Pieces Update



On both the Suzuki and the Schroeder, I need to keep my left hand in a shape and minimize finger movement.   Chords need to be tuned.  This is new to me, although I do understand what it means to tune a double stop, so perhaps I can generalize.  Once the chords are tuned, this should help the triplets in the Suzuki (Witches’ Dance).

I realize nobody reads these anymore, but I found it keep writing these for my own benefit. It is helpful to review my notes on past pieces to see what I worked on and what progress has been made.


Mid-Winter 2017


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Got some new pieces today.  Interesting that my own assessment of how I was doing was negative and my cello teacher’s was more positives.  We both noticed the same things, but he gave the problems less weight.

A-flat major scale (Klengel)

Positives: Playing the A-flat major scale more confidently and on tempo.  Continue using the metronome.  Using ear rather than hand and self-correcting.

Still work on: Descending shifts.

Mooney: Invisible Target (2d position exercise)

– just started.  No assessment. Not even sure why it’s called that.  I’ll guess I will ask.

Witches Dance (suzuki Book 2)

I need to find previous blog entries and re-tag them.  I’m still woodshedding this piece. working primarily with the metronome.

Lee Op. 70 No 20 (Schroeder #18)

“point” just means start near the point.  I need not have played the entire thing so close to the tip.  Focus on a light sound.   For LH, on measure 4, use separate strings (1 on I, 234 on II) and avoid too much hand-flapping.

Life in general:

Start a new job near Philly on the 27th.  Excited, but nervous.  Still working out living arrangements.  Will keep my current residence, but seek out semi-permanent arrangements in Philly’s suburbs.   Looking forward to perhaps catching some Curtis performances in the evenings when I can, even though my primary purpose down there will be work.





First Lesson of 2017

I started this blog with the goal of practicing every single day as a way to atone for starting later in life, and see how far it got me.    I am still further behind than I want, but I have different goals now that I have experienced ensemble playing.   My goal of playing competently by retirement seems reasonable.

Here’s today’s lesson:

Bach March in G: 

In some sections, particular m. 19, I am playing quarter notes as eighth notes.  I see the run of eighths coming up, and I get excited.  Metronome it out and play the same measure over and over.

Practical Tip: Consider hooking my metronome up to some speakers via an aux cord.  Then I have a better chance of hearing it over the cello.  I noticed when Nelson kept a really loud beat, I could stay with it.

Update: I tried this.  It worked pretty well, and for some reason having the metronome farther from me physically also gave me the patience to sit and get used to the beat.

A-flat major scale (2 octave):

Keep working at it with no peeking at the left hand, and a steady tempo.  Scale degrees are improving in general.   I’m still going to rely on one gliss to find C(I).  Try to get rid of that, but one thing at a time!

Schroeder #17:

It just sucks. Use the same tip regarding the metronome.   First, get the first beat on the first click, then refine to get the second beat.  Hopefully,  the third will solve itself. Try playing one or two measures over and over. Bow hand is working nicely, though.


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!