Monday, October 29, 2012

Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor - Jacqueline Du Pre

Conducted by Daniel Barenboim EDIT: This time it should be the entire concerto!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Free Magic Rosin sample!

Magic Rosin™ 3G Free Sample (limit one--pay s/h)Are you a rosin connoisseur?  Have you got your free sample of the new Magic Rosin 3G?  You can get a promo code HERE for the free sample (and also 15% off your next order). You just pay shipping and handling on the free rosin, and there's a limit of one per customer.

For that price, why not try a new one?  Well, I had mine shipped to a relative in the States which I'll pick up next time I'm in that neighbourhood so that I wouldn't have to pay the higher shipping cost to Canada... that was reasonable.  Especially for a rosin that's clear with cool designs showing through. Their first generation rosin was good - hoping the 3rd generation is even better!

EDIT: Hey, I was late in noticing on their ad that you can request ULTRA Magic Rosin 3G (described as giving even more "pop") by using the comment box on the order!

Monday, October 15, 2012

And on the lighter side - Dorothy!

Okay, I admit it, I've been sucked into following the CBC Over the Rainbow competition for choosing Dorothy for Andrew Lloyd Weber's musical.

Down to the top six - they are all great in their own way.  I've favored Cassandra over the weeks, as she's a strong singer, spunky, and good on stage, but I wasn't convinced by her performance last night - I still voted for her, but didn't give her the bulk of my votes.  She's outstanding, but I'm not sure she's a Dorothy.  Jessie has a fantastic, strong voice - maybe one of the best in the upper range, but her low range is weak.  I gave her votes to keep her in a few weeks ago when she was in the bottom two spot two weeks in a row, but because of her difficulty with the low notes, I didn't support her this week.  I did give Stephanie a good portion of my votes. She wowed me with her performance this week, and I think she is quite versatile.  She was in the bottom two last week, and I wanted to do what I could to keep that from happening again.

So what happened? Tonight Jessie and Cassandra were in the sing-off!  The judges saved Cassandra. Sad to see Jessie go...  but in the sing off, Cassandra was stronger.

I'm not a big fan of this kind of contest where the audience chooses.  I think they really are largely popularity contests.  Early on, the judges were clear that two people who didn't deserve it were the bottom two in the sing-off. Probably it would be more fair if the judges narrowed it to two and the audience saved one of those two.  I think one reason I decided to participate in watching and voting was because I did not have any allegiance based on family, friends, location, etc., and would offer a "real" vote!

Jessie did give what I think was the best parting "Somewhere over the Rainbow" performance so far on her way out tonight.  It IS good to have shows like this to give exposure to the great young talent out there!

Cello Lineage and Heritage

Here are a few of my cello lines, with thanks to (Leaving out some of the multiple teachers.)

Romberg - Dotzauer - Shuberth & Dreschler:
Shuberth - Davidov- Klengel & vonGlenn - Piatigorsky
Dreschler - Grutzmacher - Klengel - Piatigorsky - Barton Frank - Me

Also: Merighi - Piatti - Whitehouse - Salmond - Barton Frank - Me

Others have traced Dotzauer's line back to Bach, and Romberg's line back to Corelli - not as cello lines necessarily, but other instruments or composition. Dotzauer's line also goes back to gambist Kozecz.

That's pretty impressive, I think... why don't I play better?? :-)

Truly, though, I AM attempting to pass on some of what I got from Barton to my own students, like the importance of TONE. Perhaps he got this from Felix Salmond? Here's an excerpt from an interview with cellist Bernhard Greenhouse (also a student of Salmond):
BG: Felix Salmond was enormously gifted when it came to &34;sound.&34; Frank Miller, Victor Gotlieb, Leonard Rose -- some of the best talents in America at the time -- came away from him with a beautiful sound. Unfortunately, Salmond was not a truly great cellist himself. He was a wonderful musician and a fine artist, but his technique was very limited. Consequently, his repertoire was very limited too.

TJ: If he wasn't a great cellist, then how did he teach so many first rate cellists?

BG: You don't have to be a first class cellist to be an effective teacher. He kept us in line by insisting that we use all of his fingerings and bowings. You could not come into his room and make changes because you thought you had a better idea. I now think this approach was wrong because it prevented us from learning how to think for ourselves. As a result, many of his students never went beyond using his editions, and weren't terribly creative artists.
Well, the first sentence of that last paragraph is reassuring to me for my teaching career! :-)

I don't recall every being "kept in line" by Barton in regards to fingerings and bowings... though he re-wrote the odd bowing in whatever edition I was using, and didn't encourage me to figure out fingerings and bowings for myself. I encourage my students, after a point, to think for themselves where there are fingering and bowing options.

Here is part of an online Salmond Biography. I didn't realize the modern bow hold originated with him. And you can check my lesson notes - Barton urged me to SING with my cello, also, comparing it to a voice:
Salmond developed a different bowing technique. Instead of spreading the fingers over the bow, with a rigid thumb, Salmond bent the thumb and placed the middle fingers together, more like a violinist. He stressed use of the arm rather than the wrist in crossing strings, again, a violin-like technique. He used the thumb, not pressure from the arm, as the source of power in the bow-stroke. This resulted in a less nasal, much more beautiful tone, and he consistently urged the student to strive for a beautiful tone. His recordings do show a lovely, singing tone. Not surprisingly, as the son of a professional baritone, he used reference to singing as his ideal. He called the cello the "singer par excellence of the [piano] trio, more able to sing than the violin or piano, and unequaled by them in its range of tone color. The violoncello can sing soprano, contralto, tenor, and bass, and it is capable of equal beauty of tone in all of these registers."

We'll look at Piatigorsky another time!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I've done it!

Progress to date
Or at least I have VIRTUALLY done it.  Our recreation society and my pedometer tell me "You have walked approximately 318.1 km so far!" (Since sometime last spring.)Larch HillsEast ShuswapNorth ShuswapSouth ShuswapInner ShuswapSalmon Arm Bay That is equivalent to taking the trails marked by the footprints around Shuswap Lake.  What a long hike!  I think it shouldn't have taken me quite so long, though....

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Practice Tips: Charts

Leslie Thackeray offers many varieties of free downloadable practice charts on her website The Practice Shoppe. My own students have a customized guide for weekly assignments and for review, and we also keep charts in the studio to record the number of days practiced for our "100 Days of Practice Club" but some of these charts Leslie offers can also be utilized for making repetitions or review more fun.

A few sample ideas:

"This week, let's see if you can do one scale for each Lego Man!  Let's see... there are 20 here, so you could do 4 scales every day for 5 days or 3 scales every day for 6 days plus 2 on the 7th."

"Here's a bullseye chart! Let's take those two measures you are working on.  Each time you play it, decide if you were right on target, or somewhere else on the bullseye.  Mark one of the targets each time you practice it. She wanted you to repeat it 6 times every practice day, so we should be able to mark 36 this week.  Next week we'll continue with a different project your teacher assigns and it will be filled up before we know it!"

"We are going to color in one star every time you play Twinkle, and show it to your teacher when every star is colored.  That's 100 times!"

This is what I'm going to do myself:

Using the "Fall in Love with Practicing" chart - 30 leaves - I will color one in every time I review one Suzuki book.  Tonight I played through books two and three.  Two leaves colored!