I am endeavoring to tune my cello (and later my violin and viola) via an A tuning fork. I received my tuning fork today. I ordered the lesser priced of the two tuning forks at Fiddlershop. I took a break from my cello today. I needed a rest. I have really been going at it to improve my intonation and play the sonata we have been working on in class really good. So much fun! But, I needed a break.
I have been playing without tapes for a couple weeks now and do feel like my hearing correct notes has improved. This is most noticeably with the “E”, “F” and “G” on the “D” string, and the “C” and “D” on the “A” string. Yes, they are used a lot in that Sonata for Cello. I am working on the slide from the B to C and then playing D on the A string and then the E on the A string that follows the D. That E is not a first position note. I am getting better with the slide from B to C with my first finger. This has been an extremely fun challenge for me. I guess I am a glutton for punishment!
I have gotten so I can hear the C pretty good when I hit it right. The D note is coming along now, too. I can almost remember the stretch needed. That is an big help in hitting the fingerboard in the right place. The feel of the stretch (not always what is considered a stretch depending on how easy it is to spread your fingers to reach the next note). What does it feel like to play the D after the C on the A string? Knowing that feeling is a big help for me. Cues like that are a big help.
I do have an issue with the slide up to the E after playing that D. It is about where the curve is on the neck. I usually hit the F instead of the E, or the D#. I will get it eventually. I haven’t gotten the exact sound of that E in my mind, which may be one issue. Have not ventured that far down on the fingerboard before. My instructor said that I am way ready for that and we will be venturing down there more.
Back to the tuning fork. I think using the tuning fork to tune my A string and then listening and tuning the D string to the A string, G to D string, and then C to G string will help me tune my ears. As a result, it should help me know when I have fingered the fingerboard properly for other notes. At least, that is my theory.
I also have a Korg tuner on order because it will give me immediate response so I can note where I was on the fingerboard and the feel of that position when that Korg says I hit it. This will be for beginning to learn a scale and will only be looked at for a note I am completely lost finding. I need the correlation of the feel on the fingerboard and stretch, and the correct sound to enforce that trouble spot. Guessing and adjusting does not work for me with an issue spot. The instant read of the Korg (when I get it) will help. For non-trouble spots, I do not look at the slow reactive tuner I have. It is turned off unless I find a trouble spot. But, with the Snark’s slow reaction to low cello notes, it is cumbersome. The Korg I ordered has a mic included and should give instant read. I don’t think I will be using it for long, at least that is not my intention.
I was hesitant mentioning the Korg. This post is not a debate against using a tuner and not using a tuner. Using one or not is a personal decision. I am just explaining my steps in improving my intonation and making my cello playing more fun that it is already. I will be able to use these same techniques for improving my violin and viola intonation. That will come after I am more comfortable and consistent with the cello.
Right now I get my viola and violin down and just play what I already know to keep it in my mind. I am able to listen to my notes and their correlation with my fingers, just as I have been doing on my cello. My system on my cello carries over to the violin and viola. As a result, without any real formal effort to advance, the violin and viola have improved slightly.
I still have a ways to go to get consistency, but I really feel like I have improved, am advancing, and can do it.