March 22, 2010
Earlier today, and yesterday, I played Happy Farmer using three individual notes for the dotted quarter notes. It sounded pretty good, but as Sibylle points out, it isn't teaching me hooked bowing. This evening I tried playing the three-for-one notes as hooked notes but wasn't having much success with that either.
After quite a bit of frustration I think I finally got it. Instead of stopping the bow and then hooking the next fill-in note, I just changed the bow pressure for the second and third beats of the dotted quarters. It makes kind of a "wah-wah" sound that way, but I played one continuous, if warbling, note with one direction of the bow. After a couple attempts I was able to more or less play the whole piece using hooked bowing.
It's slow, and has frequent squeals and squawks, but it is bowed correctly and I think the rhythm is right.
My hope now is that after a couple days practice this way I'll be able to smooth out the dotted quarter notes so they have the same pitch throughout their duration and then I'll have the piece correctly. Correctly bowed, and played with the correct rhythm.
That's the plan anyway.
Earlier today I managed to play all the way through the Minuet in C, which is next. I hope that the rhythm work that I started with that piece will shorten the amount of time it takes me to learn it. After breezing through the earlier pieces in the book (largely by ignoring rhythm and (since the pieces have simpler rhythms) getting away with it), it feels like these later pieces are entirely too hard. They really aren't too hard, they just require a better rhythmic foundation that I had developed. The remedial work I've done the last couple of weeks has started to pay off in this regard.
The thing I need now, now that I more or less have the hang of using the metronome, is to have confidence in what I am hearing when I use the metronome. I get so that I can't tell if I am on the beat, ahead of the beat or late. I suspect that practice will help that. And experience. I need to remind myself that I have only played the cello since November. Four and a half months.
I have no idea if being at the end of book 1 in the Suzuki series after just 17 weeks is typical or not. Hopefully I am moving off the rhythmic plateau I've been on for the past few weeks and will be able to complete the last couple pieces in this volume soon. I've got volume 2 at home and I am looking forward to starting those pieces.