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Mendy Smith

Scales can be pretty too

January 23, 2008 at 7:37 AM

Another lesson and another new experience. It started as normal, my wild eyed look after a hectic day/week at work (finished a conference call the moment I stepped into the front door), my teacher picking up on that, and doing some Yost exercises to literally shift my way "into music mode". It's impossible for me to think about work when my teacher talks to me continuously about hand formation while playing. Ahhhhhh, relaxation!!!!!

Then onto scales WITH vibrato... miraculously my intonation on this new way of studying scales got better, and I was still wiggling some on the Cing. Last time I tried this, my cats hid under the bed and I was prepared to bring ear-plugs with me to lessons to save my teacher's ears. When I reached 3rd position on the A string, he began playing a counter melody (3rds) along with me. He's pulled this trick on me before during lessons. It's amazing how I could adjust my intonation to make the 3rd sound just ever so perfect. With the vibrato added, it was like playing a duet, even though it was just a simple scale. How beautiful!!!! We experimented a bit with HOW to get my first finger to vibrate in 1st position. I got a wiggle or two on the A string, and a single wiggle on the D string for a nano-second.

Then onto Hummel. It was my first try without him playing along with me and without a metronome. I played the first few lines that I've been practicing. Stop. "OK, we need to work on..." he started saying. I interrupted "RHYTHM!". "Yes!" he said. The electronic torture device is pulled out and placed on the stand. I REALLY do prefer my old fashioned mechanical metronome! There is something about the electronic clicks that drives me mad. After several evil glares at this electronic torture device (I'm thinking to myself at this point that I want to chuck this thing out the window), he turns it off (thus saving himself from trying to find it later in the dark in his backyard) and plays along with me again. We work on the turns again, and slowly move our way along the the first half of the first page, pausing to work on each turn in turn.

Then, "music candy".... the cadenza!!!! He takes a seat and tells me to go for it!. After warning him that there was going to be no rhythm, dynamics, bowing focus or vibrato happening at all whatsoever, but only a focus on getting the notes in tune (somewhat) - I give it a go. Wooohooo! I hit the high D again, and actually did pretty good at the double-stops going up beyond 5th position, including the double-stopped harmonics, then followed by several other harmonics including one that is fingered at the end. At the run of 32nd notes I stumbled and stopped. He worked with me a bit on a few of the technical and stylistic aspects of playing this cadenza. I got to listen to him try it on his own again while I mentally followed along.

Then my homework assignment: Wiggle work with my 1st finger in 1st position (vibrato comes easier to me when I think of a Jello commercial...), some self study on the 16th note bowing exercises on the last page, practice on the turns, Yost excercises for the cadenza (from 2nd to I think 8th position, I'll have to count it out again) and continued focus on rhythm (more metronome work - but thankfully at home with my old-fashioned mechanical clicker rather than an electronic torture device).

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