite violin shop since it had been over a year since I last visited. Anyway, I was trying out a new tailpiece, but when I switched out the tailpiece to the original, another local violin shop didn't set it up exactly like before. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go to my favorite luthier the first time because he was unavailable so I had to go to two different shops in town to get the tailpieces switched out. Long story longer, when I finally switched back to my original tailpiece I had a very sad muffled sounding cello! So I had made an appointment to do a "quick adjustment" to try to get the sound back to where it was, and discovered that a quick fix wasn't going to happen.

There are two issues creating the muffled sound with my cello. First, I have a kevlar tailcord, which can only be removed by cutting it off. Therefore, the length of the cord was shortened when I switched it back to the original tailpiece. There is a specific length determined by each cello to allow the tailpiece, bridge, strings, etc. to vibrate more freely. Surprisingly, the cord length on my cello makes a very noticeable difference in sound. My cello happens to need a longer cord and cutting the cord shorter made it sound muffled.

Note to self: don't tryout any more tailpieces! ...although trying cello accessories is fun!! ;)
My current tailpiece is a ebony Les Bois D'Harmonie tailpiece & kevlar tailcord, which is a great setup, so I seriously need to stop messing with the setup, especially since I know it works well with my cello.

Secondly, which is the major issue and none of the shops fault, my fingerboard has dropped more than 1mm which means the action on the strings is very high. There is also a scoop in the fingerboard, which is closer to the nut (ironically in the first position area!), which is making it more difficult to play notes.

I had also recently noticed that I kept bumping into my other strings, which I do sometimes, but now much more frequently with the heightened strings! :) ...hmmm...maybe that's why my 4th position was feeling so terrible!

Anyway, I have to setup another appointment in a few weeks to get the string height fixed since my luthier is swamped for the next couple of weeks.



This lesson was a COMPLETE disaster - I couldn't find a note to save my life! Which is really weird because I actually practiced every day up to the lesson. It sucks when that happens!

For most of the lesson we worked on the Gmaj scale and intonation. Although I normally like working on intonation, it was really frustrating to work on it during this lesson. I was totally lost and fishing for notes (i.e. sliding my fingers around to find a note), and just couldn't find anything.

Anyway, Adam assigned 20min daily exercise on the Gmaj scale with a drone and tuner, and so far I've kept to it, although I haven't worked on any of the other pieces that were assigned.

I also couldn't play Long Long Ago and Allegro during the lesson either, which I've played in the past and have the videos to prove it! :) But I couldn't get the notes and rhythm correct either. ...argh... I'm in a big cello funk! :( Also, probably because I changed my hand shape again...

Very short lesson notes since we primarily worked on basics and intonation. I guess it was just one of those days too.

Fall 2013: Lesson #3


A very short entry, and I'm feeling pretty crappy about my terrible lesson, so I'm posting some "happy cute stuff" to make me feel better because I can! Ha! ;)
Here's a repost of Musical Notation According to Cats by Trumpet Angst in the order I think is the cutest and with some of my comments in green. ;)

My cats will get bonked on the head several times before figuring out they need to move out of the way! Lol! :)
Rub my tummy?
I'm pretty sure this is going to happen to Cello Kat sooner or later - he's not a very sure-footed cat!
Always land on all fours you say?? ;) 
...too...much...CATNIP! ....kick, kick, kick, kick...
whatcha lookin' at? ....just hanging out... perfectly normal I tell you!
Oops, forgot how to walk! 
Kittens are so silly!




Aaaarghhh - cats on their hind legs freak me out!!  That's just... freaky weird/scary!! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lesson #140A (10/10/13): Finding another teacher & semester goals

I'm going to take a break from entries for CelloSpeak so I can refocus on my lesson notes for a while, and so I can start practicing "seriously" again.

Lately, I've been in a big cello funk.. and not the good kind either! It's also been over two weeks since Clayton has moved and I'm still really sad about it! :(
It's ironic, but people who know me, know that I don't like to open up to people and am fairly introverted, and that I don't like to share personal information about myself (despite the blog), so it's been really surprising to me that it's been so difficult, especially since we've only known each other for such a short time.

Luckily, Clayton doesn't read my blog so I can be a bit open about it, but it's been ridiculously, and embarrassingly sad regarding how much I miss him! I've been trying to remind myself that I'm happy for the wonderful opportunity he received, but I'm still "upset" that he's gone. I swear I'm happy for him, but...

Anyway, before he left, I organized a small get-together after one of his concerts so members of our group could hang out and say goodbye, and being my typical self I avoided talking to him for most of the night because I didn't want say goodbye. When we finally had our very last lesson, I avoided saying goodbye again, which I now regret!
One of the reasons I was avoiding saying goodbye was because I was feeling myself get teary-eyed, and all I wanted to do is bawl and ask him not to leave! But I'm sure his wife and my husband would have thought I was some overly-attached nut or something! Lol! ;)

After Clayton left, I had a list of possible teachers to check out, and I sent him an email back with all the things I found wrong with them - without even speaking or meeting any of them in person! Looking back at my email, it was a bit ABSURD to say the least.
I wrote to him that I didn't want to take lessons from this person or that person, because I wanted to play and sound a certain way, and they didn't play/sound the way I wanted. Clayton emailed me back reassuring me that any one of the teachers I could learn plenty from. Truthfully, I think it was because I was trying to find a "Clayton-clone" who played, sounded and taught like him. ;)

I've also discovered speaking to teachers and students in our area, that most teachers don't typically teach vibrato and thumb position to beginners like me. I didn't realize "everyone" was so picky about if/when students should start learning to vibrate!
Although I have heard some teachers start students on thumb position early on so they're not intimidated by higher positions when they get around to it. Truthfully, I was really intimidated by thumb position, until I started learning it - though I'm still really unfamiliar with it. I'm currently learning Dmaj scale and French Folk Song in thumb position. ...hmmm... I should probably record those and post it so I can do a "before and after" video comparison later.

Anyway, it's been "weird" searching for another teacher. I still have Adam, but I really enjoy and prefer having two teachers; and honestly, if I only had one teacher I could only imagine the "meltdown" I would have had if they were to move away!
However, I did find a potential teacher and have a lesson with him next week. He didn't want me to use his real name so I'm going to call him Dr. G because I think he's funny among other reasons.
Dr. G and I are both fairly opinionated so this should make for some "interesting" lessons. I think we're fairly similar too; which my husband knows that I like to say when I see two people with similar personalities: "They're either going to get along swimmingly, or they're going to end up killing each other!" No idea how this will turn out either, but should be interesting nonetheless. :)



I met with Adam after a really long hiatus; he was finishing his Comps and I was busy with life and cello related events, so it had been awhile since I met with him for a lesson. I haven't been keeping up with lesson notes either, so this is Lesson #2 this semester.

Semester Goals:
Adam would like me to start memorizing a few pieces so we could start working on phrasing. Since it's obviously easier to work on phrasing and expression if one doesn't have to think about which notes to play. ;). Also, at the end of the semester, I will have to memorize and perform the following:

1) Relearn & memorize three old pieces: Long Long Ago, Allegro & Perpetual Motion
2) Learn & memorize a new piece: Musette from English Suite No. 3

I wanted to learn the remaining songs in Book 2 by the end of the year, but that's not going to happen! I just don't have time...darn... I also have a bunch of holiday music I need to start practicing for our Holiday Concerts in December.
Anyway, I've discovered relearning old music is more difficult than learning new music (for me). I'm finding myself reverting back to old bad habits that I originally learned with the old pieces and having to break everything down to relearn it with the new technique. I guess when my technique is better later, it won't be so difficult?

Exercises that I will be working on:
1) Scales: Gmaj 2 octaves in a different order. Make sure notes in different positions sound the same. Although I'm not sure if wrote that down correctly.
  • III - 0, G
  • III - 3, B
  • III - 1, A
  • III - 2, C => shift to 2nd pos.
  • III - 1, B
  • III - 4, D
  • II  - 1, E
  • II  - 0, D
  • II  - 3, F#
  • II  - 1, E
  • II -  2, G => shift to 2nd 
  • II -  1, F# 
  • II -  4, D 
2) Cossman exercises - I seem to be getting this okay except 4th position. I know everyone says 4th position is the easiest, but not for me! So obviously, something in my hand position or shape is wrong.

For the most part I had this memorized, but decided to look at the sheet music instead. After I played it for him, he commented that it was the most confident he had seen me play, which I thought was kind of odd because 1) I know I've played it better before, maybe just not in front of him, and 2) Adam isn't the type of person to give out a lot of praise, but that was really nice to hear.

A couple things to work on:
1) Use more bow - like 3/4ths of the bow for the quarter notes
2) Use a fast and weighted bow, but closer to the fingerboard

Long, Long Ago
I didn't have this memorized and tried to do it from memory even though I was looking at the music, and ended up messing up the beginning. I finally decided to "let it go" and just played it the way I "normally" do, and I sounded much better.

Besides the obvious mistakes and memorizing the music, he didn't have anything for me to work on, and he commented that I sounded like "a real cellist, instead of one who was just playing and learning the notes." At which point, I started to criticize my own playing, especially the mistakes in the beginning, and he kind of waved me off and said, "you'll always be critical regarding your playing, you're doing fine." :) Okay, so I was being a bit self-critical... can't help it!

Musette from English Suite No. 3
This is still a work in progress and I should have this one ready to video record in a month or so, and memorized by the end of the semester. Memorizing music is just really difficult for me! Although that was one of the reasons Adam wanted me to start memorizing music.

Things to work on:
1) Feel it in twos instead of fours: It's in cut time and I'm accentuating all the beats when I should be emphasizing the beginning of each measure instead. Still haven't figured this out though.
2) Tempo: play a little faster, which this should help with feeling it in two
3) Use more bow during the string crossings. I was having the issue of running out of bow, so I started using less instead which created more issues.

Fall 2013: Lesson #2

Friday, August 2, 2013

Week 1 - Day 6 (Friday 8/2): Goodbyes & Concert

Lot's of changes going on in my cello world, with the major one being that Clayton is moving to Omaha, Nebraska! So for all you lucky cellists living in Omaha, that's where he will be headed.

Ugh! I've never been "attached" to a teacher before, and honestly, I didn't think I was that attached to Clayton, but apparently I am! I thought it was kind of strange to have such a strong emotional response, so I thought I would apply the 5 Steps of Loss to my situation. ;)

1) Denial & Isolation 
2) Anger
3) Bargaining
4) Depression 
5) Acceptance

Obviously people experience the stages in different orders and some stages concurrently.
So recently, I've been trying to avoid thinking about cello lessons and him in general, and have been using a lot of avoidance - I'm really good at that! ...hmmm... probably not a good thing...

If I were to apply the different stages, I'm experiencing one and two the strongest, because right now I just don't want to deal with it (even though I have to look for another Music Director to replace him for our group ASAP) and one of my reoccurring thoughts seem to be, "you SUCK for leaving Clayton!" Okay, so I guess I am a bit "angry." Lol! :)

I'm also pretty bummed that he's leaving (4 - Depression) and have thought about Skype lessons or something (3 - Bargaining). However, I came to the conclusion that I shouldn't prolong the inevitable; that is, I won't be able to take regular lesson with him any more. ...nooooooo!!!  Apparently, I'm going through a lot of stages at the same time.

Most people remember their teachers from grade school, (which I do: Mrs. Cox - 1st grade, Mrs. MacClendon - 2nd, Mrs. Webber - 3rd, Mr. Torkelson - 4th, and Ms. Dement - 5th grade) because they have such a profound influence in our development as human beings.

However, I think with the pursuit of personal learning of this nature; that is, making music and learning to play the cello, we must be affected on a much deeper level. As adults we are making the conscious decision of leaving ourselves vulnerable to making mistakes while simultaneously learning to create and share something that is beautiful, enjoyable and fulfilling! So perhaps my emotional response isn't that uncommon?

All I know is that I'm really going to miss Clayton.  ...argh... you SUCK Clayton... He has just been such a wonderful influence in my life and I don't think I could have found a kinder, more talented human being! ...why did you have to win the audition?? ..grrr... 

Anyway, I wanted to take a moment to tell all you cello teachers out there that read my blog: Thank you for making our lives beautiful, know that you are leaving a legacy behind, and that you are making a MUCH bigger impact than you think!

...ugh... I don't want to think about that/him anymore so... back to CelloSpeak... *double sigh*


There was definitely excitement in the air as everyone was doing some last minute practicing. For myself, I was trying NOT to get too excited and was trying to take it as easy as possible to save up my energy for the concert by trying to pretend that it was just like any other day.

I made sure that I at least got more food in me to keep my energy reserves up for the concert and made sure I ate a banana, which I learned about doing during last summer's camp. I don't know if it's a placebo affect, but for me, I think it helps. Although... even if it is a placebo affect, than so be it, as long as it has a positive affect! :)

For those who are unaware of the "Banana trick" before a performance, bananas can provide some benefits when eaten before a performance because:

1) It contains potassium
According to studies, eating a large banana boosts potassium intake by 10% of our daily intake. Since potassium plays a role in muscle functions, deficiencies in potassium can lead to cramping and discomfort. More importantly, since I'm a HUGE sweat-er when I get nervous, it will help replenish my potassium levels since our bodies lose potassium through sweat or prolonged physical activity. I think our final rehearsal and final concert definitely falls into the "prolonged physical activity" category!

2) It contains manganese
Studies show a large banana provides about 21% of the daily recommended intake for women and 17% of the recommended intake for men. Manganese plays a key role in our metabolism by helping our bodies access energy from the foods in our diet, so it basically supports our performance by helping our body get the most from our meals.

3) It contains carbohydrates 
A large banana can provide 31 grams of carbohydrates, and since our body uses carbohydrates as fuel, it's a good idea to have carbohydrate stores to increase endurance for a performance.

Honestly, I also think it depends on whether I think it will work, my state of mind and obviously my body chemistry. And yes, state of mind, because if I'm completely frantic or in a panic mode, eating a banana isn't going to help!
Anyway, this time, I decided to start eating a banana earlier so it had time to digest. Although in retrospect, it would probably have been a good idea to eat a banana each day for breakfast? I'm going to have to try that next year. Good thing I'm not allergic to bananas or dislike them. :)

Technique & Group Ensemble
Unfortunately, I don't remember specifically what we did during these classes, but I think it was going over some trouble spots in the small ensemble pieces.

Large Cello Choir
Our conductor asked if someone in our section could move up and fill the second seat next to the first cello since everyone was avoiding the seat and sitting towards the back. Since I'm a big ol' chicken, I decided to sit farther back. Luckily, Rob volunteered and he sat up front. I decided at that point, if Rob could do it, I should at least try sitting up front for ONE rehearsal next year!

Large cello choir rehearsal.
Photo Credit: Time Points Photography

I have to admit that I really enjoyed playing in the middle, I could see the first cello for bowing cues and I could hear people from behind and in front, so I knew if I was playing a wrong note. Sitting in the back, I couldn't hear myself (sound seems to disappear back there) and couldn't see bowing cues. The less confident cellists sat in the back so I couldn't necessary go off of their cues either. And good luck to the people sitting behind me because I definitely wasn't bowing correctly some of the time! Oops!

During rehearsal, they handed out two new pieces of music, which was sight-readable for me. I thought it was a great idea that they didn't send it out with the rest of the music because the number of music we received in the mail would have been overwhelming. Although I kind of felt bad for those who don't do so well sight-reading.

We ran through all of the songs and this rehearsal went really well for me!

I wasn't very hungry but I made sure too eat more than normal since we burn more energy during performances. I also shared the trick of eating a banana before a performance with my table, although during that time I didn't remember specifically why it was a good idea to eat a banana, only that it worked for me! Luckily, someone else knew of the trick and could explain that it contained potassium, manganese and carbohydrates. I'm fairly certain once I post this entry that I'm going to forget the reasons why eating a banana is good for performances. I have terrible memory! Lol!

I discovered that the cellist I was borrowing the cello from (I had two cellos I was using!) was leaving camp early and had to take the cello with her. I'm going to call it the "Rose" cello since the owner of the cello named it and I can't remember the entire name, only that it had Rose in it. Anyway, I absolutely LOVED playing on  that cello! It had the sound I was looking for and I swear I couldn't play a wrong note on it!

It was also a Montagnana cello, which I had mentioned in previous posts that I wanted a cello in that pattern (or Gofriller pattern) because I love how deep those patterns tend to sound, but I always felt those patterns were too big for me. However, this cello did NOT feel like it was too big and I even liked it better than the Jan Szlachtowski cello which was much more expensive because I tend to like darker sounding cellos. And it was SO easy to play!!! I was seriously considering buying the cello too. Anyway, I was kind of bummed that I couldn't play on the cello during the concert so after lunch I hurried to my room to practice scales so I could get used to the finger spacing on the other cello since I had primarily been practicing on the Rose cello.

Private Lesson
I was surprised to discover that I had one more lesson left with LB because I had assumed we didn't have lessons on the concert day, so I wasn't prepared to go over any material with LB. Although in general, I felt ill-prepared for our lessons because I didn't bring a lot of music. Next year, I'll bring more music to work on.

We discussed the Rose cello a bit since LB was also considering buying a cello at camp. LB recommended that I bring it to the luthier to do a free assessment and also mentioned that it fit well with my body too! I really loved the sound of that cello and how well it played.

We continued with our vibrato lesson, and focused on 4th position vibrato because it felt more different vibrating in 4th than 1st position so I felt certain I was doing something wrong.

Next year she recommended that I sign up for the next level (Elementary, not Beginner level). But I think the level was perfect because it took a few days for me to get over being jet lagged / sinus headache / caffeine withdrawals to start playing like I normally do, and if I was at a higher level, I think I would have felt a bit overwhelmed with the music (especially since this was my first time) and I would not have had time to work on my vibrato. I'm still debating whether or not I should move up a level, although my 2nd week chamber coach had also recommended that I move up a level.

Anyway, I have to credit LB for making vibrato sink in! Without her lessons I think I would still be struggling with my vibrato. I'm still currently working on it, but at least I don't feel like it's out of reach any more.

I've also discovered that learning vibrato has three motions/movements that make it work (for me anyway):
1) the sticky-finger up-and-down motion
2) rotation of the arm motion
3) loose finger joints

I'm still experimenting with this, but I'll go a little bit into more detail on this later. Anyway, without the "rotation" part, I don't think this would have clicked for me! Thank you LB! :)

Final Rehearsal 
I arrived on time, but apparently later than most cellists because everyone was already seated and ready to go! I wanted to sit at the end, instead of the middle of the row, so I people wouldn't have to move, but they ended up expanding the rows and making everyone move down a seat anyway. Oops!
I also wanted to hide in the back where the other cellists I used to play next to in rehearsals happened to be seated, but there wasn't any more room.

Note to self: Arrive early for final rehearsals! 

I discovered that due to the room's different dimensions, people had to sit at different spots from where they were during rehearsals, and in most cases not next to the person they were playing with during rehearsals. This was kind of a shock to me since I relied heavily on cues from the person next to me.

Another note to self: Learn the music better so I don't have to rely so heavily on the person next to me!! 

I played really well again (surprisingly) so I was fairly confident about the concert. The conductor let us out early so the faculty could work on a surprise performance with an opera singer and asked that we leave the cellos in the building. They didn't want us lugging our cellos back and forth, and also wanted us to get some down time! Apparently they had anticipated the fact that we just wanted to continue practicing, which I did!

Final rehearsal.
Photo Credit: Time Points Photography

I ate a large meal and a banana, and went to close my eyes for a bit. I wasn't sure when the faculty would be done, but I timed my alarm so I could dress in concert attire and be their as early as possible!

I arrived early so I could warm up with scales and get tuned. I also wasn't used to the weather so I wanted to get there early so my body could get used to the temperature of the room and get my heart rate down.

Practicing scales before the concert. Thanks DH for the photo!

We were going to start with the small ensembles, which meant that my group was up first, so I setup early and did some scales to get used to the Szlachtowski cello which was bigger than the Rose cello. The audience drifted in and I could feel myself getting antsy and stiffening up, so I tried to pretend that it was "time for a nap" to settle down a bit. 

I had been focusing and practicing the small ensemble music for most of the week, so I was comfortable enough that I was able to look up and watch the conductor for cues and also send my awareness out to listen to other members of the ensemble. Overall, I was happy with my performance. :)

Beginner Small Ensemble.
Photo Credit: Time Points Photography

After we finished we took our cello, bow and music and walked down the side aisle as the next group came up the center aisle to setup and perform. After the other groups performed we all headed back onstage to perform the large ensemble pieces. 

This is the part where I performed terribly and was the WORSE performance that I've ever had... ever
I don't know what happened, but I got lost in all of the pieces, and during the last two pieces I completely lost my place and couldn't find my way back in the music. I ended up air bowing and vibrating open strings during the last two songs! Seriously, no exaggeration! Completely air-bowed... :(

Even though I did terribly I still enjoyed performing and had some great learning experiences.  
One of my fears is getting lost and not being able to find my place again, and now that's happened to me (twice during this concert!) I don't feel like I have to worry about that any more because it's not that bad - kind of embarrassing, but not too bad! Although I wish someone recorded that concert because I want to see how noticeable it was! Lol! :) 

Anyway, once I got lost, I started to panic and tried to recognize where everyone was playing, but couldn't find my way back, but once I settled into air bowing, I had the chance to discreetly look around. I was surprised to discover there were a few cellists who were smiling and enjoying the concert!
I even made some eye contact with a few of them. I'm unsure if they knew I was lost or not, but they smiled back and we shared some "moments"! Lol! :)

I even had the chance to see 3rd section do the "troll playing" which I found absolutely HILARIOUS!! Okay, so there was only one person who did it (DS), everyone else was staring too intently at their music sheet, but his expression and playing was priceless!! If I wasn't too busy pretending to be playing, I would have busted out laughing, but I'm fairly certain I had a big ol' goofy smile when I saw DS play that section. 

Obviously, I need to take my eyes off the music more because there seems to be a bunch of stuff that happens during the concert that I've missed because I'm staring at my music! 

Anyway, after some reflection, I think I know why I totally blanked out during the large ensemble performance. First, I hadn't practiced the music that well since I was focusing primarily on the Small Ensemble music and secondly, I was over confident that I would do well. I had some really great rehearsals and wasn't having any issues playing the music so I let my guard down! With the Small Ensemble music I had practiced it consistently and yet didn't have very good rehearsals so I was alert and counting like crazy. 

It seems to me that every time I've had good rehearsals, I've had bad performances and vice verse. I think it really boils down to over-confidence. When I have a bad rehearsal, during the performance I'm actively trying to avoid mistakes and am alert and focused, especially when I know problem areas are coming up. But when I have good rehearsals, my mind kind of goes on auto-pilot because I know I've played it well before. ...hhhmmm... I wonder how I can have good rehearsals and good performances? 

Everyone! Large ensemble group.
Photo Credit: Time Points Photography

After concert:
They had some great snacks for us for our post-concert celebration, and of course they had bottles of wine, and even two types of Sangrias! Yum!! 

We all sat outside on the patio during this hot humid night and spoke to one another about our experiences at camp, and how wonderful we thought the camp was. I was able to speak with a lot of campers that I hadn't met before, including DH who had commented, "I think you're the youngest camper here, did you just get out of high school?" I immediately thought, "Do I really look that young? YEESSS!!!"

DH you're awesome - you totally made my day... few months even!! :)

Anyway, I had some really great conversations with campers and didn't want to leave the party so soon, but I HATE saying goodbyes (there's that avoidance thing again!), so I snuck out as I excused myself to pretend to get a refill of wine.

I like to remember moments as they are (and at a high point), which I think sometimes gets spoiled by saying goodbyes. Anyway, I thought that moment captured the mood, camaraderie and newly formed friendships perfectly: everyone relaxing and having a good time, smiling and laughing beneath a clear night sky, while recounting their most memorable experiences during camp.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Week 1 - Day 5 (Thursday 8/1): Catchup, vibrato and no solo

It has been a WEIRD few weeks since returning from CelloSpeak! ...has it only been a month and a half?? Hopefully in the next few days my schedule will clear up a bit so I can finish my posts!

The reason for being so swamped... I was in a small car accident which resulted in my car being totaled (no one was injured), so I've been running around trying to find a car in my very low price range and settling the insurance stuff.

I also started a few side projects: a couple of photo shoots for a quartet and cellist, a wedding video montage, and two website designs. I do all that as hobbies, so I was surprised that I got a few requests, and all within a few days of each other.

Anyway, I also discovered last weekend my teacher Clayton is moving out-of-state at the end of the month. Noooooo....!!!! I am totally bummed out about that! :(  Since he's leaving, I'm also looking for another Music Director to replace him for our cello group. *sigh* I'm totally going to miss him. So bummed... :(

We're also going through some flooding in our area so a lot of the business and roads have been shut down. We're a block and a half from Boulder Creek, but our apartment complex is at a higher elevation - so luckily, I haven't been affected. Except for road closures, non-working traffic lights in the area and some power outages, it hasn't been too bad. ...on a positive note, everything pretty much shut down so I had time to concentrate on photographs, web design stuff, a blog entry and some cello practice. :)

My friend took this a few nights ago. That's a street! Table Mesa & Broadway is now a "river."

Did I also mention I happen to be looking at a 2002 Subaru Outback with an All Weather Package and All Wheel Drive, which apparently drives really well in torrential rain? Lol! I think I may be turning into a Subaru fan because this car totally kicks butt driving through heavy rain! I'm loving the AWD, but don't worry, I won't be driving through any large pools of water or anything.

It's strange - I went to the dealership after work to take a look at this car and they "approved" me, but they still need to run it through when the banks are open. However, since all the flooding, businesses including banks have been closed so I haven't heard back with the final determination, so it's kind of scary driving a car around not knowing whether or not I really own the vehicle!

I'm telling you, it just has been a very WEIRD few weeks!

Anyway, back to CelloSpeak... let's see what I can remember...


I was finally feeling back to normal, but still couldn't figure out if was because I was jet-lagged, if it was from the altitude change (going from a mile high from sea level), the change in climate or from caffeine withdrawals, but I finally feeling back to normal! Too bad it took so long!

My appetite also started to level off and I wasn't eating as much I was before. Although I was still taking a few pieces of cookies and fruit back to my room because I was still getting hungry in between meals! ..hhhmmm... I wonder if we were allowed to do that?

I woke up earlier than the previous days and even had time to have a more leisurely breakfast, instead of getting to the kitchen 5 min before they closed and shoveling food into my mouth!

Technique Class

As promised, we went over vibrato during this class period, which was great because I had been practicing it and wanted to hear the instructions again, which LB happened to be teaching in this class.

However, the other instructor DH taught the "sticky-finger method." I'm going to refer to it as the "sticky-finger method" although I have no idea what it's really called! If someone knows, let me know. :)

Anyway, I knew immediately he was in the other "vibrato camp" because I caught a glimpse of his expression when LB started to teach the rotation method. A surprised look flashed across his face for only the briefest moment, but I was watching for his reaction to figure out what "camp" he was in.
I was however, even more impressed that DH didn't try offer up his opinion on how he thought vibrato should be taught, but instead supported her teaching by giving some helpful tips that could be used in both rotational vibrato and sticky-finger vibrato. They totally worked as a team and I was HUGELY impressed that two teachers with two different methods could supplement each other so well! The instructors at CelloSpeak are just top-notch! And yes, I did get the chance to sit down with DH during lunch and ask him how he would normally teach vibrato - and it was the "sticky-finger method."

Anyway, he provided a great acronym when playing vibrato, which is S.E.W.


Clayton had worked a little bit on this with me before the camp, since my vibrato was super squirrel-y; that is, very narrow, fast, and extremely uneven! Anyway, it's best to start off learning how to do slow relaxed vibrato, instead of doing narrow fast vibrato. ...wait a minute, I totally love that.. SUPER SQUIRRELY! ...could be a rock band or something! Lol! :)

Anyway, learning how to vibrate more slowly... the example they gave was to turn the metronome on to 60 and vibrate using the rhythm: ap-ple, straw-ber-ry (or "tri-ple it") and then wa-ter-mel-on (or Mis-si-ssi-ppi). In this case, going slower, use "ap-ple." I have discovered that going slower was more difficult, so I've only been working on "ap-ple."

Using the metronome will also help make my vibrato more even, instead of speeding up or slowing down, especially when changing notes. I had a lesson with Clayton regarding this, and I think this applies to "Continuous Vibrato" too, which just means that my vibrato doesn't stop/hesitate when moving from note to note even during shifting, extensions or chords.

With wide vibrato, I think I'm just trying to get as much of my finger to touch the string to vibrate, which means more movement to get more of the fleshy part of the finger to contact the string, or in other words - larger or smaller oscillations? Still trying to figure this one out so I'm not sure... :)

They also gave a helpful tip which was to keep my elbow at the same level by resting it atop a table, or between a door frame, to make sure my elbow isn't flapping around. Which is another reason why I've been working on making sure my elbow isn't flapping in the breeze as I play because it's pretty important to have the elbow at the correct level when playing vibrato.

Another helpful tip:
The previous day, LB2 had provided a helpful tip when putting away my cello, which was to loosen the endpin and lower the cello to the ground and then tighten it, instead of picking up the cello to reach the endpin. Anyway, the reason I remembered this was, that day, being my normal spaz-tic self and forgetting about what I learned, I picked up my cello to slide in my endpin and accidentally hit another cellist with my scroll who was walking by! Sorry D!

Small Ensemble
I was feeling fairly confident on playing Blue Bells and Hunter's Chorus for the concert the following day, but I was still practicing it more than the large ensemble pieces since there were less cellists to cover up any of my mistakes. :)

We worked on watching the conductor and some cueing exercises, which I thought was really fun! I always like working on those exercises and trying to expand my awareness. A fun exercise is to try to keep track of one other person in the group to try to expand my awareness (in addition to keeping track of the conductor). Although I always find that this only works if I know the music fairly well though. ;)

I think I've posted this in a past post, but a really helpful tip, in large ensembles or orchestras, is to raise my stand fairly high so I don't have to look up to see the conductor and can easily see them in my peripheral vision. Although I've discovered that this can block someone else's vantage point if they are trying to look at the first chair or something... However, in smaller ensembles like quartets or trios, I was told it would be better to lower the stand so the sound can escape and one can see cues more easily.

Large Cello Choir
I was feeling fairly confident with these pieces since they were on the easier side, so I didn't practice any of the music, which was not a good idea! I played terribly at the concert, but I'll go into more detail about that in the next blog post.

I thought the conductor for our large ensemble was pretty funny and he liked to say this saying, which I can't seem to remember how it went exactly, or who said it. I thought I wrote it down somewhere, but apparently not!  ...argh... I think it went something like: "To practice is to fail, but awareness is cure." It's self-explanatory, but I really liked it because it's insightful and to the point.

I also learned a new music term: strain 
The conductor kept saying, "let's begin at the 2nd strain..." and I finally figured out it meant the second ending to the repeated section. least, that's what I was doing! :)

He also explained when playing music, we should strive to develop "characters" to what we are playing.
For example, there was a section in one of our pieces where it sounded like angry trolls or ogres stomping around, so he had everyone who played that part make funny orgre faces or pretend they were ogres playing cellos, which I have to honestly say - worked! It sounded much more colorful and had more character! He also recommended that the section play that way during the concert too! Lol! ;)

There's this great photo of that cello section making funny faces while playing that music during rehearsals, but here's one of the conductor making a ogre face while explaining the concept! ...hhmmm... looks more like a vampire! :)

(c) Time Points Photography

There was another piece of music which had some call and response between a little old lady on a spinning wheel and a young girl on a spinning wheel. He created a colorful image to associate with the music by acting out the little old lady, huddled over a spinning wheel which was moving slowly, his hands moving in a small circular pattern that wasn't very smooth. Then he acted out the young girl on the spinning wheel, who sat up straight and confident, smiling brightly while spinning the wheel in a larger and more smoother circular motion.
Amazingly enough, the sound resulted in one that was darker and "rickety" versus one that was brighter and smoother! It was really cool to hear the difference with them just imagining and assigning different characters to the music. I guess the take-away is to connect stories to the music to add character and...

...don't just play notes!

I spoke with SS who had performed the previous day and she said something to me that I thought was just so extremely helpful and valuable. I asked her how she felt about her performance and she said she was, "happy with it," which was really surprising to me because I don't think I'd ever heard anyone be "happy" about their own performance! Normally, someone will say, "Good, but I could have done this better... " or "it was okay, but I wish I could have..." - there's always a "but..."!

I know for myself, I can easily find a million things to work on and do better, but she explained that she averaged out her practice time for her performance piece, and if she performed 75% of how she practiced at home, than she was happy with it. She explained that it was unrealistic to expect that we perform perfectly 100% of the time, especially if we don't practice perfectly.

Which made sense because who practices perfectly? And there isn't a way to take into account other variables like bad acoustics, distractions, a string going bad, weird weather that causes the cello to go crazy, etc.

I thought this was a really great idea because thinking about it that way can relieve some pressure of trying to get everything "perfect," so one could be more relaxed and therefore play better!

I had been avoiding signing up to perform Hunter's Chorus as a duet with my teacher LB and had been working up the courage to do so. I had finally made my decision the previous night that I would sign up that morning, but unfortunately, when I visited the bulletin board to sign up, the signup list was full! :(
So during lunch I went in search of LB to tell her that I couldn't signup. She asked the director if she could squeeze me in, but I told her that I'd rather not perform, which I now regret doing!

Anyway, I was really excited about this upcoming recital because my buddy Rob was going to perform. He and IC had been practicing music with us in one of the spare rooms, and I had attended a couple of Rob's lessons. He was also performing with our teacher LB, so I was really cheering for him to do well - which he did!

Since this was the last night to be able to perform a piece of music of our choosing, there were more non-advanced cellists performing which I found to be extremely inspiring! The previous nights, I felt more of the advanced cellists had performed so I had expected that same level (which was one of the reasons why I didn't want to perform!), but it was very refreshing to discover that wasn't the case for this night! This night had a lot of scared, nervous cellists like me!

I've mentioned in previous posts that my hand used to shake uncontrollably when I played in front of people.... now for some reason, I sweat like crazy! :(  ...but anyway, I could tell some of these cellists were uncomfortable performing in front of people and a few even struggled through their pieces; and yes, they weren't perfect, and there were notes that were out of tune, and a few had my issue of the "shaking-bow-syndrome," but the point wasn't to perform something perfectly - it was to gain the experience of performing in front of an audience and getting over some of that fear!  ...ugh, if only I hadn't chickened out! Next year...

Anyway, I felt absolutely PROUD and happy for those cellists that night for having the courage to perform in front of an audience! I know how difficult it is to get on stage. ...obviously, since I chickened out! But, it was TRULY INSPIRING, and I hope those performers know that they were an inspiration to me, and I'm sure to the audience as well!

After the recital everyone was full of excitement for the following day's concert and also from the wonderful performances that night, so our merry little band of cellists decided to practice one last time before our concert on the following day. We took our glasses of wine, crackers and cheeses and headed to the spare dorm room to practice. By the end of the night, we had two more cellists join us and had six cellists crammed into a dorm room to practice the music. It was a tight squeeze, but there's always room for cello, right? :)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Week 1 - Day 4 (Wed 7/31): Technique, Coffee & Group Photo

My memory is failing me so I think I may be confusing some of the days.... ugh, I knew I should have taken more detailed notes instead of jotting three or four words on the inside of my binder!

Woke up late again so I was late to class... as usual... slacker! Totally setting a bad example... :(
By the way, don't be late if you attend CelloSpeak next year! No one else was late, and I have to admit it was rude of me to be late all the time... sorry... Plus it is nice to get there early to be able to get a good spot and tune, which I didn't get to do most of the time.

However, I did figure out a helpful tip in setting up quickly and more quietly! :)
Most of the participants would bring their stand into the room (and even cello cases) and setup in the room, which is a bit loud. Since I was late all the time, I didn't want to disturb the class so I put my stand together in the hallway and put my binder on it. Don't try this if you have a wire stand because they're not very sturdy.

I would then bring my stand and music, set it down and then walk out of the room grab my cello, tighten my bow, and then come back in to extend my endpin, sit down and be ready to go! Took me a few times of being late to figure that one out.
I didn't think to do this while I was there, but it would have probably been more efficient and quieter if I had extended my endpin before entering the room too so all I had to do was sit down and be ready to play.

Although setting up in the hallway didn't really work in the large ensemble because we were in a theatre and we stored our cello cases and bags in the same room... oops...

Small Ensemble
We selected the pieces for our small group ensemble and voted to play Blue Bells and Hunter's Chorus (for Cello Quartet)and also decided that during the break we would reorganize and sit in the appropriate sections now that we knew which song we were performing and who was playing each part.

Since my focus that week was on vibrato, I tried vibrating my pizzicato since half of Blue Bells for my part was pizz and I wanted to get some practice. I don't know if I was doing it correctly, but LB had mentioned that I should try to get my left hand and right hand comfortable doing different things and I figured this was a bit different! Anyway, I forgot to ask what circumstances would someone want to vibrate pizzicato so I'll have to ask my teacher this weekend during my lesson.

Technique Class
We worked on Hunter's Chorus, but we also covered a lot of helpful techniques.

Shifting to 4th
Prepare for the shift by first thinking about it (imagine the location on the fingerboard), and then shift into the position. I've read this in technique books before and my teachers have mentioned it too.

However, having AE instruct us to look at the note on the page, think and visualize the shift, and then waiting more than a few seconds before telling us it was okay to shift helped a lot.

Typically, when I think of a shift, I don't think of it as long as I should since I tend to rush. My normal thought process would be something like, "What note is that? Oh, that's a shift! Darn. I need to move my hand to that spot. Okay, I think it's over there. Go!"

But with AE instructing us to visualize the shift and think about it, and then "holding out" before allowing us to shift made me focus and think about the shift more. This was basically what I was thinking during the first exercise:

"Okay, shifting to 4th, so I need to move my hand down to the saddle. Ugh, I hate shifting to 4th... oh yeah, don't forget to stretch my pinky to grab that G. Are we ready yet? Why isn't he saying 'Shift?' ....Okay, well I guess from a third person point of view it would be located here on my cello. I wonder how my cello would look from an aerial view?? hhmmm, interesting... why isn't he saying 'Shift' yet?? ...fine, I'll think about it some more... maybe I should make sure my elbow stays in the correct path. Okay, now I think I know where I'm going... yep, I've got this. Oh for goodness sake, are you going to say 'Shift' yet?? I've got this!!" 

And I totally got it too!!! :) I wonder if my thoughts showed up in my facial expressions and if I shot him an impatient look? I think I may have because he smiled and then said, "Shift." Lol!

Anyway, it was an enlightening experience. It made me realize how unprepared I was each time I shifted! Although thinking about it with that much focus and making sure I found that "feeling" each time is a lot of effort and concentration! Not sure if I can do that each time...

Shift to a position
Don't shift to a note, shift to a position.
Both of my teachers have told me this before, but it finally sunk in because I was caught in the act when I tried to shift to 4th position to grab the G on the A string during Hunter's Chorus. See my thought process above - I should NOT be reaching for that G! My hand position should allow for that note just to be there.

Even though people have told me that 4th position is the easiest and most comfortable position, I've found it to be the opposite! But then again, I haven't spent a lot of time in 4th position so it's still unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Anyway, this is still a work in progress too.

Someone asked about harmonics, so LB2 explained how harmonics works by dividing a string in half to find the octave of that note. Then by halving that section again, you can get another octave. It's funny, but I've heard this explained several times before, but I actually never tried it after the fact, so the information never really sank in completely. ...hhhmmm... I guess you could say I was "familiar" with the information because I had heard it so many times, but never really understood it? If that makes any sense!

Anyway, this time I actually took the time to measure it out (from nut to bridge), mark it with a pencil and found all the harmonics! Honestly, if you haven't done this with your cello yet, do it! ...NOW... seriously... right NOW... stop reading this and go find your harmonics.... Your cello will thank you! Not only is it fun to do, but it really does help learn the geography of the cello!

LB2 provided a wonderful tip on tuning. After tuning always play each string individually and then play double stops. This will help start training my ear to recognize when the strings are in tune!! Not sure why I didn't hear of this before, or maybe I had forgotten, because it's so obvious and simple! I'm going to do this from now on.

It's also important to be consciously aware of the sound, so a good idea is to hear the sound in my head or hum it so it doesn't become passive listening.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this class! Even though AE & LB2 went over a lot of information I've heard before, it never really clicked for me until then. We learn by building information in layers to build a deeper understanding of the subject, so revisiting basics is always helpful for me. And, I think focusing on cello 24/7 for a few days really does wonders for improving and understanding cello technique!

Cello choir
We broke up into sectionals and went over fingering and timing. I don't remember what we worked on exactly, but if/when I remember, I'll update the information.

Lunch & Coffee 
If it wasn't so hot and humid, I would have loved walking around campus because they had some awesome buildings! The coffee shop was located in this beautiful castle-looking building, which we got to by walking across the tree-lined field below. Enchanting right? :)

Anyway, I was still suffering from a headache and still a bit jet-lagged or whatever, but I was finally feeling back to normal after getting some coffee, which made me realize that perhaps I was also suffering from caffeine withdrawals too, so I started drinking coffee and soda!

Private lesson
We re-visited vibrato since that was my focus for that week. During my practice sessions I noticed a couple odd things with my vibrato. I always felt that when I was moving my first finger to vibrate that I was doing an extension to reach the note. She explained that it feels that way because the hand has to relax to vibrate so the space between the fingers closes up a bit.

I was also unsure of what to do with my thumb. I don't remember what she said exactly, but she mentioned that the thumb was a balance point. She also mentioned that the thumb had an important role in shifting, and I should think about moving my thumb and the fingers would follow.

Right after the lesson I decided to practice to make sure that I remembered some of the concepts and feelings of the vibrato movement I felt during the lesson, but I'm sure I was driving people nuts with my vibrato exercises!

Group Photo
Yaaay for group photos!!! :)

My muscles were feeling fairly tense so I attended one of the stretching/exercise classes.
What I really enjoyed about this class was the instructor gave cello-specific stretches since she herself was a cellist and participant at CelloSpeak. I'll have to post these exercises in another entry later since this post is exceedingly long. SOOO much information... and this is only the stuff I can remember!

Dinner & Practice 
After dinner, we met up in the spare dorm room and practiced for a while. Since we were having issues with rhythm, we decided to clap out the measures which helped tremendously.

Recital / Concert
A fun concert! My two favorite pieces during the recital was the faculty's performance of Pray by Apocalyptica and one of the cello participants who performed a piece by Natalie Haas.

The Natalie Haas piece was simply amazing! I especially loved the fact that she had invited her daughter (who was a violinist) to do a duet with her. Also, her mom was participating at CelloSpeak so there were three generations in attendance. Very sweet! :)

I don't remember what song they performed, but below is a video of Natalie Haas performing.