One of Those Days


I’m currently working on a piece by Mozart, which I actually like, even though I don’t usually like his music. Unfortunately, I’m stuck on 4 notes that make up half of a measure. A string, 4th position, first finger E, dotted 8th note. Extend 2nd finger to F-sharp, 16th note. 4th finger to G-sharp, 16th note. Harmonic A, 16th note. All on the same up bow. I can’t for the life of me do any piece of this correctly. Well, maybe the E. I can do that. Then it all falls apart. Something about extending my second finger makes my thumb pop out from behind the neck, then everything gets tense, I can’t for the life of me get my 4th finger to the G-sharp and I’m lucky if it’s closer to a G-sharp than a G-natural. Then on top of all that I somehow screw the harmonic up (how??) so it’s all pitchy and end up holding it about three times as long as I need to. Grr…

I’m also working on a piece by Rameau, which thankfully I like, although I don’t understand it. My teacher wants me to work on dynamics for it this week, now that the fingering and timing is going well. Somehow the more I analyze it the more confused I get. So I thought I’d listen to some music by him to see if that helped. I seriously don’t get him. I like him, but I don’t get him and have NO idea what to do with this piece. Next week’s lesson will likely be filled with me explaining in detail why I don’t have a clue what to do anywhere in the whole darned song. Ugh…

So, it’s one of those days, the ones where I wonder what the heck I’m doing and why I should even bother.


5 responses »

  1. I had one of those days – for most of this week! And that’s just with one of those minuets that I so totally hate… sorry, ranting…

    How long have you been playing? All that 4th position stuff sounds very impressive to me.

  2. Nearly a year now (Feb 4th.) 4th position is awesome, extended 4th position not so much right now, nor 5th (which are both in my songs.) My thumb tenses and ends up anywhere but where it should be. 4th position itself is actually fairly easy to learn, in some ways easier than 1st position. The thumb rests right at the curve where the neck meets the body, and the first finger right above, so it’s very natural. Shifting between 4th and 1st is a bit confusing at first, then all Hell breaks loose when the positions in between are introduced.

    Truly the hardest part is being able to hear if you are exactly in tune or not. If you can hear it, you can correct yourself as your playing and it gets easier, but until the ear training is sufficient, you’re kinda out of luck. Also, having confidence in your ability to hear is even harder in some ways. I’ve been lucky that my teacher has refused to tell me if I’m right or not and has always forced me to experiment until I’m “happy” with the sound. It still hasn’t entirely sunk in that what I think sounds “prettiest’ is what’s exactly on pitch. Learning to trust in my own judgement is a constant battle, but if I can manage that, my playing is infinitely better.

    Personally, I love those minuets, but I also really really really love Bach. Did I mention I REALLY love Bach? If you’ve never listened to his Brandenburg Concertos, I’d make a point to do so. They, his cello suites, and Vivaldi’s Cello Concertos are probably my most favorite things to listen to. Okay, not probably. Definitely. Anyhow, I wonder why you hate these minuets. I found them to be the most fun pieces in Suzuki 1 even though they were by far the most difficult. Personally, I found myself frustrated with Suzuki, which I felt was geared more toward children. My teacher switched me to Feuillard’s Method for the Young Violoncellist, which I found much more agreeable. Each lesson has exercises and usually a scale at the beginning, which are applicable to the included piece for the lesson. Most of the pieces are written by major composers and are quite enjoyable, the only exceptions being if they couldn’t find an adequate piece to demonstrate a point they wrote a short one. I particularly like this book because the exercises are usually stepping stones to playing the actual piece. So, instead of a separate etude book, there are ready made exercises mean to instruct on what I need to learn, which can be incredibly helpful if I’m stuck on the piece (I seriously should have tried that tonight; silly me!) Right. Enough of my enjoyment of “Yellow Book.” How has Suzuki been overall for you? Have you asked your teacher for an alternative?

    P.S. 4th position is not so impressive, as my teacher inadvertently pointed out to me today while my thumb was wandering out from behind the neck (“Your thumb remains there until you’re past 7th position, and you’re not even close!”) Really, it’s quite as ordinary as 1st position, once you get there, and does an even better job of showing you what an inadequate cellist you are!

  3. Nah, I dont really hate them, it’s just *so* frustrating at the moment and those poor little pieces are caught in the crossfire.

    We’ve done G & A maj 2 octaves with shifts. I can hit the E shift most of the time (at about 5 bpm). With A maj, I’m getting the first shift from the third finger C# to first finger D about 50% of the time but the second shift to the F# is really hit-and-miss.

    Ah, practice practice practice. I’ll blog about todays lesson in a mo (must keep up postaday eh?).

    As for Bach – on my “in the beginning” page, there’s the piece that’s always inspired me, Sonata #3 BWV 1029, Adagio. I ❤ that piece and it's one of the set pieces for grade 6, when I get there.

  4. I find there are certain shifts that come easily and others that I fail at every time. For example, on the A string, no matter what position I shift from, if I’m trying to get to D in first position with 4th finger, I’m lucky if I don’t end up on a C-sharp or E-flat. On the D string, however, I have no problem getting to G w/ 4. I fear this may baffle me for the rest of my life. Then on the A string, again no matter where I come from, if I’m getting to D in 3rd or upper 3rd position (w/ 1 or 2) I can’t seem to fail. If only I could figure out why that’s so easy and apply it to elsewhere.

    I’m glad it’s not the songs and you do actually like Bach. I’d be quite sad if you didn’t. Even my cat likes Bach!

    G Maj is fine for me, but A Maj falls apart as soon as I have to play the first B. My extensions are abysmal and end up more like mini-shifts, which drives my teacher crazy, though she acknowledges that my fingers are exceptionally inflexible. Cranking the heat up helps with flexibility, but even then I still have to time the extension like a shift and am lucky if I don’t find it painful.

    I look forward to hearing about the lesson!

  5. Pingback: Warming Up « The Adult Beginner

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