Cellospeak - Monday

July 27, 2015

Today was the first full day of Cellospeak. Three morning session and then private lessons and practice time in the afternoon. Following by another evening recital.

Warm Ups for the Cello Athlete

The first session this morning was all about the physicality of playing and how to avoid injury. The teacher, Robert Jesselson, led us through several warmups and talked about the major sources of tension cello player experience. He talked about placement of the cello against the player's body, the endpin height, and angle of the cello. He has another session on Wednesday and will finished up his talk on Friday.

Elementary Technique

My next session was elementary technique. Elementary in this case refers to the group I was slotted into based on my prior playing experience. There are four groups: beginner, elementary, intermediate, and advanced. The first hour was spent talking more about cello position and physical setup.

The second hour was musicianship, where we played through two of the group pieces we had been email prior to the start of camp.The approach was pretty much tossing us into the deep end of the pool and encouraging us to swim. After the first play-through of the Bryd "Pavan" we then looped back around and focused more on the second half - particularly the first phrase of the second half. After playing pizzacato a few times we picked up our bows and played arco again, and there was some improvement.

We also worked on the "Turkish Drinking Song" by Mendelssohn. This has a much more complex rhythm so we started it without our cellos and just clapped the rhythm. After doing the first 30 or so measures a couple times through, we then played the entire piece. The varied skill levels in the meant that we sounded pretty muddy at times. Between being unfamiliar with the music and trying to watch the conducing I managed to get lost several times.

Finally we worked briefly on the Schubert "Serenade". Five parts were sent out, but the conductor's score is from a different arrangement so there was some confusion at first.

Individual Practice

Since the four students I'm part of agreed to have 1-hour lessons every other day, I had an unstructured afternoon. In addition to some practice on my own, I took a nap and explored the Cellos2Go offerings at the vendor booth. I played several cellos including a 1934 German cello with a wonderfully gritty and growly sound.

Injury

I managed to fall going down a flight of stone stairs during the morning break. Fortunately I only missed the last step but I still scraped my elbow and managed to bang my back against a corner of a wall. I took Ibuprofen at lunch and at dinner, and will be taking more before going to sleep tonight. I expect to be stiff and sore tomorrow, but hopefully not so bad that I can't continue to participate.

Recital

Tonight's recital was once again performances by the faculty. After several beautiful individual pieces, eight of the faculty played an utter sublime arrangement of the final movement of Dvorak's New World Symphony, followed by a couple of Beatles arrangements. A very enjoyable evening.

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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.