My third month of renaissance lute lessons.

. . .

WEEK 9

Showed teacher my progress from previous week of practicing. I mostly practiced just two very simple songs. Replacing the very first piece I learned "passamezo" -- trying to get it to sound good, with good timing, thumb rest, and a clean sound. My idea was to work up from there -- if I could get the basics down on one piece, I should be able to apply that elsewhere. I'm playing it better now (better sound, thumb rest) but my timing is still not consistent (little uncertainties cause the smoothness of the performance to be hampered). I also practiced the "calleno" piece, with similar results.

Teacher was pleased with results commenting "too bad we don't have a video camera, so you could see how many you've improved". His focus has really been on technique, which has been difficult for me, so in the past I've focussed on getting the notes out, and not on what they sound like, whereas my teacher wants me to get a good foundation before moving on with other pieces.

Teacher gave me two more things to focus on while playing any piece:

1) monitor colliding right hand figers. Try to extend my index and middle fingers and retract my thumb, so that there is plenty of distance between them, and they don't collide when playing chords.


(definition from http://www.global-language.com/CENTURY/)

2) "agogic" playing -- making sure to use a strong right hand stroke (thumb/middle) to on the downbeat to emphasize the rhythm.

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Practice this focussed initially on one piece: the "A Toye" listed as No. 3 in the Poulton lute tutor book. Then, I worked on Poulton's No. 4 (also "a Toye"), where I can play the notes, but with a metronome guiding me, I see that my timing is way off, and I'm having trouble with the dotted notes. More practice is needed with the metronome on this one. On both these pieces, as my hunch told me, and as directed by my teacher, I'm using index/middle for the high notes, and thumb rest for the bass line. Later, I also practiced Poulton's No.8, titled "Wilsons Wilde", which alternates slow and fast passages: a little more difficult, but a very pretty piece.

Also, continued practicing "Home Again, Market is Done" - this time trying to arpeggiate the 4 note chords that appear a few times in this piece. I have a question for my teacher as to whether this arpeggiated chord technique is appropriate in the 3rd (and final) movement (it's rushed, but it sounds ok to me).

. . .

WEEK 10

Received from teacher a page of exercises for arpeggiated 4 note chords.

In this lesson, teacher recommended that I go back to some thumb/index exercises, as I'm over-specializing on thumb-rest-with-index-middle technique. I practived the Scottish Tune, Calleno and the Newsidler Dance as thumb-index alternation.

Teacher also recommended that I focus an strong/weak thumb alternation correctly, by playing slower, and practicing pieces with alternating melodies and chords.

Went over "Wilson's Wilde", from lesson 4 in the Poulton tutor. Her strong/weak indicated fingering changes from one section to the next. Going over measures 25-27 with my teacher, we changed them to be the same as the other measures (strong/weak/strong), with the a subtle case, where the three notes in the measure lie on 3 different strings, and so using index/middle/ring was more appropriate.

I signed up to play a few pieces with other lutenists at a lunchtime concert at UC Berkeley. One of the pieces is in mensural notation, which I can't read yet -- one of the other performaners gave me chords in tablature notation to play instead, which is what I'll do.

On the lute discussion list, it was announced:
My lute teacher Margriet Verzijl has recorded the accompaniment to "Easy Duets for Two Lutes", edited by Anna Bailes and published by TREE edition (Lubeck/Germany), on CD. This "play along" CD is meant for (renaissance) lutists who want to play duets but don't have a lute playing partner. Great fun, good practice and excellent quality ! Tuning pitch is 415 Hz. The price for the CD is 15 Euro's or US $ 13,50 (but this excludes postage fee from The Netherlands). The CD can be ordered (exclusively) from Margriet at: margriet.verzijl@wxs.nl (pls note spelling: v e r z i j l ).

TREE EDITION, which publishes these exercises, is run by:
Albert Reyerman <albertreyerman@compuserve.de>
I emailed him asking about US sources for his publications, and he sent me this Tree Edition catalog, indicating that I could order by email and pay by check.

From TREE EDITION, I decided to order:
* 30 easy pieces for renaisance lute e15
* willem de fesch: sonata for recorder and lute e10
* method for renaissance lute, stefan lundgren e25
* easy pieces for two lutes, Bailes e20
* technical exercises for the right hand, Hoger e10
* Demo CDROM

. . .

WEEK 11

On saturday, rehearsing with other (much better) lute-players for a noon-day UC Berkeley Concert on January 24th. Michael Peterson sent out revised versions of the Passacaille (simple, 1a, 1b, 2, 2a, and the original score) and Allons Courons (version 1, version 2).