May 7 Lesson Notes

May 08, 2012

With my audition slated for next week my lesson yesterday was focused largely on Allegro Moderato. We also spent a little time on my current Schröder étude, and worked on the Bréval Sonata.

Allegro Moderato

We ran a mock audition yesterday, with David timing how long it took for me to play both scales, my audition piece, and perform a line of sigh reading. As is always the case when the performance "counts" I made some mistakes in my presentation of Allegro Moderato, and in two cases had to back up a measure to regain my footing. There is something about performing that is different mentally from practicing or playing in a lesson.

My mock audition time was 4 minutes and 40 seconds. David said that with nearly 80 people auditioning he is going to limit each audition to something like 4 minutes, with an extra minute passing time while one player exits and the next enters. It is likely that I'll be asked to stop playing before reaching the end of my piece. I hugely appreciate knowing this going into the audition. Being stopped isn't a critical comment on my playing, it's just a necessity of the limited time.

My intonation while playing scales continues to get better and better. I can reliably start a scale like F: without having to hunt for the initial scale degree. My tone is nice and even across all the notes through both octaves. I like that the audition will start with scales. Scales are how I warm up, how I re-center myself tonally with the cello.

My goal this week is to play my scales and piece as a unit as many times as possible. I plan on using the video camera to record myself as that adds an element of stress. Also, I'm going to "borrow" some of Sibylle's piano student's as impromptu audiences. Sibylle also suggests doing jumping jacks or running in place to elevate the respiration and heart rates just before playing.

I'm giving myself plenty of time the day of the audition to warm up and play prior to the audition. For my last recital I decided not to play through my entire piece the day of the performance prior to performing. The thought was you don't want to have your best performance of the day be in the practice room. However my nervousness when it came time to perform did impact my playing. For the audition I plan on playing everything several times just prior to my time slot. Hopefully I can shed some performance anxiety that way.

And I do have one more lesson prior to the audition to fine tune things with David.

Schröder 32

Schröder 32 is all about bow control and slurs. The piece isn't terribly exciting, but it is good for working on tone quality over the length of the bow stroke. Last week David asked me to just work on the first 4 lines, this week he decided that I should go ahead and practice the entire étude.

Bréval Sonata in C Major

I've managed to play through the exposition portion of the sonata. David explained a little bit about "sonata allegro form yesterday. The first movement opens with an exposition that introduces the themes for the piece. This is followed by a development section where the themes are explored a bit. And the movement ends with a recapitulation that ties it all together.

The exposition is usually repeated meaning that you get more musical bang for your practice buck. David is pleased with my progress on this section of the piece. I told him that I can hear it in my head which makes it considerable easier to play. Many of my pieces I can't hear in my head as easily which makes them harder to play. We worked on the next few lines together, and he wants me to continue working on the development portion of the piece this week.

My personal goal is to have the 1st movement of this piece ready for recital by mid-June. This may be a very ambitious goal. Only time and practice will tell.

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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.