100 Days of practice

Your whole life changes perspective when you are working focused on something.

I love practicing.

- It is interesting how repeated effort can build new skills.
- How the way to mastering something is never straight.
- What you learn about your mind, heart, fingers and free will in the process.

In the 100 days from March 8th - June 16th, you can read my daily practice notes here on the blog and get an insight to what lies behind the music you hear in a concert.

It is nerdy and quite personal, but maybe relateble to your own field of interest.

 

Day 72 - May 17th - Interview and photoshooting

I still can't play with my index finger.  I'm glad the performance tomorrow is cancelled due to Covid.

I did play some today though. Had a visit from journalist, Marlene Grøftehauge and photographer, Søren Jansby from the magazine "Home".

We had fun shooting photos outside while I played for people at this fountain.

Marlene took this wonderful photo of Søren taking a photo of me.

I really hope my finger gets better soon, so that I can practice for real again.



 

 

 

 

Day 71 - May 16th - This must not happen

Today I only practiced 10 min.

My left index finger hurts like crazy after it cracked some days ago and I played a concert with it anyway.

I think it might have happened due to too much hand sanitizer. I should make a roule for my self to check my finger tips every day and make sure to prevent hard skin from cracking.

Don't look at the next picture if you don't like to see open wounds... (:

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 70 - May 15th - Listening silently to each other

I liked this a lot. 
Concert in Sjkern Kulturhus today.
I like the way Svenning and Eva are present in their dance. The moment they take before dancing. Looking at each other before their hands meet, almost listening to each other silently.

The grace and sensitivity of their movements.
And I enjoyed playing with Frederik Munk Larsen.

The only thing today was my 1st finger that cracked the other day. It felt as if there was a piece of broken glass inside my finger, just where I press down the strings. (and that 6 weeks old headache is also kind of annoying, but that's another story)

My good friend Morten from Hammel came and listened to the concert with dance and was so kind to send me this photo from the performance.

Day 69 - May 14th - Leo <3

I'm staying at my friends place near Aarhus. She lives in the most charming collective with 6 people and two cats.

Leo, the most charismatic cat, loves to join you for everything. I practiced and prepared for a concert in Skjern tomorrow.

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 68 - May 13th - pain

Treating my finger with iodine. The color matches my cello case.

My left index finger cracked just where I press down the strings. I only practiced for an hour today and it hurted all 60 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 67 - May 12th - Double joy

During 100 days you realize that there are several different practice modes. Today was one of the more intense kinds, the 'preparing for concert - mode'.

Due to the Covid situation it was only possible to have very little practice time together berfore this concert combined with tango performance, and I was really wondering how it would go. But we did our best and even practiced on our way in the train. And to my surprise, it turned out great.

In the photo Frederik Munk Larsen, the tango dancer couple Svenning Hoffmann and Eva Refshauge and I are posing after the performance.

It was a joy to play and wach them dance. It added the whole visual dimension to the music.

Double joy.

Actually triple, music joy, dance joy and 'it went well joy'.

Day 66 - May 11th - the art of playing together

Visiting my friend in Aarhus and rehearsing with Frederik Munk Larsen for a concert in Skive tomorrow. 

Strange times, when it has barely been possible to practice together. We had 2 hours reheasal today and will get at bit of time tomorrrow also.

The art of playing together is a very advanced kind of working together. You have to be creative together. To find out what is this piece of music about. What will we do with it. People do this in innumerable ways and it seems like sometimes it just works other times you have to find out.
I like to be intuitive in this process. Just see what comes - not nessesarely analysing or defining.

Since I play so much solo repertoire, it is very refreshing to have ideas coming from someone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 



Day 65 - May 10th - Dangerous accents

In the famous tango 'El Choclo' the accents are actually between the beats.

That must be why there is a certain dangerous feeling to this kind of music...

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 64 - May 9th - two sisters

To find the right expression for a piece of music I often have a picture for my inner eye.

I heard that already far back in time, in the East, they said that music and pictures are like two sisters. That they amplify the experience of each other.

And it's true. Thats the secret to film music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 63 - May 8th - Study trick 2021 style

Imagine back in time when Bach lived. You had to read handwritten sheet music in candle light, maybe sitting in a cold and humid room, playing on gut strings that constantly got out of tune.

Such a contrast to my comfortable practice room here on 5th floor. It is also very modern style to practice the way I did today. 
I found recordings of all the music for the concerts next week and played along with headphones on.

It's one of my favorite practice tricks. The benefits are:
- You get to  know the accompaniment
- You can take inspiration from different interpretations
- Your auditory memory of the music improves

Day 62 - May 7th - Freelance life (don't read this post)

In the morning I practiced the tango program for next week, but while I was playing things kept coming to my mind:

- Don't forget to reply to that concert request.
- Send that invoice now, it's two months ago.
- Today I must listen to those pieces he sent me and reply about the program.
- When is the deadline for yearly accountings?
- I must make an appointment with the sound engineer next week, if the CD isn't published by June 30th I'll have to pay back the sponsors.
- Why didn't I get any confirmation for that application to the Government's Arts foundation? - I should check up on that.
- I'll have to find out how to go from Skive to Skjern next week.
- Where will I stay in the days between?
..................       ......................    ............      .......  .... 

At some point I couldn't focus on the music because of this pile of urgent tasks. Honestly at some point I couldn't even sit upright anymore, because of all this backlog.

I called my friend and asked if she had time to meet, and if she could maybe give some advice. 

I'm so grateful for her time and help. She said: "Now you make a list of all the things that you have to do. Then I come back and help you do it."
I made a list and got 43 different things that needs to be done right NOW. She made us hot chocolate and we got started. I started around 15.30 and We worked until past midnight. 14 things on the list are now partly done.  

I have to find a system. I'm not behind because I'm lazy. I work from I get up till I'm exhausted and go to bed. If I take care of all the organizing and emails I have 0 hours for practicing. It has been like this for years and it can not continue for the rest of my life!
Art and music is about communicating what we have inside. What's inside me right now, I definitely don't want to bother anybody with.

- That's why you souldn't have read this post. :-)

Day 61 - May 6th - Performing in a Unesco World Heritage Cathedral

A photo from Roskilde Cathedral today. It is gigantic, the altar i golden, the accoustics are perfect and the building is on the Unesco World Heritage list.
I premiered 4 new pieces.

Today is first day of opening in Denmark after 4½ months lock down. I was surprised how many people who dared to come. It was nice to have an audience to share the music with.

Tomorrow my practice schedule will change to another program - Tango concerts with Frederik Munk Larsen next week!

 



 

 

 

Day 60 - May 5th - Music can't keep a distance

When the sun comes through the evening clouds for a few minutes on a rainy day, and you can make this kind of shaddow photo.

I just timed the program that I'm playing in Roskilde Cathedral tomorrow. It is a total of 56 minutes of active music, incl 4 new pieces that I have written during Lock down.

It is for something called 'Night church' and I'm wondering if I can say a few things to the listeners between the pieces, or if the idea is to have a long meditative flow.

I prefer to talk a bit in concerts. It's a good way to connect to people, to make everyone including myself relax.
I feel that through the music I get very close to people. Sometimes I picture the tones flying out in the room, stroking someones arm or that a deep tone goes right into the heart.

Sound actually sets particles in the air in motion. So even though we keep the recommended corona distance, the music does touch us - also physically.

Day 59 - May 4th - The art of timing

If you ask me, there is no doubt about it: Timing means everything in music.

Therefor it has been so interesting to work with some of Denmarks finest actors (Karen-Lise Mynster, Lise Baastrup og Asger Reher) over the last few days.

- Because, for actors, it seems like timing is a totally natural thing to care about. A pause intensifies what has been before it and what comes after it.

But a pause is not just a pause, there are so many different ways to pause.

It can be a hesitation, a way to agree or diasgee, it can be simply ignoring what has been said, or a way to catch the listeners attention by stopping before you tell the point of your story.

Isn't it interesting that silence can be so many things?

I think I'll start to listen more for different pauses in our everyday life. It can probably be very usefull also in music.

So today we recorded the Radio Theater "Iris" by Marie Bjørn, Instructed by Niels Erling. The photo is from the studio.

I also practiced in the evening, because I have a solo performance in Roskilde Cathedral Thursday.

 

Day 58 - May 3rd - the alchemy of sounds

Today I have been making sounds and music for a radio theater called Iris.
We discovered that a slowly upwards going figure adds a feeling of something scary and the same figure going downwards slowly gives a feeling of sadness.

Interesting how the music changes the whole feeling of what is being said.

 

 

 

 



 

Day 57 - May 2nd - the sum of hearts...

I played in Lyngby Babtist Church today. Wonderful warm hearted people.
- First performance in a long time. Maybe everything is opening again now. 


That feeling, as if the music just happens. You don't do anything, except playing.
The music takes shape by it self, like a sum of all the people in the room at that moment, the light through the window, the shared inspiration.
We were there, gathered, and the music came.

 

In the evening I had time to practice playing pieces by heart.
Just the right thing to do after such a heart warming day. (:

 

 

 



 

Day 56 - May 1st - There is another gear

You can focus, concentrate, do your best... - and then you can 'hunt'.

I repeat some challenging passages over and over. Day after day, kind of hoping for progress, but I'm not really satisfied even though I work hard. 

Then I decide that it can not be like that!
I go into a different gear. The metronome is still running at the same speed, but I hunt each tone. I anticipate it while I'm playing the previous and I catch it, getting ready for the next, and the next...

It feels as if time changes. Each beat of the metronome becomes 'wider'.
I'm wondering what is happening in my brain and body - ?

Today I have been practicing/playing for 2,5 hours and hunting for ½ hour.

 





 

 

 

Day 55 - April 30 - Fiery Soul 2021, Mette Hanskov

Today I had the honour of revealing "Danish Radio Fiery Soul Award" Mette Hanskov. She is a bass player at the Royal Theater and the conductor of both 'Publikumsorkesteret ' and 'Generationsorkesteret'
It was for the anual P2 Awards Concert in Odense which was streamed on Danish Radio.
She is a truly amazing person, who gather peoople with very different musical skills and make it sound beautiful. 
I'm very impressed with her never ending enthusiasm and ever bubbly mood.
Look at her, shining like the sun!

 

(It would be wrong to say that I practiced today, but I played some hours. Met with 3 actors and the instructor and worked on a radio drama called 'IRIS'.)

 

Day 54 - April 29th - The lock down bliss is fading

The view from my practice room today. Had a glass of ginger combucha.

I love rainy days in the spring.

At the moment I don't get much of a chance to actually practice the repertoire I'm working on. It's more like learning small pieces for different performances that are coming up.

I'm composing music for a radio theater that we will record over the next days, and preparing to perform in Roskilde Cathedral May 6th and in Lyngby this coming Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 53 - April 28th - another trick

This photo is taken exactly 3 years ago on my concert tour by bycicle along the Rhine.

One thing is preparing in your practice room, but you also have to prepare mentally.

If I have a challenging concert, or an audition - something that is important and makes me nervous - I sometimes go up somewhere high a few days before.
I'm not particularly afraid of heights, but fortunately just enough to use it in a little trick.

Going up there I exercise my ability to stay calm and focused moment for moment. You could say the ability to keep the adrenalin level as low as possible. - just like in the concert situation.

For me it is a very effective way to prepare.  (- must be better than Betablocker)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 52 - April 27th - One more to the list

I realize I need two lists.
One for things that makes you improve faster on your cello
- and one that saves you from stress and such things, which is also nessesary for your ability to focus.

Computer work, phone calls and dealing with a lot of different appointments makes me stressed. Sometimes I feel like my brain is becoming fluid from trying to multi task and shifting from one thing to another too many times in one afternoon.
Being a freelancer is not simple and I'm very gratefull to have so much work. But to be honest, I'm very stressed at the moment.

Walking bare feet and feeling the green and the humid soil, maybe laying in the dewy grass is one of the best cures for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 51 - April 26th - Crafts and art

For the last few days I have been following the making a new thatched at the neighbours through the window from my practice room. It is fascinating to see this old craft done by two skilled men.

Somehow playing an instrument is also a craft. You have to know how to handle your instrument.
But then there is that extra dimension of expression in the music.

In the last 50 days, I would say I have been mostly developing my craft.
Working minutely with technical stuff makes you a better craftsman and sets you free to fill out the music with life.

 

Day 50 - April 25th - Half way, whish it will never end

Sunrise this morning at 6 am.
Everything is transforming at the moment. Small green leaves, flowers, longer days.
I can't help but thinking about a new beginning for my self as well.
I dream of a life where I have a chance to practice 4 hours a day.
 - I don't ever want the 100 days of practice to end!
Maybe I should change it to 1.000 days of practice.

During the first 50 days I have realized the difference between playing and practicing. 
When I have a lot of concerts I only have time to play and learn the pieces. Now I have time to practice in depth. To learn new repertoire that is more demanding. To develop my way of playing and open my ears for more nuances.

Just 4 hour a day - that's not too much to ask for, I think.

Day 49 - April 24th - "for them"

Saw a little clip from a master class with Rostropovich on Instagram. She plays wonderfully, but he stops her and says:
"Yes, yes, but for them, for them!"

I agree.

It is a very strange feeling to have been playing just for my self for so long now, during lock down.
But the good thing is, that to be able to connect to the audience, you need to be very fluent in the music you play, and that's what I have been working on for a while now.

 

 

 

Day 48 - April 23rd - One more to the list...

... of 10 things that support progress in the practice room.

 Running or being in shape is good, but cello making is even better. 

The reasons are:

- You build muscles. (Especially your bow technique gets better from sawing.)

- You train your ability to focus. (When you cut wood there is no such thing as 'ups, that was wrong, I'll try it again.' When a piece of wood is cut off, it's irreversible, and that mindset spill over onto practicing.)

Your ability to focus becomes more persistant and your focus becomes razor sharp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 47 - April 22nd - Who said that?

Which of my teachers was the one who said,
"Just keep it next to the bed."
It's a really good trick.

First thing in the morning today I played one of my latest compositions. I made it last spring during Lock down and it's called 'Open Window'. I rarely play with open windows, but that day I forgot to close it, and it was as if the melody came from an unknown listener outside. 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 46 - April 21st - Changing mental habits

This picture is how it looks from a cellist's point of view.

Felt a lot of progress today. It is not really the hours that count when practicing. It is much more the concentration, but for building muscles it is for sure the hours that count.

I'm still establishing a mental mode of looking at the fingerboard as a map.

And I'm nurturing a more exact angle of the bow for each string.

This kind of details are truly the right point of focus for a 100 days of practice, because it takes a lot repeated effort to change your mental habits.

Day 45 - April 20th - just another day of practice

Played with the birds today. 

And practiced quite a lot with the metronome again. (3½ hours)
Was surpriced how I could feel my left hand is stronger now. Everything feels easier.
- And believe it or not. I found another better fingering for that bar in La Vida Breve. Now I did really remove the awkward shift and instead I have a long tone with my thumb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 44 - April 19th - The cherries are blossoming

I practiced for 4 hours today.

Broke pieces into small parts, practicing only a few bars at a time.
3 hours and 17 min with metronome according to my phone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 43 - April 18th - How to achieve results using this one simple trick! (:

Today my cello turns 3. We celebrated with a little video on Facebook.

Recording yourself is without question the most effective way to improve fast. That and metronome if you ask me. - And steady repetition morning and evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 42 - April 17th - Not asking for permission

In Manuel de Falla's La Vida Breve there is one figure that comes back again and again, and it is not easy.
It has held me back from learningthis peice for years, because I thought it was not really suited for cello.

But now while I'm learning it I realize that it is not a difficult piece. It is actually just one single tone constellation between c and e on the A string that is difficult.

I have already changed the fingering twice and it has become better, but today I think I found the ultimate fingering. My first thought was: "wow, nice! - but is that allowed?"
- Crazy right, 'allowed'. Of course you can do whatever you like. 
So I play the c with 2nd finger and then I go up and play the e - also with 2nd finger.
What is better about this is, that you play the high e with 2nd finger which is much stonger than 3rd, that I used before. It makes me feel more confident and threefore able to play a better loud forte - not asking anybody for permission! (:

Day 41 - April 16th - The right tempo

When studying new pieces it is important to find te right tempo. I like to practice with the metronome in this phase.
If it is too slow my attention weakens and if it is too fast I'm learning to play it in a stressed manner.

I usually start a bit too slow and then go up step by step. It's almost like playing a computer game.

 

Everything smelled like spring today.

 

 

 

Day 40 - April 15th - Never a day off

For the last week I have been focusing a lot on two applications for compensation for cancelled concerts in 2020.
It was SO complicated and involved finding around 80 old emails and invoices, calling the foundation's hotline several times and calculating like crazy.

Finally today I sent the applications and was looking forward to practicing, but my head was totally unable to fucus. Not even a walk in the fresh spring air or an ice cream could remove that awful headache.

Normally when it is not lock down I would push myself to practice or to go out and play that concert. But today I allowed myself to just play easy stuff in the candle light while the sun went down and the new moon came up.

Day 39 - April 14th - What can you do?

What can you do to improve your ability to learn and focus?

I think I'll make a list of 10 things that benefit progress in the practice room.

It's probably different from one person to another. It can be both things that motivates you and things that improves your health and ability to concentrate, maybe also things that provoke you - ?

Here is the first thing on my list:

1) Running

 



Day 37 - April 13th - Today it has been all about...

... looking at the fingerboard as a map.

It is so simple. All the tones have their coordinates. It sounds obvious, but I think the fact is, that you often play much more on your ear. Wich you should of course also do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Day 36 - April 12th - Sound Ambassador

Today Widex launched their new project, where I'm casted as Sound Ambassador. It's a big honour to work with them. We made an interview about what the role of sound is to a musician.

You can hear it here: Widex interviews

They quote me for saying "the eye is the mirror of the soul, but the ear is like a door to the soul."

Isn't that right?

Practiced Manuel de Falla today until my left arm got sore.




Day 35 - April 11th - I have 10 fingers

Today it is 3 years since my right index finger was saved.

I had gotten blood poisoning in a tiny scratch. From my gloves I think. My finger was double size and dark purple with a black spot and there were blue lines coming up my arm. 
I went to the emergency room at the hospital. A young doctor with a big smile said they had to open my finger with a knife and rinse it, if I wanted to keep it.
I didn't like that thought, and got intravenous penicillin over night to see if that could cure it.
Next morning the chief physician looked seriously at my finger and asked me: "I heard you are a musician. Do you want to continue doing that?" - "Yes I do!" was my promt reply.
- Then I knew we had to do it.
I was there for 5 days and they cut it open twice to get out the uninvited streptococcus, under general anesthesia.

It truly made me grateful for our healthcare system - and for my finger.

As a musician you develop a lot sensitivity in your hands, and I still feel the scar all the time. I'm constantly streching it, trying to make it more flexible. But the main thing is that I have all 10 fingers and I can play music with them!

Day 34 - April 10th - 'La Vida Breve'

Today I found out that I can change position on 1st finger - instead of 2nd to 3rd - in bar 9 of Manuel de Falla's 'La Vida Breve'. 

If I had just gotten that idea a week ago...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 33 - April 9th - That is 1/3 of 100

That moment in the evening when the sun shined through dark blue clouds and bathed the living room in rosy light.

I wanted to take a photo of my beloved cello and caught sight of my shaddow in the picture, looking at it with tons of love. 

I only practiced for 45 min today. The rest of the time I spent doing yearly accountings and figuring out how to apply for compensation for all the cancelled concerts during lock down. - and went for a run, and took the covid test of the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 32 - April 8th - The joy of progress

Reflecting in reflections of the morning sun in my practie room.

After years of non stop performing, this lock down has reminded me of how it was when I first started playing. That joy of having your own project. Just for your own sake. Not because of a deadline or anything. Just the joy of progress. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Day 31 - April 7th - "Not doing that would be false pride"

The distance between the tones on a cello simply gets smaller and smaller the heigher you go.

It has been a revelution for me to start looking at the fingerboard like a keyboard. Knowing that each tone has its coordinates. It gives me a feeling of peace.

While I was studying I had a period when I actually put thin tape lines for each tone all the way up. - Like the ones beginners have, just a lot more.

I kept it a secret from my teacher, and removed it for every lesson, because I thought he would find it silly. But I remember that he was noticing new perogress in my playing and asked what I did.

Today I still have 5 tiny marks on the side of my fingerboard. It is like 5 stations.
I think of all tones according to those stops. I don't think I look at them very often, but I know where they are, and the visual confirmatin removes tension - especially in big jumps.

I once met one of the most recognized and virtuous bass players of your time, Bozo Paradzik, who showed me that he uses nail polish to mark the tones on his finger board. He said "Not doing that would be false pride. I tell all my students to go and buy nail polish."

I think he is right, it is time to break the taboo. Not everyone needs it, but I'm sure I'm not the only one: Marks on the fingerboard can save you hours of practice, give you freedom to make music instead of just tones, to share art instead of prooving you skills. - I could go on.... It sets you free.

Day 30 - April 6th

Some parts of my next cello. There is still a lot of work before it will play.
I have always had a wish to 'be one with' my cello, and building my own instrument has taken that to a new level.

Today I was surprised by how my hands have gotten stronger during these 30 days. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 29  ************ April 5th ***************

Snow in April. Perfect day for practicing with a cup of tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 28 - April 4th - A trick... change your perspective

I was practicing a tricky position shift on the A-string from C to E in thumb position. It goes very fast and I want it to not feel stressful - maybe even feel good.

The C with 2nd finger is fine, but then you jump to the high E, landing on 3rd finger (ring finger, wich is by nature softer and less secure.) 
So I'm practicing slowly, promising myself to keep a controlled slow tempo for a few days. 
Still after a few days it is an unpleasant position shift.

Then today I remembered an old trick.
"What if there is no position shift?"
What if I change my way of looking at it?

I know very well where that high E is, and 'good old C' on 2nd finger is right there.
So I play the scale up to the C. Then after that I play from the E which is first tone in the next fugure.

It makes a big difference and removes the tension. I can actually suddenly play it in tempo and feel good about it.
So what I do is to think of the tones as specific points on the fingerboard that I'm going to hit. Instead of thinking of that difficult distance that my hand is going to move.
I also make a division: A section up to the C and a section from the E. - In that way removing the shift.
I works very well!

Day 27 - April 3rd - Time investment and goals

For about a month I have been working on pure enthusiasm. I'm waking up early in the morning and my first thought is, "What time is it - can I practice now?"
I'm so addicted to my metronome and to minutely working on positions shifts and bow angles.

I could probably go on like this for the next 73 days, but at this point I'm thinking of setting some goals, so that in the end I'll have some new pieces in my repertoire collection.

Therefore, today I enjoyed very much to put all my new sheet music in order. I can't wait to play this music fluently. 

 

I think I spent 4 hours practicing today. It was mostly thumb position and heavy barre chords - and that was how much my left arm could take. 

 

 

 



 

 

Day 26 - April 2nd - Uggeløse Kirke

Today I performed with Jakob Strandby and Aya Krogh Jørgensen in Uggeløse Kirke.

Due to the lock down we could only rehearse one hour before.
We were wearing both masks and visors and kept a 2m distance. Even my cello was wearing his visor.

It was wonderful to play together with somebody, and for somebody, again.

 

In the afternoon I finished the arrangement of M. de Falla 'La Vida Breve' for guitar and cello. - I can't belive it took 3 days...

Now I finally have a new collection of music to work on. 
Got really hooked on the metronome work again tonight. I'm focusing on the contact between the bow hairs and the string.

When you have the right kind of relaxed fingers, feeling as if they were glued to the bow, the tone will start very promt and clear. Then when you find just the right angle of the bow the tone is singing noticeably more open. It's such a good feeling.

 

 

 

Day 25 - April 1st- What's the difference?

Went for a walk in the afternoon break. I was on the phone with my music teacher since childhood, Kæthe Kristiansen.
We haven't seen each other for a long time due to the lock down, but we often call each other.
Today we talked about the '100 days of practice' and what the difference is from the 100 days, where you would practice anyway.

I think the difference to me is that I'm pushing my limits in these 100 days. Usually I might just practice to be ready for different concerts, but never really studying in depth.

Right now I can hear how things start to work because of the structured practice and from focusing on technical issues repeatedly.

Day 24 - March 31st - arranging music

I'm composing and arrangin music from the moment I get up till I'm too exhausted to do any more.

Listened to Enrique Granados' 12 Spanish dances outside in the lovely weather. They are very well made all of them, I'm inspired to arrange them for cello and guitar.

I also made an arrangement for cello and guitar of M. de Falla, La Vida Breve. It took 4 hours...

 

 

 

 

Day 23 - March 30 - Composing a Vivaldi Sonata 

Today I composed a Vivaldi Sonata. - Or at least two movements.

The idea is to make it sound like Vivaldi even though it's me.
I stole some of his bass lines and made Vivaldi-like melodies above them. It sounds quite baroque like and I'm curious to try it with a pianist.

I also practiced for a performance this Friday in Uggeløse Kirke with Jakob Strandby and Aya Krogh Jørgensen.

And finally (only because the neighbour is not at home) from 22 - 23 I played my new piece 'Siebte Saite'.

Even though I have been making music all day, I feel like I haven't practiced intensly as I did last week.


I really need new material to work on. I played through Schubert's Arpeggione in the morning. I played it for my exam at DKDM in 2010, and my fingers still remember a lot of it. BUT it is one of the most challenging pieces you can play on a cello, and I wonder if I'll get a chance to be in that kind of shape on the tour in August. There is usually not that many hours of practice when you also have to bike. - I think it is out.

Day 22 - March 29th - Secret fetish

I have a secret fetish with this kind of photos. They make my cry laughing.
If you google 'cello girl' you get all kinds of them. They are probably only funny to cello players.

The photographer and the model must have had so many challenges stringing this cello-musical-instrument... They did a good job making her hands look very professional.

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

One day in a studio I had to copy that photo.
- That feeling of holding the bow that way, relaxing my left hand and just really imagine that I'm playing the most beautiful music on my 100$ eBay cello without a bridge.

 

I practiced something like 1½ hout today.
Spent 3 hours writing down a new composition I made, 'Siebte Saite'.

I probably also spent 3 hours looking for a new piece that I want to learn. - Right now I'm a bit frustrated, because I can't find anything that I really want to play. Somehow I just want to compose something. Then you get wat you want.

 



Day 21 - March 28th - A drawing

A friend of me, Hans Ebert, gave me this drawing that he made during a live stream concert some weeks ago. He was in the live audience and drew it without being able to see the paper because it was so dark.
He is a virtuoso.
I'm really impressed and I really like it.
That is just how I recall the feeling of that concert. When you have practiced enough to feel that the cello and you become one thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 20 - March 27th - Morning and evening

Played for the almost full moon this evening.

You can see it through the window in my practice room.

I have discovered that the fastest way to progress comes when you repeat your practice morning and evening.

It feels like I have done the first round of De Falla's Popular songs, and could move on to something else now.
I'm considering which bigger piece it could be.

It is such a privilege to be allowed to play what you like.

 

 

 

 

 





Day 19 - March 26th - Fingerspitzengefühl

So 2dn finger cracked from too much hard skin and 4th finger I cut on a mini plane while building cello.

It hurted too much to play with 4th finger, so I could only practice high register in thumb position today. 

But that was fine. I'm still developing a habit of adjusting the bow angle on the A-string. It makes a big difference to the articulation and power.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 18 - March 24th - Under a spell

When you are under the spell of the Practice Muse, the first thing you think of in the morning, - and afternoon - and evening - and in your dreams, is music.
Sweet music, wild music.

I think I got 3½ hours today. But my whole life is affected, and it just feels like an uncontrollable smile has mooved in.
Practice is setting you free. It is making you a better channel for what comes through the music.

 

 

 

 

Day 17 - March 24th - A revelation

In the morning I practiced a fast piece with the metronome and was wondering why it didn't sound really clear. Why every note sounded more like 'fra' or 'hra' than a clear 'da' or even 'ka'.

It was a minor thing maybe, but not satisfying.

So I took one bare super slowly and gave each note a 'ka' accent. And that revealed to me that I should almost over do the angle on the A-string and then everything sounded better.

Actually hard to explain, but a big revelation to me, because now I can speed up and make that joyful, jumping spiccato. 

 

Day 16 - March 23rd - A 'march-waltz' in 5/4

Started out with the usual metronome work. I love it!

Then out of the blue I got an idea for a piece.
It is probably going to be for cello and guitar - probably for the tour along Hærvejen with Frederik Munk Larsen in August.

We will make a 500 km concert tour by tandem and foot and have been talking about composing some music specificly for this odd project.

A march is usually in 2/4 and a waltz in 3/4. When you add these two, you get a very catchy 5/4 rhythm.
In the photo I'm showing the music for a live stream presentation with Flensborg Central Bibliotek, where I should have been performing today.

We converted the concert into a duo concert in August. 
You can see the livestream here.

 

Day 15 - March 22nd - Addiction

Some people would think of a metronome as their worst enemy.
Playing with it reveals any challenging position shift or string transitions.

If you practice too much with it you can start feeling dependent on it, and your playing may become less free and musical.
But for rehearsing new material it is like a magic tool.

For me it makes me stay focused, makes me repeat each section 10 times before I speed up 10 bpm. 
You can measure your progress right there in numbers. It is like playing a game on your computer - very addictive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 14 - March 21st - I'm not much of a music reader

When I learn new music and read from the sheet music, I get so tired in my body. I think I get into some kind of wrong position, so I lay down and strech my back for a while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 13 - March 20 - MuseScore debut

Today I made my first score in 'MuseScore'. 
It was so much easier than handwriting and I could even hear it on the computer. - Amazing. I hope I will still write down ideas in my real physical sheet music note book. Just because I like the old fashioned way.

This Scherzo is lots of fun to play. Even though I wrote it my self I can't play it yet. Now it's on the 100 days program. Lets see if I'll master it in June.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 12 - March 19th - From music to notes and back again

The first thing I did today was composing this little piece.

I think composing is a very good way to understanding the music by other composers.

After I started to make my own music and write it down, I have kind of felt like I'm able to read the mind of Beethoven or Brahms or other famous composers. 

The process of reading the music and making it come alive has become easier. The musical idea behind the small black dots reveals itself.

It's like knowing the process backwards: 'from music to notes', makes the process 'from notes to music' easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 11 - March 18th - Woodworking is good for your muscles

Woke up and thought I couldn't play today because my arm felt inflamed. Took some magnesium and played a little bit very softly.

Went to my friend Ida Ben Hamadou for our practice club. Playing easy stuff was ok for a few hours.

But after working on my next cello in the workshop it seems like my arm has forgotten what was wrong! (:
So tonight I took another hour with all the thumb posistion stuff in De Falla.

Discovered that you can write in your pictures in Google photos - very fancy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 10 - March 17th - bear with me

Sunshine in the practice room.
I know I souldn't feel bad about this 100 days of practice. But I do. I spend 4 - 5 hours a day practicing, and that is reasonable when you are a musician, I would say.
But can I justify it, when I have such a backlog of emails and messages? - Why didn't I just reply to some of them in this brak in the sun? If you are one of the very kind people that I owe a reply, please bear with me. I'm sorry that it takes a while. I want to reply.

Practice wise I played with the metronome all day. Still De Falla. Found out that I can play some of it by heart already.

My left arm is not doing so well because I practiced too intensely yesterday. Feels like inflamation from 3rd finger. I have kept it warm and practiced with lots of breaks. 

 

 

 

Day 9 - March 16th - Motivation and persistence

Again in the morning things came up and it was past noon before I got a chance to practice.
It's not all bad when something gets in the way of practicing though. When I finnaly sat there with the cello, I was super focused and nailed some spots with the metronome.

Motivation is beneficial to progress, but over time you learn that you can not rely on it in the long run.
Right now I'm very motivated and feel like I'm seeing the world through my cello. (- Let me go for a brisk walk in the sun. That will improve my concentration for the practice in the afternoon. - I think I'll read this article about sport coaching and see if I can use some of their techniques for music. - This salad for sure has lots of vitamin C. I'll eat it so that I'll stay healthy and able to practice...)

But the most crucial factor for progress, as far as I know, is Persistence.
To repeat morning and evening, also on sunny days and days when you are tired or busy. 

 

 

 

 

Day 8 - March 15th - I want to play more

Today I worked on the last movement called Jota. It's a traditional Spanish dance in 3/8.

It's hard on the thum and I have to train for a while I think.

I only had a chance to practice an hour today, and honestly it makes me a bit impatient with everything, because I just want to play more.

Hopefully tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

Day 7 - March 14th - Rhythm and joy

One of the songs by De Falla, that I play, is a lullaby called Nana.

It is immensely beautiful. The atmosphere is like walking in air or floating.
The accompaniment is just a simple repeated falling figure, and above that the melody is whispering softly in an ever changing rhythm.
"Sleep my darling
Sleep my little morning star..."
(Of course the cello has to whisper in it's own nonverbal language)

Even though everyting in this music is ment to flow freely, I decided to minutely define the structure of the rhythm. It is 3 against 4 a lot of the time, with tricky subdivisions and triplets. As part of our practice retreat, my friend Ida found the metronome and we dived into the poly rhythms bar after bar.

We laughed and laughed everytime we got it right - and every time we failed.

Sleep, little one, sleep,
sleep, my darling,
sleep, my little
morning star.
Lullay, lullay,
sleep, my little
morning star.

There must be some true to the saying that rythm and joy are connected.

Day 6 - March 13th - Practice retreat

I'm visiting my friend, Ida Ben Hamadou for a weekend practice retreat. - She is also a cellist.
Gosh we have been nerdy all day. She is recording Popper Etude No 1. - Quite a challenging piece.
I have been working steady on last movement of De Falla and learned a tango waltz 'Desde el Alma'.

In the photo I'm having a break with their cat Rosa and some kombucha tea.

 

 

 

 

Day 5 - March 12th - Finger twisters

These two places are hard to play. 
I have to twist my fingers into awkward positions to play them - and this movement goes very fast...

Wonder how many hours I will spent to learn these two bars that last around a second in the end.
But it is worth it just because the process is so fulfilling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 - March 11th - Feeling bubbling

Yesterday evening I was out for a walk and noticed that I felt so bubbling happy and really looked forward to today.
Why?
Because I was looking forward to wake up and go straight to the practice room. Just looking forward to repeating those 4 bars in the first movement 10 times.
So that's what I did this morning.

Calluses builds slowly on the side of my thum - haven't used that for a while with all the baroque music I've been playing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 - March 10th - How to build confidence

This is so true. Someone posted it on Instagram today.

If you play a passage 10 times and then finally get it right, you have actually taught yourself to play it wrong, because that is what you have done the most.

I have heard that if you do something correct 7 times in a row, you have learned it. You brain has built the nerve connections I guess.

I usually practice each part 10 times in a row. Sometimes I have to slow down to be able to do it, but then at least I know I can do it in that tempo.

 

 

 



Day 2 - March 9th - Morning sun in the practice room

The best time for me to practice is in the morning on an empty stomach. Lovely sunshine today.

Emanuel de Falla first movement:
I have been playing the most challenging passages slowly making sure that I know which position and which tone I'm playing all the time.
It sounds obvious, but sometimes you can play more on the ear and not being aware of the technical details.
But right now I want to build a clear muscle memory, that gives freedom to expressiveness later on.

I have also changed the bowings a bit, to add more Spanish freshness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1 - March 8th 

Yesterday I played a big solo live stream concert for Santa Cruz Baroque Festival.
It has been months with intense focus on that program, so it was very refreshing to find new music to work on today.

I chose Manuel de Falla 'Suite Populare Espagnole'.
I just went through, found fingerings and bowings.
Couldn't stop repeating some of the challenging passages. It feels so nice in the beginning when it gets easier very fast.

It is so important to be careful from the beginning, to slowly build the right muscle memory with no rush.