Archive for July, 2007

Measure 10: Practice Havens

Posted in cello, favorite practice location on July 31, 2007 by cellomuser

I have come to the conclusion that I do not like the room in our house that I practice in. It is the same room that my server, several laptops, the printers, and our telephony base station reside in. It is distracting. I would not mind practicing down in our family room, but it is really an extension of the kitchen – which is my wife’s haven and the central hub of our home – especially when our son and his friends are running in and out. Next logical choice is our basement- but it is cold down there and I would probably have to re-tune the strings anytime I took the cello out of the basement.

My favorite practice locations have been the music school on campus that my lessons are at. I like to get there about 45 minutes before my lesson and have a room all to myself. The sound bounces off walls and actually makes my tone sound better then what it really is.

Anyone have any practice location tips or oddities they want to share?


Measure 9: The Marines’ Hymn

Posted in "The Marines' Hymn", Marine Corps on July 23, 2007 by cellomuser

I continue to be frustrated by “The Happy Farmer” in Suzuki Book 1. So tonight, I took some time to break out Finale and key in “The Marines’ Hymn”. How much more macho does it get then that? A former Marine, playing a cello, compiling music…whatever!

The original author of “The Marines’ Hymn” is not 100% known. The verses date back 200+ years. Keep in mind that the Marine Corps was formed in 1775. You can find out some additional info by going here or here. Anyway, if anyone wants the sheet music from Finale; let me know and I will send it.

I played “The Happy Farmer” after about 25 times of playing through “The Marines’ Hymn” and it actually seemed to be easier to play.

Measure 8: J.S. Bach

Posted in Bach, cellist, cello, suites on July 18, 2007 by cellomuser

This past Tuesday evening I meandered on into my cello lesson to find my cello instructor “playing around” with Bach’s Cello Suites. “Playing around” for her is where I would like to be maybe 7-10 years from now. Anyway…

So our lesson started with a very intriguing discussion about Bach, some history, and the Cello Suite music itself. I am not well versed in music history – but I love history – so it was well worth the entire 30 minutes we spent talking about Bach along with my instructor performing pieces and parts of the various suites for me.

Probably one of the more interesting tidbits of info she passed on was that there are no original autograph manuscripts of the Cello Suites. The Cello Suites as we know them today are compilations of editions from six other sources as well as some hand-written sources from Bach’s second wife. Don’t worry – this is all up on the Wikipedia link as well. There is also a theory from an academic somewhere that Bach’s wife may have composed the suite.

We spent the last 15 minutes of the lesson playing a Dotzauer duet exercise and performing some bowing / tone exercises.

Finally, I pre-paid my instructor for my final three classes that I will have with her- plus a tip for all the great lessons we have had since April of 2007. She is / was my first cello instructor – sounds humorous. Anyway, my final request of her was to recommend some other cello instructors there at Ohio State or here in the Columbus, OH area that are willing to work with adults and continue what she has started with me.

Given my military background and constantly seeing people come and go – I never get emotionally attached to people – outside of less then five folks that I consider my best friends. However, I am sad to see my instructor go off to Florida to graduate school. Given her success thus far, I do anticipate hearing her name in coming years as she establishes her credibility as a professional cellist.

Measure 7: The Few, The Proud, and a Disappointed Marine

Posted in foodtv, JAG, marines on July 16, 2007 by cellomuser

The pride of being a Marine is such that it only exceeded by my son, my wife, and my immediate family. I recall a quote from a few years ago that went something to the effect of: There are only two kinds of people that know what it is like to be a Marine: a Marine and those that fight the Marines. Ok, so that is somewhat shallow and short-sighted but I think it underscores the heart condition and comradery level that Marines have towards each other. With that said, I was *sorely* disappointed and somewhat saddened this past weekend to see two instances of Marine Corps values not being lived out.

The first is very hard to write about. “Arm-chair battle guessing” is not something I take lightly.

When I first got out of the Corps I had an opportunity to work with a former Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) (this was late 1998). At the time, there was a small air campaign going on in Iraq called Operation Desert Fox . Being fresh out of the Corps and getting to work around a former CMC – I thought it was appropriate to ask him on the action that was going on, etc – small chat. Well, he promptly told me that he was not inclined to comment on something that he did not have first hand access to the intelligence or be on the ground to take into consideration theatre conditions. Wow, what a mature answer that was – but I took it as a learning lesson.

Back to the blog post… So this past Sunday I read an article on CNN – looks like they have pulled it, so here is another article. I do not doubt that the MOUT style of fighting our forces are engaging in over there is mentally hard and makes for tough decision making – but in the case of this incident – there appears to be a failure in true leadership. I have no doubt the Marines at the center of this case will be held responsible – but more importantly there needs to be some accountability at the small unit leadership levels both non-commissioned officer and commissioned officer. There are Marines I served with during peace time (non-combat MOS) that have completed their 3rd tour in Iraq in a combat MOS. Some of them I have communicated with in the last few months and their stories and feedback to me do not reflect the tone and mindset portrayed by the Corporal in the story above.

Next, I want to take a few minutes to write about the next FoodTV network star. I was sorely disappointed that JAG lied about his previous military service. I was really rooting for him. I think he owes Marines, active duty personnel, and military families a huge apology for misrepresenting and tainting the values that we hold so dear. Shame on you JAG! With that said, I do hope JAG learns from his mistakes, keeps his chin up, back straight, and steps off with the left foot. He seems to be a very talented person with a huge heart. We are all flawed and make mistakes – some mistakes just get more exposure then others. It is what we do when we make mistakes that should be the true character judge.

Measure 6: The (Not-So) Happy Farmer

Posted in Finale, Suzuki, The Happy Farmer on July 15, 2007 by cellomuser

I was able to practice between 4 and 5 hours this past weekend. Probably about 30-45 minutes was spent on Suzuki – Book 1 – Ex. 15 – “The Happy Farmer”. I am struggling with this piece. To help prep for this piece, my instructor had me do some scales with the following pattern (one note per): down (2/3 bow), down (remaining 1/3 bow), up (2/3 bow), up (remaining 1/3 bow), etc… for one or two octaves. So after a few scales using this pattern, I tried to play “The Happy Farmer”. The hardest part for me is on the first slur (measure 2); the dotted ¼ note C to the 1/8 note E into a new slur that begins with a dotted quarter note G back down to a 1/8 note C. I am suppose to be using the pattern my instructor exposed me to above to nail this – but right now, it is just not working.

However, there are some improvements. I am getting through one and two octave scales without looking at my left hand. Slurs are becoming somewhat easier – in both exercises and scales, and left hand fingerings in 1st position for both the A and D strings are much better. Finally, I should be getting a new MIDI cable to interface with my Mac / Finale 2007 and keyboard in the coming week. Last thing I will need is a USB MIC so I can use the Finale MicNotator technology to just play on the cello and have the software transpose it – we’ll see how that works.

Measure 5: Areas for Improvement

Posted in Dotzauer, independence, string crossings on July 12, 2007 by cellomuser

My current struggles with the cello involve string crossings and fingering. For the life of me, I cannot seem to get my left hand pinky to do good things. A typical scenario would be sequence of notes like – in first position – E to C or B to G or G to C etc… I can do the scales pretty well, it is pretty much with exercises and some small pieces of music I experience this – especially 1/8 notes or ¼ notes. Sometimes, I can hit it fine. Other times I can hit it but it sands terrible. Other times it is just a mess.

The other challenge I have is left hand / right hand independence. To get the two to move somewhat independently is really tough for me. FWIW, it takes the same level of effort to dance – which I have not done since Germany back in 1995. Anyway, I continue to crack away at this beast.

An interesting exercising I am working on is exercise #47 from Dotzauer – Method 1 titled BARCAROLLE. It involves some 1/8 note slurs with at least two to three string crossings for the majority of the measures.

Measure 4: Three Day Cello Break

Posted in Uncategorized on July 8, 2007 by cellomuser

I just returned from a weekend consulting gig in Washington DC; specifically the Tyson’s Corner area (ok, that is Virginia – but I fly in and out of National – DCA). Having lived in and worked in the DC area from 1993 until a few months after 9/11 – I still enjoy going back and spending time with some of the few people in my life that I consider true friends. I have been spoiled the last few years on most of the consulting gigs I do for one particular client. They take really good care of me and usually put me up in the Ritz Carlton there at Tyson’s. It is still awkward to stay there but I realized that by initially shunning the client’s graciousness, that it hurt their feelings – so whatever, I stay there. Sometimes I fly my wife on my own dime just so she can hang out with me.

For anyone that follows golf, you will know that there was a big tournament in Bethesda, Maryland – about 6 miles away from Tyson’s Corner. It is safe to assume that there were very prominent golfers and event sponsors staying at the Ritz. Anyways, around midnight (Sunday morning), they evacuated the Ritz due to smoke in or around one of the elevators. It took about 10 minutes to get outside amongst easy-goers like myself and then some overly high maintenance guests. After about 45 minutes, they finally let people back in, which took about another 45-60 minutes to get back to the rooms.

I have to admit that it was quire humorous to get outside and find a couple hundred guests in pajamas, Ritz robes, wedding attire, and just plain ole clothes. In general, most folks were appreciative of the better safe then sorry mindset of the Ritz – myself included. It would be interesting to see of the pro golfers that were staying at the Ritz played worse in the final round if they just happened to stay at the Ritz Saturday evening. Regardless, the Ritz staff did an outstanding job of doing their job – yet being sympathetic without completely taking blame for something they have no control over.

That’s it. No other excitement other then going shopping for a few things for my wife and son there at the Tyson Corner Mall and Galleria. Will break out the cello again on Monday and scramble for a lesson I have on Tuesday evening.