Friday, April 27, 2007

Phil Keaggy demonstrates E-Bow technique

NFL Linebacker In-Season Training Program

It is highly unlikely that I would ever follow such a program myself, because I am not a football linebacker. Still, it is interesting to see how a real NFL linebacker trains during an NFL season.

Check out Joe Defranco's program for an unnamed NFL linebacker.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bjork on Modern Minimalists, Pt 1

Tobogganing Safety Tips by Rush's Geddy Lee

While I haven't kept up with Rush much of late, as I prefer the warmer sound of their Moving Pictures album and other albums from around that era, I'm still an admirer of the band, particularly lead singer/bassist/keyboardist Geddy Lee. So I know I can always count on Geddy to give me great tobogganing advice!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Notes from the Janos Starker Masterclass

These are my notes from the Janos Starker Masterclass at the Hungarian Embassy in DC, in which which we watched Mr. Starker instruct two talented young students. No doubt I missed something, but I wrote down what I could.

All opinions expressed in these notes are Mr. Starker's alone. Both students were right-handed, so right-hand = bowing hand, left-hand = fretting hand.

The first set of notes are his comments directed at the two students (keep in mind both are advanced level, not beginners!):

- Beware of rigid thumbs. Thumbs need to be loose on both the fretting hand and the bowing hand.

- A practice to try with the bow: Hold bow in bowing hand with palm facing up and play with the balance.

- Beware of tension in non-playing fingers of the left hand

- In thumb position, "lean back" the index finger. I think he didn't want to see the index finger perpendicular to the fingerboard.

- "Hitchiker's Thumb" is not desirable in thumb position

- Practice slow vibrato technique. The demo of this slow vibrato practice looked similar to the latter half of the "Beginner 1" lesson on

- Less vibrato is preferable on notes with more natural overtones

- Tense right-hand thumb causes aggressive bowing

- Pressure on bow should come more from weight of arm, not the fingers. The forearm should "roll". Use knees to turn cello for more (volume? tone? I don't remember)

- Use less thumb pressure on bow. Arm should be suspended.

This set of notes are from Mr. Starker's responses to questions from the audience:

- To improve your intonation, work on double stops

- Use breath control to anticipate phrases

- "Accent" of cello playing is related to language (Russians play this way, French play that way, etc.)

- Two styles of vibrato: 1. Thumb is anchored 2. Thumb ??? (my note is unreadable, sorry) with arm

- There is nothing "natural" about playing the cello. The thumb opposes the 2nd finger because of the rotation of the arms to play the cello, not because of "nature".

- In thumb position, do not leave the thumb in the air ("Hitchhiker") or lying on the fingerboard if you are not using the thumb. Anchor it to the side of the fingerboard, from where it can be readily deployed when you need it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Improving Your Learning

Learning is a way of life for me. I'm learning how to play the cello, guitar, and other instrument, learning Yoga, etc. So, here's a relevant article I found, entitled 7 Little Known Ways To Drastically Improve Your Learning.

I'm not sure effectively I'll be able to apply the advice in this article, because, for example, I'm in the habit of diagramming how I play the cello. The article seems oriented towards the acquisition of nonphysical knowledge as opposed to learning how to perform certain physical skills and how to improve upon those skills. Still, I'll see how it goes.

Friday, April 13, 2007

How To Be Creative

This article has been out for a while, but perhaps you might enjoy reading (or rereading) it.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Pearls Before Breakfast -

Pearls Before Breakfast - describes a social experiment by the Washington Post:

Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he's really bad? What if he's really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment?

The passersby above were people passing through an indoor arcade just outside the L'Enfant Metro Station in Washington, DC. The street performer in question is the famous classical violinist Joshua Bell.

I wasn't surprised to read that Bell was for the most part ignored, despite the quality of his performances. If you read the article, you will find video excerpts from this social experiment.