I recently submitted a video of myself performing, that will be added into the mix for a YouTube Video. A sample can be found at this link. It’s not the one I perform in, but worth listening. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdyAMHpfV1M

First, a big shout out and thanks to tonyrogerscello.com for even doing this. , and giving us all an outlet to share our playing with the world. If you participated, and you have the funds, the guy deserves a donation for this labor of love. Heck, even if you didn’t participate.

Just as a background : to make these videos,you play along with a backing track, which you download from the internet. The backing track has the entire piece, but with your part emphasized. This keeps everybody in time, and hopefully in tune.

The main point is to summarize some lessons I learned, first, in terms of playing, then into terms of producing the video

  • Even if you make a mistake, play until the end. Otherwise, you’ll get to the middle to realize it’s not as strong as your beginning. Starting over at each mistake was very tempting for me , but it is the poorest use of time imaginable.
  • As with orchestra, if you miss a note, it won’t hurt the recording, but try to jump back in quickly. See #1
  • Don’t go more than five takes without a break. Do some deep practice on the sections missed.
  • When you finally get one you like, think about how much better you know the piece than when you thought you knew the piece.
  • It was wise to start with an easier part, so you can focus on the process for the first time. My first run through was at the higher octave. I wouldn’t have made the deadline.
  • Learn the predominant notes of the piece and what they sound like. In Bb minor, there is only one ringing tone, the C. There’s no way around just training your ear to memorize what the other important notes of the scale sound like. I feel more at home in Bb now. Practice the relative major of the scale too, to get some of the other notes sounding good.
  • Be prepared for at least 50 takes your first time.
  • Keep a few of your failures. You might find they are better than you thought. Don’t just delete them. But see the next section with regard to memory usage.
  • Get good fingerings if you can’t figure them out yourself. Tony provided, some as did my teachers.
  • Seek advice from others. As one friend pointed out, “Remember, you have 150 cellists who have your back” Thank You, Nancy Mack, without whom I might have given up after two nights of not getting a good enough take.

As for actually producing the video, Murphy’s law predominates. These things happened. Tony has a how-to video, which helps with the major pitfalls, but still:

  • The video stopped playing at random times. Don’t play directly from the internet. Download. This may be obvious to you, but I had more faith in my 300 mbps connection than perhaps it merited.
  • The video camera stopped recording at random times, once when I was at my final two measures! Try to make sure you are visibly moving so the video doesn’t think you’re a still image. In my recording, the bow was mostly below the camera angle, so it’s possible the camera found insufficient motion. There’s actually a joke about this topic: “What’s the difference between a cellist and a coffin? With a coffin, the corpse is on the inside.” Get into it, even on a sad piece. Don’t be the corpse.
  • Even though pants are also usually below the camera angle, I recommend wearing them.
  • Make sure your recording device has enough memory. Even though I deleted files and apps like crazy, the phone kept filling up. I had to find my gallery app’s preference and tell it to stop keeping ‘deleted’ files for 15 days. YMMV.
  • Frustrations will happen; be resilient.

I can’t wait for the next one.