Chinese Proverb

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

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...


  1. I sort of use Tai Chi in my cello practice and it really helps me to stay centered, relaxed, and cuts down on body-noise from nerves or tension. From what Ive heard, its very similar to using the alexander technique and/or slow practice. That tip about visualizing that first note was a breakthrough for me! Thank you. I hadn't realized how much I have been relying on muscle memory, open strings, harmonics, or good old dumb luck to hit that first note :)

    1. Dr. G is into visualization techniques too. He said a good practice tip is to visualize playing the entire piece, and if anything is "fuzzy" then those are the sections that need to be worked on!

      I should probably take some Tai Chi classes! :)