July 31 Lesson Notes

August 01, 2012

Both last week and yesterday the focus on my lesson was on the music for orchestra. I am starting to feel less apprehensive about my lack of experience as I practice these pieces. I've still got a long way to go before I am proficient at all of them, but I am starting to make progress.

Concerto Grosso

The Vivaldi is a beautiful piece and I am now playing through most of it, albeit at a measured pace. One of the hardest parts of this particular piece is the way the music is printed. The score alternates between two staffs and one staff as the solo part splits and rejoins the accompaniment. Not only do you have to look ahead to see what is at the beginning of the next line you have to make sure you are reading the correct next line. I've added curly braces in pencil to join the paired staves to make it easier to find my place.

The piece makes use of a scale motif in several places. As the motif is all sixteenth notes I've had to work on my finger speed. Most nights while practicing these piece I set aside some time to just play the scale-wise bits over and over. I start very slow and gradually increase my speed with each repetition. It seems to be working.

As the Vivaldi is from the Baroque period there are implied staccato dots for the second shortest notes (in this case the eighth notes) and the shortest notes (sixteenth) are played legato. Now that I have the notes I need to add the correct articulations.

Brook Green Suite

The first page of this piece is all variations of a descending C Major scale. One would think this would be relatively easy to play. One would be wrong. Things which are repetitious but not exactly the same on each repetition are surprisingly difficult to play. My mind likes repeated patterns and I have to consciously work and playing the variation and not the previous repetition. This is a good piece to really work at pausing rather then playing it incorrectly.

An English Suite

The first movement of this suite is difficult. The tempo is rapid and there are double stops mixed in with single notes. For the first few weeks of practice I ignored the double stops. In the last two weeks I've added those in and they are slowly getting better. Placing two fingers (sometimes stopping three notes) at a time seemed very awkward initially. On my own I bought a copy of 087487761X. This Rick Mooney book is filled with tunes I already know written using double stops. I've incorporated pieces from this book in to most evening's practice session and it is helping.

David wants me to move on to the other movements of this piece now.

Over the Rainbow

This is a wonderfully beautiful arrangement. It's easily my favorite (so far) of all the piece we'll be playing. I'm reflective enough to realize it's my favorite since I can play it. I am really looking forward to playing this with the entire orchestra.

Sabre Dance

This is a showy, splashy piece. The metronome making of 170 gives me chills. I think 100 is fast. However, I've been working on the several different patterns that make up my part and I'm getting better. I need to start working on the transitions from one pattern to the next and on the transitions from arco to pizzicato and back again.

Adagio for Strings

Until yesterday I had been forbidden from practicing this piece. Via email David sent all the cellists some worksheets to prepare us for the more difficult passages. On the last page there is a passage where the inside and outside players have slightly different bowing directions. In the score it is hard to see so David created work sheet for those three lines that splits the inside and outside parts. He also created a worksheet that transposes a tenor clef passage into bass clef. Some of us aren't yet reading tenor clef. He wants us to practice for a time in bass clef and then we'll move to tenor clef once we've got the sound of the passage in our heads.

Using the worksheets last evening in practice I was able to make good progress.

August 25

The first rehearsal is August 25 - about three weeks away. At the end of my lesson David assured me once again that with the exception of one of two of the most experience players in the orchestra that everyone is going to be lost at first and a bit overwhelmed. It is comforting to know that I won't be alone in being lost but I hope that this summer of preparation will leave me able to keep up as the rehearsal season progresses.

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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.