Monday, June 28, 2010

Practice was GOOD!

I missed two days of practice due to sore fingers (one had a hang nail; and the other, got a back cat claw right through the knuckle - ouch!) Last night was the first night both fingers were well enough to practice.

I was surprized at how well I am playing through my pieces. My teacher told me to pick some pieces from Book 2 and concentrate on performing them well (for this summer). I am still working on Gavotte (Book 3), and the chamber pieces from Strictly Stings Book 2 (about 2-4 selections where I play the bass/cello part for violin and piano). For my "performance" pieces, I am concentrating on Schuman's "The Two Grenadiers" and Schubert's "Berceuse" (pictured left). Both are slow pieces, which will allow me the time to play them with more concentration. I do better with the slow ballads, though I do love the runs through many of the selections in Book 3.

My goal is to be able to play Book 1-3 really well, as well as possible. My teacher is wanting me to slow down, and while I understand that, there is part of me that loves the challenge of new pieces. I just am not the kind of student who can play the same piece over and over and over again. I like to play it for a while, then move on. Oh well!

Yesterday was another really good practice day, and my next lesson (Thurs) and chamber day (Wed) will be this week. I would really like to "impress" my teacher, and show her how hard I have been working these past two weeks (she was on vacation last week -- so I got extra time off).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Practice 6/24/2010

Another really good practice session today. I am gearing up to begin playing along with the Suzuki CD. I have tried this before, but the CD cellist is too fast for me. My teacher thinks they record all the CD music at too fast a pace for students (she says the same thing is true for Violin and Viola). My teacher has me play at the correct tempo whenever possible, so she never can understand why the Suzuki player doesn't do the same thing. Oh well!

I have picked out two songs that I think I can play along with the CD:

The Two Grenadiers by R. Schumman (Book 2)
Berceuse by F. Schubert (Book 3)

My goal for the rest of this week (until my lesson on next Thursday) is to learn to play these along with the CD, paying close attention to phrasing and the subtle nuances of the performer. I think I can do it, and have been listening to the CD, then going and practicing to duplicate his intonation and style. I am getting better, just not perfect yet. I hope to start working more closely, playing along with the CD on Friday (today).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Practice 6/21/2010

Practice went really well today. My cello seems to have appreciated the work up my teacher gave him, and today he was just singing away! I am now thinking that I might be able to change the strings without investing hundreds of dollars into them. I found a set of Super-Sensitive strings for $45. I am used to playing on steel strings, and have tried D'Addario Helicore and didn't really find them easy to play on (my teacher uses them on her cello). I like steel strings, so I think I will just stay with them for the time being. I am also going to invest in a new beginner bow. My bow is bent (warped), and I have been using my teachers bow. It needs rehairing, so I think I will just buy a student bow (about $35). With new strings and a bow, I should be able to continue to play my Kay cello for a while longer. Hooray!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cello and Practice

I picked up my old Kay cello from my teacher's house. She removed the pegs, cleaned them, applied some special stuff to help them move better, and then cleaned everything up for me. The good news -- I am in tune; the bad news -- I need new strings. This cello was given to my son as a gift from a dear elderly man. It had been sitting in his home for over 14 years. He had tried to play it, but suffered from tonal issues (hard of hearing). He never could learn to play it correctly. I was blessed to have received it, and it has served me very well. The strings, however, are in bad shape and then do need to be replaced. The cost of strings, wholesale, will be nearly $100. I am having a hard time factoring that in because this cello is plywood and is really old. Is it worth the investment? Probably not.

So, I have been playing my teacher's cello for the past week. It has nice sound, but is setup awkwardly, and I have a lot of string crossing issues. I have to really apply myself and I am not sure it is worth playing her cello for much longer.

With that, here is my dilemma -- I need a new cello, a fairly decent one that will last me a while. I don't have the cash for one, and am not in a position where I can make payments. I am stuck, at the least, until the Lord brings me a new cello.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Practice Thursday

More practice notes -- my teacher's cello and I are becoming friends. I will admit that I am partial to my old Kay cello, but her's has a nice sound and I like it. It is different than mind, the bridge is set higher, the strings a bit farther apart. I have to be more deliberate with my bowing -- but heck -- when is that not a good thing? I also am finding that my finger placement is better on her cello than mine. I tend to go sharp or flat and with hers I hit the right note more often than not. A very good thing, says this cellist!

I am off to my lesson in about 10 minutes. I have to take both cellos -- she is going to try and fix my D string and work on getting my pegs not to slip so much. I am just glad to be having lessons today. I was at the vet most of the am, then got back home and knocked out some practice before I head to her home.

Cello woes -- gotta just love the cello and stringed instruments! I do!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chamber 6/16/2010

Hey, a new post! Today was my second chamber meeting. I am getting the hang of it. I am the slowest of the bunch and often am behind on my timing, but I am getting better. Today was MUCHO better than last week -- and I was playing a different cello. My Kay cello bit the dust recently -- needs new strings I think -- so I switched to my teachers cello. Her cello is not quite right -- set funny -- but still sounds good.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Practice 6/14/2010

I practiced for about an hour last evening. I spent the entire time playing through my Suzuki Cello Book 2. My focus is on playing these songs well, and I am seeing very good progress. The more I play through them, the easier they are to play well.

Today, I need to work on my pieces for chamber (tomorrow) and then my lesson on Thursday.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Practice 6/13/2010

Practice today was OK. I am feeling down about my progress. I know I am doing well, but I don't sound like the CD at all. Not that I should at this stage of the game, but I thought I might at the least sound "a little" like the person playing on the CD (slower than actually performed). What I am noticing is that Book 3 is incredibly difficult for me. I can read the notes, and even play them, but I am having trouble playing them correctly. I know this is because I have only been playing the cello for six months, and this is a 3rd year course. What do I do? I don't know. I have dropped back to Book 2, but I pretty much can play these songs properly. I am replaying them, focusing on musicianship/performance, but still, I am getting bored and depressed. I guess I need to just keep working on Book 3 and push through this period, knowing that in time, it will all work out for me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lesson 6/10/2010

Lesson was Ok today. I didn't get a chance to practice, but I went any way. I did pretty well, considering the week I have had. I decided to focus on my performance ability, and over the summer, concentrate on playing the cello well, rather than trying to continue move up through the Suzuki performance books. I am about half way through Book 3, and my playing is just so-so. I really would like to play these pieces as they were written to be played. So my plan for the summer is this:
  • Review Book 1 and 2 material and begin playing along with the Suzuki CD for vols. 1-2
  • Continue to work on Book 3 and listen to the music (without attempting to play it -- unless I feel confident I can do so well).
  • Do the same with my Basic Fiddlers music -- work on performance and presentation skill

I think that by focusing on my performance skill now, I will be able to progress much faster once I get into Book 4. It is more difficult to be precise on harder pieces of music. The easier ones will afford me the opportunity to play them well, get enjoyment from the process, and hopefully build confidence in my ability to play in group or solo settings.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cello Hunt - Update

I think I have finally decided on getting an Eastman 305 cello. This is an intermediate cello, one that is known for it's ease of playability. Though I would like to get a more expensive cello (advanced), this one will serve me well for a while.

I can get this cello at any number of strings shops, but will probably drive down to Tucson and purchase it at Southwest Strings. It is a fair price, and comes with a hard shell case and a Codabow NX. It will be a good next level instrument for me, and should last me a couple years.

Practice 6/8/2010

Practice was much better today. I figured out my issue -- it is my bow. I am using a cheaper bow, and with all my fiddling, I think it is just worn out. I used my old bent bow, and was able to get clearer sounds -- so a new bow is in order. I will wait until I can get a new set -- cello, case and bow. For now though, I am glad the issue was not me! LOL!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Practice - 6/7/2010

Well, I have been off practice now for a few days. My MIL was ill and in the hospital, so I really ran out of time each day (what with hospital visits and taking care of my FIL). She is on the mend, and I am trying to get back into my normal routine.

Today was pretty good. I think I need a new cello. I have wanted a new cello for a while, even looked at some online; but now I really THINK I need one. My cello is just not performing well enough for me, and the more I play it, the worse it tends to sound. At first, I thought it was just me. Now, I am pretty sure it is the cello.

Oh well...until I can afford a new one, I am stuck with this one.