June 13, 2010
For the third time this year a trip has taken me away from my daily cello practice routine, this time for 16 days. Somewhat like riding a bike, you don't forget, but the skills are perishable and they do deteriorate.
The first night of playing I just wanted to make some music. My cello always sounds odd to me after I've not played for a couple of weeks - flat and non-vibrant. By the end of an abbreviated practice on Thursday evening I was a little frustrated. Being jet-lagged and tired wasn't helping me to cope with the roughness in my playing or sound.
Friday night things sounded better, and things started to feel and sound like they had before we left. My focus lately has been on good intonation. When the pieces were simpler I had pretty good tune and stayed in tune throughout the piece. Now that we've introduced shifts and rapid string changes I tend to lose my hand shape, making the 4th finger notes flat and the 1st finger notes sharp. There was a lot of "collapsed hand" sound Friday evening.
Over the weekend I managed to get in three practice session, and spent a lot of time reorienting my left hand to the proper position and shape. I am learning to use the harmonics between 4th finger on a higher string and the open string one lower to verify that I am in tune. More and more of the time now I get a good ringing tone, but I still have to focus on my hand shape or I loss the tune on the higher notes.
My second practice today sounded much better compared to Thursday evening's work. One more practice tomorrow evening before my lesson on Tuesday. I fear I haven't accomplished much in the way of new technique or new passages since my last lesson, but I am pleased that I haven't lost any ground given my time away.