Monday, November 3, 2008

Recent Musical Life

I haven't posted to this blog, or to my Livejournal in forever. In fact, I should be doing my Italian Homework right now ... but this is more interesting ...

Musical Life has been going very well ... To summarize, I'm doing the following:

Mville MIDI Band
Mville Chorus
St. Thomas Orchestra
Mville Orchestra
Mville Small Jazz Ensemble

I'm also working on:
Bach Suite 4
Beethoven Clarinet Trio
Bacchianas Brasilieras
Elgar Concerto (1st Movement)
Vivaldi Double Concerto

I'm also currently playing in Into the Woods. So my musical plate is quite full! (as it should be!) & I'm beginning to feel like a cellist again (which comes w/ lots of practicing ... 59 hours for the month of October - shooting for *at least* 90 this month).

Most important to recent times though: I'm in a band. We're called the Faceless Quartet. We've had about 6 or 7 rehearsals, and every rehearsals it was just consistently me & this other kid showing up (and other people not showing!) ... on our most recent rehearsal, we brought in this kid on sax/flute & there was some chemistry there for sure ... we started jamming & stuff really came together quite amazingly. It was so unexpected & so much what being in a band should feel like ... I think we've really got something ahead of us & am quite excited to see what we can do... He's the first person I've met in a very long time who's made me want to really practice.

So that's where I'm at right now...

Some things I've wanted to blog about over the last month:

1. Nacht Mystium/High On Fire/Opeth Concert - quite an awesome concert ... Nacht Mystium was interesting, though they had EQ problems. Their drummer was pretty crazy in the sense that he was playing pretty complicated stuff, but looked very relaxed/in the zone ... it's pretty rare to see a band where the drummer really stands above the rest so much. High On Fire is actually probably the worst band I've seen or heard live (and I don't mean that facetiously!). Their music was incredibly unoriginal, and almost never went beyond power chords and/or barred 4ths w/ a very occasional blues pattern ... absolutely not recommended! Opeth was quite amazing. They played a good variety of songs, and I recognized some of their newer stuff this time around, as well as their older stuff ... it's hard to remember specifically what they played. I also hung out w/ my friend Rebecca through most of this, it was quite cool.

2. Schelomo & Bach 4 have been going fairly well ... I finally feel a little more like I'm working on an advanced level in my playing and in my lessons. I wish I had gotten here sooner, but am very glad to be here. I feel like I could be moving a little bit faster w/ both, but I need to find more practice time in order to do so ... a bit challenging with all these school responsibilities.

3. I apparently wanted to blog about practicing ... probably that I'm practicing a lot better than I have .. I've got things pretty routine & am switching back & forth between a Galamian exercise, a chord exercise I invented, Thumb Position exercises & other exercises I come up with. I wish I had more time for it! Keeping a practice log is incredibly helpful

4. I also saw Apocalyptica (it really has been an incredibly long time since I've blogged!). They were pretty good/fun/interesting to see. I feel they could get louder earlier in their set, and I also feel that they could benefit from more tonal variety in their music. I also feel they could push the crowd more. Despite this, I still think they're quite good (especially to play all that they play standing up!)

5. I also saw Nightwish ... or well, I saw Sonata Arctica for free ... Nightwish cancelled due to singer sickness :( (Though I just found out they're coming back in May - can't wait!!). Sonata was very interesting ... I'm not sure I liked their music, but their performance was quite amazing ... they're something about older bands ... they've got something a lot of newer bands don't...

6. One thing that came up during lessons (in relation to bowing) is to imagine that there's a line between my elbow & 1st finger & to always be aware of that. There in fact is at least 1 line between my elbow and each of my fingers - they are called tendons ... it was very helpful to think of that connection!

7. I've started practicing scales for tone and playing as loudly as I can (without really forcing) again ... quite helpful.

8. We had our first cello class at Manhattanville a few weeks ago ... it was on positions. I'll try and upload things when I get a chance - it was so cool, even though there were only 2 of us! Our next one is going to involve mapping bow motion through reflective gloves in a dark room - quite exciting.

9. The Bacchianas Brasilieras is quite cool - I'm playing the 2nd part (my teacher is playing the first ... um, that's exciting) ... it's doing quite a number on my fingers (16th note tenor register pizzicato!! yikes) ... it's a good piece to work on my weak spots & we're going to put it on most likely some time next semester

10. I got to hang w/ Danny Gray recently for the first time since the summer - it was awesome & fun ... we did a gig & jammed & talked about music & stuff ... the jamming went well ... I think a lot better than previously ... I don't feel so far below him anymore (which is not to say that I'm quite on the same level either ... there's just not so much of a gap) ... the jazz education is really helping there...

11. One last thing ... the Beethoven Clarinet Trio - we had a very good performance of it at the informal recital - as in it was the best performance we had done, as well as the best performance on the recital ... we really performed it on an advanced level ... one person even commented that she forgot we were students ... quite exhilarating ... that was just the first movement ... lots of work to do on the 3rd ... haven't even gotten to the 2nd yet!

Some exercises I've come up with:
1. LH 16th exercise - this involves maintaining a single hand position & slurring bows (or not slurring) & doing different patterns in 16ths - it's great for building dexterity/finger strength ... particularly when done in double stops!!

2. Do Technical work with music blasting ... this forces you to play with a certain strength/tone - something I really haven't done in a long time... I also have a somewhat quiet cello (not up close)

That's all for now! I need to do my italian homework so that I'll have some practice time tomorrow ... so sick of these non-music classes right now! Though I guess they also help stop me from being a robot...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Day That Never Comes

4 important musical things lately:

1. Cello Lesson #1
2. Recording Session in Brooklyn
3. Arranging String Parts for Nothing Else Matters
4. Death Magnetic!!

1. Our first cello lesson for the year was amazing (no playing), but just in terms of talking & getting on the same page & holding up to a higher standard, all is well ... I've got a lot of really cool pieces that I'm gonna be potentially doing ... including the 4th Bach Suite ... so stay tuned for some insanity
2. I did some cello tracks for this guy: ... went pretty well & he writes some really cool music ... sorta like a more ambient/mellowed-out version of Opeth ... I wish I had been practicing more/in better shape, but I'll just have to practice more from now on to prevent stuff like that ... still went well though - got a nice sound out of my cello, and the Producer/Engineer asked me for my card (speaking of which, I need to get more from home!)
3. I just arranged a cello and violin part for Nothing Else Matters (because we're doing it in MIDI Band) ... I'm also gonna see if I can sing it ... hopefully he'll let me ... was a great experience, and I need to do more arrangement - I might just arrange other tunes for fun ... It should have been more straightforward than it was, considering how much I listen to S&M/Michael Kamen's version ... really gave me a new-found appreciation for it & it's something I'm gonna do more of ...
4. DEATH MAGNETIC LEAKED!!! Now, everyone's got their own set of ethics about stuff like this ... mine's basically that I grabbed it & couldn't wait to hear it ... I will be buying the cd on the 12th, so I don't see a problem with this ... it's very interesting/exciting/progressive & like every other Metallica album has a truly unique & individual sound ... I'm gonna listen to it a couple more hundred times ...

Gonna do a post soon about all the different musical activities I'm involved in this year (I'm really at the max - in a good way ... might drop chorus or something though...)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Warming Up

So everyone always says that you need to warm up before you play and all this stuff, and most people seem to suggest that scales and other exercises are the way to go ... I think that's ignorant, and a bad idea ...

Warming up is getting the blood flowing through the body, stretching out & loosening up the tendons, and raising your level of focus to the appropriate level

So far I've come up with the following warmups that I find very effective:

1. Stretching (particulary the touch the floor w/ your fingertips stretch)
2. Double stop Glissandi - go as slowly as you can (without interrupting the flow) all the way down & up the fingerboard w/ 1/2 2/3 & 3/4 ... maybe even other combinations ... apply the same concept to the bow, but change bow as needed ... this gets your lower back rotating & opens up a lot of the larger muscle groups in your back, which consequently leads your arms to have an easier time (after all, they are connected to your upper & lower back, and there should be a flow of power from one to the other)
3. Pick a chord any chord - pick a chord shape on the finger board w/ your left hand & hold it ... go through each string crossing in different rhythms/combinations of slurs ... eventually you want to cross all 4 strings in one bow - this loosens up your right shoulder a lot ... hanging on to the chord w/ your left hand should force you to relax it after a bit & let it hang into the fingerboard
4. 1 finger scales - Do it on the C string, b/c this is the thickets, and will build up your callouses the most (maybe even do it in double stops) ... hold each note for 4 beats & gliss. into each next new note ... whole bow per note ... this eventually reinforces proper shifting and it loosens you up (I find)

If anyone's got comments or further ideas on this, let me know ...

btw, for those of you who followed what I wrote during Summit & left comments, thx! Glad to know that my posts were of interest ...

Also, in new news, I have another student, and may have a 5th soon (really exciting!)

School starts in 2 days, and I have a recording to do the monday after it starts (lots of very good reason to practice a lot!)

So many things to look forward to...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Right Feel


I've been battling w/ this Elgar melody & trying to figure out what wasn't making it work/what makes it work ...

I learned a few things:

1. Vibrato varies a bit
2. Rhythm - I wasn't always holding the quarter long enough
3. Tempo - After Rosen's masterclass, I've been trying to do it at 66 ... I'm sorry, it just doesn't work there... back to 50 ... that's what DuPre does ... and more importantly, that's where it feels (and sounds) right to me
4. The bow has to always be moving & the phrase is actually in 9/8, meaning the bow

I've also been watching DuPre's video very closely, and it's incredibly exciting/surprising to see a lot of the technical things she does (fingering and bow choices)

My goal is to copy and ingrain as much of it as I can (not for the sake of just copying her, but for the sake of truly understanding it and what made her performance so amazing & using that as a foundation & springboard for mine - it's sort of like using a certain performance edition, except that you can see what the editor actually meant/did ...

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Power of Video


Practicing Elgar, I decided to record myself, b/c I was getting frustrated that I couldn't seem to figure out what to do ... I noticed 2 things (that somehow I don't notice while watching in the mirror:

1. I have the same elbow problem w/ my bow arm
2. I'm still killing the sound at the end of down bows...

what does this mean, I'm not paying attention properly or listening well enough ... I have a strong concept of what I want this to be, but I need to hear what I'm actually doing...

I worry about using recording technology - will it prevent or enhance my ability to listen well ... I think it will enhance it (I hope), but it almost feels like cheating ... Jackie didn't have it when she was developing her technique ...

I think that's always going to be my standard - is it as good as Jackie ... so far, the answer is not even close...

Summit People!!

Just like last year, I'm gonna go through as many of the people as I can remember from Summit ...

Facebook will help tremendously with this...

In no particular order...
Matan Talmi - cool kid ... don't remember where I met him, but he was responsible for the Jam sessions that happened.. very cool & generally fun to chill with ... from Israel
david krieger - I studied with him this year ... he's much very structured, and also was very busy, but gave me lessons as much as he could, while I don't think I'll do things exactly the way we worked on them, I've definitely already begun to incorporate what I've learned from him into both my music making and practicing
Yoni Krieger - cool kid/david's older son ... he thinks Thor is cooler than Loki, but w/e
Benny Krieger - David's younger son, also a cool kid ...
Laura Kimble - the main administrative person, very easy to work with & was very appreciative whenever I helped w/ things
Brittney Ramirez - another very cool & nice administrative person - pleasure to meet ... she finally joined the Summit group on facebook after all was over...
Cassandra Rondinelli - awesome flute player, I love her tone and the feeling in her playing & she really did well w/ everything she performed ... I don't remember exactly where we met, probably in the office or something ...
Chuck - I can't remember chuck's last name, but he was an engineer who was studying violin (if I got that right) ... he was only there for week 1 & studied w/ Elliot (Magaziner) ... very nice guy ... treated us all to lunch at the end...
Andy Qian - So at the end of week 1, there was a night I couldn't be there to do lights ... I told people this many times, nothing got done ... so finally, this kid ended up taking over on his own ... together we mapped out the light system, and basically did about 90% of the lighting work ... fun kid... a lot of energy/intelligence for someone who's only 16 ... also, a very awesome pianist
Jade Conlee - didn't get to know her that well, but she's an amazing pianist & her performance at one of the Student Galas was literally one of the most beautiful things I've heard come out of a piano
Sarah Toy - A very cool and interesting violist, who I wish I had gotten to know much earlier ... she got involved w/ the festival b/c of Richard Clarke, and had positive things to say about it as compared to other festivals... She was also one of the other double orchestra people
Eric Lam - my very awesome stand partner & yet another double orchestra person ... very fun guy to be around, and he let me try out his Coda Bow for a bit ... I got a very positive impression, and was surprised that it was in fact lighter than mine ... I think it will be very beneficial to get one, whenever that actually happens...
Mitsu - Eric's friend, and a very cool/funny kid ... lots of talking about music & lots of fun to be around ... he was a cellist as well
Charles Kim - very awesome kid ... 15 I think ... played the cello, and reminded me a lot of Christian ... I told him at one point that I wanted him to go to every single masterclass ... he was fun to jam & hang w/ and hopefully I'll see him next year
Jenny Kim - Charles' sister... I think she also played cello, and I was surprised to learn she was 19 ) I thought she was younger) ... which led me to realize that I have trouble telling ages between 18-21 ...
Tina Ronkins - the other person who's age I mixed up ... I thought she was older than she was (18 vs. 20) ... I think she was a pianist, and was very interesting to talk to ... from Israel, and had actually heard of Blackfield/Aviv Geffen
Francesca - One of Matan's friends, very nice person...
Jeff Solow - So glad to have met him - one of the cello faculty of course - he was such a pleasure to get to know, and shares his knowledge and stories constantly ... his teaching is amazing & I wish I could be around him all the time, b/c he's such a stimulating & knowledgeable person ... I'm definitely going to request him as my teacher for next year...
Inna Nasidze - another awesome cello faculty, and lots of fun - her & her students were great to meet/get to know ...
Cyntia Peres - I hope I spelled her name right ... one of Inna's students, and my stand partner ... very nice girl
Luis Barajas - Luis was a great person to talk w/ & had a nice, big sound on cello ... I meant to get his email address before I left, but it didn't happen :( Hopefully I'll get in touch w/ him somehow...
Diego - violinist - that kid was just weird, but very entertaining to all ... didn't know him that well...
Matthieu - one of the regulars, chill guy, and great to hang around w/
Rob Buxton - again, one of the regulars ... also, seriously amazing pianist ... I learned that he hadn't started college yet (was very surprised...) & I also managed to catch his comedy routine this time, it was fucking awesome
Elliot Mallard - a cool cellist & student of Jeff Solow's, he's starting at Julliard in the fall ... very awesome to meet, we had some great conversations about music in general...
Sean - again, one of the regulars ... fun kid ...
Poly - Nice to see her again ... I learned that she played Guitar & Piano, and we hung around w/ a lot of the same people
Eugene Osadchy - very cool Russian cello professor who now teaches in Texas ... he was great to talk with, and his playing reminded me in some ways of Mr. O's...
Jasmine Chang - sometimes my stand partner, and also incredibly talented ... she's been playing for 6 years, and has tackled Hindemith's sonata ... um, wow!
Rita Darling - didn't know her well, but jewish violinist who seemed fairly nice
Warren Chan - pianist from Brooklyn - cool kid...
Stephen Duran - really cool cellist from North Carolina, and working on the Kodaly Sonata ... I never got the chance to hear him play it though :(
Anna Marie & Jose Torres - the Dorm Supervisors, and very awesome/nice people
Caity Chenault - interesting girl who played the cello, and was also working on Elgar ...
Eva Dove - very nice girl who played the violin ... reminded me a lot of Katie Coleman in that she always put on a happy face...
Hannah Santisi - very energetic/excitable violist and friend of eva's ... her and eva saved me on the lights one night when I had to leave campus...

I know I'm definitely forgetting people ....

but it means I'm finally done w/ all the writing about Summit!! Now time to chill, and I can finally go practice!!

Summit Recap Post 8 - End of Festival Performances & Ensembles

Weber Piano Trio:
did the Scherzo & finale ... We did a good job with both for where we were ... definitely made music out of it, but there was a level of detail that was just never there ... and it was really frustrating, b/c being on the concert with the other groups, it was clear that we hadn't reached their level ... I think that all comes down to devotion ... in the future, when I work on parts, my goal will be to have learned the music well by the first rehearsal & then to continue to improve it ... with this, I came in & knew the part fairly well & then it just got worse & worse for a while, then started to get better ... relates to orchestra too...

Jr. Orchestra:
There were good & bad things about this, but basically it was an often frustrating experience with a mediocre end-product ... I mean, we didn't sound horrible, but we didn't sound great either ... I feel like I've worked with better conductors/like the conductor for this orchestra really didn't hold us to a high standard, and just accepted almost anything we did, but I learned a lot from it, and got to play some cool music ... particularly Barber ... I also met some cool people ...

Our program was: Some mendelssohn symphony, Purcell Chaccone arr. by Britten, Some Barber piece that was awesome, Mozart Violin Concerto 4, Dvorak Rumanian Dances (I actually played these w/ St. Thomas ... it was very different ... less overwhelming this time, which means I've improved) ... I was more focused/played better at the concert than I expected

Sr. Orchestra:
This was just an amazing experience ... Richard Clark is just an amazing person to work with, in terms of his expectations & his communication. He has a lot of great, relevant advice & expects you to do your best at every moment/for every detail. He ranted a lot about lazy music making & orchestras getting too comfortable, and so producing crap (but he did this all w/ a very positive bent to it most of the time) ... it's incredibly clear that he's really passionate about music - 100%, and if I had done nothing else at Summit besides work with him, it would have been worth it...

Our program was amazing ... it sounded amazing, it felt amazing ... it was just on that level ... personally, I could have been better ... I should have known my part, and risen to that level, but I didn't get there ... I know what to do now in the future though ... I have a very clear idea of it, as opposed to just a general impression ...

Program was:
Arensky - Variations on a Tchaicovsky Theme
Mozart Violin Concert 5
Bartok - Divertimento for Strings - this is one of the most amazing/beautiful/progressive pieces written for string orchestra ever...

In general, being in 2 orchestras simultaneously was frustrating (this meant 9-1 every day, and really cut into my practice time), but I guess was worth it... Certainly, the Sr. Concert really made it worth it...

Summit Recap Post 7 - Trout Quintet

This was one of the other great concert highlights ... I had found out that Jeff Solow was playing in it (which alone is enough to make me want to check it out) ...

Anyway, I was surprised to find during the performance that I remembered a lot more of the piece than I thought I did ... it's really got such a cool character and liveliness to it ... the performance was very great ... it reminded me a lot of watching the documentary w/ DuPre & Barenboim & Zukerman & Perlman & Mehta ...

It didn't quite have that level/spirit, but was still really amazing ... and it was so cool to watch it w/ the Double Bass ... that really was a privilege ... I've gotten into the bassier sounds a lot from listening to Metallica, and I've done various chamber music, but never with bass ... it's just such a cool difference/addition...

I'm very lucky to ahve gotten to see this...

Summit Recap Post 6 - Medelssohn Octet

This was literally one of the coolest classical things I've ever been to...

8 people on stage - 4 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos...

It was really like a giant aural dance between all the different instruments & how they came together & complimented each other ... so cool, and so easy to get visual w/ while listening...

It was really just a very alive experience, and the players sync'd with each other so well ... I feel like I should write more about it, but I can't think of what to write really ... I wish there was a way to transfer sensations & sounds and images from my brain into writing/the computer...

Summit Recap Post 5 - Matt Haimovitz Concert - Happy 100th Elliot Carter!

This was an absolutely amazing concert ...

First of all, he started with the Brahms F Maj. which he had taught in the masterclass earlier that day...

Next, he played Elliot Carter's Cello Sonata (written in 1948). He spoke about how it was written for Bernie Greenhouse & the pianist also chimed in here & there... it's an incredibly cool piece, and very, very suited to Matt's playing - he's great w/ all this "new music"

After that was Dankner's Klezmer Fantasy, which was just written last year (that's fucking cool!) & was this awesome collection of Jewish music ... if I got it right, the pianist was actually improvising most of his part, since the original version actually involved orchestra... or something like that..

Then he did Barber's C minor sonata (op. 6), which again was equally as cool ... the whole concert just had this amazing energy to it ... it was really on the level of rock concerts in a lot of ways (in terms of how much I was into it/the emotional high I got from it) ... it turns out that the pianist was a friend of Geoff Kidde's (he's one of my teachers at school), so that was pretty neat ... I'm gonna get in touch w/ him soon ... he teaches at Princeton & Hunter ...

Also, I passed on The Cellist of Sarajevo to Matt, along w/ Jen Castellano's piece "It Takes Two" & some compositions by Itamar Danziger - hopefully he'll be into some of them ...

Really just such an amazing night ... and I picked up two of Matt's cds, which was exciting - I haven't listened to too much of them just yet (b/c most of my music listening time was while driving, and it was all about blasting metallica!!)


Still to come:
Mendelssohn Octet
Trout Quintet
End of Festival Performances & Thoughts on Orchestra

Summit Recap Post 4 - Matt Haimovitz Masterclasses

These notes are from both days of the Haimovitz masterclasses

Bach Prelude 2:

-When we play solo, there's no volume competition w/ anyone else
-Take advantage of being all by yourself (more dynamic range)

-There was a battle btwn. the viola da gamba and the cello (cello won of course)
-Baroque music is much closer to renaissance - resonate, don't sustain
-Think in the 18th century

Left Hand:
-avoid shifts - experiment with playing as much in first position as possible.
-D min. has the tonic, subdominant & dominant as open strings
-Open string doesn't need to be hidden all the time
-when you bring a finger down it bounces back

Right Hand:
-Don't make unnecessary accents with string crossings
-Another way to think about them is that instead of shifting w/ your LH, your shifting w/ your RH
-Bring out bass notes w/ bow speed
-Bow is tool for determining dynamic range

-Quiet, intimate opening - bring audience in
-playing quiet is an art
-don't stop using the bow
-it's like an actor's stage-whisper
-Don't accent every note - music is a language
-Opening is establishment of 3 voice lines
-think of choral writing
-Bach is pure - hide the shifts
-Have a sense of rhythm even when there's no beat
-pay attenion to rhythmic differences in bars 1-3
-Intonation can be interpretative (melodic or harmonic)
-Only add vibrato on notes that need it - it's for color
-Think about confession
-Pedals don't need to be sustained
-Even when it's loud, choose which notes to sustain
-Last 5 bars are a 3 voice chorale
-know which notes to emphasize by paying attention to the chord progression: V42, Dm, Sus, Res. -
-It echoes the first rhythm


Prokofiev Symphony Concerto

-Sustain at upper half of bow by maintaining contact pt.
-this results in a more focused, and louder sound
-When you play at the brdige, you don't have to force
-Cello is part of your boddy
-Don't tighten your grip in the upper half of the bow
-Don't lose sound w/ upper shift
-Lower register=russian bass


Bach suite 4

-Sarabande is the "heart" of the sweet
-next movements are the relief movements
-lots of humor
-2 bar phrases/units
-don't bring head down to listen - develop 3rd ear
-16th notes - very busy/light bees
-Note: he did a lot of LH pizz. to develop this
-Make decisions about phrase structure - always different/surprising

-connect - 2 bar phrases
-start beginning w/ circle in right elbow
-always anchor double stops w/ bottom note
-Don't go out of position by thhinking of the upper note
-Keep rhythmic integrity w/ bass so that you don't lose the phrase architecture
-Count out-loud while you practice

Ligetti Sonata:
-Wrote 1st movement for his girlfriend
-Don't have an arguement - it's not agitato
-For pizz/gliss part, don't overdo it - like harp [I actually thought of it like a banjo,a nd liked the performer's idea better ... happens sometimes...]
-Relax LH/think of warmth for lyrical passages
-Matt played it for Ligetti - Hungarian singing
-Follow shape of line, not the property of the bow
-Give the impressions that you're a string quartet
-2nd mvmt. - paganini - devil


Brahms F Maj:
-Sonata form
-Theme in beginning - connect
-Don't stop vibrato on 16ths
-don't get tight in upper register

-Hang off fingerboard
-match vibrato w/ bow
-fast vibrato, narrow width (he demonstrated fast & wide ... this is an effect Apocalyptica uses a lot)
-Make sound w/ bow & leave LH free
-play with as much meat of finger (for main theme) as possible

-find right contact spot for instrument
-No big gestures w/ bow (ie, don't waste the bow by floating out in space after a stroke)
-Coordinating bow change w/ LH is like landing an airplane
-Don't make unnecessary motions, just go for it

-A lot of music is illusion (this relates to phrasing)
-Practice w/ the score
-Vibrate upbeats
-Don't stop singing/Don't be scared of the music
-Don't lift shoulders when in upper register


Elgar Mov. 4

Sound Production:
-Lead w/ upper arm
-If we push w/ gravity, we get "tch"
-String has to vibrate horizontally
-Very rare that when you play forte w/ the bow you also need to play forte w/ the LH
-Sound is a waveform - you want amplification, not cancellation
-Use the whole body, rather than fighting the instrument

-Don't press harder than you need to
-Tension in LH prevents good intonation
-Don't lose overtones when you play loud
-Be in a position where you can dance/feel shift in weight

F# Diminished run:
-little bow & in time
-LH piz
-Hug the strings w/ the bow
-Trust yourself/your bow
-Sometimes we get in our way/should trust our ear

-Leave B before cadena unresolved
-Establish theme before double stops
-Matt commented that he learned unbelievable bowing concepts recently from Mark O Connor
-bow has rhythmic pulse

Concert notes coming soon..

Summit Recap Post 3 - Purchasing an Instrument - Jonathan Solars

Condition's importance is in resell
-Good to get 2nd opinion sometimes


Famous appraisers
Violins - Charles Beare, Jim Warren, Bob Bine (dead)
Bows - Milan, Isaac Salkow, Fancois Rafeu, Paul Charles (top end bows)

Hill - 1800 -1940
Werlitzer - 1965
France - 1978
Diatilli - 1970s?


Certificates should never be a contingency of sale
-Adds value (3rd person affirms identity)

5 factors of pricing:
-Timeline of Maker's life


Trade-ins won't always give you actual value
-You should know the asking price for the instrument you want to buy prior to trade-in
-You should disguise your asking price
-Dealers don't like trade-ins of low end instruments

-It's to the buyer's advantage to know how they're going to pay
-dealers always expect people to negotiate
-dealers love cash. It equals huge levarage
-Large amts. w/ credit cards can be a problem
-Dealers have to pay merchants

Philip J. Kass - Great violin consultant

NEVER go to another dealer for apprasial
-Also, some teachers get kickbacks from dealers

Don't give in to pressure/if you're uncertain
-in order to make any profit reselling, you cave to have instrument for at least 5 years
-Instruments appreciate 6-10%. Rare instruments appreciate up to 15%

Jackie's Davydoff waas 90,000 when she got it - today it's 15 million (1,646% return)

Instrument investment is gaining popularity

There's a surge of demand in new instruments
-Muntovich in particular (Stern's violin)


Insurance: Always get specialized instrument insurance
-full coverage (as opposed to other types)

Total Dollar Mangement Effort limited is a great insurance company

The only case that *might* be able to survive a plane is Kolstein's, which is just over $2000 - just buy a seat


-Xylen is a great cleaner
-Use pros to clean
-Take in to shop twice a year to check for cracks/open seams & for soundpost adjustment

He recommended Renee Morel - 250 W 54th - 212-317-7224

Watch out for Auction Houses...

Summit Recap Post 2 - Visual Recital Notes

In many ways this was the most important thing I went to throughout all of Summit.

Hugh Sung is head of the accompanist dept. at Curtis, and does a few other things there as well, he's also a huge tech guy who loves learning and has come up with this amazing system that basically took a piece out of my brain.

Essentially what it is, is he plays on piano, and has four mics set-up, which are hooked up to a visualization engine on a computer ... he also has 2 foot pedals - one to trigger the next visualization "sequence", the other to turn pages on his tablet pc (he uses this instead of traditional sheet music - it's incredibly cool, and basically a better version of the music pad pro idea...)

So anyway, he played Vernacular Dances by Charles Griffin, which was a very cool set of pieces & he did all sorts of stuff ... including using camera ... it's basically a lot of stuff similar to what DT does, though I think that DT probably just has pre-programmed video & just has someone control it and go on to the next clip ... maybe I'm wrong though ... I'm gonna pay more attention to how it seems to work in the future...

He did a lot of programming with OpenGL & then sync'd that up with Pure Data ... the beginning of the workshop was all about how technology affects what we do in classical music ... also
I'm also gonna try and get this guy in touch w/ Jordan Rudess, b/c I think they'll have a lot in common/really interest each other...

The Software he used included:
Pure Data - an OSS version of Max MSP basically
Liquid Media - a more powerful version of Powerpoint

He gave me some links: - his youtube - his website for Visual Recital

Some of his equipment was made by RL Engineering & PI engineering

I feel like I should be writing better about this, but it's just not coming out ... I need to check out his website & get in touch w/ him ... I suggest you check it out too...

Summit Recap - Post 1 - The Musical Side

A tremendous amount to write about:

Firstly, I've identified several things I need to stop doing:
1. Being lazy in working on pieces - I need to practice each part until it sounds amazing & my mind always needs to be engaged, so that I am working towards how to play each part better physically and musically
2. Faking/Dropping out during orchestra just b/c something is hard - I don't ever want to do this again ... really, I don't ... I hate it ... I hated it from the second a teacher told me I could do it ... it's lack of integrity, it's mediocrity, but I let myself fall into it ... no more
3. Not preparing the music fully for a gig ... We had 2 weeks to learn orchestra music - meaning it should have been perfect by then .. at the concert, I still didn't know a lot of my part ... it certainly reflected in my playing, and in the real world, nobody gets 2 weeks, and I wouldn't get called back at that point ... I can't do it anymore
4. Not subdividing all the time ... I count most of the time ... this is not good enough ...

Things I learned about my technique:
1. I have to learn more about how the elbow & muscles work with bowing
2. Upper arm initiates bow change, fingers follow along
3. I play very vertically, and this chokes the sound & tends to create extra tension from pressing - I'm changing this

Things to follow:
-Hugh Sung Visual Recital Notes
-Haimovitz masterclass notes
-Instrument purchasing notes
-recollections on the overall experience/various people I met...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Out of Time

I've decided I'm not going to blog for the rest of the festival ...

at the end of the festival, I'll put up all the other masterclasses & some concert reviews (maybe) & last thoughts/impressions, but I'm not getting what I need to get done done & it's becoming a problem ..> I use a lot of time for the computer, and don't quite have the option of skipping concerts, generally, so comp. time is cut out ... I have to go to sleep now ...

had an amazing night/matt haimovitz concert though ... I'm giving him lots of music that I think is cool tomorrow...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Eugene Osadchy Masterclass Notes

I haven't blogged in a while, b/c I haven't been feeling well ... I still have to blog about the Visual Recital - b/c it was amazing & I need to get in touch w/ Hugh Sung ... I still don't get what the big deal over Aaron Rosand is ... I doubt I ever will ...

Anyway, here are the Osadchy masterclass notes ...

-Two types of positions/Connections: Technical & Meodic
-You are what you practice - if you practice nervous, you will be
-Rhythmic Integrity is extremely important
-Opening Statement - Incredible & Loud/Scary - he recalled first hearing the Feuermann recording of this piece & being amazed that the cello could sound like that
-sustain sound w/ bow
-pay attention to register/string/sound
-Don't pull away with the shoulder to get louder [My observation: this is actually counter-productive if you think about it]
-You have to relax & lean in [My thought: Arm Weight & relaxation]
-Marcato doesn't live at the tip
-For tiny notes, use tiny bow
-Be a hero w/ the slides - just go [self confidence]
-Bow must contact strings for good sound
-Common problem: We use a lot of bow after a shift - RH & LH have to be independent of each other
-He recommended practicing shifs separately, and showed the exercise he had to do for 2 years at conservatory
-Use "Old finger" for shift [I call it the guiding finger]
-"New finger" is good for Romantic music - Heifetz & Feuermann used it a lot
-Descending new finger only worked for DuPre
-Next step is to remove the glissando by removing weight
-2nd theme is very feminine - think of your mother, girlfriend & sister all together
-Don't put large butt at the end of phrase
-more linear
-Imagine yourself a mother looking at a sleeping baby
-Think of musical line while shifting
-Common misconception: if you play angry, it's good
David Popper - Polonaise de Concert
[I noticed the cellist hed the bow w/ the 3rd finger at the silver - I was surprised]
-shoulder out of socket=bad - make sure the cello is well set up for you [player was 15 yr. old]
-if you can play fortissimo at the tip, then you're well set-up
-Don't lose articulation b/c it's marked piano
-Polonaise=dance [I think he said a Polish dance...]
-When you play piano, echo
-when you play pp, it's about LH articulation
-paying over the fingerboard w/ bow=bad [this was a really interesting & surprising point! But makes sense ...]
-Don't "push furniture" while playing fast on the C string
-control the sound
-Same comment as Lalo re: shifting & hands
-Don't stop vibrato
-Don't play faster than you can
-Shift=arch (Casals called it rainbows)
-Shifting is just like a mother cat moving kittens from one place to another
-like wrist motion for playing C Maj. scale on piano
-Alive fish vs. dead fish
-Piatti 1 - explains bowing in upper half -make "kidney gesture"/loop w/ bow arm - always circles
-Only use bow as needed
-Shifting - does bow change before or after arrival??
-Popper 1 - teaches you about RH & articulation

Edit: here's Elgar - I'm going to organize all of these when I get a chance ...


-Du Pre vibrates every 8th note
-character of them: Lament/past
-he hears it like Barcarolle
-No Bannanas (don't vibrate after the note starts)
-play 8th notes slightly sooner than you want
-If you don't shift in character, it's like cockroach in soup
-Uses 1 finger chromatic scales w/ wrist rotation & hung weight
-hand has to do circular breathing
-allows body to remember intervals - don't practice w/ spasms

-Shifting down - think of Clara (Schumann)- tender
-4-4 shift like "Old Finger", deliver instead of push ..

um, I think there were more notes, but I got a bit disorganized ... whoops!

Still have to put up:
Visual Recital
Instrument Purchasing
Haimovitz Masterclass #1

Now however, I go to eat dinner!

more to come ... Elgar ... I didn't get to stay for Goltermann

Friday, August 8, 2008

Jeff Solow Masterclass Notes

Little Russian Dances thing (forgot the actual name of this):

-Need flexibility in Right Hand ... usually the lack of flexibility comes from the thumb
-He showed a dead arm exercise where we shook our arm, then connected our thumb & 2nd finger & shook our arm, then tightened it & shook our arm - you could really feel the tension, and see the way it limited you
-The arm is like a hose. A block of the water flow means little water (small sounds)
-Tools for RH Power: Arm Weight, Gravity, Muscles
-Raising Arm w/ muscles=potential energy & then you use muscles to direct the fall of your arm
-Muscles lift, gravity pulls down, cello gets in the way - Dead weight: bow would fall if strings weren't there (Marc Tagle used to say that too)
-door hinge/snake motion needs to be present at all times [this is my observation, not his comment]
-Upper arm muscles - Deltoid, Pectral & Latissimus Dorsai
-Deltoid holds the bow up
-Pectoral contracts for upbow
-Latissimus dorsai contracts for down bow
-Fingers must be completely lose
-bow must go slower than arm
-fingers stretch while bowing

-similar to shooting basketballs - once you shoot, it's out of your hand
-shift launches from elbow
-image: trampoline under elbow & you want to dismount in 3 bounces

The way you practice shifts is by launching, and if you hit too high, launch lower, if you hit too low, launch higher.



-Bow shouln't be tilted so that it hits the string
-Maintain contact point
-Tone Production: Cello is like a bell - we bow, then get out of the way
-You have to feel the sound that's about to come out of the cello. For a good/pure tone, play just under the breaking pt. for loudness
-Bow controls whether you hear the shift or not
-Bow is sitting on a shelf when you hit the right spot

Practicing how to use my body

So, in practicing, I had another revelation ... I can't practice the cello's pointless ...

What I learned is that I have to practice how to use my body to produce the sound on the cello ... in an hour, I literally had more improvement on the Elgar than I have in the whole festival, and the sound was *amazing* (for the parts I got up to). I discovered the following:

-I have to practice playing each passage in a relaxed manner ... and once I can do that consistently, then I am done - that's the foundation I need to be able to play things consistently

-Triceps contract during down bow (and the shoulder should open), biceps contract during upbow, on upbow, transfer weight to first 2 fingers, on down bow to the last 2 fingers*

-I discovered that my problem with the main melody was not my bow distribution (which now is quite solid in that passage), but the fact that my thumb was too far over (as opposed to parallel to my 2nd finger) ... i.e. I'm playing on the A string, my thumb should be behind the a string, or maybe even not on the cello ... but basically on the side of the neck ... previously it had been behind the C/G string, which completely cripples the hand
*These are not the technical names for these muscles ... see my notes from the Jeff Solow class (which I'm about to type up)

-Bowing - by letting my fingers hang beneath the frog, more arm weight is transferred, and I get a much bigger sound - this is what I need when it seems like I can't build any more

I also applied some of the Sevcik to the Elgar - particularly in the upper positions (which I'm now going to learn the appropriate names for) - in terms of having a guiding finger, making a circle w/ the attacking finger (I'm not explaining it well - but it's Amit Peled's cobra technique essentially)

I'm gonna write up the masterclass notes now ...

Edit: a cool little discovery:

hi--i have short fingers too and i used to be a bass player!!! ouch.. some of those stretches are outrageous.. what helped me was really strengthening up my hands way beyond what normal prcticing can bring. rubber bands are a great portable easy way to work out almost any muscles in your hands. and the grip master is really great too. both of these can be used in the car,subway,line at bank..etc. this way when you have to make those big stretches you dont have to strain the muscles as much....hope this helps...tchau--bret

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Summit Day 12 - Amazing & Life Changing

So today was an incredibly packed day!

It involved:

Jr. Orchestra
Visual Masterclass
Jeff Solow Masterclass
Chamber Rehearsal
Piano Concert
Faculty Concert

The Visual Masterclass was incredible ... it was a music tech. kind of thing, and all about this one (amazing) pianist's journey into incorporating reactive video software into his live performance ... I'm gonna write more about it when I'm less exhausted, but it was like this guy took a slice out of my brain & made it reality ... I'm gonna try and get him in touch w/ Jordan Rudess, b/c I think they'd both have a lot of the same interests ...

Then there was the Jeff Solow Masterclass ... this was beyond amazing ... Jeff is an incredibly nice & cool guy. His teaching is equally as amazing because he talks about how to use your body to play the cello - and he actually talks about it in terms of the body & anatomy & what muscles do & things like that ... I have actual notes from it that I'm going to put up soon...

Of all the teachers I've been thinking of asking to play for, I think I'm going to do him ... I think that what he's talking about is what I need to learn in order to play the cello well & I think it's something that I won't learn from most teachers ...

The 6 pm concert was interesting ... learned about some new piano music that I'm gonna look into more when I have a chance ... I felt like the 19 year old pianist should have talked to the audience (besides telling us there was a program error) & shown us that he was a person, and I felt like he didn't care about what he was playing until about halfway through the 2nd piece (once he did care though, it was pretty awesome!)

The 8 pm concert was beyond amazing - first there was Gruber, who played these 3 songs without words by Paul Ben-Haim (I am *so* playing that on my Sr. Recital!) ... then there was a Brahms piano quartet featuring Jeff & Max - that was really incredible & I'm very curious about Jeff's cello ... it has an amazing combination of clarity & projection, particularly in the lower strings...

I *really* need to go practice now...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Summit Day 11 - Amazing & interesting

Orchestras - both went well, but I still need to learn my part ... Richard Clark went on a rant about how most orchestras are boring and this is connected to why classical is struggling so much ... he also talked about getting jobs/auditions & what causes you to lose them ... all while doing very amazing conducting ... I honestly think he may be the best conductor I've ever worked with ...

then I ate lunch & practiced for a bit (amazing - I actually had time to practice) ... I then had a lesson w/ David, which went well (in the sense that I learned a lot) ... we worked on Sevcik and making it smooth, but not tentative, and we worked on the thumb position and really hearing things before playing/doing things in a structured way ...

After that, I practiced a bit more, then had Weber coaching, which went really well ... rehearsal afterwards did too ...

Then there's the concert ... that was all kinds of interesting ... they moved it to the Little Theater b/c the A/C is broken in the new building ... less than 20 minutes to figure out lights ... ended up just using the house lights & during intermission toyed around w/ them some more & got a vague idea of how things work ... if we're in there tomorrow, 30 min-1 hr should be more than sufficient to figure it out ... as much as I kinda don't want to waste my time w/ it, I kind of do in order to get the experience ...

Lesson & Jeff Solow masterclass tomorrow ... speaking of Jeff Solow - amazing, amazing performance of the Brahms E Minor earlier - one of the only classical concerts that's really made me want to go back and practice ... it was almost on the same level (for me) as Mr. O's playing ... I really miss that ...

Anyway, I need to go practice ...

Edit: Some words of wisdom from Jeff himself:

"Thanks for the nice compliment, Michael. I find that many people play at an extrordinarily high level these days and play musically--but that is not the same as MAKING music, which is much rarer and, to me, what it is all about."

I love that he sees a difference between playing musically and making music ... A lot of what I'm working on w/ David and at Summit is learning how to "play musically" & how to phrase & stuff like that ... basically, standardizing what I do a bit more, and also letting the piece be more important ... it's important to remember that the performer is always more important than the piece ...

I also really need to go to sleep ...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Summit Day 10

Orchestra was long, but good ... It's optional for me to be in Sr. Orchestra, but I've decided that I want to ... I gain a tremendous amt. from it, plus working with Richard Clark is amazing.

I discovered today that the 2nd movement of that Bartok divertimento is absolutely one of the most beautiful things ever written in classical music ... was so cool to play ... I really need to find some time to work on the part ... perhaps tomorrow?

Also had the Gruber Masterclass today ... I played ok, but could have played much better ... I learned a lot from it, and also realized that I am very tense and that I look down at the cello when I play the Elgar (even though I know it ... Steven Isserlis comes to mind... "If you look down, you've already missed the note - because you're not listening"!).

Gruber was great to play for, he had some of the following to say:

-Relax before the shift

-Don't rush the shift, b/c it creates an unwanted accent

-Look up
-Don't tense shoulders - I should practice playing relaxed

-I need to have an inner idea of pitch, melody, dynamics, connection between notes, and phrasing ... and then practice based off of all this ... not the other way around ...
-I need to listen to details (the ones listed above)
-Tell story

-Don't crash, and don't 'Tch"
-Use arm weight by keeping elbow low
-He pointed out that I play very vertically, and that I need to open up the sound at times by being more horizontal
-Economize bow for main melody
-In the beginning, don't speed up the bow in the end of the chords - this makes it harder to retake (interesting, b/c it's the opposite of what Rosen told me ... I like most of Gruber's advice better though ...)
-I'm always pronating, which means I'm always pressing ... very interesting...

-Main melody is in 2 bar phrases & it crescendos to the second bar
-No sudden jumps in the beginning - pay attention to when to dim. & not to dim.

-4th chord, use 1 2-3 fingering (everyone suggests this to me, I really like the 1 1 2 fingering better, but everyone seems to think it is important to do it this way ... the only cellist I've seen play it my way is DuPre ... it occurs to me I try to copy her a lot, which is maybe a bad idea, since I don't have her technique & need to find what works for me/my vision
-Main melody ... it's ok to throw in a slide or two
-Vibrato must be continuous through phrase

Also had Weber rehearsal w/ just Jen ... I need to metronome parts, but otherwise, it sounds really good ... I was able to apply a little bit of what Gruber talked about - particularly w/ the bow ... it helped a lot


Bongshin Ko was really amazing tonight - she played Beethoven A Maj. & a lot of it made sense in new ways - plus her technique is just incredible to watch ... some of her left hand reminds me of Rostropovich (particularly in thumb position ... her bow control & distribution is perfect ... it's interesting to see that she almost uses more extensions intentionally to make things easier ... very unique...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Summit Day 9

Today is one of those days where you realize how much worse you are than you actually thought ...

Day started off w/ Jr. Orchestra & a Mendelssohn symphony - pretty easy stuff ... Youngerman is an interesting conductor...

then came Sr. Orchestra ... it was nice to see Richard Clark again - he's a cool, eccentric, intense guy. We're doing Variations on a Tchaicovsky theme by Arensky (which is pretty challenging - nothing too ridiculous though) & we're doing Bartok's Divertimento for Strings ... um, holy shit ... not only was I struggling to read/keep up (in a manageable way), but then it busted out artificial harmonics, which I've never actually had to do before ... and a lot of it was insanely fast ... so wow ...

Richard put it perfect: It's not about how well you sight-read it for the first rehearsal, it's about how well you woodshed it for the concert ... and indeed it is ...

Tomorrow we're spending the whole rehearsal on Bartok, and I've got to seriously find some time to read through it!

It's really good training/preparation in general, and it's exciting to see the level he expects of us ... this is what I wish I had during the school year ...


I may be playing for the Gruber Masterclass tomorrow .. not sure ...

I had a lesson w/ David, we worked on: Scales and bowing, Thumb Position & Sevcik Position Exercises

He had the following advice:

Scales: keep elbow down, practice lifting bow at 3 quarters and then going into next one ... this eventually becomes just a mental thing. Don't let go of sound at the end of the note.
Thumb Position: Thumb is Anchor, when practicing Octave double stops, they are one note - never tune from the top (as Dr. B would say - from the bottom of my heart), relax hand
Sevcik: Use ghost note when sliding (how much is a matter of taste), Use upper arm to help shift, let go of note before shifting ..

Concert later ... I think I'll stay after to practice ... I really need it badly ...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Summit Day 8

Another exceptional day ...

Only got in 2 hrs. of practice, b/c I was helping out all day ... started the thumb position exercises - oh my gods, everything is better already ... challenging, but amazing exercises ...

Helping out= 12-5 - well, really all day, but mostly 12-5

Orientation was neat & packed! Also, hot, b/c the A/C died ...

I have a light crew now:

Me - Manager
Andy - Manager
Tim - Assistant
Brian - Assistant

We divied up the concerts...

Also, I discovered that not only am I in both Orchestras, but I am in both orchestras for both weeks - incredibly exciting, and makes up for the lack of doing chamber music w/ new people ...

It also means that every day is Orchestra 9-1 .

Also, I'm going to play Elgar for the Emmanuel Gruber Masterclass on Tuesday ... so far I'm the only person signed up ... I really need to find time to practice ... it's going to be really hard ... I'm going over it w/ David in my lesson tomorrow ... I need to go to sleep now so that I'll be some kind of awake tomorrow...

Edit: Concert was amazing - was alumni ... in particular, the Pianist - Michael had the most relaxed and flowing piano technique I've ever seen...

Summit Day 7

Today was an exceptional & fun day ... tomorrow, I really need to get some practice in, like hardcore!

So today:

-I woke up really late, b/c my alarm malfunctioned: 10:30, jetted to rehearsal, did lights & played for the adult chamber concert
-went out to eat w/ Chuck/Chassandra/David Whiteside (who's a pretty cool guy!),
-talked w/ David Krieger about daily technical exercises that I'm going to start (thumb position - octaves and thirds, doing both voices individually and then combining them) ... he said I have no sense of/confidence in thumb position - he's totally right!
-went to birthday party for my mother, played happy birthday for her (was quite exhausted by this point)
-did lights for Victor Danchenko's concert - his playing is interesting ... not 100% my style, but very good ... I've noticed there's certain teachers who show up at every concert ... I have a lot of respect for them...
Mapped out the light board w/ this kid Andy & reprogrammed the cues (and consequently learned about how the actual light board worked) - he does lights for his high school & they have an amazing light crew ... he said he was the worst of them basically, and this kid knew his shit ... worked great for both of us ... I haven't done lights since middle school basically...

Talked w/ Caity about doing some cello duets & met a few new people

A lot of people seem to think I improvise my fingerings ... it's frustrating ... mostly I just haven't practiced enough ... it's hard to find the time, plus be social, plus do concerts, plus attend everything, but it made me realize something ... I improvise my bowing! I realized it while playing Chausson earlier ... so I'm gonna plan that from now on, and map out how different bowings give me different effects...

I may do a recap/summary of people I've met/stuff I've done soon ... not sure ...

Going to sleep now...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Summit Day 6

Today was a day off ... almost ... just not on campus .. but had rehearsal & went out to dinner ... only got an hr. of practice in ... need to go pass out now...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summit Day 5 - Structure in Bach

Just had my second lesson with David Krieger. We worked on the 2nd Bach suite, and the theoretical structure in it (which he says I need before thinking of the spiritual aspects of it) we also worked on not letting the sound die out ... but basically on thinking about and realizing things like sequences and inner melodies & scales & stuff of that sort ... basically the same kind of stuff that Inna talked about, only more specific ... he also gave me some fingerings to use, which is very helpful..

We also spent half the lesson resetting my soundpost (first time in 4 years that I've ever knocked it down!)

We're going to work on Elgar on saturday after the concert ... he told me to skip the 2nd movement for now... he also told me to go bach (back, whoops!) to working on the Haydn Concerto, b/c it will really develop my thumb position (now that I think about it, the third movement is perfect for this!) ... I'm also gonna keep at doing the Dotzaeur etudes in thumb.

I find the quality of my intonation really varies based on how much I practice... but basically the more I practice, the better it is ... and it bother's me when it isn't ...

The lecture/concert was really cool ... made me care about the piece more ... it was Adam Kent & he did Schumann's Kresleriana ... I kind of want to put him in touch w/ Steven Isserlis ... I bet they'd like a lot of the same things...

Somebody asked me to find a harp teacher around my area ... if anyone's got any suggestions ...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summit Day 4 - Don't Skip Lunch!

Today I learned that skipping lunch is a bad idea ... especially when I haven't actually had breakfast ... I think I would have practiced/played better if I hadn't ...

but on that note, I played in Inna Nasidze's masterclass & learned a lot! I played the 2nd Bach suite, and despite the faulty intonation (it really was like I was physically struggling against myself) & a technique thing here or there, what I was really seeking was some musical advice. And that's exactly what I got ... I hope I can remember everything, but basically it was like taking a 1-dimensional sketch and making it into 3d...

Some things I took away:

Prelude -
-Start at nothing
-Each restatement of the beginning motive becomes more "real"

Allemande -
-Sense of phrasing and not letting the phrase die prematurely
-Continuity of sound
-Don't rush! Especially for double-stops in Allemande
-Always have a concept in mind
-Cadenza at the end of the Allemande shouldn't be rushed
-Don't press w/ bow
-Don't stop bow - this results in "tch" sound (which is related to pressing...)

I still feel like I need a better set of fingerings/some technique help in the Prelude, but I have a lesson w/ David Krieger tomorrow. He walked into the masterclass right as I was about to start the piece - made me incredibly nervous ... also, I felt ... like I let me/him down b/c I wasn't able to incorporate what we talked about regarding bowing into this performance, b/c I was so tense/exhausted ...

Weber/Chausson rehearsal could have been better ... I still wasn't feeling/playing so great at that point though & I haven't had a chance to metronome the music ... gonna do that tonight ...

The lecture with David Dubal was very interesting ... I liked his ideas that we had to be more than just technical machines & that we had to have lives outside of music and be conscious of the world around us ... he commented a lot on how people used to be surprised if you didn't compose/improvise & now it's the other way around ... I couldn't always hear everything, because, in addition to doing lights, I also had to do sound... was stressful, but fun ... I really like that kind of work

That's the end of the cello masterclasses this week - which is good, cuz I'll get to practice more ... I'm gonna thank Inna for listening to me when I get a chance & *maybe* ask her if I can play Bach for her again next week ... she's a very nice/approachable person ...

That's all for now ...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Summit Day 3

Today has consisted of Practicing the 2nd Bach Suite a lot ... also copied the cello parts for the Brahms/Beethoven Clarinet Trio ... just need to find a pianist to do those with ...

I'm supposed to play it for David Krieger at some point today, and may be playing it in a masterclass tomorrow ... I don't know yet ...

also have Chausson rehearsal at 7 .. tomorrow's Weber - ahhh! I need to get that up to tempo & haven't had any chance to practice it ...

They've started carding people for meals :( not fun ... that's all for now...

Edit: Didn't get to play for Mr. Krieger, but still going to play in the masterclass w/ Inna Nasidze tomorrow ... that means I've got to do a lot of practice ... and holy crap, I need to get the Weber up to tempo by tomorrow!! ahh...

I'm exhausted ... but good...
I've finally got that bloody light board figure out ... now I just have to explain it to someone else in case I'm not gonna be here...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Summit Day 2 - Lessons & Limitations

So today consisted of:

2.5 hrs of practice
Learning the lightboard
Lesson with David Krieger
Nathaniel Rosen Masterclass
11 hr of practice

It will also have a concert ... I'll add that later...

In my lesson, we talked about what I had/hadn't done & about the need for a fundamental technique/foundation ... which is perfect, because this is exactly what I'm seeking ... We went over a new way of doing scales... First, he wants me to use the more traditional Scale fingerings, plus he showed me a new way of doing them ... but the basic gyst is 2/4/6/8/12/24 notes to a bow ... all within the context of 2 beat measures ...

We also talked about bowing itself and particularly about the "X" motion (which goes along w/ the concept of the upside down U bowing motion). We also talked about not raising the elbow, which is my big problem on the A string (well, all the others too!)

I'm going to play Bach 2nd suite for him & he's going to give me double stop/position exercises!

The Rosen Masterclass went well, though I could have been in better shape with the piece ...

I played Elgar mov. 1 & learned the following:
-For the opening double stops use a small portion of the bow, then change for the chord, then slow the speed so you can surge
-Use familiar areas for fingerings (I'm not sure I want to do this, but I'll give it a try ... he suggested a new fingering for the Upward run, based on shifting at harmonics ...
We also talked about releasing the 3rd & 4th finger on the bow at times ... particularly for that run...
-He also said I was over-using slides & this was "slowing" down the piece ... he showed me how to lift the bow to allow for clean shifts & the sound I want, and said i need to choose when we hear the shift

David Krieger told me afterwards that I played well, but that we should have had at least 2 lessons before I played that for a masterclass ... I told him that I agreed ... I really want to sign up to play the 2nd Bach Suite for the thursday masterclass, but I'm afraid it won't be ready.... time to go play it & see ... and then I'll see if I can play it for Krieger tomorrow...
That's all I can remember for now...

The concert was amazing!! I don't want to write more about it now, b/c I'm exhausted ... the light board on the other hand really is a pain in the ass ... but I think I've gotten the hang of it!

I need to practice ... severely

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Summit Day 1

Most of the day consisted of running around & helping the administration ... also doing the lights for the concert, because nobody could figure out how to (I love being a tech-y person)

I had the Weber rehearsal today ... went well ... the scherzo is good, but the pianist needs to bring it up to speed ... once we're there, we're there! The finale is good, but *none* of us realized it was in cut time before! So lots of work to do there ... but once it's there, it's there ... both are going well!

Nathaniel Rosen, and the other artists who played with him gave an amazing concert!! Highlight of it was definitely the Kodaly Duo (best cello/violin duo ever written in my opinion)

I have my first lesson w/ David Krieger - very exciting ... we haven't discussed rep, but I'm going to bring in Elgar Mov. 2 (How do I do this spiccato thing anyway ...) & Popper 1 & have elgar 1 & bach as my extra things to do ...

Speaking of Elgar ... I'm going to be playing for Nathaniel Rosen in a masterclass tomorrow ... the first movement ... this is incredible, and really scary at the same time ... and I told another cellist I was nervous about it, and she said "Don't Be" ... quite surprising ... I'm always on the other end of that ...

I've never played in a masterclass before ...

Met a bunch of neat people, including a *ton* of cellists today ... and this is only the 1st week ... so very cool...

Friday, July 25, 2008

My Bible

I've decided that Metallica + Popper + Dotzauer in thumb position is gonna be my bible from now on ... it's how I'm gonna start my cello days ...

Metallica, b/c it's insanely hard, and because it's my musical core (even more than nightwish & dream theater)
Popper, b/c it's insanely hard and fast and pushes my technique
Dotzauer because it helps blaze open the doors for thumb position and really again causes me to push ... I feel like most things I'll come across will be easy after that ...

I'm trying to decide on what role scales will play in all of this ... whatever role that is though, i want Metallica to start off the day...

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Taken from an email I wrote to a friend:
(context, she asked what my cellistic goals were ... I formatted it so that it's a bit more readable here...) ... I think I've watched a couple too many Metallica documentaries recently ... but hey, that's my inspiration...

My immediate goals are to be able to play the following: Elgar mov. 2, Popper 1, Metallica Kill 'Em All (all the Rhythm Parts for the whole album) & this Weber trio I'm working on.

My broader goals are that:
-I want to develop an amazing technique that will let me play whatever I want;
-I want to be be able to get into any conservatory in the country when I apply for grad school;
-I want to develop the ability to shred faster than any guitar player, the way guitarists like Kirk Hammet or Dave Mustaine or John Petrucci or like a billion others are capable of (physics is of course against me on that one);
-I want to develop a strong tone and loud sound; I want to keep writing original, interesting music for solo cello;
-finally, I want to be in some kind of heavy metal/rock band, and really push people's conception of what the cello's capable of in that format, cuz a lot of what I've seen so far has come off to me as: "oh hey look we have a cello, doesn't that make us cool" ... as opposed to amazing bands that just happen to have a cellist as one of their players. ...
-I'd like to be able to earn my income solely from cello 1 day

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What do Metallica, Popper, Elgar & Weber have in common?

Their music is kicking my ass on cello!

Played along with a good amt. of the Kill 'Em All album earlier - which is cool ... just a few more things to learn and a little more technique pushing, and I'll be there ...

Popper is way hard ... and it's only #1!! It's really just down to a few measures ... and the fact that it's in triplets ... but anyway, once I get those measures down, I'll have the whole etude and can start speeding it up...

Dotzauer's a nice challenge/exercise in general ... moving it to thumb position is fucking hard!

Weber is yet to come ...

I'm also really tight from exercising the last couple of days, so it's making all this harder ...

I played at the library park earlier for like a good hour or so ... lots of playing today ... was fun, and occasionally a person or two took interest ... the little kids (as always) were the ones who took the most interest...
Alright, time for a small break, and then practice!

Movement While Playing

So I was watching this vid:

And the guy moves around like crazy ... it's quite fun

Then I was watching cello versions of Muse's "Time is Running Out" ... and honestly, what the hell ... those were some wimpy versions ... completely ignored the fact that like the overdriven bass line is what's driving the song ...

So then I decided to go figure it out ... and well Muse's music is the type that makes you (me) want to move around ... and then it occurred to me ... I don't move anymore when I play ... why?

I love players who move around while they play, I love moving around while I play ... so let's get some movement on ...

Edit: Also ... video #6!! -

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Another Elgar Realization

I realized that it's all about strong, purposeful attack w/ the left hand ... reminded me of this Amit Peled interview... (I'd really love to study with him at some pt ... but Peabody is all the way in Maryland ... plus I'd have to manage to get in...) ... but anyway, he talks about something called the Cobra Technique:

Look at the cobra, lifting the head before attacking. That is exactly what I mean by the cobra technique. The finger that is about to play, that is not playing yet, is going into a cobra position, which means it is going up in the air before going down. Instead of keeping it close, before putting it down. Exactly like the feet. Before you put the foot on the ground, you lift it. The same thing with the finger. Let us go back to the D string. If you play E with the 1st finger, then you are going to play G with the 4th finger, you lift the 4th finger into cobra position and then you put it down and immediately when it goes down, the 1st finger goes up. It did its job.

I'm thinking I might start labelling posts so that I can reference old ones ... that sounds really time consuming though... I also really need to practice more ... just under 4 hrs. today ... that should be 6...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Elgar Technique & Double Stops

So a few realizations occurred while practicing

Elgar Mov. 1:
For the main Melody, there are four very important things -

1. Rhythm - Being very precise & in control of the Rhythm is important to keep it (main melody) flowing .. being in 9/8 means you nead to count the 8ths and it's got 3 beats ..
2. Flat Fingered is good - Particularly for the main melody, but really for just about the whole thing ... it creates the mood/tone and lets you control the texture a lot more, plus is essential for getting a big sound ... only with those crazy upward scale runs is it a good idea to curved (maybe)
3. Bow pressure/arm weight determines a lot of the sound ... also attack ... I've tried focusing on speed/distribution before and was not having success ... it's partially because I was missing this, and partially because...
4. Bow placement - as in proximity to fingerboard/bridge ... regardless of what you do in certain areas, it's impossible to create some of the textures (particularly the lighter/more ethereal ones necessary for a lot of it...)
5. For those ending Pizz, the string has to be firmly stopped, and it needs a firm, strong attack with the thumb - a minimal amt. of vibrato after the note has rung is useful

Now for double stops -

I was doing my usually barred 5ths and discovered 2 things: 8ths are easy, triplets are hard (not for long!) ... 16ths are next ..... Next thing ... Do some freakin' ear training with this things ... otherwise there's no point ... pull out the top line & the bottom, switch randomly, and hear them as one unit & know every note being played ... it's all about the mapping of the fingers and the ear ...

That's all for now ... got to get something to drink ... it's waaaay hot in here...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Off the string strokes are hard!!

Weber is coming along well, but not as well as I'd like ... rhythmically/note-wise it's not bad, but there's a lot of bowing stuff that I'm really honing in on

I'm up to 4.5 hrs ... just another hour and a half ... I'm gonna do some slow scales & then spend the rest on Weber ... if I somehow go above 6, then depending on how Weber's going, I might dedicate that to Elgar ...

Another Great Feuermann Quote

A scale made up of clean tones, the fingers going down in such a way that the unequal strength of the fingers is hidden; a scale in which audible string crossings do not exist and in which the position is changed so quickly that the difference between a finger placed on the string and a change of position can hardly be felt; thus a row of notes of uniform strength, perfect in intonation and without disrupting, extraneous noises, these are the fundamentals of a scale, the ideal!

I've spent essentially the whole day working on p. 2 of Elgar mov. 2 ... I'm trying to get it up to tempo ... so far, I'm somewhere in between 100 & 120 ... it needs to be at 160 ...then there's the whole issue of making it spicatto, but one step at a time ...

I'm gonna take a break, work on the Weber a bit, and then do more Elgar .. 3 hrs. so far ... 3 to go..

Edit: more from Feuermann:

What must be practiced, watched for, and accomplished to dojustice to a scale according to the very highest of musical demands?

1) Even articulation for each individual note, whether fingering, change in positions, or open strings are concerned.
2) As little difference as possible between going up the scale and going down.
3) Rhythmical independence of string and position change arranged so that, the notes are played on a string or in a position, groups of two or three note are formed.
4) No break in the scale because of bow changes.
5) Secure intonation.
6) Rhythm: a scale as practiced is a matter of mechanics.

What could I do better?

Is now the official question that I'm going to ask myself after every phrase/everytime I work on something ... a lot of getting good at cello is repetition, but more of it is analysis ... I need to do more of that ... and listening/phrasing is incredibly important too ...

I think I'm going to have an hour each day where my practice is to focus on listening ... anyway, I *really* need to go to sleep...

Frustrating Hour of Practice

Elgar is beyond challenging ... tomorrow's technique work is all about 16ths at fast tempos ... I'm making it my goal to get through that damn 160!

I still have to really learn Weber too ... Summit's just a week away at this point!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Do extensions actually make sense? And a clean crisp attack on every note..

So two things came from my most recent practice ...

First, it's challenging to get a clean, strong, crisp attack on every note, and I noticed in particular, that when I'm shift back (especially to the fourth finger), my LH goes out of alignment/I collapse my wrist, and if it's an up-bow it always sounds muddy ... So there's a challenge to work towards

Second, I was thinking about Feuermann and his left hand technique & I remember that he didn't use extensions ... so I thought I'd give it a try while doing A major (regular scale, and 3rds) ... what I realized is this: the extension is essentially stretching between the 1st and 2nd finger and then moving the thumb/whole hand up a half step. Essentially this is taking you out of a closed hand position and causing tension between the first and second fingers just so you can move ... so why do you need it ... Why not just move the hand up a half step, since that's what you're doing anyway?? The one justification I can see for extensions at this point is minor third double stops or other things of the sort, but otherwise, I'm thinking they are in fact counter-productive and actually make playing harder ... I'm going to check out some vids. of some cellists and see what they do ... I know DuPre definitely uses them in the Elgar, and I think that might be related to the attack & not creating a new loud attack in the middle of a slurred phrase ...

Edit: I've got the following

Greenhouse about Feuermann: He discussed and demonstrated the technique of the left hand in a completely new way, minimizing the use of extensions. Before him old-school German teachers like Klengel and Becker relied much more upon extensions, which required that you practice eight hours a day in order to build up enormous strength and endurance. With Feuermann the left hand was supple and moved freely. He showed me the technique of how to get around the instrument with minimal effort, taking advantage of arm weight when fingering.

Brinton Smith about Feuermann: Feuermann's hand only extends just before certain shifts or before playing a rapid passage requiring extensions, and it is returned to the 'natural' position whenever possible.


More Brinton Smith: Feuermann's vibrato seems very much produced by a 'whole hand' motion. While the fingers besides the one stopping the string are raised off the string, they come up only slightly and remain close to each other in the 'natural' Feuermann hand position. When Feuermann vibrates in thumb position, the thumb is not pressed down into the string but remains on top of the string, making light contact.

You can definitely see those in Greenhouse's technique ... I'm gonna make an effort to incorporate them as well...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Extraneous Noises & Collapsed Wrist

So, thank you to Mr. Carl Maria Von Weber ... while practicing his piece (and a very focused practice - this is what I should be doing all the time!), I noticed two things:

1. I have lots of extraneous bow noise, and so I worked for a good 20 minutes on about 4 measures ... by the end, it was mostly gone
2. I tend to collapse my Left wrist a lot, thus making it harder to play and reducing the quality of my tone ... it doesn't feel as secure when I consciously try to change it, but I'm pretty sure that that's just because I'm not used to it ... this came up back when I did the Alexander workshop too...

Also ... slow practice for intonation is essential before moving on to other aspects ... I find it tends to be what I focus on the most, and so it hampers me the most if I don't have it down!

In general, I need to pay more attention to bow distribution and practice playing more in the middle of the bow (at the balance point), and eventually at the tip...

Equal Power of Attack

So how do you gain equal power of attack at the frog & the tip ... a lot of the answer has to do with the shoulder ... it initiates everything, it has to be loose and you almost throw it into your stroke ... I realized that from watching Tortelier: ... it gives you a really powerful/sharp attack ... from there it's all about balance and keeping the bow straight ...

Hi Wrist vs. Low Wrist & A Stiff Left Thumb

I finally actually really understand what Mr. O was saying with the High Wrist vs. Low Wrist ... I finally get it ... the breakthrough came from a combination of watching a Tortellier masterclass where he says you have to have the same power of attack at the tip as the frog & from working on Dotzauer Etude #4 and struggling to add the bounce in ... which led to me thinking about how I used to get it, and how I used to get the bounce in the bourees from Bach Suite 3 ... then I though about initiating the stroke with the middle two fingers, then I started doing double stop open string exercises, and took the music away, and it all clicked ... I finally completely get it...

So Low Wrist is when (at the tip) the wrist is lower than elbow level ... high wrist is when it's higher than elbow level ... apparently some people like the high wrist approach ... I think it's been the most debilitating aspect of my bow technique, and I'm so glad I've finally consciously identified it, so that I can go back to the way I used to bow (in that regard) and go forward to developing good bow technique.

General principles for bowing:
-Elbow is like a door hinge
-Motion of the bow arm is like snake

These were like 2 of the very first things anybody ever told me about bowing ...

Also, I figured out why I've suddenly developed a tea-cup pinky in my left hand technique (this was confusing the crap since the beginning of this week) ... the answer: not bending my thumb...

So there we go ... 2 major problems solved ... This has been such an amazing day of practice ... can't wait for tomorrow ...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


So getting ready for Summit, I took my first read through the Weber! Man I have got my work cut out for me! (not in an overwhelming way, but it's a good challenge) ... only doing the Scherzo & the Finale (b/c we've previously done the other too) ... the scherzo is pretty easy for the most part ...

It's the Finale that's the challenge, and it's challenging in a fun, I can really get into practicing this, kind of way ... I feel certain that with enough work, I can have it under my fingers ... and wow did my Elgar 1st movement get so much better from practicing the Weber!! That's freakin' cool!

Done 4 hours today so far..

Flat vs. Curved Fingers

So recently, I've taken to playing on my finger tips a lot ... and the great thing to that approach is that you get a very focused pitch ... the not great thing is that you can not get a big sound & that in order to do so, you have to force a lot ...

So I had a bit of a epiphany & returned one step closer to where I used to be ... Slow scales = flat finger ... this means wider vibrato + better sound (hence why double stops were so relaxing), plus helps w/ callous building (it seems) ... fast stuff is on the fingertips (I swear I really just need to study w/ Mr. O again ... I wish I had the money to do something like that ...)

Speaking of which, I'm really missing my teacher/taking lessons in general ... I can't wait to get back to it ... can't wait to really explore the advanced rep ... I'm making good progress with Elgar ... I feel like I'm really accomplishing something ... like I'm capable of learning on my own ... I definitely still need more guidance though, and I realize that more and more as I progress ...

So far my practice time is averaging 3 hours a day for this week ... I'm gonna push that up & keep pushing ... Relaxed technique and focus is the key!

Can't wait for Summit...

Double Stops are now Mandatory

In 1 hour, I think I did more with barred 5ths and minor 6ths than I've done in my last 2 4 hr practice days ... they're mandatory from now on ... all the time ... just 1.5 weeks until Summit ... which means I have to be really amazing by next week ... so much work ... it will be worth it...

Edit: They also force me to breathe and relax/release tension in a way that other exercises do not ... I think they're the key to pushing myself to the next level...

Also Edit: I emailed Steven Isserlis about a composer that I can't seem to find any information on or proof that he exists (besides that I've played one of his piano trios) ... and ... he actually emailed me back ... apparently he doesn't know anything about him either, but still, my favorite cellist emailed me back ... how cool is that

He's also playing in NYC on my birthday ... that is going to be beyond amazing...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Less than three is worthless

Lots to blog about ... so here goes ...

Firstly, I've decided that less than 3 hours of daily practice is worthless ... to clarify, I don't mean that as a judgement of anyone else's playing or practicing, I only mean it related to mine. I also don't mean that I have the option between practicing 1-2 hrs or not at all that I'm not going to practice at all. What I mean, is that I don't really improve substantially with less than 3 hours & I'm not going to become amazing unless I put in at least 3 hours a day ... I averaged 3 hours a day last month ... so far I'm averaging less than that this month...

In a lot of ways, my cello playing is the best it's ever been - mechanically, consistency, understanding of tension, breathing - what's still lacking is this: speed, tone, callouses ... these things are literally all related, and all just a matter of how much time I put in ... they're also what's holding me back from saying that I'm playing at my very best ... actually, there's one more thing: rate of progression ... back in high school, I was constantly making tremendous leaps and progress ... I am working on getting back to that point, and I have 2 weeks to do it ... I need to go to Summit and play amazingly and impress people .. or at least be able to to hold my ground compared to the other really amazing players ... I'm on the road to that, but I'm not there yet... I also need to be able to go back to school 3 weeks after that and be one of the best in the department. There's no reason I can't, and it will really help raise the level (hopefully) & I'm a senior at this point ... people are going to form their opinions of the department based off of what I & the other upper-classmen show that they're capable of ... I also know that if I go in with a strong practice system, then I'll stick to it and possibly even go beyond it, but if I come in having slacked off, then it will be a wasted year, and given that I want to go to conservatory for grad that would be a tremendously bad thing...

Next on the list is Etudes ... been working through the Dotzauer Etudes lately, it's incredibly fun! Great way to work on sight-reading and technique at the same time ... when I get through them, I'm going to get back to working on Popper, since that covers the intermediate (in pitch, not difficulty!) region of the cello

I've been doing my video series for about a month now ... been getting some pretty positive feedback, and a good number of views ... it's great to get a chance to see what I'm doing and how I'm progressing ... and I'm realizing that the quality of my improv is largely determined by my technique & how much I've practiced... I also now no longer have an amp :( ... hopefully at the end of summer I'll be buying a very pretty (read: amazing) one...

Practicing Intervals - I now understand why cellists practice 3rds & 6ths in particular ... so I'm starting to work on Mm 3rds, 6ths, 7ths ... I do this as a chromatic exercise (which I'm also doing with scales now ... ie I go up a half step for scale choice each day ... I need to practice modes more and get more familiar with jazz chords...

Teaching: Emily Wright suggested a "drill sargeant" approach to working with students ... I'm glad she did ... I'm realizing that the really amazing lessons I've had have utilized this approach to some extent, and I've gotten some really positive feedback from my students (who've all been practicing more than they used to) ... also, I've come up with "Say It While You Play It" ... whenever my younger students are doing a technical exercise, or learning a new piece, I make them do things like say the note names out loud or count out loud & tell them to say it while you play it ... it rhymes, which they delight in pointing out & I think it's very important to be able to do these two things at once ... I was first turned on to this by Jordan Rudess and his Online Conservatory... teaching is one of the most rewarding/fulfilling things in the world...

Goals (for the next 2 weeks):
1. Develop amazing technique and tone
2. Read through all the Dotzauer exercises & be able to play them at tempo
3. Be able to play the 2nd movement of the Elgar at tempo
4. Be able to play a good chunk of the first movement of Saint-Saens at tempo
5. Develop a stronger knowledge of modes & chords and incorporate that into my improvisations

It's a lot, but I know I can do it!

I want to write more in general, but I've been having tendon problems, and have determined that those are being caused from computer use ... so I need to cut down on it ( and remember to stretch and take breaks and avoid soda!!!)...

That's all for now...

Oh, and please check out my improv series here:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

3 Concerts, a Website, and a Video Series Later...

So I've been keeping a ton of busy lately (and also have been drinking waaaay too much soda ... need to chill w/ that...)

In summary: went to 3 concerts, finally made a professional looking website, started a video improv. series, potentially have another student, potentially am doing duets, am reading through cello/piano music & have gotten in touch w/ some people who are also doing the Summit Music Festival ...

In more detail:

Iron Maiden: About time I saw them!! This was an amazing show, and brought back a lot of memories from when I was younger and first getting into metal (Hallowed Be Thy Name is particularly reminiscent of a lot of things!) ... It was my first time seeing Maiden, and they had a ton of energy ... their setlist was very standard, but also pretty perfect & it was great to get to watch their various orchestrations (they are one of the only bands where having 3 guitars doesn't actually seem obsessive). Bruce Dickinson was amusing to watch & ranted quite a bit btwn. songs ... at one point, the sound went out & they played soccer for about 10 minutes!! I thought it was a prank since Bruce had been ranting about Football vs. Soccer earlier that evening ... either way, very special, and I'm able to hear their music in new ways now ... got a lot of stuff of theirs that I don't listen to enough really, so I'm gonna try and cover that when I can ... I love the intellectual bent of so much of their music ... it's such a pleasure to see that...

The Cure: This falls under one of the most interesting concerts I've ever been too (it's also utterly bizarre that I saw 2 British Rock groups at MSG in the same week) ... first of all, the opening band, 65 Days of Static, was very creative & interesting ... very worth checking out ... The Cure was amazing ... they had a very full sound live - very bass driven, and I loved the vocals/the singer's look in general (though I later discovered he was wearing white face paint from watching a vid, but w/e ... it comes from a different time ... I'm more of the old school Metallica mentality of walk on in whatever the fuck you're wearing ...). I missed them having a keyboard player, especially since I had met Roger O'Donnel (previously the keyboard player) within the last year. The music was incredibly interesting though, especially given that I didn't know what to expect and I'm much more into this band now than I was before ... the venue staff were extremely irritating, but w/e, was still a great night ... also, they played for like 2 hrs. straight & then did 3 encores ... um, holy crap!

What I was even more amazed to discover though was how different they sound on cd/video ... um, they sounded much better live ... maybe it's just b/c I was all the way on stage right (which kinda sux ... much, much better view on stage left...)

Liquid Tension Experiment: The best concert of the 3 ... first, I ran into a high school friend there (well the day before and there, technically) ... but anyway, it was great to be back in BB Kings, especially after all these big venue shows (smaller venues are soooo much cooler) ... it was also incredible to be so close to the stage (like 5-10 feet back maybe) ... this show had one of the most intense energies from the crowd that I've experienced in a while ... it was so refreshing ... on top of that, getting to watch Tony Levin was an experience in itself (If you haven't heard of an instrument called the Chapman Stick, I suggest checking it out ... a whole new world of bass playing) ... as if that weren't enough though, you've got Jordan Rudess, John Petrucci & Mike Portnoy on the same stage ... I almost got to meet Tony/John after the show, but they went back in unfortunately ... now that I realize it's so easy to meet ppl at BB kings, I'm definitely staying after for any show I go to!!

They played a ton of songs I knew & some I didn't (I've never actually owned the Liquid Tension cds... must fix that) ... most importantly, they played State of Grace (a duet between Rudess & Petrucci, which I'm going to play on my senior recital as a cello/piano duet) ... I loved the more Jam-oriented bent of the material they played, and I think a lot of the stuff they did for this gig was a huge step up from Dream Theater (or at least exemplifies what I think some of the better aspects of Dream Theater are) ... there were some great improv parts, and apparently they jammed on Rhapsody in Blue for a bit, though honestly, I did not catch on to that ... but then again, I barely know what Rhapsody in Blue sounds like ...

It was really interesting to watch Jordan ... he seemed a bit stressed at first, and I think was having technical issues w/ his equipment or monitors or something ... the sound balance was really ... unbalanced ... very bass heavy, you lost the treble sometimes, which meant you lost JR at times :( you could catch him most of the time, and he was very watch-able (I mean I was like 5 feet away from him) ... some of the improv. moments in general were absolutely amazing and ambient & there was some great, incredibly technical playing from Portnoy ... it's great to see them all do this stuff, and go beyond just the Dream Theater style ... it's encouraging to see how much they can transcend that, but also how human they are ... really cool people & great musicians ...

Sooooo, now that the concerts over ... I've made a professional-looking website (finally!) ... you can view it here: ... It's kind of in bare-bones mode for now (well a little past that), but will expand as I grow and expand ... I'm going to use it as an outlet for a lot of my teaching philosophies & ideas, as well as for articles on music and anything I can basically ... of course, I also have to not overlap it too much w/ the blog, so it will be a bit more formal ... tell me what you think ... tell me if there's any broken links too while you're at it :-P

And on to the video improv. series ... I can't even begin to think of all the different things that inspired this, but obviously Jordan Rudess' Piano Diary/Wizard's Log is one of them!! Anyway ... it's going to give me an outlet for all my improvisation & Electric Cello work & give me a chance to get a good look at my progress, as well as giving me the ability to show others what I do & work on playing metal on cello, along with developing my concept of improvisation & what the cello can do ... it's already gotten some pretty positive feedback, though I've been having some technical issues with YouTube ... check out the first video here:

In other news, my first student who I don't have to drive to is coming over for a lesson tomorrow ... her name is Lynn & she's an adult beginner ... it's a pleasure to potentially have another adult student ... also, some good music reading in the near future, I think ...

Alright ... I think that post is long enough for now ... on to the next thing...