Archive for October, 2007

Measure 27: Video-taping and Shifting

Posted in Uncategorized on October 29, 2007 by cellomuser

As mentioned in a previous post, L asked if she could tape one of our lessons for one of her class assignments. Thus, 10 minutes of last week’s lesson were taped. Luckily, I was able to get on campus about 45 minutes early and warm-up for about 30 minutes. I was able to do this more often with my previous instructor and hope to do it more moving forward with L. Even if its only 15 minutes of warm-up time, it makes such a difference those first 10-15 minutes of lesson time in terms of tone, finger agility, and relaxing.

Back to the video taping… It was pretty painless and only for 10 minutes. She was required to instruct on right hand and left hand techniques / principles. So for the left hand we reviewed shifting . It was not a complete disaster and she was somewhat complimentary on my efforts (it did appear genuine – even if the camera was rolling). One thing I learned in the military during military police school and again earlier this year while taking business classes at “The OSU” – was the importance of/recognizing non-verbal communication – ok, different post.

For the right hand, she had me play a Dotzauer piece that has a lot of string crossings. I nailed that one – hard. I had put the “teacher” staff into Finale and probably practiced it about 50 times in the week leading up to the lesson. I know this sounds somewhat arrogant – but L was somewhat shocked. It would be interesting to see her reaction and demeanor on camera compared to mine.

After the shock and awe of the Dotzauer piece, the taping stopped and we went back to the Suzuki II Bach minuets. For the most part, the left hand shifting is working for me – but my bowing is all weird – probably a walking / chewing gum at the same time thing – though I wish it was that simplistic. Thus, we are not ready to cross these two off yet. L also assigned me some additional shifting exercises from the “position pieces” book.

All in all – it was a great lesson and fun. Due to a business conflict this week, my next lesson is on 11/7. I will try to post something before that.


Measure 26: Lesson 3 with L; Shifting

Posted in Uncategorized on October 23, 2007 by cellomuser

Lesson 3 with “L” was somewhat painful- probably not as painful as watching my Cleveland Indians implode- but painful enough to force me to cut my post-lesson phone call to my wife short because I really had nothing good to say.

Shifting is my current challenge. L’s advice during lesson three was when I am shifting (non-open string shift) to slide my finger on the string. This is easier said then done and not something I am going to master in the 10 minutes we spent on this topic. It may not be fair to suggest L was thinking I should master this in 10 minutes, but I could sense frustration. I have been practicing pretty hard the last few days to make this technique more of a habit and I think I am getting better.

I think L has some pretty high expectations for me – which is awesome because I like to be pushed. However, I do not think she has yet accepted that I will tackle this at my pace; especially given my work/family/cello life balance.

This week’s lesson should be interesting. L asked me if she could video record our lesson. The reason for this request is that she has an assignment for one of her music related classes to present an example of her instructing for peer review. I will have to be on my best behavior – another lesson in humility; thanks to the cello.

The Music School there at Ohio State is a pretty interesting place – especially in the fall semester when there are lots of students. There are always lots of students hanging out in the hallways. At the beginning of lesson 3 with L, she was hanging outside the room with three or four of her girl friends. As soon as I entered the hallway she calls out to say “Hi” – and of course all of her friends turn around to see this 34 year old, bald guy trying not to display pure embarrassment. One thing I have learned in life is to smile – as often as possible – especially when you are embarrassed. This does a few things:

1. It makes other people smile.
2. It lessens the tension in a lot (not all) situations – especially in Marine Corps boot camp; trust me I could write a few posts on me getting in trouble at boot camp for doing this
3. It can be a very effective non-verbal form of communication
4. It can evoke meaningful conversations
5. It makes it harder to correct / punish our son

That’s it for now.

Measure 25: 2nd Lesson with L

Posted in confidence, Position Pieces, Rick Mooney on October 16, 2007 by cellomuser

My second lesson with L started on time. Ironically, before we even sat down she asked me if I have ever heard of the Alexander Technique. I told her yes and that I read a little about it on her instructors website. I do not know who was more surprised – her for me actually knowing about it – or me for her asking about a topic mentioned in a previous post. Anyway….

We did some scales and played through a few of the Dotzauer string crossing pieces. Those went fairly well. Next, I played through a few of the Suzuki II pieces. The shifts in Minuet 1 and 3 are still problematic. I just have to keep working on these.

My assignments for this week were to practice the F-major scale two octaves and acquire “Position Pieces for Cello” (book 1), by Rick Mooney. I went ahead and started practicing the first exercises titled “Fanfare”. For the most part it is a relatively simple ditty but until this shifting thing really catches on, “mastering” it is going to be easier said then done.

In other cello news, my parents were down for a visit late last week due to a funeral in the family. I actually played some pieces for about an hour in front of them. They are very supportive and were very pleased with the progress I have made since the last time they heard me, which was about three or four months ago. My confidence level is building even though I am still not getting a quality of tone consistently.

My next lesson with L is this Wednesday evening. Have a great week! (Go Tribe!)

Measure 24: 1st Lesson with L

Posted in Uncategorized on October 8, 2007 by cellomuser

My first lesson with “L” was last Wednesday. We started about 10 minutes late due to a meeting place mix-up. The lesson was more for her to figure out where I am with this instrument.

We warmed up with a C-major – her long bowing the C and me playing the scale two octaves. Then, she had me play some exercises from the Dotzauer book – one that was never previously assigned but I had fooled around with a few times. That resulted in some constructive feedback about string crossing and how I need to work on that (like everything else, when it comes to technique).

She asked me to play Bach’s “Minuet 1” from Suzuki 2. I do not have this shifting thing down yet and it was very apparent. Her comments were that my shifting was fine, but it was my bowing (shocker) – that I was screwing up when crossing from 1st position on the D string to 2nd position on the G string. So, I was assigned to keep on hacking away at “Minuet 1” and “Minuet 2”.

L suggested I consider putting my bow hand pinky on top of the frog. This is easier said then done, but I practiced quite a bit this weekend and for the most part it stays there. In all honesty, I somewhat forget why she had me do this. I will need to ping her on that next lesson.

One final point – what is an appropriate seating arrangement during a lesson? Last week’s lesson was the first lesson where I felt uncomfortable in how I was positioned compared to her. I thought I was going to get poked in the eye with a bow at least 4 times. If you think of a clock, imagine me sitting in the 6 position; L was sitting in the 4 or 5 position. My previous instructor usually sat in the 8 or 9 position. Does this matter? Is there a proper etiquette for making suggestions? I am her first adult student – and I can sense nervousness.