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A Strange Thing Has Been Happening With My Practicing/Playing
This is with my cello, but, it could be the same experience for those playing violin or viola
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cid
December 31, 2019 - 9:49 am
Member Since: December 26, 2018
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The last three practice/playing sessions I have had with my cello have been extraordinarily good and I cannot explain why. My sound from cello actually Sounds Like A Cello, Intonation Seems to be Better and The Vibrato Jumped Forward a Huge Step, I Can Feel Myself Being More Relaxed. Why? I have absolutely no idea. I am posting this as separate posts one after another to explain what I mean and why it is an issue for those using a phone, like I do most of the time, to eliminate scrolling, or most scrolling.

Hopefully, I will get these observations posted one after the other before someone replies so the thread is continuous and makes sense.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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cid
December 31, 2019 - 9:50 am
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A Strange Thing Has Been Happening With My Practicing/Playing (cont)

Sounds Like A Cello

My cello, any of them, always sound so scratchy, etc. I know the main issue is bowing. One issue with bowing is that not wanting to or being able to play in front of others makes me very timid with with my bowing. I do not bow aggressively enough. “Aggressively” is not a good word. I don’t bow with enough purpose. My husband has no problem with me playing my instruments, even when he is sitting behind me doing something on his computer. But, I can feel myself hold back. “Someone might hear me” is always in the back of my mind, even with a mute. Yes, I have my electric cello, but I do the same thing, even when not plugged into my amp. I really need to get over this. I feel myself doing it in lessons, too.

For some reason, the last few days, since Dec 28, all of a sudden, the sound is not scratchy. The sound is sweet, full and round. I don’t think I have done anything different. It just sounded like that from the beginning on Dec 28 when I started playing my cello, Ada (the slightly above student level cello made in Germany by Andrew Schroetter). I thought maybe the Helicore strings on her just started sound better. I swapped her out for Belle (My professional level cello with Kaplan strings). It was the same thing. She sounded lovely.

I have no idea why the lesson piece was sounding lovely. No scratchy sounds, no issues at the frog snd tip. The frog and tip ends are reached often in this song. What changed all of a sudden? A pleasant puzzle.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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cid
December 31, 2019 - 9:51 am
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A Strange Thing Has Been Happening With My Practicing/Playing (cont)

Intonation Seems to be Better

My intonation is all of a sudden a lot better. It is, at least, on my lesson piece. I had been (hope this stays past tense) having issues going close enough towards the nut for the B and A# on the A string, and trouble going far enough towards the bridge for the B, C, D and E on the A string. The C, D and E are only used once, but the B is used about maybe 5 times. Most of this song, except for about 12 notes towards the end, are played on the A string. The other approximately 12 notes are on the D string. Sounds like it would be easy since it is pretty much on one string. It is not.

The higher register strings are difficult. You have to remember to bow closer to the bridge, your perspective when looking has changed to get the right intonation. You have to release the thumb from behind the neck to be on top of strings from C on up the scale and move it along with your fingering, and other adjustments for those upper registers. I don’t feel like I have done anything differently than before to make it sound better.

For some reason a lead up on the A string starting with the B to the A, in one section, is much better now. It just happened.

I, all of a sudden, I am going closer to the nut for my B and A# needs. I am scooting to the E from the B, C and C# (depends on where I am in the song) when I have to do that. I am scooting up from the C to the A better. My thumb is following along with me as I move up and down the neck, and my movements up and down the neck had just all of a sudden improved drastically on Dec 28. I had big issues with these movements on the fingerboard.

I have no idea why, all of a sudden, things changed on Dec 28.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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cid
December 31, 2019 - 9:51 am
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A Strange Thing Has Been Happening With My Practicing/Playing (cont)

The Vibrato Jumped Forward a Huge Step

We did work with vibrato a couple months ago. I have been practicing it on simple songs from Suzuki 1 and 2 because I have those songs down pretty much and can concentrate on the vibrato and not the song itself. I decided to try it on my lesson piece. It really uses a lot of vibrato when played correctly. Hmm. It is not perfect vibrato, but it sounded better than any vibrato I have ever done. I only use it on the dotted quarter and half notes. I am not quick enough to add it to the shorter notes. Even the eighth notes are rather long on this song, but my vibrato action is not fast enough to allow for it.

I then tried it on Danny Boy. It worked. Slow vibrato, but vibrato as I never played it with Danny Boy before. Why?

I do not think I am doing anything differently than what I was doing when I was playing around with vibrato. I just decided to try adding it to my lesson piece Dec 28. It was not perfect. I am saying that it was a heck of a lot better than it was the day before, Dec 27, when I played my cello. I was doing it on the Suzuki songs. I don’t get it. It was just natural. I had to keep myself from doing it too much because it was hindering  me in the non-dotted quarter and shorter notes. Baby steps. But, the dotted quarter and longer notes were actually okay with the vibrato; not a fast vibrato, but vibrato nonetheless. Why? I have no idea.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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cid
December 31, 2019 - 9:52 am
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A Strange Thing Has Been Happening With My Practicing/Playing (cont)

I Can Feel Myself Being More Relaxed

Also, on December 28, when I sat down to play, I just felt extremely relaxed. That was before I played, so wasn’t as a result of the better playing described above. The better playing described above did make me more relaxed as I played, than I was when I sat down. It just felt natural to hold my cello. It felt natural to hold my bow. It just felt, ... good. Why? I do not know.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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cid
December 31, 2019 - 9:52 am
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A Strange Thing Has Been Happening With My Practicing/Playing (end)

The Issue With The “I don’t know”

The problem with the “I don’t know” is that if I go back to the way it was, I have no idea what I did to make it better. Know what I mean? Why did ALL of this come together immediately upon sitting down on Dec 28? I played again on December 29. The exact same result. I have not picked up my cello yet today, knee is just a little sore at the moment. I think it will be the same result. I can feel it as I type this out. I want to play my piece on my cello so much right now, but my knee will cause me to have to keep shifting my position and I know that will mess me up, so I am, sadly, leaving it alone. I over did it after playing my cello yesterday. Oh, well. So, I am waiting before playing.

Because I don’t know what I did on December 28 that made things different, I have no idea how I would correct it if things go backwards. I am hoping to be able to video myself playing it this way so that if I freeze in my lesson, or have a bad day in my next lesson, I can show my instructor what I did.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Sasha
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December 31, 2019 - 11:15 am
Member Since: December 27, 2019
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That's great!

I know exactly what you mean.  I have not hit that point on the violin yet, but I have experienced that several times over the years on guitar and some other instruments.

This is just my take and thoughts as to what happens:  We spend a lot of time learning different techniques.  After a certain point, we have them ingrained enough in our brain and muscle memory.  At that point, a shift starts happening and we focus less on the actual mechanics of playing. That's when we start feeling the music and it starts coming out and on the next level.

And sometimes it slides back a little, but once it's there, it's not gone and just becomes more regular and consistent with continued practice.

For myself, I have learned not to over analyze it too much and just enjoy my progress at the new plateau.  If I do, it just gets in the way of playing again.

Those are just my thoughts on the process.  Congratulations again, and enjoy it.  😀

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cid
December 31, 2019 - 11:35 am
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@@Sasha Makes sense. Just weird. I hope it is mot a fluke. Will just have to not think about it. Sure makes it a lot more fun!

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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intrepidgirl
Bragg Creek, Alberta
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January 1, 2020 - 10:42 pm
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@cid What a wonderful Christmas present. I don't think it is a fluke. Even if your practicing seems to vary in the future, once you see you are capable of these qualities, it will lead you on to more success Inthink. Well done, the fruits of practicing!

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wtw
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January 2, 2020 - 3:12 am
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I know how that feels @cid … enjoy ! Whether or not it goes back to what it was before (these instruments are fickle little things after all 😛 ), your brain and body will know what it's supposed to sound like and what being relaxed feels like. I think you'll be able to catch that state more and more often.

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