I had to learn 12 pieces for a special Palm Sunday service.  We received the music only 10 days before the service.  I buckled down, loaded the music into my iPad Pro, transferred the recordings they gave us onto my computer, then onto my ipad, then into Amazing Slow Downer so I could play along with the music.  Then the task of going through the music, marking fingerings, repeats, noting dynamics, changing key signatures, changing time signatures, and generally trying to figure it all out quickly.

I felt pretty good about it when we had our one and only rehearsal one week later.  Until this.

Don’t be thrown by the 6 flats.   That was the least of my problems.  I had practiced the rhythms.  Once you get the hang of it, it just continues for about the next 100 or so measures.  Or it seemed like it.   What I failed to practice was going from several measures of half notes, lazily counting 1-2-3-4 and then changing to the 1/16 note pattern.   It took me several measures in the rehearsal before I got the hang of that rhythm and was able to play it.   Actually many more than “several”.   But I learned a great lesson.

First of all, it’s great to go to rehearsals and make mistakes.   This mistake was huge for me.  I had practiced the rhythms, but not changing my internal pulse and my counting BEFORE I actually got to the changes.   What I needed to do was to start the new rhythm internally in the half note measures before they started.  When I went home after rehearsal and figured this out, it made such sense that I wondered why I hadn’t considered it before.  BUT OF COURSE I was so focused on notes, fingerings, shifts, etc., etc., etc.

There are lots of things we have to do as cellists.  It’s a good thing we get to rehearse, make mistakes, and then have the opportunity to work through them so we can learn for the next time.



4 thoughts on “Practice doesn’t always get it done

  1. David B Teague says:

    Nancy, thank you for sharing a solution to a difficulty I have too!
    Transitions between disparate tempos and rhythms. … I cannot seem get my conductors to understand that it isn’t the sections that have odd rhythms that is a problem; rather, it’s the transitions from one rhythm pattern to another section with a very different pattern that cause me heartburn. Further, I have had great difficulty practicing the transitions at home. I have found a metronome app for my phone that will allow me to set one tempo and time signature for a section and another for the next section. Symphony season is essentially over for this year, but I’ll learn these work over the summer.

    The idea of putting sheet music and recordings on a tablet, having a pedal for paging, and use of the Amazing Slow Downer* are going to make preparing for and playing my next symphony season much easier.

    I’m well into planning for the tablet purchase. I’m thinking Samsung Galaxy View 18.4 + MobileSheets display software + pedal + charger + cables + ??.
    *IF the Amazing Slow Downer works on Android. If not, then perhaps I can slow the performance on my desk top, capture the output and transfer the slowed recordings to the tablet with minimal loss of flexibility.

  2. David, I think ASD does work with android. Also I’ll be VERY interested in hearing how the android version (Samsung Galaxy & MobileSheets) works compared to the iPad/ForScore version. Please keep me posted on how everything works for you.

  3. David B Teague says:

    I spent time searching reading reviews of the Galaxy View 18.4. It’s still running Android 5, but 8 is the current version.
    I’m not convinced I’d not be buying a $600 tablet that would turn in to a door stop.
    My plans to digitize are on hold until I can get some assurances that Samsung intends to upgrade the large tablet that I find essential to this project. I can’t find a sufficiently large tablet.
    A monitor is next best and I’m searching for a large, (18 inch?) touch screen monitor and a really stable stand, to be connected w/ bluetooth to a computer on the floor, a light weight lap top? Running Windows 10? More later.
    I _may_ have to take another look at the iPad.

    • David, I can’t comment on any device besides the iPad Pro. I can say that it is a dependable device and ForScor is the most amazing app for reading, marking, recording… music!

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