Cello Practice Smackdown | What can be done on the cello with no prior talent..
Hi I’m a middle-aged father of two boys. My kids were involved in a stringed instrument program at school, and I was getting jealous. I’ve always had an attachment to cello, although I never thought I could play.
These pieces are kicking my ass, and I can’t seem to play them at tempo unless I totally ditch intonation. They’re just runs. Maybe I should just quit, after all. It’s just pointless over the hill stuff and I should stop pretending.
Tomorrow’s practice :
m. 122-140 new
One thing I have to say is that this is really forcing me to focus my time. There are 200 measures in this piece and if I take chunks of 20 per day, I should be wrapped up in 10 days, leaving the rest to polish.
RHYTHM and TEMPO must come before pitch. Then pitch,then put it all together.
All of this material is published time-delayed so that it appeared after the season ended at the end of the semester at Bloomsburg University. Rehearsals started in late January, and there were two concerts; one in March and one in late April.
January 28, 6 pm This post is the first of several posts that chronicles my experiences in a “real” orchestra. Nothing was working except sometimes the rhythm. Maybe ten percent of my notes were right. Got to the wrong place, with no signs, and eventually figured out where the practice room was. It was critically important to get there early, so that community members continued to have a good reputation. Got there at 5:50 only to realize that downbeat was at 6:30, not 6:00.
Here is the program for the March Concert.
Wagner, Overture to Die Meistersinger
Vivaldi, Guitar Concerto
Saint-Saens Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah
Debussy, Première Rhapsodie pour Clarinette et Orchèstre
My fingers wouldn’t respond, and my sight reading was awful. Felt like open strings were the only thing I could play! And the Debussy had a double flat that I had to work out. That’s a subtle piece that needs careful attention to the entrances.
The pace for learning all the pieces is about 6 weeks. I feel that I have about twenty-five spots to work on in order to be “good enough”, which works out to about 4 passages per week. I need to work breadth-first instead of depth-first.
I am currently writing a book on computer programming in the R programming language. This leaves me little time for blogging. However, I will be posting my orchestral experiences after the Orchestra breaks for the summer.
So, even though I have several different tuners, not counting the ones on my phone, I decided to plunk down about $30 for a pair of A440 tuning forks, each attached to a resonance box. I wanted to see if I could make the forks vibrate sympathetically when I played a perfect A. The forks come in pairs so you can hit one and hear the other vibrate sympathetically. They are available from most scientific supply stores, but you want to get them pitched for music, not the 256 Hz that many kits come with.
Haven’t been totally successful, but my A ear training is getting better.
Had a minor injury that kept me away for two days, but some heat and ibuprofen and I’m back on it. No, you don’t care about these minor old people matters, but as this is a blog about the challenges of playing in midlife, it’s somewhat relevant.
It also means I lost the beginning of my thumb position callouses.
My Intonation is rusty and focused today primarily on extended second position for the Humoresque. Lots and lots of target practice. Once I get that D to C shift on the A string, life will be peachy.
I also want to set my goal of paying more attention to my right hand, which is tricky at times because I’m left handed. I always wondered if I would play better with a Charlie Chaplin left handed cello. Unfortunately, those are expensive, and it’s more than a matter of just reversing the strings and moving the soundpost (which is itself not trivial).
This has been my teacher’s mantra lately and is emphasizing that I get the arm into position early as I get near the third octave of my scales. The arm should be guiding the fingers instead of the fingers finding the arm. We are applying this to the C# minor scales. Does anybody know why we do melodic on the way up and natural on the way down, btw?
The scale is coming into focus now, although I’m still working on scales 30 minutes per session. But I’m glad I’m tackling it instead of avoiding it.
Moving to the Suzuki Piece, Humoresque, I’m trying to use this idea to shift more confidently.
I put together a quick theory sheet so that I would remember which notes I was playing as I played them. I also put the enharmonic Ab scales in as a way of checking myself. Those are on the right hand of each equals sign. Note that in the descending scale there are no obvious tuning beacons (resonating open strings). The value in this table was making it up; there are plenty of good graphics files on the scale that can be googled.
G# Major Scale
G# = Ab
A# = Bb
B#=C = C
C# = Db
D# = Eb
F## = G
G# = Ab