Being the clumsy sort of person that I am, it was inevitable that my limbs were subject to much wear and tear. Last month was probably the worst it had been for a while and I ended up in the xray theatre. On the plus side, I am finally registered on the NHS; a mere 14 years since I first set foot on this country. Even then I was hesitant but the other half was adamant and so was my sister, both insisting precautions to be taken due to the bone disease thing that I had so I plucked up my courage, took to the phone and made an appointment. Long story short - nothing was broken, I probably strained more than a few tendons and nerves in my right hand.
I'm still recuperating. It's taking quite a while and despite Deryn's advice, I totally forgot to mention to the doctor that I played the cello and so forfeited my chance at physiotherapy.
So I missed a few lessons and there were weeks where I did not pick up the cello at all. Progress halted and suddenly it feels as if I've never played the damn thing at all - but I persevered - slowly at first with only the left hand. The Bunting regime and exercises were incredibly helpful by alleviating the boredom and helplessness felt throughout the period. It forced the patience to focus as I had little else to gnaw on. The following is a painful rendition of the first (of hopefully many) quick study that I have been given to work on. Deryn tells me that they did plenty of these in music school - intense studying of challenging pieces to be performed at a high standard in a short amount of time - the process is great at exposing your strengths and weaknesses to a certain degree.
We started the lesson with a round up of previous week's progress. I'm usually just managing about 5 hours of practice time a week - a good week, that is. If I'm brutally honest, I'm happy if I do 2 hours.
I try to do an hour each day but it's the focus that gets me. Being, or rather, reaching the right frame of mind when I start a practice session.
I usually have a fairly robust plan for each session; 2-3 octave scales of the pieces I'm tackling, then the same scales on one string focused on getting a good tone and vibrato on the higher registers. This is then followed by double stops and then the pieces themselves.
I need to include some Feuillard and Bunting more regularly, especially exercises on dynamics and position changes as they seem to be the current culprits of unsatisfactory playing.
We looked at thrills today, specifically for the second movement of Vivaldi's double concerto. To get consistent, clean and clear sounding thrills, we used the metronome for best effect starting from crotchets to hemidemisemiquavers much like the vibrato exercises that are so effective.
Been practising the slurred 2 notes scale all of last week and noticed some slight improvements in string crosses.
Today we looked at the second movement of the Vivaldi concerto - beautiful, romantic and totally unlike the first movement.
Deryn explained that the concerto concept back then (baroque) differ from what we now know as the concerto; where a single motif binds all movements together. Back then, it could be as simple as the same key signature and the last note of the movement usually leads to the next movement - this we see in Vivaldi's concerto. He was also the leading pioneer in the very concept of concerto which was a very new thing back then.
It's a little strange to refer to 'new' concepts occurring the past, more so on icons such as Vivaldi. We're used to seeing them from an untouchable distance that they no longer represent mortals like ourselves and yet, there he is - starting something new, discovering another level of expression just as one would a curious human being and like so many artists, Vivaldi died in poverty.
Today we looked at increasing the tempo for RV531. The playing speed that seems comfortable for me varies between 66bpm to about 80bpm and this includes all the fast passages without too much stumbling.
Most of this stumbling is the resulting effect of many things:
- Flighty bowing during string crossings
- Unstable posture
- Bow is not on the string
- String not played fully under the fingers
One of the things we focused on was efficient bow angle attack and playing these fast passages on open strings slowly before increasing to the desired tempo. At this point, it's even good practise to push beyond the desired tempo and play the piece as fast as I can get away with with efficient and confident strokes. This way, no matter what happens, the piece is definitely conquered and all doubts waivered when it comes to performing it :}
RV 531 extra notes
G minor melodic 2nd octave, 1octave scale - plain, with vibrato, dynamics combination, quaver & semiquavers, up tempo.
G minor harmonic arpeggios, keeping to the key signature.
For today's lesson, we played through the second page of double concerto together, mostly going through efficient fingerings and avoiding open strings to decrease jarring tones between phrases. When you're playing a phrase in a specific dynamic, let's say "pianissimo", you're taking care to keep the bowing consistent to achieve a soft sound throughout. If the last note is playable on open string and you choose to play it so, that note will stick out like a sore thumb from the entire phrase unless you are really careful and masterful about your execution; a note played on an open string will resonate to its full extent and you will also be unlikely to apply vibrato to it, thus ending the soft phrase abruptly.
Today I learned that number markings on a scoresheet are tutti, which means, "all" or "the entire orchestra", so you're playing a non-solo part. At this point I brought up tutti-frutti which I now know means, all of the fruit - haha!
And now, György Ligeti's Solo Sonata by Ildiko Szabo :}
Learning the cello as an adult started as a dare but has now turned into an ongoing love affair; I hope to one day make her sing to her full potential. In the meantime, all spare time and moments are dedicated to this wonderful instrument as I am unable to think about anything else, much to the dismay of my other half :}
This is an attempt to remember the classes I have taken so that I don't forget.