Archive for technique

Cello Muser SitRep (Situation Report)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 11, 2009 by cellomuser

My cello blogging has taken a hit thus far in 2009. However, my online interaction with other cellists has actually increased – thanks to Twitter. There have been a few regular readers of my blog that always left insightful and encouraging comments and now, they are on Twitter. Unfortunately, they have to put up with my non-cello Tweets. Regardless, I hope for continued interactions with @EmilyCello (The Stark Raving Cello Blog), @gottagopractice (If At First You Don’t Succed…), and @eKimOng (Temporary Insanity…). I enjoy reading your tweets and blog posts. Maybe our cello paths will cross some day.

Here are some quick updates:

Years Playing Cello: Two. Yep, I just crossed over my two year mark. I made a lot of progress in the first year and not as much between year one and year two. 2008 was a very busy year for me professionally. In addition, there was a six or seven month gap in lessons. I have taken a few lessons in the last six months – but not with the frequency I would prefer. Anyway – I am enjoying every moment of the cello and in about 11 months – I will own my cello.

Challenge 1: One of my biggest challenges right now is relaxing and moving with the music and the cello. Apparently I am robot-like and my instructor feels it is limiting my progress. I agree with her. Sometimes it just feels so technical that “flowing” with the music is an afterthought.

Challenge 2: Confidence. I would characterize my confidence with the cello right now as being like a child that just started treading water in the deep end of the pool. They know enough to stay afloat – but they can be erratic at times and when in doubt – quickly go back to the side of the pool or back to a depth they can stand in.

Lesson Result Notes from 5/9/2009. (Yes, I started this blog post on May 6th).

Note 1: Playing Staccato. About 10 minutes of my lesson this past weekend was spent on staccato technique. I was over emphasizing the staccato accents in one of the pieces I am working on from the Applebaum book. What I took away from L’s feedback was that the staccato accent can be achieved with just the slightest pressure of the bow hand. I was executing the staccato accents in a very inefficient way with too much bowing arm movement. L’s method was far more subtle, fluid, and the accent sounds far better. Now I just need to practice it like 3,000 times.

Note 2: Focusing. I asked L that we only focus on one or two pieces of music. It is not as though L is assigning me too much work. The problem is me – I love to play numerous pieces. The problem is that I am not mastering any of them. So, I encouraged L to be more assertive about coming to the next lesson prepared to show off at least two pieces of music. I need that cloud hanging over my head – it will help me in two ways:

1.    Prioritize practicing.
2.    Give a sense of accountability.
Note 3: Shifting. Shifting continues to be a weakness. I do not mind the shifting book we work out of – but I need a simpler way to work on shifting. So, I asked L about this and I am going to work on shifting via simple one octave scales per string and then two octave scales over two strings. I like scales for a few reasons:

1.    It is easier to focus on technique and pitch because you know what the scale sounds like.

2.    Since scales are often part of a warm-up routine, you can achieve two things – warm-up and work on weaknesses.

That’s it for now. I will try to be more intentional about cello blogging. Thanks for your patience.