12th Cello Lesson

May 4, 2009 jeansdream

This week’s exercises:  Minuet in C by Bach and The Happy Farmer by Schumann!

I think I set myself up for failure by asking me teacher for 2 songs this week.  I am just recovered from a cold and I haven’t touched my cello for 5 days.

If I pass these songs, then I will be done with The Suzuki Volume 1.  My teacher said Volume 2 is too difficult for me now so he will be teaching me some other songs first before going into the next book.  I would probably start to do some scales. 

Question for experienced cellist:  what are the pre-requisites for playing vibratos and gliding please?  My teacher said these are beyond my abilities and I want to know what do I need to master first before I can start practicing for vibrato and gliding (actually is this the right word – gliding – sliding your finger on a string for some distance?)

Entry Filed under: Cello / Music

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gottagopractice  |  May 6, 2009 at 1:30 pm


    Teachers begin teaching vibrato and shifting at different times; in some ways, that’s a philosophical discussion. To do either successfully, though, you need to develop a tension-free left hand, well balanced, not gripping with the thumb behind the neck. How’s that coming along?

    • 2. jeansdream  |  May 8, 2009 at 2:34 am

      Dear gottagopractice,

      I read your comments yesterday (thanks!)… but I really don’t know how to reply. I thought about it today and I still have no idea…

      My teacher says my left hand doesn’t use enough force, or have used the force the wrong way – he said I am supposed to pull the strings back – that means he sees that I am not doing that. But I don’t know how to change that. I also care too much if my notes are correct so I think my left hand may be tensed. My teacher also commented that my fingers “retracked” to the normal non-celllist hand position – he asked me to make my hand stay at a cellist hand position – with fingers ready to play at any time – I tend to stretch the fingers when needed – that’s natural to me tho.

      I don’t know how to tell if my hand is well balanced… how to tell? I have troubles playing slurs. The slurs don’t come out the way they should be. The last note of the slur tends to be shortened (not by my intention tho) and the first note after the slur tends to be too weak or short again. I can’t time the slurs properly. Is this only a matter of not knowing the music well, or is this a reflection of some technical deficiency?…

      I think I don’t have “the gripping with the thumb behind the neck problem”… I think… I will check next time I practice to see if the thumb is relatively relaxed – is that what you mean – the thumb relatively relaxed?….

      I am still a little down (and unmotivated) to practice.

      My teacher said my bow grip is not right and hence my bowing is not dug-in. And when I dig-in too much and the noise is really harsh and I hate that. 😦

      Everything is wrong again. I am back to the valley low.

      Sigh… have to climb back out. I know. I’ll take my time.

      Today I met a musician whom I ran into by a split second couple days ago. She was playing cello in the public transportation’s hallway when I first heard her. I had to run for my bus that day so I didn’t stop but I perked my ears up all the way and had a glance at her hands – her playing looked so easy (effortless) – and I guess that’s what you called tension-free let hand? Today, I have some time, so I stopped and listened to her (she was playing with a violinist today). I even talked to her a bit. I told her I’ve had my 13th lesson. She thought “my son” had the 13th lesson. So I told her, no, not my son, me, I am beginning to learn cello. And she said, oooooh yooooou are starting. So I compliemented her playing and asked how long she has been playing and she said she has been playing “all her life”. I envy her. 🙂

      OK – tomorrow – I’ve got to go practice!!! 😉

      so… does that sound a looooooooooong way to go – my vibrato and shifting?

  • 3. gottagopractice  |  May 8, 2009 at 5:01 am

    Patience, Grasshopper. (That’s what my last teacher used to say to me.) There are so many things to learn. I like to think of them as though they lie on a big spiral pathway. Your teacher will help you to focus on one or a few things at a time. Practice them diligently, then move on to the next thing. As you start something new, the old things seem to get worse. But you keep practicing the one or a few things at a time, and eventually you come around the circle and start working on things you have done already. This time, you are a better player, and it’s all different again. That’s why it’s like a spiral, and not a circle.

    The things you describe are all part of developing a tension-free left hand. Vibrato and shifting will come soon enough. The important thing is to keep listening, enjoy the notes you are making, enjoy the feeling of making the notes, and above all, keep practicing!

    • 4. jeansdream  |  May 9, 2009 at 3:50 am

      Thanks for your inspiring words, ex-Grasshopper!
      Rant is over. Will resume practice tomorrow. 🙂
      Think SPIRAL.

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