April 30 Lesson Notes

| posted in: lessons 

Another week, another good lesson. Even though I had a horrible week of practice my lesson this week was a good one.

I know that some times we have a slump, a period where nothing seems to work and everything seems far harder than it should. The week leading up to my lesson was just such a week, at least cello-wise. Every time I sat down to practice my audition piece it seemed I found a new way to make a mistake. Parts of the piece that I had down cold were suddenly unplayable. It was extremely frustrating. Several days I cut my normal 45-60 minute practice down to just a few minutes as I was so unhappy with my playing.

In spite of a week of poor practice I had a good lesson. I’m fortunate that I have a good relationship with my teacher and that he is patient and understanding.

I’ve completed #31 and moved on to #32. As he was assigning me “just the first four lines” of #32 David whispered loudly to me, “it’s boring”. And it is. Good bowing exercise but not at all interesting musically.

I continue to work on the Bréval Sonata that starts book 4. The piece is full of little technical challenges. If Allegro Moderato at the end of book 3 was a step up, the Bréval is a huge step up again. Even leaving out the grace notes and trills there are passages in this which are very challenging. In my lesson David listens to what I’ve got and then we identify the problem spots and develop little mini-études to focus on the issue. Some lines of these piece are one window of practice after another. This week’s assignment are the three sets of triplets on the first page. The measure just before each set of triplets is slightly different (and in one case a challenge of its own) and so my mini-études for the week are the 4 notes leading into each set of triplets and the first 4 notes of the triplet series.

My next recital opportunity will be the third week of June and I hope that the first movement of the Bréval Sonata is ready for presentation by then.

For the audition in two weeks I’ll be playing an F: scale and the d: Melodic scale, both two-octaves. I played them for David at my lesson and both were very good. “Some of the best intonation you’ve ever had playing a scale.” My audition piece will be Allegro Moderato, and I’ll also have to play something via sight reading.

The Allegro is coming along nicely even with a week of horrible practice. David and I played through it together on Monday and it sounded pretty good. There are still some intonation problems on the second page, along with some fumbling of the shifts. Since we are all taught to read from top to bottom and from left to right we tend to practice our music from start to finish. By the time we get to the end of piece we will have played the beginning of the piece many many times. With that in mind, David instructed me to play the second page of the Allegro 10 times for every one time I play the first page this week.

Both Monday evening and last night my practice was back to normal, without the frustration I had last week. I’m still not sure what made things so wonky last week, but I’m glad it has passed.

Author's profile picture

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 Mastodon.