Lesson Notes for 22 August 2013

August 23, 2013

Yesterday marked the return of regular weekly lessons following my teacher's annual summer break. It's been a month since my last lesson so it feels good to be back on a regular schedule again.

The last few weeks I've been focused on the G Major Bach suite and the second movement of Vivaldi's Sonata in E Minor, Op. 14, No. 5. I've also been spending some time in Feuillard’s Daily Exercises book.

I like the Feuillard book as the exercises are short, usually just a measure long. Like a karate-do waza they force you to focus on the essence of a technique. Already I have found several extension patterns or shifting patterns from the Feuillard book in my repertoire practice. Being a completionist I appreciate that the Feuillard exercises are short — I can work on several in just 10 or 15 minutes time.

In the 1st Bach suite I am working primarily on the Sarabande and Courante. I can play the Sarabande completely now. However I need to focus on an even rhythm though the piece. David altered the final bow strokes for each repeat. At the end of the first repeat I'll hook the final two Ds using a down-bow for each. This will set up the up bow for the first note of the second pass through the repeat. Hooking the two Ds forces me to be very aware of my bow conservation.

I've been focused on the first half of the Courante until now. It's a bit rougher than the Sarabande, but coming along. David wants me to start working on the entire piece now.

On my own I figured out the second half of the Vivaldi E Minor Sonata 2nd movement. At first the fingering for the first line of the second half confused me but Sibylle helped me to see that the notes were a 5th apart allowing me to stay in the same position to play them. David and I worked on a couple of places where I've been struggling a little bit. In one case I had been using a 1 x 3 extension where it would be easier to play 1 - 4.

The biggest challenge with this movement is its tempo. I made a new copy of the MP3 and reduced the tempo 30% in order to have a recording to listen to that is closer to my current tempo. I despair at times of ever getting my playing up to allegro tempo. Intellectually I know that I am still reading music note-by-note (which is itself pretty amazing when I think where I was only a couple of years ago) and that I need to read phrase by phrase. My hope is that persistence and more experience will gradually bring my playing speed up to par.

David added a couple of new Feuillard études for me to practice, and suggested that I work out of the Position pieces book, especially on 3rd position.

Careful readers of this site will note that I made no mention of orchestra today. The orchestra board had expressed some concern over having an adult participate in what is a youth orchestra. After discussing the situation with Sibylle and with David I decided to resign. My focus will be on my solo repertoire with two long term goals. A solo recital to mark my 5th year of cello playing and eventually being able to successfully audition for the university orchestra.

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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.