Cause of death: brain failure. Or maybe soulless-ness. I haven’t figured it out.
I had my first lesson this morning. It was simultaneously one of the most enlightening experiences of my life, and a fairly soul-deteriorating one.
I mean, but soul-deteriorating in a good way. How often is it that you let one person come in and tell you everything about your playing that could be improved? Not very often. I love Brandon quite a lot, and our specific manner of attacking repertoire and problems works for me. But it’s a different experience to have someone that open and willing to tell you everything without holding back.
It can also make you feel just a tiny bit soul-less if you’re not used to this sort of thing.
But anyway. I played Debussy, and then we got into all of the following:
– Tension in my shoulder, and how I bow my head. I should be able to sit one way, all the time when I play. As I go higher up the cello, I should let my lower back cushion, instead of be more rigid. Essentially, I should actually feel a little shorter the higher up I play.
– My arm is kind of short. My cello is kind of big. I have problems bowing at the tip because of this. I should consider raising the cello endpin a little bit, but also need to incorporate some help for bowing. Particularly moving the body to help out the bow, and not letting weird tension from getting in the way. One exercise to help this is
Bowing open strings and counting to four for each single bow going up or down. On downbow, body should shift to left for first two counts and then shift to right for last two. Bow moves outward maybe a centimeter for bowchange. For upbow, body moves slighty to right for first two counts, and then left for last two (so movements are slightly juxtaposed and delayed from bow). Next step is say “change” instead of “four.” To help the brain. Or something. Note to self: do this lots.
– There is tension everywhere. I need to remain completely static in face, shoulders, and neck when I play. ESPECIALLY face. No careening of head. No expressions. Just sheer sound production with same body stance on every string, no matter which part of bow, in every range.
– Crunching of bow. I may think my sound is okay, but in reality it is crunching. Though nobody said it quite this way to me, the way I take it to be is that I think of sound in terms of pressure on string, as opposed to speed. I need to think of playing around (above and below) the string as opposed to into it. I also can’t allow bow-changes to dominate sound. Forget bowings! Always ringing bell-quality. Never forced sound quality. It never would have occurred to me if someone hadn’t told me.
– Also, three parts of right arm. A) wrist B) forearm C) upper arm. Wrist should be natural and hanging. Forearm should be loose. Upper arm, who knows. But no tension. Feel like things are hanging from elbows. Like shoes. Seriously, tie shoes to elbows and play.
– Vibrato all the same. Change your damn vibrato. Bouncing vibrato, where hit and retract. Goes against EVERY cry of “over-articulation in left hand!” that I have heard in the last year, but I like the concept and am pretty sure that, dammit, left-hand articulation CAN be used for good and not only for evil! Also, Rostropovich technique for sound-change is: vibrato increases as bow speed and contact point changes. That shit is brilliant.
– Another exercise for constant sound production in high places:
Play easiest note to be play on cello, with bow speed and intense sound. Get comfortable there and then move to higher parts while replicating the same physical sensations and lack of tension.
– Mostly, play loud! Play near bridge! Don’t be so dainty and quiet! You’ve trained yourself into thinking that smaller sound is better, but if you’re going to try and play repertoire that soloists play, you can’t do that. For the next six weeks, you are a sound-producing nazi, except for the nazi part.
Brain hurts. Need nap. But want run. Doom.