6th Cello Lesson

February 4, 2009 jeansdream

Tonight I had my 6th cello lesson.  This also marked my month-and-a-half acquantance of my cello (hello dear!). 

Through practices, my left index finger started to develop a callus and soon other fingers, I believe.  And soon, I think some may surface on the right index finger too?  Time will tell.  (Is there a blog called, “Ask Yo Yo Ma?”)

Today I got answer to a question I had in mind for a long time.  This is about bowing technique.  Say there’s a group of four 16th notes.  Do I change bow direction at each 16th note, or do I do a legato bowing to bring out all four 16th notes in one long bow?  I may think that changing bow at each note sounds better, and someone else may think that a long bow sounds better.  Is it up to the interpretation of each musician to decide how to bow?   If you played cello before, did this question strike you?  Do you know the answer?

Another question I had was about applying rosin, which I talked about before, but I’d like to reiterate it once more with a little more details.  🙂   A rosin looks like a small see-through wax brick, looks like a rectangular honey soap but much harder than it.  I haven’t seen enough (as I only have 1) but mine has a plastic, U-shaped side holder wrapping the rosin in the middle.   Its primary function is to make your bowing sounds better.  Did you ever wonder how to apply rosin to the bow?  I did, when I first got my cello.  In my imagination, the rosin would be like butter, and when you drag the bow (hair) across the rosin, some rosin would come off and get stuck to the bow, and the surface of the rosin would change like dragging a knife on butter’s surface.    Was that your imagination as well?  Now I am going to tell you – no.  No.  At the first couple attempts, the rosin looked like nothing happened to it.  Not even scratches.   Ah then I asked my cello teacher, and he said I can use sand-paper to “start” a new rosin, then apply it, with force, onto the bow hair – drag the bow (hair side) across the rosin, back and forth, and make sure the hair stays on the rosin (not going in between the plastic side holder and the rosin).  As a lazy bum, I didn’t follow up with sand-paper, but now, I start to see dents at the edges.  The hair still look the same to me after each application, but the sound of a “rosined” bow is different.  That’s because the bow “sticks” to the strings better.  The rosin adds frictions as it is supposed to be.  So, the rosin is not butter and it won’t come off to the bow like butter hanging on to a knife.  Unless you pull the bow across your hand, or finger, or your pants by accident, (which will then leave a whitish/yellowish trail) you won’t see the rosin.  So no worries there, if you are a newbie here.  Just press hard when you apply the rosin to the bow.  You’ll see scratch marks eventually.  (Akham, I hope I am not spreading the wrong message here.)

So, any one care to share an answer to my question about bowing 16th notes?


Entry Filed under: Cello / Music

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gottagopractice  |  February 4, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    It depends on the music. “Legato” means that the notes are connected smoothly, but not necessarily that they are slurred. So you can play them legato either detached (on separate bows) or slurred (one or more of them on the same bow). It depends what you want to express musically.

    At the beginning, you usually start with playing them with the bowing marked in the music. So if there is a slur (curved line) over them you play them on the same bow, and if not, change bow between them. Then you need to decide just how legato you want to play them – another whole discussion.

    • 2. jeansdream  |  February 4, 2009 at 9:54 pm

      Hello gottagopractice,

      Ha Ha – you are an expert so you gave the perfect answer like my teacher told me – if I see a slur, then play a long bow, otherwise, change direction between notes. Also thanks for pointing that playing legato has nothing to do with bowing direction. Notes played with changing directions can also be legato (not for me now tho 😉 ).

      I always wonder (after I thought had my first lesson) why cellists (violinists et al alike) bow in sync with this question in mind. Now I know why.

      My new exercise – same scale but do a slur-in-two. All excited and again re-realized how clumsy / uncoordinated I am.

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