Chinese Proverb

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

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lesson #136C (6/16/13): Music (and more cats...)

I received music from Cellospeak and it's a lot of music! whew!! Better start practicing soon...

I haven't attempted practicing any pieces yet either (the cat-excuse and all...), but Clayton also added some alternative fingerings for me before he left for his music festival for most of the summer.

So, from the last time I attended a workshop, do a few research tasks:
  1. Find videos or audios: find YouTube videos to see how it should sound. Listen to the audios/videos to get it in my ear and get a sense of how it's supposed to sound like. 
  2. Find the music: if possible find the music so someone can play it with me before the workshop. This way I'm familiar with what is going on with the other parts and can listen for cues, and I always find it helpful to have the score. 
  3. Look up markings: Look up and write in definitions of markings I'm not familiar with:
  4. Fingerings: Add any reminders for myself - I always forget what key I'm in and it's easier to just write it down than have to think about whether it's my second or third finger. Although at some point I should probably be able to do that...  
  5. Road maps: Find repeat signs and figure out where I'm supposed to be going and put in markings/reminders. 
I'm pleasantly surprised that they sent me the option of selecting from either Part IV or Part V. It looks like I can play Part IV for the music they sent me, but it's more a matter of how polished I want it to be and how much time I'll have to practice before the workshop since I'm procrastinating like nothing else!

And, I can make it as difficult or as easy as I want. For the most part, all of the music can be played in first position, but they sent it with fingerings in 2nd and 3rd position so I can work on that if I wanted to... or if I stay in first position, than I won't be too stressed about doing 2nd and 3rd position and can try some vibrato...hmmmm.... decisions, decisions... although I should probably start practicing the music in the next couple days or so! :)

More procrastination... 
I adopted another kitty since doing a little research showed that it's best to adopt two kitties at the same time so they can keep each other company and out of trouble - although it's more the case that I wanted two cute little fur balls running around! This time we adopted a grey 2 month year old tabby. His name was Ernie (which I thought was cute, but my husband didn't like the name), so I renamed him Cello because with his markings I can spell out cello - C on his left side, E on his hind leg, two L's on his back and an O on the other side, although it looks more like a D or a heart if he sitting, but close enough! ...or I guess it looks like a copyright symbol... Hopefully, when he's no longer a kitten he'll still have the markings.

Cello (Cello kat?) happened to be the runt of the litter, and when we first saw him he was really skinny and lethargic. Anyway, we've had him for two weeks now (he's gained a pound since we adopted him!), and we're slowly nursing him back to health since he has an upper respiratory infection. Little Cello has been sneezing a lot and has an eye infection, so we're giving him eye drops 3x a day. Apparently it's common for kittens adopted from shelters to get upper respiratory infections.

They're favorite game is called a Game for Cats. Both Snuggles and Cello will play it for HOURS!
LOL - even cats get addicted to video games!! :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Practice Log #20: Judas Maccabeus, Suzuki Book 2

The camera is at a weird angle because I wanted to see the angle of my fingers and the motion of my vibrato. I didn't realize the light was facing the camera, but I didn't want to re-record.

I was debating whether or not I should post this, but then I figured the worse I am in the beginning, the better comparison I'll have later when I finally understand how to vibrate!...I hope... ;)

Things to work on
1) Intonation - I was going to put a drone on, but I thought it would be more difficult to hear my vibrato. My intonation has gone out the window! :(  It got better towards the end though.
2) Pinky - stop lifting it up so high! Darn you pinky!
3) Motion - it does look like its coming from the pinky!! I think if I figure out how to vibrate without lifting my pinky I should be able to get it.
4) First finger - it looks like I'm in an extension the entire time... what is going on with that??
5) Slant - it looks like my hand is slanted correctly when I'm NOT vibrating, but when I start to vibrate I square up my hand? I need to stay at a slant the entire time. Clayton had pointed this out during the last lesson, but now I can see what he was talking about. It doesn't feel like I'm in an extension...
6) Too tense - for some reason my right hand was really tensing up and my left hand looks like it tenses up to vibrate which I should be doing the opposite!
7) Can't hear my vibrato - if I don't look at the video and listen only to the audio I can't hear my vibrato!! :(
8) Legato - more legato!! Not very smooth transitions between bow changes.
9) Dynamics - I need to be more obvious in my dynamics. I can't hear it.
10) Bow articulation - I missed a few spots, and didn't quite grab the string on a few spots.
11) Moving around too much - I know moving around is good because a static position is not good for the body, but I still think I'm moving around too much. Clayton recommend thinking about directing the energy into the strings, and not using the body as much. I'm still working on that, but had too much stuff to think about. :)

My list is getting longer and longer... thought it's supposed to get shorter... lol! ;) I look tired... gotta get some sleep!


Okay, now from some AWESOME cello-ing.... I just came across this Canadian cellist Denise Djokic, and WOW!! ...obviously I'm waaayy behind on current cellists!

Can I please please please have that sound come out of my cello?? ;) Then I'd never put my cello down! Her sound is just so resonant and open... the acoustics of the room perhaps? Regardless, she sounds BEAUTIFUL!!

I know it's a bit weird to have my practice video, and then this amazingly wonderful sounding professional cellist, but OMG I totally want to sound like her!!! Totally inspired!!! :)

J.S. Bach - Suite for Solo Cello no. 1 in G major - Minuets 1 and 2

J.S. Bach - Suite for Solo Cello no. 1 in G major - Prelude

J.S. Bach - Suite for Solo Cello no. 1 in G major - Courante

J.S. Bach - Suite for Solo Cello no. 1 in G major - Sarabande

J.S. Bach - Suite for Solo Cello no. 1 in G major - Gigue

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lesson #134A (6/12/13): Vibrato and strings

Catching up on blog posts, or at least, the last few lessons since I can't really remember the other lessons.

I love testing out strings and have been using Larsen Magnacores on my C&G strings (absolutely love them!!) and offered them to Adam to try out so I'm playing on Spirocores on C&G now. The Spirocores are still a bit too bright for me, but since the cello has opened up a bit since I tried them last, it's sounding much better. However, the Spirocores still doesn't provide the depth the Magnacores do.

I was kind of proud of the fact that I was doing vibrato at the concert, which I had NOT practiced - it kind of just happened... not sure why either!

Although it's feeling more "natural," I'm still not doing the correct movement so we went over how to do this. I can feel it being correct sometimes because it becomes "easy" and not forced, but I can't find the feeling very often.

Hand position
  • 4th finger - make sure that my third finger is down to help the fourth finger since the fourth finger is the weakest.
  • 1st finger - make sure that my second finger is against my first finger because I tend to lift my fingers up and back.
  • Don't curl my fingers back - my fingers should be relatively in the "ready" position. I have the very bad habit of pulling my other fingers that aren't being used back (or curling it up) when it should be relaxed and uncurled, or staying/hovering over loosely over the position. 
Clayton also mentioned the issues Adam mentioned above, and both of them mentioned that there should be a feeling of being "balanced" between the finger and the thumb while vibrating. I thought I felt it once, but now I'm not so sure!

I also tend to use my wrist, when I shouldn't be consciously moving my wrist - I don't think I am, but it does look like that's the case.... Just like learning how to bow, the wrist/fingers/hands follows (and is the result of) the entire arm movement. Clayton mentioned that I should not think about the hand when vibrating, but the entire arm instead to diffuse the focus on the hand. Adam suggested that I focus on the crook of the elbow when vibrating. I'll have to try focusing on different locations, except for my hand.

Loose joints
There are a few ways to do vibrato and both of my teachers have similar styles because I think they both have the same underlying technique. The main difference is Clayton is a bit more subtle in his movement when using vibrato and has more relaxed finger joints (I guess violinist use loose finger joints in their vibrato), while Adam uses less flexible finger joints and uses larger motion to create his vibrato. I'll have to experiment with both. Although it would be great to know how to do both - more tools in my toolkit! :)

Back to scales!! I shouldn't be changing the shape of my hand position to vibrate notes, which of course I'm changing the shape of my hand. :(
So lately, I've been working on my hand shape so I don't have to change my hand when I'm doing vibrato, but it's totally screwing up my intonation. I'm kind of glad that I'm working on vibrato now so I don't have to relearn my hand position later, but it's really frustrating at the moment.

I've been working on Judas Maccabeus, and it's not sounding that great, but I think I'll do a recording tomorrow. I need to move on from that piece! ...blah...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Lesson #133C (6/9/13): Vibrato and another excuse not to practice...

I'm unsure how many lessons I've taken since my last lesson post on March 6th at 120 lessons since I haven't been keeping track, but if I average one lesson per week than I should be at 133 lessons. Granted I missed a few weeks of lessons, but I also doubled up on lessons during a few week as well to prepare for the concert, so this should average out.... can't believe I haven't entered my lesson notes since March 6th!

I had put vibrato on hold since I didn't have any time to practice it due to the concert, but had started to practice it a few days before my lessons, and surprisingly, it was coming to me much more easily than before! I think the ideas just needed to simmer for a bit! :)

I had been working on vibrato with Clayton during the previous week and we discovered that my finger was not lying flat against the string, which was one of the reasons I couldn't hear my vibrato as much as I should! I had my finger too much on the side of the string when it should be right on top of the string (the fleshy part of the finger). He took a photo to show me, since to me it felt like I was on top of the string when I really was on the side. There's light under my finger which shows that I'm not on top of the string. Also, my finger and motion should be in alignment (parallel) with the fingerboard.

One of the issues I have with vibrato is that my back and shoulders would tense up. I have some neck and upper back issues (used to go to a chiropractor to do some traction a few years ago), so when I start feeling too tense I know I have to stop, otherwise my neck would bother me for a few days and I would have to go get massages. 

Anyway, we worked on opening up the arm and making sure I was relaxed while vibrating. He also tapped the back of my shoulder blade area to give some "feedback" to make sure I wasn't tensing that region while vibrating. He also wants me to experiment on moving my arm/hand unit around to find the most comfortable relaxed position while maintaining the same position. 

Vibrato sound
Clayton wants me to focus on getting a nice thick vibrato sound, right now it's kind of all of the place with no real pulse and at random speeds! Also, for now focus on vibrating half notes until I get comfortable vibrating otherwise trying vibrate faster notes tenses up, which is what commonly happens. 

The more relaxed I am, the bigger and fatter the vibrato will sound, so I've been trying to focus on getting my "underarm flab" to shake while I do vibrato! ...ack, underarm flab... *sigh*... apparently if the flabby stuff can jiggle around it means the correct muscles are not being activated and are relaxed, and hence the jiggle. Great immediate feedback as to whether I'm doing it correctly!

It takes me a while to get my vibrato going, so I need to be aware that the vibrato should be heard at the beginning of the note. :) 

Moving my finger
Another issue I have with vibrato, is when I start to vibrate, my finger starts to slide around, especially when I'm going to the next note. Therefore, Clayton gave me an exercise to help with this problem.
Starting on any note, pretend to put the next finger down by reaching and moving around the finger (like doing an extension) without putting my finger down and without affecting my vibrato. My finger should stay firmly planted in the same spot without any squeezing and by only using weight. ...still not sure how to accomplish this (my finger just seems to move on it's own!), but I'm still practicing it. 

Another excuse not to practice... 
I’ve been slacking on the cello practicing front because my husband adopted a cat for me for my birthday a few weeks ago! I initially wanted a dog because I wanted take it on walks or whatever, but I’m super busy (work full time, part time student during the Fall and Spring, organizing for my cello group, and I’m always on my computer when I’m at home) so that wasn’t very practical, so we adopted a 2 year old dilute tortie cat instead! 

We renamed her Snuggles or “Snugs” for short because she loves to cuddle and purr! She acts more like a dog too – she plays fetch, follows me around the house, comes when I whistle, greets me at the door and approaches guests to be petted! A very friendly social cat! She's very talkative - she doesn't "meow," but "chirps" a lot. I guess she's also fairly small for a cat since she's only 7 pounds, but I've discovered that works well because she can sit in my lap while I'm on my laptop. ...hhhmmm... behaves like a dog and poops in a litter box!! Best of both worlds! :D


I’ll try to keep my posts at a minimum with regards to my newly adopted feline buddy, but… 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Improvisation and inspiration

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to attend directors symposium on creating a group for seniors (65 years and older) in conjunction with a camp workshop that was being held at the same time. This workshop / symposium was mostly geared towards creating a band, instead of an orchestra or small ensemble, but our cello group has a range of cellists from 21 years old to 89 years young and a lot of the ideas applied. Anyway, a few things struck me that I found very interesting.

First, these seniors were truly amazing, and were thoroughly enjoying their time at this camp. I also heard a lot of the same comments that I hear from other "younger" adult learners and beginners; that it's great meeting like-minded individuals, and that learning an instrument as an adult is much more fulfilling and more appreciated by the "older folks."

One of the volunteer seniors who was helping me find my way around, was telling me that she never got to attend band camp, and when she told her family that she was attending this camp, her granddaughter and other family members got really excited for her and told her about the iconic movie America Pie, and said she could now start using the line from the movie: "...this one time, at band camp..."
We had a good laugh about it, and it reminded me of my own experiences as well!! It was so cool, that I could relate despite the age difference! In fact, I think I blogged that line during my last workshop that I attended in California! :)

Secondly, I think perhaps brass and woodwind instruments are taught differently than strings instruments as far as music theory goes? I have an extremely limited knowledge in this area since I obviously don't have any experience in band or orchestra, or music classes at a primary or secondary level. However, from observing some classes here at this camp, this seemed to be the case. Or maybe it has to do with the instrument types and the genre they're typically used/associated with?

Anyway, I think string instruments, which are used more in classical music miss out on what brass instruments typically play (e.g. jazz and band music), which means doing more improvisation! In a one hour class that I watched, the director of this event had led this group of beginner seniors into improvising using the Blues scale. It was REALLY IMPRESSIVE because they sounded great and I could tell that all of them had an "aha moment" and understood how to do it and could improvise going forward!

This got me thinking, why don't we use this teaching method with string instruments? Maybe it is used, but I personally have not experienced it yet. Although most cellists I know don't know how to improvise, or are unfamiliar with different modes (in scales), or are familiar with the modes, but can't utilize it in improvisation...

Third, I hear the comment a lot that "kids don't seem to care as much about making mistakes." Apparently as we age we get much more critical about ourselves (myself included!), but it was surprising to hear this from seniors because I assumed it was more or less my generation that thought that way!

I was also brought up in a culture to respect our "elders," and pretty much the idea that "children should be seen and not heard;" that is, "don't speak to elders until spoken to" was the norm, and until a few years ago I had that mentality. Or maybe I feel that I'm "old enough" that it doesn't apply any more! Yikes! (...hmmm...maybe that's why little kids freak me out...anyway that's a different story...), so it was really surprising to speak with seniors to find that they aren't infallible and have the same "issues" as I do.

Long story longer, it was really inspirational to speak with the attendees at this camp and to see how much they enjoyed playing with each other and learning together. Also, starting an instrument as seniors happens more frequently than I would have ever guessed, and that people starting "late" can play exceptionally well (in brass and woodwinds from what I could tell!), which means I should be happy with the fact that I started before my 30th birthday, and should stop complaining about the fact that I started so late! ;).

This inspired me to re-start my cello improvisation learning, and decided to list some improvising cellists on the blog for those who are interested in this like I am. :)

Alyson Hannigan is hilarious in American Pie!! that transcend generations...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Music composition conventions

I want to ask a question regarding music composition; that is, why is it so important for the bass line to have the bottom part?

First off, I want to say I have no experience in composing or arranging cello music what-so-ever, so I’ll probably be putting my foot in my mouth a lot during this post! :) But, I will happily listen to people’s explanations and will change my way of thinking if provided with good explanations and examples.

So let’s commence with putting my foot in my mouth…  ;)

Here’s the scenario:
I organize a group of adult beginner amateur cellists, and it’s been difficult to find appropriate mixed level music for the group, but we have some fabulous volunteer composers who provide music for us, and am EXTREMELY appreciative of their support. This is not directed at any of my composers (I/we LOVE you guys and gals!!!).

I typically give our composers the guidelines that Part 4 must be in all first position with no extensions, and no difficult rhythms, i.e. mostly half notes and quarter notes (if it can be helped). While Part 1, 2, and 3 can increase in difficulty so more advanced players don’t get bored, and then we allow our cellists to pick whatever part they want to play. This provides the opportunity for beginners to play alongside advanced cellists! Cool, right? ;)

The issue that has cropped up is that the music convention is that the bass line is typically given to Part 4 in a cello quartet largely due to historical and orchestral reasons. It was explained to me that the lowest part is always listed last in score order (SATB for choirs, Violins, Violas, Celli, Bass for strings, Horns, Trumpets, Trombones, Baritones, Tuba for brass, same idea for woodwinds), so when every part is written for the same instrument the lower part numbers will naturally have those corresponding parts. Bass lines naturally go to the lowest instruments, melodies go to the highest and countermelodies/harmonies go to the second-highest, and therefore the 3rd-level parts are least important as a general rule.

It was also explained to me that some compositions are closely tied to the historical conventions of order. Bach chorales are one of those situations, because the convention is Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass. It’s used universally for choral music, and it would "simply be incorrect" to change that because it serves as a constant reminder of the choral nature of this music and therefore provides an educational opportunity. 

In a few cases, I received arrangements that had Cello 3 as being easier, while Cello 4 was more difficult, so being ignorant of the convention, I simply asked the composers switch this. Much to my surprise, they were all extremely reluctant to do so, and I learned the reasons for their reaction as mentioned above. 

Arguments for Keeping the Bass Line in Part 4:
Being my typical self, I asked why was it so important to leave the bass line in Part 4, besides the orchestral and historical mentioned above, and received some other reasons:

1) It will encourage our cellists to look at other parts which is good ensemble practice instead of focusing solely on, for example, the bottom line.
2) We shouldn't assume what factors our cellists use to judge what is “easier” for them since what one person would find easy, another would find difficult, so it’s better just to leave Part 3 where it is and not move it to the bottom. Our cellists can determine for themselves what is more difficult. 
3) We’ll miss opportunities for historical educational moments.
4) In terms of seating the parts, that's a matter of preference, and that is more of a conductor/director's choice based on the style of the selections, but they should still be listed in the standard order of the score. I'll explain this in more detail below. 

Arguments for moving the Bass Line to Part 3:
I’ll address each point in the order above.

1) This is based on two assumptions: First, our beginner cellists know how to read a score (which some of them do not) and secondly, that our beginner cellists can read the parts and determine accurately which part would be appropriate for them. We have beginner cellists who have only been playing for 4 months so they are unfamiliar with reading scores, and in some cases just learning how to read music. 
  • When I first started this group a year ago, I had no idea how to read a score, and I’ve come across a lot of adult beginners in the same boat! It is a little embarrassing to admit, but it’s true! I've had a few people say, "You're joking, right? Reading a score isn't that difficult!" To which I typically have to explain that I don't have a musical background and the cello is my first instrument, so where would I have learned how to read a score if I didn't participate in an ensemble in the first place? How would I possibly know that I had to jump to the line that had the corresponding part number if I wasn't told to do so?? It is a common mistake for absolute beginners just to read the following line since that is how we read sentences, solo music, books, etc.! And the repeat signs...oh my goodness... that was a DISASTER for a while (and I still get confused) until I learned just to draw a line to where to go next!
  • And forget about determining which part I could play! I would freak out if the first few measures were difficult and didn’t bother reading the rest, and this applies to a lot of the beginner cellists in our group. Fortunately, I have very good patient teachers who have taught me how to read a score (how to write in cues, what to watch and listen for, general ensemble playing technique, etc.). Utilizing a score and actually knowing how to use one at a high level is a completely differently story too - one can take a whole semester on just that! 
2) We can assume that first position without extension is “easy” because that is the position that is most commonly taught, especially in my area. I have heard that some cello teachers start with 4th position, but I haven’t personally met anyone (yet) who started in 4th position.
  • Again, this is based on the assumption that our beginner cellists know how to read a score and can accurately assess their own skill level too. I have local cello teachers volunteering to help the group play together, and the consensus seems to be if we assign a part that is always "easier" it helps beginner cellists to know what to expect, know which part to practice and not be overwhelmed by the music. 
3) Educational moments are always nice, and I love learning about music; BUT, if someone is learning how to play in an ensemble, I can almost guarantee that they are probably more worried about reading, bowing, listening and following what everyone else and the conductor is doing!
  • I still get confused when I play with a group, and I’ve been playing with a group consistently for a year now! I can typically play the music by myself, but introduce outside factors like other people playing different rhythms, changing dynamics and speed, watching and listening for cues, etc. then learning about the historical significance of the piece (though interesting) is definitely last on my mind when I'm trying to coordinate all those tasks at once. I do love it when our conductors interject with small snippets of info, but I can expand my learning outside of rehearsals as well, and I've found adults are very likely to do this anyway. 
4) I had commented/asked a couple of our composers that, "there are a lot of orchestras and famous string quartets that put their cellos in the center because they provide the 'foundation,' so why is it such a big deal if we move the bass line to Part 3? They'll be nearer to the center then, right?"

For our group, I've also discovered that since the bass line provides an "important role" it is helpful that they are seated closer to the center, and that "important" parts are better suited for more advanced cellists, and not to beginners who have been playing for four months. This is because if the "foundation" is having intonation issues, than it will most definitely make it more difficult for the group to play together.

Is this a case of form over function?
From a play-ability standpoint, I think that setting the expectation/standard for my group that "Part 4 will always be 'easier'" regardless if the bass line is not found in part 4 is NOT a big deal, but apparently composers do feel this poses an issue and that I am missing the point.

However, I think it comes down to form over function in this specific group setting.
We do play "normal" arranged music in our more advanced group, and also in our concerts, that don't have this limitation so our players can experience "normal" written music.

Honestly, I think the problem stems from the fact that musicians (who for the most part, are also the composers) learn about music while they were young kids just don’t remember how it felt when they first started learning how to read and play music; and I think music written "back then" was written for musicians who had a "musical background" or a the very least knew how to read a score, not for beginner adult musicians - not to say that beginners cannot play this (or want to play this) when they are ready!

I understand music has historical significance and has its conventions. I understand it, really I do!! But then again, I’m not really a “traditionalist” either. However, in this case, I think it’s more about form over function. Am I wrong to think this???
Bottom line: Writing music in a way that allows people of varying abilities to play together would be a wonderful idea, and if that means moving the bass line to another part, then what's the big deal? 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

2 year mark...

It's been about two years since I started the blog to track my progress in learning the cello, and I've learned a lot about myself and the cello since then! ;)

Anyway, due to my recent lack of practicing, I was thinking about a comment / observations that around the "two year mark" seems to be where people drop off with regards to playing cello because life seems to get in the way, or they decide it's not something they want to pursue long term. Or maybe some people come to the conclusion that the 2 years of practice isn't worth the "reward"; that is, knowing "just enough" to play through songs and certainly not the way we would have liked or anticipated after playing for 2 years!

I've also heard quite a few cellists, who had been playing around 2 years, comment that they just had to "get to the 5 year mark, and then they would be okay." So what happens at the 5 year mark?? Is that the point where we magically know how to play the cello? Please say "YES!!" ;) ...right? ..someone... anyone??

...hhhmmm... anyway, this got me thinking if my involvement in creating a cello group had kept me motivated in continuing to learn the cello (perhaps learning and playing with others helped me stay interested?) or if I would have continued on the same path of cello learning. I would like to think that I would have continued practicing at the same pace as before and would have finished Book 2 by now (dang it! ...could've, should've, would've...), but now, I'm not so sure!

At any rate, I figured I should list some things that inspire me to keep motivated for the upcoming year! I've been thinking about doing this post for a few days now, but coincidentally happened to run across Mike Block's post first! Oh well!

Anyway, things that inspire me and/or keep me motivated:

  • My teacher Clayton: for being the most talented, hard-working, kindest, dedicated and most humble person I know. I really don't know how he does it! And because he makes me feel like that I can do anything that I set my mind to! I'm going to miss him when he finally wins that audition, which I have no doubt he will do!
  • My teacher Adam: for being a wonderful teacher! Being an extremely patient and understanding - yet "strict," and knowing that I'm a total spaz! Making sure that I get the pieces the best that I can, even though most of the times I was pretty certain that was all I could do, and also understanding that my rhythm is a work in progress, but is still confident that I'll get it eventually! ;)
  • YouTube videos! Without YouTube videos of cellists, I would definitely not be as inspired at learning how to play the cello! Every time I find a great cellist, I immediately run back to my cello and practice some more! Well, after watching it a billion times first! lol! 
  • Playing with others! There really is something to be said about learning and sharing music with others. It's just much more fulfilling
  • Blogging!! It helps me feel accountable and keep what I've learned fresh on my mind, especially when I keep up with my lesson notes.
  • Having a To-Do List of songs! I always think, "when I get to that level, I'm going to play ______, and it's going to be KICK-ASS AWESOME!" At which point, I typically dork out and imagine a beautifully executed, soulful performance by yours truly! LOL! ...such a dork! ;)
  • Finding like-minded musicians! I've met some really awesome cellists, composers and musicians who are all very passionate about learning music. The "music world" is really a different world unto itself... I am just so fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful people! 
  • Learning about the instrument or related items! I love geeking-out on learning about cellos, bows, rosins, tailpieces, strings, music software, etc. With accessories, I always think, "maybe this will make be sound better!!!" which kind of tricks me to practice more to test it out! So gullible... kind of sad that I can "trick myself" into practicing more! 

Now that the concert is over (YES!!!) I can focus on Suzuki stuff again!

Goal for next weekend: Judas Maccabeus recording with vibrato (I hope!). :)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Children's Concert

Just finished a children's concert which was just CRAZY to organize because we basically had 6-7 weeks to put everything together which included coordinating with our composer to create arrangements and an original composition, finding a suitable venue, creating marketing and programs, logos and shirts, scheduling rehearsals, getting licenses, etc... blah...don't know how we pulled it together, but we did! Things just always seem to fall in place! :) First time we collaborated with other instruments and another organization too. I'll mention the other organization later once everything has been approved. :)

We're a cello ensemble of beginners to advanced to cellists, so the advanced cellists definitely made us beginners sound TONS better.

Here are four videos of the concert, and of course, my two awesome cello teachers Adam and Clayton are participating and helping out. Clayton led rehearsals and helped planned the concert and is just so unbelievably amazing and talented! I definitely couldn't have organized the concert without him. Our resident composer, Nick, also flew out from Oregon to play in the concert. He plays cello and trumpet!

Under the Sea
 This was the most difficult piece out of the entire program, but it was the audience's favorite, and surprisingly mine too - well, after the concert was completed! There were kids dancing in the aisles half way through I was told. :). I really like the fact that our conductor looks like he's dancing! Funny story, but we hired the conductor the day before the concert, but he did an amazing job!

I've got to start learning Part 3 so I don't have to sit so close to the audience! It's very obvious when I make mistakes playing pizzicato, although Part 3 was playing mostly pizzicato too and they weren't moving around as much as Adam and me. The funny thing was I wasn't even trying to match his movement or how he was playing, and it kind of ended up that way! I definitely couldn't have played it without him.

You've Got A Friend...
This didn't quite swing, but I like it nonetheless! That bad note on 1:14 was totally me! I think it was supposed to be a B natural and I played a B flat or something ...ugh..the problem with playing loudly is it's obvious when I make a mistake.

A favorite of mine, and on the easier side... thank goodness!! That sour note in the beginning was me!! I was too sharp and had to  move my finger ..oops... Trying to play some vibrato!! :)

A Whole New World
This one was another difficult piece for me to learn because it involved a lot of counting! Totally air-bowed the first note because I wasn't ready to play when the conductor started, but was able to get the second note! lol!

Anyway, since I can't help but critique myself when it comes to my cello playing ;) my elbow is moving around like crazy again, I'm moving around too much, and my intonation has suffered a lot since I haven't been playing solo music as much as I should. I'm definitely looking forward in focusing on technique again!!

I did notice that during this concert that I wasn't able to play a lot of the pieces by myself without having another cellist play the part with me. I think I second guess myself way too much because I know I can play it...hmmm... well, I know I can play with a metronome! And then I just get lost when other people start to play.

Ok, better end on a positive note! I'm starting to vibrate some notes!! ...heh, heh... not consistently of course, but I'm excited it's sorta working!!! :D