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...