Monday, June 29, 2009


I'm not even done practice for the day, but I had a really important breakthrough today. I finally realized what's been missing from my playing that I used to have in high school. I used to push the string all the way down & I used to practice as loud as I could. This is also why I had really good callouses in high school (which I've never had since). Also, exercising outside of cello makes the biggest positive difference in the world!

I also recently found this great list on Irene Sharp's website:

I've been really pushing my technique the last few days, and my intonation is getting a lot better/closer to where it was. This bit about fully pressing the string down makes a huge difference in clarity of the pitch & tone & all that.

I also realized that all my bow strokes/changes need to be deliberate, and that this makes a huge difference in tone quality.

I also started doing "long tones" ... right now I can hold the bow consistently for 10 seconds ... my goal is to get up to 15 soon & then keep going up ... I've heard there are people who can hold it out for 45s to a minute ... wow!

Finally, I started doing the Galamian exercises again, and they are coming along much better keeping all of the above things I mentioned in mind ... right now, I'm doing the triplets at 120 in G maj. & am almost very solid on that (that 3rd 8v gets a little iffy, but I should have it by the end of the week!)

That's all for now.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I need someone to push me

Band practice tonight was a good kick in the ass (a little bit for all of us, but particularly for me) ... my tone has really improved lately, and my ease of motion & vibrato, but my intonation and bow control are pretty horrible right now & my intonation was getting to be spot on for a bit ... anyway, I didn't do as well in band practice as I felt I needed to, and it was a good kick in the ass, and it occurred to me that I really need someone to be tough on me right now & I really need to be tough on myself - In 2 ways.

First of all, I need to practice more every day. This has been really hard because I've been driving taxis & doing a lot of rehearsals/shows, so I'm generally not getting enough sleep & also having about 3 hours between work & getting on the train to go to the city. The solution is simply that I need to pull out my internet & get off the computer until I've practiced for the day & if that means I don't get to use it that day or I don't get to use it until 12:30 at night, then I need to do that.

Second, I need to practice better ... by this I mean I need to hold myself to a much higher standard of playing - one that involves having perfect intonation & getting everything very precise and controlled. I've been getting there more & more in my playing, but I need to really do it in my practicing too ... I just need to push myself more.

It would be so helpful if I had someone else to push me - a teacher or another musician who actually practiced for 3+ hours a day (why don't I know any of these people/why don't the live near me?) ... I really wish I was taking lessons right now ... I don't have the time or the money (money has been unbelievably scarce lately). The next 2-5 years are so important in terms of the progress I need to make ... I need to do a lot better than I am now ... all it takes is for me to stop being lazy about it ...

Besides that, there's been some really cool stuff going on in my life lately including playing in a huge cello ensemble as part of "Make Music NY" ... I wish I had more time to write about it ... I will soon...

Marty Steinberg recommended I take lessons w/ Irene Sharp after the summer ... this sounds like exactly what I need and want to do ... just again, run into the money thing ...

Anyway, tomorrow's my first show w/ Soapbox Army at the Bitter End & I have to work in the morning, so sleep now...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gig Reviews

First let me say, I just played a show that was God Awful & it was maybe 50% my fault, because I didn't know the tunes/chord progressions & didn't play from charts. That was dumb and irresponsible, and there is no excusse for it, and I am absolutely *never* going to do that again. It's not right to me, to the audience, or to the other people I'm performing with ...

besides that:

-Gig at the Knitting Factory w/ Lachi went awesome.
-I'm doing 2 gigs w/ December's Fall (holy shit I'm excited)
-Band rehearsal today went really well & we got a good portion of a song written. So far, sounds kinda cool ... definitely needs work, but it's a start. It felt really good to write ... also doesn't have a cello part yet ... but still ... this is really what I'm looking for band-wise ... it's great

Got rehearsal for Jekyll tomorrow (which is being advertised on!) and then The Creation & band rehearsal (Soapbox Army)

I don't think I wrote about it here, but I'm officially a full time member of Soapbox and it's fucking awesome so far! ... I'll write more about it another time when I'm not really bummed out about a messed up gig.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

It's been a while...

So, the other day I had a realization. Not only do I have to continue to study classical music ... I want to.

I was working on the Bach 2 Prelude for NRHS PAVE Alumni Show, and I was really working on playing it well by doing things like having structured phrases & consistent intonation and clean playing, in addition to my own personal musical inclinations. Not only was it so satisfying to work on this piece on a higher level, but it also made it clear that if I want to progress as a cellist, it's not enough for me to just work on scales and technique, because that type of work only makes up a portion of the required skills.

The PAVE show was incredibly cool. I got to meet some very awesome musicians and actors who were a couple of years ahead of me and who were apparently impressed with my playing. I played the Bach 2 prelude through the delay on my amp ... forgot part of it as I was playing, but connected things in a way that nobody noticed. Afterwards, we all went out to dinner & I got to sit next to an old (art) teacher of mine who, in addition to having a large impact on my development, is an incredibly interesting and fascinating person. We stayed at the diner until 2am! Talk about fun!

The next day I had rehearsal with Lachi ( for our upcoming gig at the Knitting Factory (um, holy shit, I'm playing at the Knitting Factory! This is beyond cool!). I've got a solo set tomorrow, Jekyll and Hyde in the near future, and Haydn's The Creation, as well as a set w/ Jason Fresta ( Some more things coming up after that...

I don't think I wrote about A New Brain/Sweeney ... they were both awesome, though made my last days at school much more stressful. For Sweeney, the commute really sucked, but I met some awesome people.

Anyway, here's what actually prompted this post:

Summer Practice Goals:
-30 hrs. a week (this will be achieved successively - 15, 20, 25, 30)
-Ability to play most metallica songs w/ ease
-Proficiency in thumb position
-Being able to play very fast with ease
-Reworking all of the classical pieces I've studied so that they sound good (Bach 1, 2, 4, Haydn C, Elgar mov. 1)
-Getting through as many Dotzauer and Popper Etudes as possible
-To be able to play on the level of conservatory graduates
-Progressing further than I think is possible

That's all for now ... tomorrow determines if I met my 15 hr. goal for this week.