Chinese Proverb

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

Monday, January 20, 2014

Practice Notes for the week of January 13th

I haven't done a practice log in a really long time, but I'm going to do a few until I get back into the habit of practicing regularly again. Although it won't be as detailed as my previous practice logs.

Thoughts & epiphanies during last week's practice
I used to think that "real" practice could only be done while playing cello, even though my teachers have told me otherwise. Now that I'm trying to focus on rhythm, I've been practicing away from my cello.

Recently random events have been triggering me to think about (and practice) rhythm, which has been really strange! For example, I couldn't sleep because I could hear my clock ticking away. ...tick, tick, tick... Normally, I wouldn't be bothered by this, but it made me think about subdividing beats to my ticking clock. It kind of drove me nuts! I couldn't fall asleep because I was too busy thinking "1e&a2e&a..." and trying to fit different beats between the clock's ticks. I swear since my lesson, I've gotten a few less hours of sleep per night.

Also, when I listen to the radio, I find myself trying to count to songs to try to figure out how to fit beats into the song. Although for the most part I couldn't figure out the time signatures for the songs I listened to. Anyway, it's kind of weird thinking about rhythm so much!

Dr. G had also recommended thinking about fitting beats when I walk. My teacher at CelloSpeak (LB) had also recommended this as well. Supposedly, I should be able to walk at a consistent pace and count each time I take a step, but I swear I don't walk very "consistently." Maybe that's why rhythm is so difficult for me!

Anyway, this week I'm going to try doing this on a treadmill as I walk and jog at different speeds since one of my goals is to lose the extra pounds I've gained. Hopefully this will make exercising on the treadmill a little bit more interesting...probably not, but working out my body and mind sounds like a good plan to me! ;)

Monday, January 13th: 1hr 15min
20 min: Vibrato with C scale 3 octaves
20 min: Hunter's Chorus - relearning piece to record, specifically intonation issues
20 min: Musette - working on phrasing, and "feeling it in 2 instead of 4" so trying to use smaller and lighter bow strokes
15min: Work on rhythm => Using I Can Read Music. Lesson 25 #1 & #2, clapping to metronome at 60bpm

Tuesday, January 14th: 20min
20min: Clapping rhythm: I Can Read Music. Lesson 25 #1 - #5, clapping to metronome at 60bpm, 72, bpm, 80bpm

Wednesday, January 15th: 25min
10min: Hunter's Chorus
15min: Musette
1 Hour Lesson with Dr. G
Blog Entry

Thursday, January 16th: 1hr
30min Hunter's Chorus
30min Musette

Friday, January 17th: 0min :(

Saturday, January 18th: 0min :(

Sunday, January 19th: 0 min
2.5hr Improvisation Play-in: I'll have to posts notes on this later
Actual practice time: 0

This is my baseline of how my week typically looks like for practicing and playing cello, but I need to make sure that I practice daily.

After this entry, my goal is to practice at least 20min a day this month, and then I'll slowly increase my practice time.

My two cats hanging out on the couch with me while I blog on my laptop.


  1. I have a struggle with subdivision and rhythms while I'm playing too. The best suggestion I have is to almost ALWAYS practice with a metronome. I'm not joking. I use my metronome 99% of the time. I use it even when I warm up, during scales/arpeggios, ├ętudes, orchestra music, and solo work. It makes a HUGE difference. Sometimes I will subdivide with it (put it on the eighth not when playing dotted quarter rhythms ) and it is very helpful when working on difficult orchestra rhythms like tied triplets, triplet to duple rhythms etc. It helps a lot.

    With regards to practicing, just remember that all your practicing does not have to be done in one sitting. In my opinion, it is advantageous to practice multiple times as I often get tired after a while. This way, when I resume, I am refreshed and often can solve issues that were problematic in my previous practice session. Also, when I only have a small amount of time, I can still practice. Sorry if I'm preaching to the choir and you already do that. If not, give it a try :)

    1. I currently have a love/hate relationship with my metronome… mostly hate! ;)

      I also almost always have my metronome on, but I’ve also become really good at ignoring it! Lol! I just start playing, and then realize later that I’m no where close to my metronome’s beat – obviously not very concentrated practice! …oops…
      I’m also still at the stage (where more often then not), it confuses me to have the metronome on for notes smaller than a quarter note. I’m still learning how to subdivide between beats with the metronome on too. Currently I have to set my metronome so it ‘beeps’ during subdivisions (like eighth notes) instead of subdividing it myself between beats. Newbie over here… ;)

      My other issue is once the metronome is off, I go right back to my wonky counting/rhythm! So I really want to create an internal pulse for myself. I’ve been told that some high-level orchestra auditions will put a metronome on quietly to see if the person can stay on beat. Not that I’ll be auditioning for any orchestras, but I would eventually like to be able to hold a pulse internally without relying too heavily on an external source – but I’m sure that will be YEARS down the road for me…

      Great idea! :) Just curious, but how long does your typical “short” practice sessions last, and how many do you have throughout the day? Do you do a short warm-up exercise right before each practice session or do you dive right in? I was thinking that perhaps doing a warm-up each time would take away from the short practice sessions… what do you do? I ALWAYS love hearing and reading what others do to practice! :)

    2. Have you thought about trying an old-fashioned metronome (the ones with the pendulum)? I don't know how expensive they are since I have had mine since I was very little, but it is helpful as a visual reminder to watch it sway back and forth (just make sure it's on an even surface haha). Also, it is certainly not uncommon, to have difficulties with internalizing rhythm... My instructor jokes that she wishes she could have metronomes transplanted into her students so they would be able to keep a steady rhythm. I have issues with rushing, especially when I'm nervous and it makes having an accompanist for auditions and performances very advantageous.

      My practice sessions vary from 15 minutes to an hour or two, depending on what I'm working on and how much time I have. I usually don't have less than three practice sessions and can have quite a few (I haven't actually counted) on days when I am at home a lot or very motivated, in which case I usually want to resume playing as soon as I stop. Itzhak Perlman recommends taking a 10 minute break incorporated into an hour of practicing (so practice for 50 minutes and then 10 minute break) at the very minimum so I try to follow his advice. During my first practice session of the day, I do a pretty thorough warm up and sometimes spend the entire time just working on scales and arpeggios. During my other practice sessions, I may just do a five minute warm up, and not go through everything in my warm up routine. I always feel it is important to warm up before practicing, though, because it allows you to get the most out of your practice time. I always try to make sure that I'm learning even when I'm warming up, not just doing mundane repetitions, that way I'm never wasting time. I also like to apply my warm up to what I'm working on. For example, if I was having issues with intonation in a certain position during my last session, I may use a Cossman exercise (very helpful and I will try to explain these exercises in a later blog) or even just frere Jacques (sp?), here comes the bride (perfect fourth), or three blind mice to work on the intonation of those notes. It sounds stupid but is very effective. That way, I am warming up my hand with a simple tune, and working to improve my intonation as well.

  2. Oh, and also, if you are not already involved in chamber music, I suggest you try it. It is very helpful for learning independent rhythm as you are the only one playing your part.

    1. I just started playing with a trio recently. :) We've had one get-together and then a duet session since our third couldn't make it. It's been really difficult scheduling times when we are all available. I'll have to blog about that one later. :) It's also one of the reasons that made me want to work on rhythm more.

    2. That's wonderful! I am wanting to get more involved in chamber music as I am not currently doing any, but I have to wait until March for auditions...

  3. Great post, thanks for sharing your schedule. I've spent lots of time practicing regularly w/ a metronome, and still do (usually w/ a pendulum-style), but I've begun to use a different kind. It's an app that plays tabla rhythms. Super-cool, and lots of fun. Not appropriate for everything, but it's great fun for scale practice. Great for intonation too, because the tabla are tuned and you can set them to the key you're in. It's iTabla Pro by Prasad Upasani. A bit spendy as apps go, but totally worth it. Scales have never been so fun.

    1. Thank you!! I really LOVE reading your posts too. Great suggestions, information and very inspiring! :)

      That does look really FUN!!! I'll download it and try it this weekend! :)

    2. For those who are interested, here are the links for iTabla Pro. Check out the YouTube video first! :)

      -YouTube example of app: