8th Cello Birthday & Goals


Not much going on with lessons since I had a week of virtually no practice except for scales and my Schroeder.   Sometimes, I feel too guilty to practice, but that can be solved by putting my practice time  on my calendar like an appointment.  It currently is not done this way, so no wonder I’m getting the results I am.  Concert pieces are getting a run through once per day.  But now is the time to learn them cold.

Also, I’m going to have to get a black concert suit. Not what I wanted to do until I lost enough weight.  Going to be hard to set aside some time tomorrow to do this.

Moving from dietary to cello goals.  I’m coming up on eight years of cello playing, and I feel like I don’t have eight years to show for it.   I’m still in book 2, for example.  However, Sight Reading and general musicianship have improved considerably, as has my ensemble playing in the past year.  Nelson Berger, who is my teacher at Bloomsburg Preparatory Music School has helped me by stressing internal pulse and developing my ear as equal to technique.  Kelli Bertenshaw, who runs the ensembles gets credit too,but that will be another post where I can discuss in detail.

Anyway – the cello birthday is usually observed on Dec 1, which is the 8th anniversary of my first lesson with Dan Delaney. On to the goals, which are as follows:

  1. Complete Suzuki book two by mid-2017.
  2. Continue to build sight-reading by adding solfege and singing practice.  We discovered my vocal span is roughly from D2 to E3.
  3. Have the #2 ‘Langsam’ section of Schumann’s Five Pieces in Folk Style prepared for August 2017 recital.
  4. Have money saved to attend Cellospeak at Bryn Mawr this year.

As for today’s lesson, since not much progress could be made on the pieces, we worked on softening that bow hold and using the smoother bow on the etude.  The A major scale p from B on II to C on I is getting better.



Lesson Update


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I think the pieces have improved, but there is still work to be done.

Lee op 70 no 11 (Schroeder #17)

Tempo is getting better, but try getting more to the tip of the bow.  Listen to the tone. Also, watch that D for intonation.  I start off well, but tend to lose attention.

Bach March in G

Metronome.  Enough said.  I really want to be done with this piece.  But that may be because I haven’t brought enough out of it yet.

A-flat Major scale

Listen for the intervals between B-flat and C.  Also, make sure C and D-flat have fingers closer the together than I thought.






Question: Fair Use

If I post videos of me practicing certain pieces and/or etudes and offering commentary on where I am with the piece, would that be considered fair use?

  1. It is primarily educational
  2. There is sufficient transformative content; I wouldn’t simply be putting a performance up, and I use the term generously as it is.
  3. It certainly wouldn’t discourage people from buying the real product🙂 – that is it will likely be noticeably flawed.`

If all else fails,I could always just post excerpts.




Lesson Update 10/15

Lee Op 70 No 11:
Watch intonation on D4 (D4=D above middle C) .  Tune to open D periodically to check intonation. In this entire piece, there is no reasaon to ever move the LH out of first position.  Therefore, if I can keep the LH steady  without extraneous movement, I should stay in tune.

Therefore, tonight instead of looking at the music, I practiced watching my LH in the mirror to try to give feedback to the LH.


Try tricky m. 4 several times.  If I get to the tip, I  will likely not try to cheat the rhythm when you I find myself in a spot.  Use a fast bow to cover the entire bow in the first quarter note, but not louder.

General Left Hand

Can be 1 and 2 can be closer together than you think – same with 3 and 4.  The LH fingers are not supposed to be uniformly spaced.


Blog Renaissance?

Hello, fellow readers.

If you’re still there, bear with me.  I received a cheerful nudge this past weekend to start blogging my progress again, and for the most part, I think the real challenge is to pick a predictable routine for writing and stick to it.  This on top of practicing.

I started this blog to encourage myself to practice every day without excuses, and like everything else, that lapsed.  But it’s never too late to turn it around.  My goal is to post twice a week for until the end of the year, and then re-evaluate.

My plans for this blog are still to note things I’ve learned at lessons as well as at performance, and perhaps actually honor the piecrust promise I’ve made several times here to post some audio tracks.

Current Scale: A-flat major, 2 octave
Pieces I am working on

Book Piece Since Description
Mooney – Position Pieces Lament 9/24 D Minor key piece focusing on 2d position
Schroeder Etude #17 a/k/a Lee
Op. 70 No 11
9/10 Legato whole bow exercise in 3/4 time
Suzuki 2 Bach, March in G 5 B.C.E.

I hope you will comment on the pieces and your experiences with the ones we have in common.

Practice Log 8/7 through 8/13


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August 7: 

Today is my first day back after a week off. I had started a new job that required some travel, and chose not to take my cello with my that first week.

Current priority in practicing is getting a pulse going and reducing rhythmic irregularities.  I need to start giving that job to my right arm instead of simply trying to do it all in my head (and then pass it to my right arm).   In other words, I need to let my right arm BE the metronome.

For my scale today, which was 2 octave A major, my focus was on the first octave, trying to keep my place with my 1 so that I don’t lose my bearing by lifting my LH too far away.

I reviewed my Schroeder 16 with metronome at 50, and the March in G with metronome at 42.  This sort of metronome work  I can actually do off the cello if I decide not travel with it next week.  Most hotel chairs have wheels, which is not what I want, so I may need to get a cello chair.

Last week we also picked up the Suite #1 prelude again, but now using the 3-slurred 5 separate bowing pattern. (Don’t hate me, Dan)  Some things felt easier, but it’s now going to take some work getting it sounding smooth.


Menuet + Schroeder 16 practice.


Pinching the bow too much.  Went through my pieces as light-handed as I could get away with.  Also , practicing my learning-orchestra pieces, especially those parts where the cello section plays solo.  Schroeder #16 is starting to sound alive, so I’ll be interested to see what area of this piece my teacher wants to explore next.

Also, I am setting a goal to perform the Beethoven Minuet #2 from Suzuki book 3 next fall.  So, I’d like to be woodshedding the trio section for a while.

I listened to the original piano piece today.  Took me a bit of work to track down, so here is the Youtube link to the SheetMusicPlus version.  I will confess that this is the first I found, not necessarily endorsed as the best.

Lesson tomorrow; we’ll see how it pays off!

Scale-y Sunday


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Mostly scales today, and some review of past pieces to see if my current work has made older pieces easier.  Anyway, D major in the morning and  B melodic minor at night.  Trying to make up some time at work, so not as much practice today as I had hoped.  For the B, I worked on the upper octave descending, trying to get that right.  And of course, there’s still trying to get my left elbow to positioned to make things easier for my left hand.


Quick Practice Log



Just tempo training today – it’s much harder than it looks.  It’s also hard for me to be in time in real life.

One measure repeated indefinitely (mm 1 of Schroeder #16) until it feels like I’m working with the clock instead of fighting it.  Every now and then I get that moment of being in time but it slips out.  But it is getting better, and I sound more even.  Still time for improvement, though.

Still keeping an eye on my left hand shape.  There are no shifts in this exercise.



Time is getting short



I could not help notice the following on a very addictive game I play, and have asked myself some very hard questions about why more of hose hours are not being assigned to the cello.  I’m not suggesting that 100% percent of my spare time be cello related.  That would make it hard for me to have conversations or common experiences with most other people.  But still, that’s a lot of time I will never get back.


I could blame the accident, but that took only three months out of my life, 90 days at 3 hours practice a day equals only about a tenth of the above.   Anyway, this is not intended to be a fair comparison, but just to provoke questions; am I making good use of my time?

That being said, I’ve been putting in some serious practice hours in April, and I’m again happy with my progress.  But I’m going to make myself accountable for practicing every day.  (For days I cannot take the cello with me, I’ll find some way to practice while off the cello).

As you may know, I am retracing quite a bit of ground that I covered in year 3. There is indeed a fair amount to remediate, including a flying pinky,  a consistent left hand position, and a tendency to squish my fingers, creating problems with intonation.  I do think it’s worth the time to focus on tempo and general musicianship.  It has helped me feel more confident.  (Thanks, Nelson).  So, today’s practice was

  • D major 2 octave scales
  • Some left hand “jumping jack” and string crossing exercises to promote a steady C position (within reason)
  • Schroeder exercise #16, but no metronome.  Focus on some tricky measures getting my LH comfortable.  Still a lot of wood-shedding to be done here.
  • Beethoven Minuet #2 in G, trio section
  • Hunter’s Chorus – focus on not resting on notes I shouldn’t be accessing.