September 24 Lesson Notes

September 25, 2012

Saturday's rehearsal was humbling. I was lost in most of the pieces we rehearsed. My practice tempo is no where near as fast as rehearsal tempo nor performance tempo. Both Saturday evening and Sunday evening I had frustrating practice sessions as my efforts to play faster only resulted in garbled, muddy sounds.

While I have known from the start that I would most likely not be able to play all of every piece on our program, this weekend was the first time I really faced that fact. Going into my lesson yesterday I was resolved to discuss options going forward with David. Do I play just some of the pieces? Do I play only some notes on some of the pieces? Our discussion was good and I am feeling much better as a result. I'll play those pieces that I can and fill in notes on the pieces I won't have mastered by November 17th. David told me that he knows I am at a disadvantage and that I'll do what I can do.

We looked at passages from several of the pieces and he gave me advice on how to proceed.

Vier Kliene Stucke

The 5th variation has a repeated two-note pattern: C and Db, which is slurred. The bowing direction and the notes which are slurred together change with each pattern making it a surprisingly difficult passage to play. After each 8 note pattern there is a single note offset from the pattern preceding and following by rests. Once I have played through about half of the passage the rhythm suddenly makes sense in my head and I can play it without pauses and stutters. The trick is learning it well enough that I can play the rhythmic pattern from the first note. We played through it slowly, starting with separate bows and then added in slurs, and finally started playing it a little bit faster. I need to spend some time on this passage using the metronome to really develop a feel for it.

We also reviewed the Furiant movement from the piece. I can play this movement but I have reversed the bowing in one place. I need to practice it slowly until I relearn the correct bowing and then return to performance tempo.

Concerto Grosso

The Vivaldi is one of my favorite pieces - I love how it sounds. Saturday during rehearsal I could hear the orchestra's output and it closely resembled the YouTube version I've been using as my sound guide. There are several passages in this piece where there is a solo part and an accompaniment part. I will be playing as much of the accompaniment as I can. Where there are passages that are beyond my technical ability I'll play the first note in each measure or the notes that are on the beats. In this way I'll be supporting the orchestra but also playing within my ability. It's hard to not be able to play the whole thing, but the seven weeks remaining don't give me much time to develop any one of the more difficult pieces, let alone all of them.

Over the Rainbow

A passage from this piece is on the seating audition list. Our seating audition is this coming Saturday immediately prior to rehearsal. As an adult sitting in with a youth orchestra I am going to be seated in the last (9th) chair of the cello section. Therefore I don't have to participate in the seating audition. However I am planing on going just for the experience. I played the audition passage for David with only one small error - I cut a whole note short a beat. This is a piece I love and can play well.

Brook Green Suite

There is a descending scale-wise pattern midway through the first movement that is slurred, crosses strings, and required shifting (including a string-crossing shift) that is on the seating audition list. While I played it at a rather deliberate tempo I was able to play it for David yesterday. That was a huge confidence booster.

Adagio for Strings

I am feeling pretty good about the Barber piece. I've got a good handle on the first page and am slowly progressing on the second page. David and I worked on the middle third of the second page - which includes notes above the treble staff. Thanks to his providing us a worksheet that has this passage transcribed to bass clef (down an octave) I am able to muddle my way through. Having learned the melody from the worksheet it is easier to find my way in the higher positions - I can in effect play it by ear. I am hoping that by the date of the concert I have "initialed" out of this piece.

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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.