Old World or New, Sacred or Profane

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Track of the Wrist

Uploading an image for future use.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The kid's got a lot on the ball

Here's the sitch: He's now in his second year of elementary school orchestra. Tomorrow he auditions for elementary honors orchestra which, I gather, is school district-wide. There's 4 cellists in his elementary school orchestra, he's the only one trying out for honors orchestra.

Besides scales, the piece he is to play is the cello part to an orchestral arrangement of All The Pretty Little Horses. While it doesn't go above D one leger line above bass clef, I was has surprised at how hard it is rhythmically (This is for elementary school kids?!). A couple of meter changes, syncopation, 16th note runs, some portado, some pretty tricky stuff, considering. And he was told they want the A's longer than 16th notes on the D string.

Too hard for him (and me!) to just play through, so we did the Julius Ceasar thing in quite a few spots: Just a few notes several times, then just a few more notes, then put them together several times, then add a few more notes....

For a kid who hasn't had lessons, he doesn't seem to have 1st-position-itis. He just zips up to 2nd and 3rd position easily, likes it's no big deal. Hits that A to match the A string pretty well. There are other areas, though, where lessons will become critical. My opinion is that he needs to get the left arm higher for lower strings, a higher right arm to keep the point-of-contact from creeping up on the long down bows, get further back on backward extensions, take care to keep 2 finger from going sharp --- the usual suspects. But that's for a possible future teacher to decide.

I gained an increased appreciation of how hard it is to put directions into words, especially on the fly in the middle of things. Like with the syncopated rhythms, one can try to explain 'hold the A until after beat 1, then on the 'and of 1' play the Bb, then on the 'and of 2' play the C,...", or one can just say "It's: bah bah bah..." I get too tongue-tied. I'm more suited to the bah-bah-bah method (I think he was more comfortable receiving the bah-bah-bah method, too).

I certainly could see how, to be able explain things, one should not just know how to do it, but rather observe other teachers explaining things at that particular student level.

I hope he does well tomorrow.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Asked to coach a 12 year old boy

My sister-in-law called last night. She wanted to know if I’d be willing to come by on Saturday for a coaching session with a 12 year-old boy who’s auditioning on cello on Monday for a school “honors” orchestra. My sister-in-law has known the family for a long time, likes the boy and has “baby-sat” him often in the past, and the boy has apparently been playing cello for some time, but has never had a lesson.

Well, what could I say? Of course, I’ll come by. Naturally, I hope to motivate the parents to get the boy private lessons with a real teacher if the boy shows genuine interest. I’ll stress that I’m not at all qualified to teach.

Still, I’m quite looking forward to meeting a fellow traveler, even one 42 years younger than me, seeing how he does, and talking cello. I think it will be fun.

But since he’ll be meeting me, of all people, maybe some prayers for his cello-istic soul would be in order here.