February 6 Lesson Notes

February 07, 2012

In spite of my rather horrid intonation yesterday, my lesson was good.

Bridge adjustment

Recently I started keeping my cello in the corner of the room behind where I practice. I used to keep it in the closet as protection against curious cats and the vagaries of room temperature. I like having it out in the room where it can be seen and where all I need to do to play is sit down and start. Having it out where I can see it from the audience viewpoint (as opposed to my normal player's viewpoint) I noticed that the bridge was slightly crooked. This is a natural byproduct of tuning. I've never adjusted my bridge on my own before so I had David show me how at my lesson. It doesn't seem difficult to do so I'm looking forward to the next time my bridge is off kilter to try it myself.

Minuet No 3

We started the lesson by working on the "minuet 2" portion of Minuet No 3. My intonation was not very good and consequently we spent a lot of time repeating measures to get the correct notes. I also need to practice against an accompaniment -- a lot. Playing solo it's easy to hear myself and know where I'm at. Playing with another cello is surprisingly hard -- mostly since the other instrument is in the same tonal range as mine. At the competition in March I'll be accompanied by a piano, which should help tonally but I still need to get used to having someone else making music with me. I've ordered the piano accompaniment volumes for both Suzuki 3 and Suzuki 4.


I finished études 9 and 10 from the Schröder book and David assigned number 20 next. We are skipping over the Lee études as I had all of them in the Lee book I just completed. Number 20 is in 6/8 time and employs what is apparently a common 6/8 time rhythm construction: a dotted eighth note followed by a sixteenth note followed by an eighth note. David suggested the word "wonderful" as a mnemonic the get the rhythm right. Of course you have to stretch the first syllable so that you say "wooon-der-ful" for this trick to work. The piece is full of dotted-eighth-sixteenth-eighth note combinations so I'll get plenty of practice on this rhythm.


I continue to work on La Cinquantaine and Allegro Moderato. The first page of each is finally starting to come together and we started working on each piece's second page. As with Minute No 3 I need to really focus on intonation, particularly following shifts. Upward shifts are better, i.e., more accurate, than downward shifts. In this case upward means to a higher pitch (toward the bridge). It seems when I shift toward the scroll my hand collapses.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.