Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Update

Musically, it was a fairly slow year.  Bought a travel fiddle and was able to sit in a couple of Irish sessions in County Mayo in the spring. Went to SCOR again and met more folks that play in my region. Visited the Maine Fiddle Camp again this year for a week of fiddle and a week of cello. Played a little swedish fiddle at the West Virginia International folkdance camp. For something new I went to Fiddle Hell weekend near Boston for my birthday.

Continued to play chamber music with a couple of new friends I met at SCOR 2015.  We decided to do a concert for an ACLF for the holidays.  Here's an excerpt -- a divertimento by Haydn.  We named our group after it "The Baryton Trio".

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Maine Fiddle Camp - Videos

Berentanz / Dancing Bear
Cello Tango

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Balkan Camp + Maine Fiddle Camp

This turned out to be a major camping year.

One week in Balkan Camp followed by a week of the Maine Fiddle Camp.

At the Balkan Camp I took Albanian and Greek fiddle workshops.  Played the cello in the Albanian and Bulgarian ensembles.

I did several hours of cello workshops at the Maine Fiddle Camp but also tried some Irish fiddling and other stuff.

It was nice to remember tunes from thirty years ago.  I could actually play some of them in a group setting!   I definitely want to go back to Maine Fiddle Camp. It was wonderful.

Here are two tunes I learned at camp.

Da Slockit Light - Supposedly the composer was thinking about a fishing village in the Northeast islands that was being abandoned.

Something Albanian.

Friday, August 28, 2015


I attended the Chesapeake SCOR! String Camp for Adults in Bel Air, MD.  It was loads of fun.

On the morning of first day, the chamber orchestra worked on bowing baroque style correctly. By the time we finished, the piece we were working on sounded pretty nice.

How to Play Chamber Music Reminders were expounded upon: 1) Begin together and end together, 2) Getting the right rhythm is more important than getting the right notes 3) Fake it,  4) Have fun.

After lunch Emily Wright gave a cello workshop on bowing.  That was followed by small group work -- I was the only cello with four violins.  We read through a bunch of easy stuff and then tackled a Handel Marche with the coach.  We returned to the performance track ensemble where we were introduced to Cajun, Scottish and Bluegrass styles for the last hour.

The second day, the chamber orchestra worked on pieces for two hours in the morning. Emily Wright gave a talk about "how to practice".  My group of 4 violins and one cello spent ninety minutes together.  We received coaching on gesturing and telegraphing rhythms.  Emily gave a Q&A to the cellists while the violins had a technique workshop.  After dinner, there was a chamber music free for all jam.  One of the violinists was also a flutist so we read through a Mozart Flute Quartet.

The last day, the chamber orchestra spent ninety minutes preparing a couple of pieces for the afternoon share recital.  It was followed by an optional music theory lesson.  It was pretty comprehensive.  My 4 violin group voted 3 to 2 not not share our Handel Marche with the rest of the musicians.  We played it just to ourselves.  It sounded pretty good.  Should have recorded it.

The final share was sweet and short. (the rule was no repeats allowed).   Even the beginners sounded good.  There was no wincing and suffering. The workshop closed up by 3pm and a good time was had by all.

Definitely doing SCOR! again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer Keys - Cello Master Class Notes

Day 1 -
Channel the energy
Experiment, improvise
Practice making it easy - expand your sensory awareness
Be artistic, expressive, innovative, interpret the music.

Day 2 -
Up the bow, frog to tip
Pointing up on the up bow, pointing down on the down bow.
Running the bow along the bridge
Release the bow on circle bows so the strings ring
Sinking in with the vertical circle
Pulling back with the horizontal circle

Day 3 -
Fast coordination versus slow coordination
Using finger pads on legato - slow playing

Fast playing requires less bow per note
and keeping fingers closer to the string
Using one finger at a time. Blocking creates tension in the hand.

Up the scale, adding a note -- G, GA, GAB, GABC#, etc...
Down the scale, G, GF#, GF#E, GF#ED, etc.
building physical memory, faster motions in wrist and fingers

Top Down Learning.
Get the main notes and rhythm first, then fill in the gaps

Day 4 -
What makes practicing successful and rewarding?
Don't fight the instrument
Vibrato relies to left hand balance, arm, wrist alignment, springiness.
Finger articulation, fast playing. Practice the flexors, left hand pizzacato, strumming, playing chords and downward scales, 4,3,2,1
Using percussive motion with the left hand.
Be expressive in the upper register
Run fingers up and down the strings, each finger and also the whole hand as a block.